Seven Ways to FALL in Love with Chautauqua County, NY.
This lakeside destination is known for vibrant foliage, excellent trails, and fall-themed festivals. Travel during September and October for fewer people and great rates!
Make the most of fall by planning a road trip to Chautauqua County, NY. Traveling during September and October means fewer people, great lodging rates, and all the colors of northeastern autumn. Peep fall foliage aboard a Chautauqua Lake boat cruise, along hiking and biking trails, from one of the many great golf courses, or by exploring these suggested attractions and events:
1. Lucille Ball’s Hometown: Jamestown, NY – Spend the whole day laughing at the National Comedy Center’s more than 50 “smart” exhibits; they deliver interactive content based on each guests' unique sense of humor. Games, competitions, and stand-up comedy karaoke will leave visitors of all ages with a profound appreciation for comedy icons and innovators. After, visit the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum to better understand the scope of this power duo's impact on the entertainment industry. Be on the lookout for murals depicting the comedienne as you explore downtown Jamestown’s restaurants and small businesses.
PRO Tip: Purchase a Dual Admission Ticket (available at either museum store) to both museums and pick up a complimentary map of the five murals, two statues, Lucille’s childhood home, and her final resting place.
2. Lake Erie Wine Country and Harvest Season Events – Sip, swirl, and savor the taste of the region at Lake Erie Wine Country’s 23 wineries. August through November are prime times to visit as the wineries and grape-growers are in full harvest celebration mode. Check out these “grape” events: 8/24 Dine in the Vines - Liberty Vineyards | 9/7 Septemberfest – Merritt Estate | 9/8 Great Grape Walk – Johnson Estate |9/20-22 Festival of Grapes – Silver Creek | 9/29 Fall Fest – 21 Brix | Oct. 6, 13, 20 Foliage Vineyard Walks – Johnson Estate | 10/12 Fall Tasting Event – Grape Discovery Center | Nov. 1-3 & 8-10 Harvest Celebration Weekends – All LEWC Wineries
PRO Tip: Purchase event tickets in advance as many sell out.
3. Farm-to-Table Culinary Weekend at Chautauqua Institution (Sept. 13-15) – Foodies will love the two-night sojourn at Chautauqua Institution’s beautiful Athenaeum Hotel during this Farm-to-Table Culinary Getaway Weekend. Enjoy exquisite locally sourced food and drink, hands-on workshops, and the splendor that is Chautauqua Institution in autumn. The overnight package includes a farm-to-table dinner, BBQ, lunch, breakfast, and brunch, evening entertainment, plus workshop access and lodging. Single tickets to Saturday’s BBQ dinner and workshops are available.
PRO Tip: Arrive early Friday to walk or bike the grounds, visit the Chautauqua Bookstore and appreciate the peacefulness of Chautauqua Institution.
4. Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Pumking Festival (Sept. 21) – The King is back! A brew must be good when an entire day of festivities is dedicated to its seasonal debut. Southern Tier Brewing Company may be one of the biggest still-craft breweries in the game, but they got their start in Chautauqua County. All craft lovers must complete a pilgrimage to the flagship Lakewood, N.Y., brewery and its Empty Pint Taproom. Be sure to check out Southern Tier’s sister distillery, the aptly named Southern Tier Distilling Co., plus other area craft breweries and taprooms: Big Inlet Brewing Co., Ellicottville Brewing on Chautauqua Lake, Jamestown Brewing Co., and Five & 20 Spirits & Brewing.
PRO Tip: Carpool and arrive early if you’re planning a Pumking Fest visit. Tours are only offered on non-event Saturdays, so keep that in mind as you plan a trip.
5. Peek’n Peak’s Fall Festival Weekends (Oct. 12-13 & 19-20) – Perhaps the pinnacle of the fall season, Peek’n Peak Resort’s Fall Festival is so fun it gets two weekends. Vibrant foliage sets the scene for a juried 130 vendor craft show, classic activities like pumpkin cannons, a car cruise-in, pony rides, petting zoo, and the annual snowsports equipment swap. For any time fall fun, check out the Aerial Adventure Course, a treetop experience consisting of ropes, zip lines, bridges, and other canopy-height fun, and the challenging Upper Course, which treats golfers to a sweeping view of the French Creek Valley far below.
PRO Tip: Look up stay and play packages for great deals on lodging at the well-appointed Inn at the Peak.
6. Bigfoot Expo and Monster Movie Festival (Oct. 11-12) – Statistics estimate 30% of Americans believe in the plausibility of Bigfoots, the larger-than-man, elusive, hairy creature of the forest and mountains. Come face-to-face with eyewitnesses at the Chautauqua Lake Bigfoot Expo and Monster Movie Festival, watch classic monster movies and enjoy a lakeside bonfire at the picturesque YMCA Camp Onyahsa on Chautauqua Lake.
PRO Tip: Watch festival organizer, Peter Weimer’s, documentary I’VE SEEN BIGFOOT, via Prime Video.
7. Lighthouse Hauntings, Mausoleum Tours, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales – Spooktacular events are plentiful throughout the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region. The Dunkirk Lighthouse and Veterans Museum will lead a paranormal investigation of the Keeper’s Cottage and military museum on Sept. 28, Oct. 19 & 25. Take a Harvest Moon Cemetery Carriage Tour of Forrest Hill in Fredonia on Oct. 18 or 19. The Fenton History Center will host a Monster Mash costume party on Oct. 26 that explores the darker side of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with costumed interpreters playing out some of the more fearsome characters and stories in a family-friendly style. Jamestown’s Lakeview Cemetery Mausoleum Tour (Oct. 13) and Saints n’ Sinners Cemetery Tours (Oct. 5 & 12) are also planned.
PRO Tip: Book a private group paranormal investigation of the Dunkirk Lighthouse on a date of your choice if you can’t make the pre-schedule tours.
Visit TourChautauqua.com to discover more things to do, sights to see and places to experience in Chautauqua County, NY.