Today's grativibe is about enjoying the lifelong discovery of where you grew up.
Not many people are familiar with little-known, rural, historic western New York State – and that’s why it’s so great. Slightly more-known Chautauqua Lake, the odd far western cousin of the Finger Lakes, is the centroid of a surprising array of interesting, affordable, approachable adventures to discover. There is no part of any of the recommendations below that does not feel ‘local’! The people and places of my home county are just plain nice. All of these recommendations are on the ‘familiar’ end of the scale, only a couple on the ‘fancy’ end – and that’s ’local fancy’, to be clear. So prepare to feel at home, have real experiences, get to know some folks, and unwind.
Places To Stay
These two places to stay over are not 'adventures' per se, but offer a lot of smiles and memories for the dollar!
Butler House at the Cherry Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast. Cherry Creek, on the east side of the Lake, boasts one blinking light in the center of town. We have stayed at this 1860 home of a famous horse trader that is in New York Amish Country; a quiet country setting that you will relish. Sharon is an amazing host and local historian. The comfortable, beautiful library is new since we stayed there. The menu, with many locally-sourced ingredients, is off the charts.
Great Tree Inn Bed & Breakfast is in Mayville, the County Seat, and just north of the tip of the Lake. It is close to many great places to eat, local museums, and shopping too. Also - the Dart Airport! (see below). The rooms are freshly decorated and traditional, and there is a whole farm of animals to get to know! The menu is full of locally sourced goodies. Use this great find as your home base for wine, antiques, fun, and enjoying everything about the Western New York.
Places to Eat
Ashville General Store. I was a ~little~ surprised to find a website for this truly local not-far-off-the-path favorite! But...well....you just have to go take a look! It's perfect. Eat in or take out, its good, good food. I like ordering breakfast at the counter, and while I wait, wandering through the store full of useful day-to-day stuff (including six packs). Just go. You'll see. Might become your daily morning stop.
Crown Street Roasting Company. If you stay near Jamestown, get your morning charge-up for the full day ahead from this skillful contemporary coffee shop that roasts their own, and also take applications on-line for charitable donations up to a limit every month!
Stedman Corners (no website) is at 6335 Magnolia-Stedman Road, formally in Mayville, a bit off the Lake. Due to its humble exterior, most folks have driven by for years. But inside you will find really wholesome, cared-for food and a calm, comforting dining room. Don't be one of those people that drives by!
The Landmark Restaurant in Jamestown is the 'local fancy' I referred to in the introduction. If ever there was place where you know you will leave happy and satisfied across several sensory dimensions - this is the place. There is no debate amongst the locals that this is THE place when you want to have a really nice dinner. The dinner we had was really generous and served quickly despite a full house. I want to hang out and have apps & drinks in the lounge next time!
Things to Do
OK, now on to the REAL adventures! You're welcome! 😉
Dart Airport – The airport's physical address is 6440 Centralia-Hartfield Road, Mayville, NY 14757. It's what is called a 'GA' airport - General Aviation, which means no commercial flights. Actually I'm not too sure that are many flights at all....except the gliders! Since I was a kid, the airport-based Aero Soaring Club has offered glider rides. Dart Airport does have a facebook page that is very helpful, but I am not too sure there is a working website. On facebook you will also discover there is a nice little airport cafe and airplane models for sale. BONUS ADVENTURE: When you are done with your glider ride, head to the other side of the Airport (actual address is 6167 Plank Road, Mayville, NY) any Thursday thru Sunday, 10am-5pm, year-round. There is a good-sized flea market called HFM Emporium with cool aviation stuff woven throughout!
Panama Rocks is - well, it's a hidden natural wonder. But not THAT hidden because it is the NUMBER 1 ranked trail in ALL of New York State! Take that Adirondacks! Also near the north end of the lake, it is a rock formation that seems so out of place but is a long-time fixture of Chautauqua. Panama Rocks is reputed to be the most extensive formations of glacier-cut, ocean-quartz conglomerate in the world, forming a ridge half a mile long. The history of the rock formations date back about 400 to 350 million years ago, 150 million years before early humans appeared. The address is 11 Rock Hill Road, Panama, NY, 14767. There is an old farmhouse near the entrance with a large gravel parking lot and picnic tables. You can tour the trail fairly quickly or linger for an afternoon in the shade. The main trail is a one-mile loop around a half-mile ridge of rock formations and guests are welcome to explore off-trail at their own risk. If you can walk one mile on uneven ground you should be able to explore Panama Rocks! $8 for adults, $6 for kids.....and you will never forget! Recent additions include an axe-throwing facility and a kids' treasure hunt.
If activity is your thing, then try the Chautauqua Gran Fondo - a 20, 40, or 60 mile bike ride around Chautauqua Lake in August. With three routes of varied difficulty, the Chautauqua Gran Fondo is quickly becoming a favorite for cyclists of all abilities! The 40 miler circles the entire lake once, but all the routes are gently sloping paths, where you will breeze by many turn-of-the-century homes and villages, and charming Midway Park. The longer routes pass pass through the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk along the Chadakoin River at the south end of the Lake.
This is just a little taste of the things and places I enjoy around Chautauqua Lake, and I have a lot yet to discover! Please let me know what YOU look for and I'll see what I can find! Keep your eyes on our blog for future posts like this one!
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