Set against a backdrop of densely wooded knolls and billowing skies, Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State is a recreational gem. Just a four hour drive from Columbus, Ohio, the lake is a popular destination for motorized watercraft and sailboats. Anglers, too, come from all over the region, drawn to the lake’s bountiful population of walleye, bass, perch and muskellunge. Dotting the lakeshore are a variety of restaurants and general stores which cater to boaters as well as guests who arrive via car or bike. Several eateries offer dock-side wait service and live nightly entertainment. There’s also plenty of fun for those who prefer to swim and paddle in the water. Long State Point Park offers a sandy-bottom, designated swim area, canoeing, kayaking, boat rentals and a boat launch. There’s also a children’s playground, pavilion, picnic area and grills. While Chautauqua Lake is a haven for water sports, landlubbers will laud the many off-lake adventures in the region, including miles of trails for hiking, biking or running. One not-to-be-missed is the Chautauqua Gorge State Forest and Day-use Area near Maysville. Visitors to the park will find themselves immersed in a forested wonderment. Thick stands of trees, ferns and undergrowth create a quiet outdoor canopy. Along the way, massive rock outcroppings with horizontal striations carved over millennia serve as vessels for rivers and streams. Waterfalls and swimming holes intersperse the heavily wooded trails. There are eight designated campsites adjacent to the day-use area, seven are primitive tent sites but one is able to accommodate a trailer (no longer than 15’ in length). These campsites are on first-come, first-serve, but if you’re fortunate enough to spend a night here in the comfort of your camper, you’re in for a rare treat. Tucked deep in the wilderness, you’ll savor the melodic sound of creaking trees, a crackling campfire and the rush of the river – a hushed hymn to the wilds. One lakeside campground that pulls out all the stops in providing an amenity-filled experience is the Chautauqua Lake KOA Campground. Wherever you park your camper, Chautauqua Lake offers abundant adventure by day, and relaxation beneath the starry sky at night.
DISCOVER THE CHAUTAUQUA INSTITUTION
The Chautauqua Institution is a world-renowned adult education community and summer resort situated on Lake Chautauqua. The mission of this non-profit organization is “the identification and development of the best in human values…” Started in 1874, the institution has expanded into programs which explore values in four program areas: arts, education, religion and recreation. Each summer, more than 100,000 people attend events at the institution. People can sign up to participate in one of the week-long summer sessions, or simply attend public presentations of interest. Programs include performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and recreational activities.
BE A NIGHT OWL
Not all adventures take place during the day. The Martz Observatory in Frewsburg hosts public stargazing nights throughout the year. Operated by the Marshal Martz Memorial Astronomical Association, the staff emphasizes family participation, education and an appreciation of the heavenly realm. Another lovely nighttime event is Night Lights at the Heron. An organic farm and retreat, the Heron is a beacon for eco-tourists. The facility extended its offerings by creating a lighted, mile-long trail along the property infusing unique lighting schemes with music and art.
EXPLORE THE HISTORIC JAMESTOWN
The quiet community of Jamestown, located at the southern tip of Chautauqua Lake, is home to a surprising number of notables. Lucille Ball, legendary comedienne and Hollywood star, grew up in Jamestown. Today, visitors can tour the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum & Center for Comedy, which honors the late couple. Exhibits include full-size reproductions of “I Love Lucy” sets, costumes and personal memorabilia. Jamestown is also the home of American naturalist Robert Tory Peterson. His lifetime work is preserved in the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History which is open to the public. The story of Catherine Harris, one of the most noted operators of the Underground Railroad, comes alive at the Fenton History Center.
Are you ready for an adventure?