By Victoria Pane
Plan a cozy winter getaway to the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region. Proximity to Lake Erie “lake effect” means snow for Chautauqua County, averaging up to 200 inches annually. For downhill and cross-country snow sports, head to Peek’n Peak Ski Resort and enjoy 27 slopes and trails, state-of-the-art snowmaking, eight chairlifts, four progressive terrain parks and a renowned ski and snowboard school.
There’s even a tubing area with seven lanes and a “Magic Carpet” lift that transforms into a nighttime Lunar Lights show. The thrilling and mesmerizing atmosphere features an ever-changing light show produced by thousands of LED lights and projection lights. The lights pulse, fade and change in coordination with an immersive sound system. On select dates, the massive sound and light program will be operated by a live DJ.
Skiers and snowmobilers can also enjoy Cockaigne Ski Area in Cherry Creek’s 10-acre terrain park, 15 slopes and trails, plus on-resort dining options. Amenities like a new Snowmobile Adventure Park and dedicated trailer parking for easy access to Chautauqua County’s 400 miles of snowmobile trails via Boutwell Hill State Forest, located just across the road, are also available for use.
Cross country skiers and snowshoers will also find opportunities on the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region’s multi-use trail systems including Long Point State Park on Chautauqua Lake, Lake Erie State Park, Boutwell Hill State Forest, the Eastside and Westside Overland Trails, Chautauqua Institution and the Jamestown Audubon Community Nature Center.
After a day of full of winter activities, indulge in après ski fun. Sip local wine from the over 20 wineries collectively known as Lake Erie Wine Country including ice wine, a specialty seasonal dessert wine. Stop by the Grape Discovery Center in Westfield, the hometown of Welch’s, to learn about the 150-year history of grape-growing in the region and sample local wine, grape juice and shop for other grape inspired artisanal products.
Enjoy a craft beverage from one of the breweries and distilleries located throughout the region including Southern Tier Brewing Company, one of the largest craft brewers in the United States. Enjoy an Ellicottville Brewing Company signature beer at either of their two locations, one located in Bemus Point on Chautauqua Lake and the other in Fredonia, not far from Lake Erie and local wineries. Grab a bite at one of the many local restaurants open year-round. Whether you are craving hearty, comfort food, classic bar food or an upscale dining experience, you will find it all in the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region.
Nothing warms the heart like laughter. The intuitive technology powering the National Comedy Center in Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown, New York takes guests on an interactive journey through comedy’s history. Featuring over 50 interactive exhibits with tailored content designed to make you laugh, everything from vaudeville to today’s viral memes, from Chaplin to Chapelle.
Laugh at the antics of Lucy, Desi, and the crew at the Lucy-Desi Museum. Find decades worth of costumes, screen-used memorabilia, awards and personal treasures on display. Be sure to ask about dual admission. While in town, don’t miss the chance to experience the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, Robert H. Jackson Center or enjoy some interactive, virtual entertainment at Mulligan’s on Fairmount.
As the weather starts to warm in March and the sap begins to flow, look for details on the New York State Maple Weekends. Local sugar houses host seasonal celebrations featuring maple products including pancake breakfasts.
Chautauqua County is a great place for a relaxing weekend getaway. Take a stroll through the snow-covered streets of Chautauqua Institution and admire the expressions of American architecture dating back to the Victorian era. Rent a secluded cabin or cottage or stay in a quaint bed and breakfast and immerse yourself in a beautiful winter wonderland around a warm fire. With many local accommodations offering special packages, winter is one of the best times of year to visit.
For a full schedule of events and winter attractions, call the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau at 866-908-ILNY (4569) or visit TourChautauqua.com.
Winter in the Western New York Snowbelt