Chautauqua Lake Vacation: The Arts are Thriving!

May 31st, 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.

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 28th, 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 24th, 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 20th, 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 20th, 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.


New Website

April 13th, 2016 by Maple Springs Lake Side Inn

Our new website has launched.  Check back for news from the inn.

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