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Explore Jamestown and Vicinity

July 13, 2020 by Beth Peyton

Explore Jamestown

Relax on the Riverwalk (photo by Sheila Webster)

After you’re finished at the National Comedy Center — or before you go! – you’ll want to explore Jamestown and the nearby vicinity.  There is lots to see and do, and plenty of places to enjoy great food and drinks. Parking is available on the street and in several lots around town.  Make sure to check on hours and availability before you go to a particular destination.

Dine and Drink

There are all sorts of places to eat and drink in and around Jamestown, and many are within easy walking distance from the National Comedy Center.  Here are a few of the hot spots:

Forte has a wonderful menu and has been voted one of the top twenty restaurants in New York.  Don’t miss it for fine dining.  Other restaurants featuring fine dining include the new Chop House, and The Landmark, an old favorite.  Try Gialy’s, Pace’s Pizza and Sauce for Italian food; the Taco Hut and El Jarocho for Mexican.  Crown Street Roasting serves breakfast, lunch and, of course, fresh roasted coffee.  Labyrinth Press Company serves wonderful vegetarian food and partners with Brazil Craft Beer and Wine Lounge to make sure you get the best in craft beers and cocktails.

Shopping

Explore Jamestown

Always time for shopping!

If you have a few minutes, you might want to poke around in some of the retail stores that line the streets.  Dot’s Gift Boutique has some great gifts and fun novelties.  Nouveau Home Boutique has unique home décor items and some home essentials.  The furniture is abundant and the service is terrific at Lafayette Corners Furniture Store, where they feature high quality furniture with a personal touch.  And the Dykeman Young Antique Emporium features authentic treasures from the past – and from the movies!

Riverwalk

Take a stroll along the riverwalk to rest from the hustle and bustle.  The beautiful Chadakoin river runs right through the city and is a destination for nature lovers.

Celoron

The Village of Celoron is a short drive from Jamestown and has some sights and experiences that should not be missed.  Visit the Lucille Ball Memorial Park, the site of an old amusement park that folks remember with fondness.  You can see the Celoron Lighthouse and visit the statue of Lucille Ball, a beautiful bronze sculpture.  Scary Lucy is nearby – don’t miss her!

Explore Jamestown

Lucy

The Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, a beautiful, upscale hotel complex is located on the lakefront in Celeron.  Lounge in one of the many seating areas located along the 1100-foot lakefront or enjoy a fire as you watch the sunset.  The Lakehouse Tap & Grille serves fine food and cocktails for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  There is plenty of lakeside dining outside, as well as a roomy and safely-distanced area for inside dining.  During the summer season, the Carousel Bar is available for cocktails right on the water. You’ll be captivated by the gardens, patios, and activities, and are welcome to drop in anytime.

Explore Jamestown

Harbor Hotel at night
(photo by Sheila Webster)

Learn

Along with learning about the history and impact of comedy, a number of exciting educational, historic, and interesting opportunities exist in the Jamestown area.  Jamestown is the birthplace of Roger Tory Peterson, and the home of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.  That guidebook you use to identify your backyard birds?  It’s his!

The Audubon Community Nature Center is a lovely way to experience the outdoors, with paths and trails through marshland and woods.  The facility is filled with exhibits – many hands-on – that inform and fascinate with information about our natural world.  Lots of things for the kids to do, too.  You’ll see plants, animals, Liberty, the bald eagle, and maybe watch a cocoon turn into a monarch butterfly!

Learn about justice, the rule of law and the distinguished career of Robert H. Jackson at the Robert H. Jackson Center.  Visit the beautiful Fenton History Center to learn about local history, including the role that Jamestown played in the Underground Railroad, and more about Lucille Ball.

Enjoy your time as you explore Jamestown.  Send the guys out fishing and get to know the rest of Chautauqua!

 

Boating: The View from the Water

July 9, 2020 by Beth Peyton

The View from the Water

Beautiful sunset
(author photo)

There is nothing more beautiful than the view of Chautauqua Lake from the water.  Any summer visit to Chautauqua Lake should involve a boat!  You can start your boating adventures right from the Maple Springs Lake Side Inn.  And during this time of COVID-19, boating is one of the safest activities you can pursue. It’s outdoors, and easy to maintain physical distances.

Kayaks

Guests staying at the Inn can use our kayaks to paddle around the lakefront.  Two kayaks are available; ask the Innkeeper for paddles and safety gear.  Other kayaks are available for rent if you need them for a larger group.

The View from the Water

Kayak

Your Own Boat

If you let us know in advance, you are welcome to bring your own boat.  There is a small fee for using our dock and lift.

Pleasure Boats

Guests at the Inn are likely to take a ride on the Miss Rose, our own boat that we use to take folks for breakfast on the water.  Guests can also charter it for $100/hr.  Motorboats and sailboats are available to rent at some of the marinas around the lake.  And don’t forget to look for jet skis and other fun watercraft. The Innkeepers can help you locate what you want, and direct you to boat launches.

Pontoons

We also have a pontoon boat available to rent.  This boat is available for other people besides guests, so reserve it in advance if possible.   Those who rent the boat must be at least 25 years of age and furnish a drivers’ license.  It’s a great way to see the lake, swim, fish, or picnic with family and friends.  You maintain physical distance while you take in the view from the water.

View from the Water

Pleasure boating (author photo)

Fishing Boat Rentals

There are several places around the lake to rent fishing boats, and you are also welcome to tie one of them up at our dock if you need it for several days.  Chautauqua Marina and We Wan Chu Cottages are located near the Inn, and there are other places around the lake eager to rent you a boat, too.

Take a Ride on the Chautauqua Belle

View from the water

Chautauqua Belle

For a unique and fun way to take in the view from the water, take a ride on the Chautauqua Belle. Check the website for additional information and schedule. The most unique vessel on Chautauqua Lake, the Belle is a replica of an old paddlewheel steamship – one of only five such ships in the country.  Take a lunch or dinner cruise, watch the fireworks from the water, and learn about the history of the boat and the history of the lake while you leave the driving to the captain.  Have a cocktail and watch the sunset – a sunset that might be unparalleled in beauty as they often are on our beautiful Chautauqua Lake.

There are many thrilling and affordable ways to enjoy the view from the water.  Check the Sheriff’s website for information regarding restrictions and requirements for safe boating on Chautauqua Lake, and have a great time.

 

 

 

Funny You Should Ask About the National Comedy Center

July 2, 2020 by Beth Peyton

Comedy Delight

Fun Times at the National Comedy Center

The National Comedy Center, named best new museum in the country by USA TODAY in 2020, is difficult to describe.  It’s so different, so interesting, so FABULOUS, it simply must be experienced.  And experienced again.  It is a true comedy delight. With over 50 interactive, personalized exhibits, a single visit to this unique place only whets the appetite.

Housed in a beautiful old train station in Jamestown, the museum is about a 20-minute drive from the Maple Springs Lake Side Inn.  Many large rooms, spread over 37,000 square feet, hold memorabilia, film footage, stations where visitors can explore internet humor, late-night shows or hilarious roasts. Props, like whoopie cushions, bananas, and pies trigger film clips showing how they inspired comedy. Screenplays and notes showcase the craft of brilliant writers and comedians.

What to Expect

When you enter the National Comedy Center, you spend a few minutes identifying your favorite comedians, comedy shows, and funny movies. This introductory process whets your appetite, but its purpose is to record your selections on a wristband you will wear as you explore the center.  This gives you a personalized experience:  what you will see and hear is tailored to your own sense of humor.  Displays, memorabilia, interactive booths, theaters, and libraries allow you to enjoy the laughs, or to dig deeper and learn about the history of comedy, the trajectory of specific comedians, or to go behind the scenes.

There is a snack bar and lounge in the building, and visitors can enjoy food and drinks while in the facility.  You can try your hand at performing your own stand-up routine – a comedy karaoke – or take a ride with Lucy and Desi, Fred and Ethel.  The pictures will be emailed to you later!  You can have a joke contest with your companions – first person to laugh loses.  If you’re over 18, you can venture into the “Blue Room” to see the comedians and the acts that are a bit more provocative.

Like all good museums (and good comedy) you exit through the gift shop.  You won’t leave empty handed.

More Fun

Admission to the Comedy Center entitles you to admission at the Lucy Desi Museum, too.  You’ll enjoy experiencing the nostalgia and brilliance of Lucille Ball, who served as the inspiration for the development of the National Comedy Center.  She wanted her hometown of Jamestown to be a destination for comedy.  Now it is THE destination for comedy.

Although the 30th Annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival has been postponed until 2021, the Center is open for visitors.  There is plenty of room for social distancing, and the management and staff have worked with the renowned University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) to implement state-of-the art safety and sanitation measures.

Now that travel restrictions are loosening, make sure your trip includes experiencing this comedy delight for some laughs while you enjoy relaxing on Chautauqua Lake.  Check the website for hours and updates.

Things to Do in Bemus Point

June 26, 2020 by Beth Peyton

Things to Do in Bemus Point

Hotel Lenhart
(photo with permission)

One visit to Bemus Point will show you why it is one of the most popular places on the lake.  In addition to terrific places to eat and drink, there are lots of things to do in Bemus Point. It’s a quick boat or car ride from the Maple Springs Lake Side Inn.

Shopping

Because of the COVID-19 uncertainties, shop hours and restrictions may vary during the 2020 season, and some shops may not open at all.  It is a good idea to check the website or Facebook page of each shop for current information.  Nonetheless, shopping is a favorite thing to do in Bemus Point.

Skillman’s has been in Bemus Point, and in the same family, since 1908.  It is one of the premier boutiques and gift shops in the region.  Skillman’s specializes in high-quality apparel, footwear, jewelry, and accessories, and has a terrific line of jigsaw puzzles.  Open for in-store shopping – check for hours – and available for on-line shopping all the time.

The Musky Mall, on Alburtus Street, is home to two terrific shops:  Bemus Point Pottery and Petals and Twigs.  Shop here for unique gifts, artwork, indoor and outdoor décor, jewelry and one-of-a-kind items.  Quality children’s clothing, Chautauqua Lake gear, toys and books round out the experience.

Wired on Main serves up fun and funky clothing, home décor items and gifts, along with great coffee and an eclectic menu.

Events

Each year, the Bemus Point Business Association sponsors a Spring Fest and a Fall Fest.  Vendors join with local shop owners to bring the community together, and you can get some pretty good deals in the process.  Check the website for updates, and to explore other businesses in the Bemus Point Community.

The Village of Bemus Point often hosts fireworks displays.  They’re cancelled for this season but stay tuned for future events.

The Stir of Artists show in Bemus park has been cancelled for 2020, but check back for next year.

Other Things to Do in Bemus Point

Ice Cream

Things to Do in Bemus Point

Ice Cream Window at the Bemus Point Market
(photo with permission)

It’s terrific fun to get a bowl or cone of Perry’s Ice Cream from the Bemus Point Market, take it to an outside table or bench, and watch the world go by.  You can always count on this place to have plenty of flavors.  They’ve recently added Dippin’ Dots to their ice cream selection, and they have a display devoted to S’mores.  While you’re at it, you can pick up groceries or beer.

Museums

Although currently on hold during the 2020 season, The Bemus Point Historical Society, located on Albertus Avenue (next to the fire department) contains memorabilia, objects and ephemera related to the storied history of Bemus Point.  The Lawson Center Boat Museum has wonderful antique boats on display, along with historical information about boats and boating on Chautauqua Lake over the years.  And watch for an announcement of the Chautauqua Lake Antique and Classic Boat Show.

Nostalgia with a View

The Lamplighter Cocktail Room at the Hotel Lenhart, located on the lakefront, will be open this summer with social distancing protocols.  You can take your beverages out to the famous porch or have a seat on the expansive lawn.  You’ll hear a trumpet playing Taps to signify the setting of the sun.  The Hotel is celebrating 140 years in

Things to Do in Bemus Point

Rocking Chairs on the Porch at the Hotel Lenhart
(photograph with permission)

business in 2020 and marks the fourth generation of family ownership.   Hotel rooms will also be available for reservations beginning in July.  The dining room will not be open, but make sure to come back next year for a breakfast that is special in every way.

There is still plenty to do in Bemus Point, even though things are a bit slower because of COVID-19.  Don’t miss the opportunity!

Where to Eat in Bemus Point: Fine and Casual Dining

June 16, 2020 by Beth Peyton

Where to Eat in Bemus Point

On the Waterfront in Bemus Point
(author photo)

Bemus Point is an easy boat ride or a quick car ride away from the Maple Springs Lake Side Inn.  Visitors will quickly see why it is one of the most popular places on the lake.  If you’re wondering where to eat in Bemus Point, you really can just pick a place and enjoy.  You can’t go wrong.

Where to Eat On the Water

Several places in Bemus provide lakeside dining, and some will even serve you in your boat.  If you’re looking for a good meal with a spectacular view, try these Bemus eateries. All of the restaurants listed are open for takeout, outside dining, and/or inside dining.

The Village Casino is located on the waters’ edge right on the point of Bemus Point.  Featuring an expansive menu, full bar and regular entertainment, The Casino, as it’s known, is famous for its wings.  And its famous for all the famous people who have entertained visitors and residents on the lake since the 1930s.  Ten Thousand Maniacs and Rusted Root played the Casino before making the big time, but the stars of yesteryear have left a big mark, too. When you can, take a tour inside to see the pictures, playbills and advertisements of Cab Calloway, Frank Sinatra, and countless others. Dine on the deck overlooking the water or stay in your boat. No gambling, though!  The Casino was named long ago, when the term also meant something more like “summerhouse.”

The Fish is located on the water, too, and you can’t miss its deep blue and orange façade whether you’re in your car or your boat.  Serving outdoors on a wide lawn, and on multiple decks, The Fish offers take-out service curbside or dockside.  The menu is broad and varied, with an emphasis on fish a seafood.  Specialty cocktails, too. Music happens here.

Where to Eat in Bemus Point

Ellicottville Brewing Company Brew
(photo with permission from EBC)

Ellicottville Brewing Company (EBC) is across the street from the lakefront, but the views are unsurpassed nonetheless.  Their specialty is their own craft beers; quite a selection and it’s good!  They also have a full bar. The menu is designed to pair well with the beer and, although the menu is not overly extensive, it is different and delicious. Don’t miss this place.

Where to Eat Down the Street

The See-Zurh House is located on the main drag of Bemus, across the street from Skillman’s.  Open year round, you can’t beat it for good food at a good price.  This is where the locals go, so expect to be entertained as well.  There is a large bar with seating as well as an even larger dining room.  Upstairs is a separate place called Shaggy’s that is generally open only for special events.  Menu items are plentiful but don’t forget to check out the specials board to find excellent dishes like seared tuna or prime rib. Specials include a large list of homemade desserts, too.  Try the peanut butter pie but ask for extra forks — you’ll want to share it.

Keep walking down the street and you will run into Coppola’s Pizza.  Right now, they are doing takeout, and they deliver.  A few tables will be available for inside dining soon.  Wired on Main is next. They serve an eclectic breakfast and lunch, great coffee and have some very interesting retail goods and gifts.

Where to Eat in Bemus Point

Fish and Chips at the Bemus Point Tap Room
(photo with permission)

The Bemus Point Golf Course and Tap House offers a great menu, local beers and handcrafted cocktails in a beautiful setting on a golf course.  Yes, you can golf!  There is plenty of outside seating, and live music some nights.  Come in to see your friends, or to make new ones.  Bryce, Rachel and their staff will make you feel like family.

The Bemus Point Inn is a favorite of locals and visitors for breakfast and lunch.  Famous for the world’s biggest sweet roll, and other items are good, too.  Watch the board for daily specials, and don’t resist the hashbrown casserole if it’s up there.  Salt rising bread, too.  Yummy.

 

 

 

Fun and Casual Dining Close to Home

June 5, 2020 by Beth Peyton

Fun and Casual Dining Close to Home

Dining on the Patio at Guppy’s

Several options for fun and casual dining are close to home when you’re at the Maple Springs Lake Side Inn. Several restaurants and taverns are within walking distance, or are just a short drive away.  Restaurants in the region are just now opening for outside dining in summer 2020, and many also offer takeout.

Drinks and Dinner

Guppy’s is a very popular restaurant with our guests and draws a big crowd from all around the lake.  It’s within walking distance from the Inn, but it’s up a pretty steep hill.  You’ll want to drive if you’re not used to walking (although the downhill side of the trip is a lot easier). Guppy’s has an extensive menu of entrees, appetizers, burgers, wings, pizza and sandwiches.  They run nightly and weekend specials as well, with seasonal specialties throughout the year.  A full bar offers traditional and creative cocktails.  A variety of local and other beers are on tap.  Make sure you ask the Innkeepers about Guppy’s beer tours. Guppy’s has a large outdoor seating area, too.

The Green Door Tavern, our local watering hole, is another short walk away.  The Tavern features a good bar menu with wings, pizza, burgers, chicken and other items.  Beer, wine and a full liquor bar, frequent live music, and a pool table provide a backdrop for the characters you’ll experience.  The Green Door Tavern has been serving takeout throughout the COVID restrictions and may serve meals on their covered deck.

Lunch, Too!

The Springs is another favorite of folks in the region who are seeking casual fun and casual dining close to home.  It is located across from Midway State Park and is within walking distance, although we recommend driving until you know your way around. The Springs has a full menu with an extensive list of daily specials.

Fun and Casual Dining Close to Home

Specials at The Springs

They serve alcohol, but food is the main attraction here, both lunch and dinner. They are serving take-out but have not announced if they will be serving meals on their enclosed deck.  Dan, the owner, will be busy cooking, but say hello to Sue when you’re there. She’s been at The Springs for some time now, and usually wins the Halloween contest at the Green Door Tavern.

The Best Breakfast

Ready About Sailing at Long Point State Park Marina serves burgers, hot dogs and snacks throughout the day, but the breakfast there is the reason to make it a destination.  Home to “Laura’s Green Chili,” it may be the only place around to find authentic southwestern green chili.  Get it in a breakfast burrito (and you can ask them to hold the tortilla) that is filled with everything but the kitchen sink.  Kids can have pancakes or French toast, bacon, eggs and other breakfast items.  Guests at the Inn will be able to visit this spot for “breakfast by boat.”  Meals can be eaten at picnic tables outside under shelter lakeside, or in the boat itself.  A few tables for inside dining will be available once restrictions lift. Enjoy the meal while you watch the boats go by.

 

 

 

 

Chautauqua Lake Vacation: The Arts are Thriving!

May 31, 2020 by Beth Peyton

Chautauqua Lake Vacation

Portage Hill Gallery
(vase and photo by Audrey Dowling)

The weather is warming up, the boats are on the water, and Chautauqua County is moving to open up.  The arts are thriving, and many galleries and events are located near the Maple Springs Lake Side Inn.  Even with current restrictions, you can be sure to include art in your Chautauqua Lake vacation.

The annual Chautauqua-Lake Erie Open Studio and Gallery Tour has been rescheduled to take place during Labor Day 2020 Weekend.  Take a drive along the trail to “discover the places where artists work while enjoying the landscape that inspires them — verdant vineyards, charming towns, rolling hills and lake shores. Follow the trail from studio to studio and meet painters, potters, photographers, sculptors, fabric artists, jewelers and stained-glass artists. Find favorite new works and purchase treasures to be enjoyed at home.” Many of the artists on the art trail have works for sale in their own galleries or in other area galleries.

Galleries Feature Local Chautauqua Artists

There are many fine galleries on or near Chautauqua Lake, and several that are very close to the Inn.  These are some of our favorites:

Reno Pottery

Portage Hill Gallery

Chautauqua Art Gallery

The Art Loft

The Octagon Gallery at the Patterson Library

Chautauqua Institution Visual Arts

Painted Finch Gallery, Corry, PA

Be sure to check with each gallery/shop for opening information and hours.

Chautauqua Lake Vacation

Reno Pottery
Hummingbird Plate

Chautauqua Lake Art shows

No Chautauqua Lake summer vacation is complete without attending one of the many art shows scattered throughout the area. More may be coming on-line as the summer transpires.

Arts Alliance juried Fine Crafts Shows will be held on-line in 2020 and will return to the Chautauqua Institution Grounds in 2021.

The Westfield Arts and Crafts Show will be held in Moore Park July 24-25.  Admission is free.

A Stir of Artists is scheduled for August 8-9, 2020 in Bemus Point. The event is located in the Village Park on the water between the Lenhart Hotel and the Village Casino.

Arts and Crafts Show in Letchworth, scheduled over Columbus Day Weekend in October, 2020.  This is a great show with over 300 artists in a beautiful place.

Check with the Innkeepers for other artsy activities, shops and events.  Enjoy your Chautauqua Lake experience!

Staying Safe on Your Chautauqua Lake Vacation

May 28, 2020 by Beth Peyton

Chautauqua Lake Vacation

Paddle a Kayak

As the restrictions lift and more people are enjoying traveling for summer fun, there are some things that the experts recommend to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.  The Maple Springs Lake Side Inn has implemented a number of measures to comply with state and federal guidelines to ensure cleanliness and limit social interaction while you’re on-grounds.  Even so, there are other things that you can do make your Chautauqua Lake vacation restful, relaxing and safe.

Experts agree that the chances of contracting the coronavirus when exposed to a person who has it depend on a number of things.

“We can think of transmission risk with a simple phrase:  time, space, people, place,” said Dr William Miller, an epidemiologist at Ohio State University.

“Always choose outdoors over indoor, always choose masking over not masking and always choose more space for fewer people over a smaller space,” echoed Dr. Emily Landon at the University of Chicago Medicine.

Some travel tips to limit risk and enhance your stay follow, but there are a few considerations to always keep in mind.

Chautauqua Lake Vacation

Wash Your Hands Frequently

  • Do Not Travel if you are not well. If you are running a fever or feel sick, stay home.
  • If you are in a high-risk category – if you are over 65 years of age or have underlying health conditions – consider whether or not you should travel right now.
  • Wash Your Hands – frequently, with soap and warm water.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask if you are in a situation where you cannot maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others. This is to protect them as well as you.

Driving Tips

There are several things to consider and plan for if you will be driving to your Chautauqua Lake vacation destination. Plan your route to make sure you are allowed to travel, that you can stay in motels, that you can obtain food, drinks and other necessities, and that you are aware of any travel advisories.

Pack things you will need to sanitize yourself and surfaces if you need to stop for gas or food.  Try not to touch fixtures in public bathrooms after you’ve washed your hands and consider paying for things with a card (that you can sanitize after use) rather than cash.

Even in places where restaurants are open, you may experience a wait if service is limited.

If you need overnight accommodations on your trip, make reservations in advance and check to see that sanitization and social distancing guidelines are followed.

Flying Tips

It can be difficult or impossible to maintain social distance when flying.  Some airlines, but not all, are reducing the number of passengers on flights.

Do your research before you go.  Find out if the airline you travel requires masks of all passengers and ask if other safety precautions are in place or are required.  Some areas are requiring travelers to self-quarantine, especially if they have traveled overseas.

Studies have shown that air flow on planes is actually pretty good.  Try to move to a different seat if someone near you seems sick.  You can use the adjustable air control to further circulate air if people around you are coughing or sneezing.

It is a good idea to wipe down your seat area and tray table with a sanitizing wipe.  Bring wipes, hand sanitizer, masks and disposable gloves with you if you can. Try not to touch other people.  Wash your hands often, and don’t touch your face.

Chautauqua Lake Vacation

Relax and read a book

While You’re Here

Follow guidelines for social distancing and reducing your exposure to large groups of people while you are out of your room or off the grounds.

Many local restaurants have meals available for pick-up, and some for delivery.  Activities outside, including low density boat rides are low risk.  Avoid sharing food, drinks and utensils.  As much as possible, stay with the people in your “bubble;” those you live with, friends who you know have carefully isolated.  Wear a mask when you cannot social distance. Go fishing, take a hike or a bike ride. Paddle a kayak in the lake or read a book.

Enjoy your Chautauqua Lake vacation safely, and come back next year.

 

 

Lake Erie Wine Trail Offers Fine Dining

May 24, 2020 by Beth Peyton

Lakeside Dining on the Lake Erie Wine Trail
Sunset at the North East Marina
(photo credit Jeff Hunter)

Located in the marina in North East Pennsylvania, about a half hour drive from the  Maple Springs Lake Side Inn along the Lake Erie Wine Trail, Noosa offers fine dining and handcrafted cocktails. Named after a beach in Australia, it is on the way from Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Erie. A scenic trip for a great meal enhances any vacation on Chautauqua Lake, and Noosa will not disappoint.

The scenic route takes you to Westfield, the original home of Welch’s, the grape juice company.  The road dips, weaves and steadily climbs until it drops after it crests the escarpment that separates the Allegheny Plateau from the Great Lakes Basin. Like a mini continental divide, water on one side flows into the St. Lawrence Seaway toward the Atlantic Ocean, while water on the other flows in another direction, into the Ohio River, then the Mississippi and ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico.

Westfield has a charming main street with cute shops, restaurants and antique stores.  The building facades are inviting, and the elegance of the Patterson Library remains unsurpassed.  Neatly pruned grapevines are in the vineyards along both sides of the road as you head southwest on Route 20.  You know you are in wine country, and in the fall, the air smells of grapes.

Noosa Offerings

The Lake Erie Wine Trail hugs the shore of Lake Erie along Route 5.  On a sunny day, the lake sparkles like diamonds.  Spectacular homes, gorgeous vineyards with emerging gardens and modern wine-tasting rooms line the road.  Some have fine restaurants as part of the experience.

Entering the building at the North East Marina takes you through a hallway where bulletin boards on the walls hold newsy marina items (Fishing Tournament!  Boat for Sale!).  Keep going until you find your way into Noosa. A small bar area holds a scattering of dining tables, with more tables on a lower level. A large deck features seating, heaters and a fireplace. After a warm greeting, and if the weather permits, take the outside table that is offered. Whether seated inside or out, you will have a terrific view of the marina and Lake Erie.

Lake Erie Wine Country

Enjoying the scene at Noosa

The menu is eclectic, embracing Noosa’s straightforward mission of “serving delicious, affordable handmade food in a clean, contemporary and beautiful atmosphere.” Lomo Saltado from Peru and Vietnamese Pork Shoulder Bahn Mi share the menu with New Orleans’ style Oyster Po’boys, poached salmon, and cheeseburgers.

The menu features local beer and Lake Erie wines and spirits.  Noosa offers a variety of coffee drinks, and original cocktails made with local ingredients.  The cocktails are inventive and delicious, enhanced by barware that makes the whole experience feel more special.

The menu is organized into small plates, salads, soups and vegetables, and main courses. The Peruvian ceviche is delicious and colorful.  In the States, we are perhaps most familiar with fish, shrimp, or conch ceviche served in coastal Mexico and the Caribbean, sometimes featured in Mexican restaurants.  The raw seafood is “cooked” in lime juice and mixed with onion, tomato, hot peppers and cilantro.  Peruvian ceviche is made with “tiger’s milk,” a mixture of lime juice, salt and chili paste.

At Noosa, the tiger’s milk is spicy, but does not overwhelm the taste of the shrimp, cilantro, or chunks of roasted sweet potato it is served on.  The sweet potatoes are a distinctly Peruvian addition.  They give the ceviche depth and turn this exotic dish into a sort of comfort food.

The Thai beef is bite-sized chunks of tender steak, marinated and cooked with onions and greens.  The beef is seared then cooked to a perfect medium rare. Crushed peanuts and herbs round out the flavors of this dish. Grilled vegetables – asparagus, broccolini and baby bok choy – are simply prepared with lemon, garlic, and just enough char to wow.

Trust the burger.  Even though substitutions aren’t allowed, you won’t need them.

Lake Erie Lakeshore

The sound of halyards and metal shackles slapping against the masts of sailboats swaying in their moorings sounds like music from a harmonium as you stroll around the marina after dinner.  Waves lap the shoreline as you watch birds circle, land and dive for fish. And the boats, they come and go.

At sunset, the road gently undulates on the drive back.  On the right night, the light shifts; trees and fields take on a golden hue as if lit from within.  Houses and fences turn pink, salmon and apricot.  The landscape glows and then fades again as the sun descends over Lake Erie. In the gloaming you’ll crest the ridge and see the glimmer of light that is Chautauqua Lake, and home.

 

 

 

 

 

Explore Chautauqua Institution

May 20, 2020 by Beth Peyton

Explore Chautauqua Institution

Gathering in the Amphitheater (photo credit: Chautauqua Institution)

Summer of 2020 will be a great time for visitors to the Maple Springs Lake Side Inn to explore Chautauqua Institution.  Because of the COVID-19 virus, for the first time since its founding in 1874 the Institution will not have their regular season on-grounds.  Instead, they will be offering some of their terrific programming on-line, and much of it will be free.  In addition, the grounds will be open to residents and visitors. Safety guidelines put out by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and New York State will be followed. There will be no gate fees to enter the grounds of the Institution.

We share the sadness expressed by Michael Hill, the President of the Chautauqua Institution, in his message to the community announcing the response to the pandemic.  It is a big loss for visitors and homeowners at Chautauqua, and a blow to the county and the region.  The Institution has met each summer to bring together “lifelong learners of the arts, education, interfaith and recreational programming.” They even met during the 1918 flu pandemic, the great depression, and both world wars.

The Chautauqua Experience

Every summer during their 9-week season, visitors and residents participate in a wide range of educational and cultural offerings at Chautauqua.  Each week there are lectures, concerts, plays, sermons, and other activities that are loosely structured around themes.  This summer, we will miss gathering for sermons and lectures.  We will miss religious, literary and other talks at the Hall of Philosophy.  We will miss the plays, the opera, and the symphony.  We will miss taking a boat ride over in the evening to see a big-name act or an up-and-coming talent outdoors, under the roof of the amphitheater.  We will miss the conviviality, mutuality and sense of community that is engendered by participating in these things together.

Explore Chautauqua Institution

Bestor Plaza
(Photo credit Chautauqua Institution)

The president will convene the Assembly of the Chautauqua Institution.  This year, it will be convened on-line, and in ways that will support and expand the dialogue and sense of community that is fundamental to the Chautauqua experience.  And while there are losses associated with this new, temporary reality, there are also some wonderful opportunities – some of which are currently unfolding.

The topics and themes of this year’s season remain the same.  The Institution will be curating and creating opportunities to listen and learn as the season unfolds.  Some lectures, sermons and other events will occur on-line.  Many of the courses that are offered throughout the season may also be available on-line for a modest fee, just like they are during regular seasons.  Those who can’t gather in-person for a writing workshop can participate remotely, and with Zoom and other technologies, real classroom communities can be formed.

A New Opportunity to Explore Chautauqua Institution

Explore Chautauqua Institution

Beautiful grounds
(photo credit Chautauqua Institution)

Guests who perhaps have not been for an event can still explore Chautauqua Institution by going over and walking the beautiful grounds – for free.  Imagine the quaint cottages and hotels fully occupied, the shops brisk with customers, the restaurants with waiting lists.  As you walk by the lush gardens, imagine the sounds of the symphony floating off the rafters of the amphitheater, down to the lakefront and across the water.  Imagine turning a corner and hearing a beautiful poetry reading, or seeing Bestor Plaza filled with art and artists, food and food trucks.

While you’re imagining, take an on-line course, listen to brilliant leaders discuss important topics. Nourish your soul with sermons by preeminent religious leaders from all faiths as part of Chautauqua’s on-line 2020 season.  More information and opportunities will unfold during the next few months.  In addition, some facilities and services may be open to serve residents and guests, in compliance with safety guidelines.  Check the Chautauqua Institution’s website and register for updates to stay abreast of the information.

Make plans to come back in 2021, to relax at the Inn and explore the Chautauqua Institution when it’s in full swing.  There is nothing else like it.

Peace on the Chautauqua Lakefront

May 20, 2020 by Beth Peyton

Chautauqua Lakefront

The dock is in!
(photo credit Jeff Hunter)

In the late spring, Chautauqua Lake – our lake — can be moody.  Sometimes it is still frozen in mid-April, and snowstorms can kick up in between the sixty-degree days.  Ice and snow pile up on the Chautauqua lakefront. Some days after it has thawed the wind howls and the waves are rough.  Other days, hard snow falls horizontally and the cold bites through the thickest down clothing.

Chautauqua Lakefront

Crocus: Harbinger of Spring (photo credit Jeff Hunter)

We marvel at the green stuff that is underneath the winter snow, and take photos of grape hyacinths, daffodils, snowdrops, trout lilies and trillium as they emerge.  We take photos again as they get a good dusting of snow.  Osprey and eagles lay their eggs and keep the hatchlings warm.  Buffleheads, the tiny black and white ducks, return along with loons, the mergansers with their crazy hairdos, and all sorts of other migratory waterfowl.

When the ice melts and the winds die down, there isn’t much that is more peaceful than walking along the Chautauqua lakefront or sitting on an old porch watching the world drift by. The sun casts long shadows on the lawn and makes diamonds on the surface of the water.  At dusk, colors explode into pinks, purples and oranges.

Changing Seasons on the Chautauqua Lakefront

Here it is again – April — and we are having a respite after a lot of wind, rain and snow.  April can be the cruelest month, promising spring but sometimes stingy to deliver. But today, April serves up a warm afternoon to walk with the dog and sit by the newly installed dock.  Usually restless and anxious to explore, on this day the dog stretches out and relaxes in the sun.  The little burst of warmth caused the dandelions to open their buttery faces and we can hear the buzzing of the bees as they fly from flower to flower.  The bees have awakened.

We walk by a pair of mallards paddling in the local frog pond and watch two pair of goldeneye ducks as they take turns diving for food.  A loon calls from off in the distance while a fat little vole scampers from his precarious shelter inside the firepit, onto the grass and back again.  The firepit is filled with fuel in preparation for the first bonfire of the season.  It will happen soon.

Chautauqua Lakefront

A dusting of snow in spring
(photo credit Jeff Hunter)

No matter the time of year, the sight of Chautauqua Lake lifts the spirits.  Catching the view of both the north and south basins from the bridge on the way to the grocery store turns a simple errand into a gift. Watching it flash through the trees driving around the north basin on Route 430 to breakfast, to play a round of golf, or to attend an event at the Chautauqua Institution is unforgettable.  The day when the dock goes in on the lakefront at The Maple Springs Lake Side Inn is a special day indeed.  It is a symbol of faith that summer will come.

Until that time, perhaps the best way to experience the Chautauqua lakefront it is to do what we did today.  Stand by it and take a moment to soak it in.  Sit for a while and listen.  Stay longer than you planned. Stand by the peaceful waters.

 

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