Choose from the big apple or a pair of rustic getaways. Throw yourself into outdoor recreation of nosh on street food. It’s up to you in New York, home to giant waterfalls and towering skyscrapers.
Located around Lake Chautauqua about 10 miles south of Lake Erie, the Chautauqua region is a rustic summer playground for campers who love boating, fishing and hiking. The area’s small-towns also pack ample attractions, including compelling museums and art galleries.
Explore museums like the National Comedy Center, Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum, or Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, all in Jamestown. Visit Chautauqua Institution, a destination for summer learning that draws globally recognized speakers, performers and artists.
Windswept beaches with dramatic cliffs make Chautauqua County’s Lake Erie shore memorable. In fact, nearly 50 miles of Lake Erie make up Chautauqua County’s northwestern border, and fantastic vacation possibilities abound along this coast. Erie is the warmest and most biologically productive of the Great Lakes and accounts for roughly 50 percent of the total fish population in all of the five Great Lakes; walleye fishing here is considered the best in the world, while Bassmaster magazine has named New York’s stretch of the Erie shoreline as the one of the top three bass fishing lakes in all of the northern U.S. Visitors can reap this bounty by taking a charter into the lake and reeling in hefty catches.
Variety of Catches
Lake Erie and the adjacent waterways are known as Steelhead Alley, but they also harbor abundant walleye, bass, and trout fisheries and are home to popular migration flyways. Several smaller lakes surround Chautauqua, including Findley Lake to the southwest, plus Bear Lake to the north. There isn’t a single part of the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region that is more than 20 minutes from open water.
New York’s famous apples are known for their tart flavor. Recipe adapted from Woodall’s Favorite Recipes from America’s Campgrounds.
- 2 cup sugar
- 1 ½ cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 3 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla
- ¾ cup coconut milk
- 3 cup apples, grated
- 1 cup nuts
Mix ingredients. Pour into tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 90 minutes.
Popular spots in Chautauqua include the Cassadaga Lakes, three interconnected bodies of water that teem with fish and wildlife spotting opportunities. Anglers will hook largemouth bass, northern pike, smallmouth bass, pumpkinseed sunfish, bluegill and more. Put down the pole and look on land for beavers or painted turtles. In the sky, you might spot bald eagles, great horned owls, mute swans or osprey. This bird-watching haven rewards you with great sightings.
Much of the action centers on Chautauqua Lake, and it’s not hard to see why. At 17 miles long and up to 2 miles wide, the lake is dotted with recreation possibilities, including several marinas with speed and power boat rentals, as well as concessions for kayaking and paddleboarding. Anglers converge on the lake to participate in fishing tournaments for walleye, bass and muskellunge. Guide fishing trips also are available. In fact, Bassmaster magazine named Chautauqua the 23rd best Bass Lake in the Northeast. Find you spot on the lake and spend time exploring the water. Conclude your day with a meal at an area restaurant.
A Beautiful Belle
Take a trip back in time and embark on the steam-powered Chautauqua Belle. The vessel chugs across the lake daily, giving travelers a taste of what travel was like in the 1800s. All steamship adventures include a narration explaining the lake’s role in the region’s history and development. The stern-wheeler accommodates 120 passengers with open space on the upper deck as well as tables and chairs.
Check out the area’s beer scene. The Southern Tier Brewing Co. Empty Pint Pub & Distillery produces more than 100,000 barrels of beer annually, and the company lavishes painstaking attention on each bottle. Find out for yourself at the Empty Pint, the taproom for the state-of-the-art production brewery in Lakewood. The sprawling outdoor beer garden is open seasonally and shoppers can also purchase packed beer to go. Enjoy delicious sandwiches and tacos to accompany your beverage.
Travel back in time to your childhood with a visit to Mountain Adventures, where a series of nets, ropes and platforms challenge climbers to new heights. Explorers wear a harness to ensure safety while climbing to the treetops.
Chautauqua has long been a haven for artists seeking inspiration in western New York’s wide-open spaces and lush woods. Tour the county’s many galleries and collections to sample local, regional and nationally recognized artists. Embark on Art Trail and Open Studio & Gallery Tours to make new creative discoveries. Visit places where the artists and walk the vineyards, towns hills and lake shores that fuel the inspiration of photographers, painters, potters, sculptors, artists, jewelers and stained-glass artists.
Chautauqua is chock-full of jaw-dropping natural attractions. See giant rocks at Panama Rock Scenic Park, just south of town. The rugged rock faces of this natural attraction have dazzled explorers for generations. At Jamestown’s Audubon Community Nature Center, visitors can see the vibrant nature that inspired Roger Tory Peterson, the naturalist who illustrated so much wildlife in the 20th century.
The Big Apple is like nowhere else on the planet, and it should come as little surprise that it’s among the country’s most popular urban destinations. At the center of it all is Manhattan, with its gargantuan skyscrapers, incredible museums, and lively public spaces.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Easily the city’s most celebrated museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (AKA the Met) features one of the most impressive collections of art anywhere in the world. Works here exceed two million pieces, spread across three buildings. The main building sits right on the edge of Central Park and is one of the largest art galleries on earth, displaying works from around the world ranging from Old Master paintings to Egyptian Antiquities. There’s also a second location, The Cloisters, which features medieval art and tapestries in an appropriately designed building, complete with its own cloistered gardens. The newest part of the museum, the Met Breuer, focuses on contemporary and modern art.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
The foremost modern art museum in the United States, the MoMA is home to one of the world’s finest collections of modern and contemporary art, with masterpieces by the likes of Picasso, Gaugin, Matisse, Rousseau, Van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock. Pieces of note include The Starry Night by Van Gogh, Matisse’s The Dance I, and Rousseau’s The Dream. The library here is also particular impressive, with a huge collection of books and periodicals about art from 1880 to the present.
Top of the Rock Observation Deck
If you want some fantastic views (and photos) of Manhattan, make your way to the observation deck of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, known as the Top of the Rock. There are three decks in total, spanning floors 67, 69 and 70, two of which are completely outdoors. The visit starts with an exhibit on the mezzanine level, with artifacts and informational displays about the Rockefeller Center, followed by an elevator ride up to the Radiance Wall, a glass installation created by Swarovski. From here, make your way to the Breezeway, with its interactive color displays. The best views are on the top floor, with no obstructive enclosures or glass.
As the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, the tower, officially known as One World Trade Center, is a bucket-list destination that includes hands-on exhibits and interactive tours that put the Big Apple’s other landmarks at your fingertips. Seeking to burn off some calories? A walk or jog across the Brooklyn Bridge’s 1.3-mile pedestrian walkway is a fantastic way to see the Big Apple.
As one of the most recognizable figures in the world, The Statue of Liberty is a national treasure and a symbol of inspiration and hope. It was Édouard de Laboulaye, French jurist, poet, author and anti-slavery activist, who proposed the idea of presenting this monumental gift from the people of France. Standing more than 150 feet tall, the Statue of Liberty has come to define New York Harbor. Erected in the late 19th century, the world-famous sculpture of a woman dressed in flowing robes and holding aloft a bright torch stands on Liberty Island and faces incoming ships. Welcoming newcomers to the United States, the Statue of Liberty is an enduring American symbol of freedom and tolerance. The statue and island are accessible to the public only by boat; tours usually start at the Battery in Lower Manhattan. Some of the best photos can be had straight from the boat, and it’s worth paying extra to go inside the iconic statue. Note that tickets to access Lady Liberty’s Crown are limited, but if you’re lucky to get one, it’s worth climbing the 146 steps to see stellar views of the harbor below.
The lungs of New York City, Central Park is a popular hangout spot for locals and visitors alike. It’s home to meandering pathways, ponds and plenty of trees, making it ideal for cycling, jogging, and just taking a stroll. With 843 acres of green lawns, cultivated gardens, meandering streams and dramatic rock work, this rustic getaway in the heart of Manhattan sets the standard for urban green spaces. Take in the sweeping views from the newly restored Park landmark, the Belvedere. Stop and enjoy a concert in the park.
The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park offers gorgeous views south from the northern edge of the reservoir. Near mid-park, the 20-acre lake is used for boating in the summer and ice skating in the winter. On the south end, the pond is one of Central Park’s seven natural bodies of water. It has become a serene escape, just feet from Fifth Avenue. And don’t miss the Conservatory Garden, a six-acre formal garden. Divided into three smaller gardens, each with a distinct style, Italian, French and English. Other highlights inside the park include the Central Park Carousel and the Delacorte Theater (where you can check out theatrical performances in summer months) along with plenty of public art and sports areas. There are even boulders for rock climbers.
In the heart of Midtown Manhattan, Times Square is a major tourist destination that’s best-known as the site of the city’s annual New Year’s Eve ball drop. It’s equally celebrated for its bright digital billboards and is a fun and vibrant place to hang out and people watch day or night, throughout the year. You can also buy last-minute Broadway theater tickets here at rock-bottom prices (though you may have to wait in line for a bit). Billed as the “Crossroads of the World,” it’s crowded with tourists, street performers, pizza joints and hot dog carts, but there’s no better introduction to the high-energy streets of the City that Never Sleeps. From there, lovers of art and artifacts can explore some of the world’s greatest collections at museums like the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art and the redesigned Whitney Museum.
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum
Located at the former site of the Twin Towers, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum stands tribute to the lives lost at the World Trade Center, both on September 11th, 2001 and the bombing of 1993. The memorial here honors those who died in both series of attacks, with the name of each of the fallen inscribed on bronze parapets. The museum is dedicated to telling the story of 9/11 with a range of exhibits that include interactive displays and artifacts from the attack.
Take a ferry tour to Ellis Island, part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, located in New York Harbor about a mile west of the southern tip of Manhattan. This legendary complex was the epicenter for immigrants who made the courageous voyage to the U.S. between 1892 and 1954. More than 12 million people were evaluated in the labyrinthine rooms and hallways of Ellis Island’s processing center. The signature Ellis Island Museum of Immigration experience includes up-close views of the Statue of Liberty, followed by poignant, often heart-wrenching accounts of the immigrants’ journeys.
Empire State Building
Standing at 1,454 feet (102 stories), the Empire State Building is one of New York City’s most enduring icons. Defining the skyline, this majestic structure speaks to the glory that is Manhattan. Sublime panoramas can be found on the outdoor deck that wraps around the entire circumference of the 86th-floor observatory and on the 102nd-floor indoor deck.
Niagara Falls has to be seen to be believed. The 167-high torrent of water that plunges with thundering impact into the Niagara River is a spectacle of sight and sound. The fall’s mist is thick enough to drench visitors who get close, a visceral reminder of the sheer force of the roaring cascade. The falls are situated on the border between Ontario and New York, and the Empire State side of Niagara Falls gives visitors lots of viewpoints to view this amazing spectacle. Grab a picnic basket and find a spot overlooking one of North America’s most popular spectacles.
Mighty Cataract – Niagara Falls, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Cave of the Winds
Occupying land between the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls, this historic island is named for a herd of goats that grazed here in the 18th century. These days, the island offers commanding views of the Niagara River rapids, as well as access to Luna Island and the Three Sisters Islands. A picnic area provides the perfect opportunity to fuel up amidst all of the sightseeing.
Whirlpool State Park
The thundering Falls aren’t the only sight that’ll get your heart pumping in Niagara Falls: the downstream Class V rapids known as the Niagara Whirlpool are a thrill to experience, too. Take in panoramic views of the rapids at a picnic table along the top level of the park.
West Canal Marina
Located directly on the Erie Canal, this 27-acre park offers the perfect spot to soak up this historic landmark. Cast a line off the pier, or just gaze at the rippling waters. Kiddos in tow? Let them loose on the playground.
Fort Niagara State Park
On a clear day, you can gaze all the way to the Toronto skyline from a picnic table at this Lake Ontario shoreline park. Adjacent to the Old Fort Niagara Historic Site, this park also offers woodland hiking trails, playgrounds and historic markers. There are 400-some picnic tables — so your odds of finding a super scenic spot to spread out are good!
For More Information
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Welcome to Niagara Falls