Our Favorite Things to do in Chautauqua, NY!

The Winter Village at Chautauqua

2018 Dates: Weekends, Nov. 23–Dec. 31

Continuing a new tradition launched last year, Chautauqua Institution will host the 2018 Winter Village at Chautauqua on selected weekends starting Nov. 23 through New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31. The festivities will highlight on-grounds shopping and dining and include special events such as wine and food pairing dinners, Breakfast with Santa, horse-drawn carriage and sleigh rides, and other seasonal activities.

The lineup will include some of the most popular events and features of its inaugural year — kids can visit with Santa and write him letters in new Poetry Makerspace, and pups will sport their holiday best for the Reindog Parade. Exciting new events and vendors include Coffee & Canvas, snow-shoeing across the grounds, holiday movies and a holiday concert featuring La Bella Voce Trio.

The 2018 Winter Village kicks off at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23, when the holiday lights and displays on Bestor Plaza will be illuminated for the first time of the season. On-ground shops and restaurants will be invited to stay open late that night, and holiday music will fill the plaza. Santa will arrive on a horse-drawn carriage to signal the launch of Chautauqua’s Winter Village.

Admission and parking are free, and overnight accommodations are available here at The Spencer Hotel & Spa. 

The 2018 Winter Village festival is made possible in large part by a gift from the Branch family, in memory of Paul and Toni Branch.

In the meantime, the Chautauqua Institution grounds remain open to the public with no entry or parking fees until our 2019 summer season begins on June 22.

Friday, November 23 | 5p–9p
• Winter Village Kickoff with Santa’s Parade 5p
• Visits with Santa: St. Elmo Lobby 5:30p–9p
• Horse-drawn Carriage Rides 5:30p–9p
• Wine Tasting & Small Plates: Hultquist Center, time TBD, reservations required

Saturday, November 24 | 11a–5p
• Visits with Santa: St. Elmo Lobby, 11a – 5p
• Holiday Story Time: The Smith Memorial Library, 1p
• Lloyd’s Food Truck & Holiday Beer Selections

Sunday, November 25 | 11a–5p
• Coffee and Canvas: Hultquist Center, time TBD, reservations required
• Professional Holiday Window Paintings at the Colonnade


Week 2

Saturday, December 1 | 11a–5p
• Pet Photos with Santa: 11a–2p & 3p–5p
• Horse-drawn Carriage Rides: 1p – 5p
• Holiday Story Time: The Smith Memorial Library 1p
• Pet Costume Parade 2p – 3p

Sunday, December 2 | 11a–5p
• Meet Santa’s Reindeer 11-5p
• Horse-drawn Carriage Rides 1p–5p
• Guided Holiday Card Creation in the Poetry Makerspace


Week 3

Saturday, December 8 | 11a–5p
• Breakfast with Santa: La Familia Restaurant, 10a
• Visits with Santa: 11a–5p
• Horse-drawn Carriage Rides: 1p–5p
• Holiday Story Time: The Smith Memorial Library, 1p
• “A Classical Christmas” Concert Featuring La Bella Voce Trio: Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, 4p

Sunday, December 9 | 11a–5p
• Horse-drawn Carriage Rides: 1p–5p
• Tea with Clara from The Nutcracker (meet Clara and other characters from The Nutcracker ballet): 1p–3p
In partnership with the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet
• Wreaths & Wine – Create your own hand-made holiday wreath: Hultquist 3p Reservations Required


Week 4

Saturday, December 15 | 11a–5p
• Breakfast with Santa: La Familia Restaurant, 10a
• Visits with Santa: 11a–5p
• Holiday Story Time: The Smith Memorial Library, 1p
• Horse-drawn Carriage Rides 1p–5p
• Chili-Cook off

Sunday, December 16 |  11a–5p
• Horse-drawn Carriage Rides, 1p–5p
• Cupcake Decorating: 12p, 2p, 4p


Saturday, December 22 
Sunday, December 23


Week 5

Saturday, December 29 | 11a–5p
• Historic Snowshoeing Through the Grounds
• Wine Tasting & Small Plates: Hultquist Center, time TBD, reservations required
• Holiday Story Time: The Smith Memorial Library, 1p

Sunday, December 30 | 11a–5p
• Holiday Movies

Monday, December 31 | 5a–9p
• Sparklers at Miller Bell Tower: Ring in the new year with countries around the world

WinterVillage logo box

Chautauqua Institution

Chautauqua Institution is the most popular attraction in our area. It’s a non-profit educational center and summer resort for adults and youth. For nine weeks during the summer, the Institution hosts fascinating lectures, concerts, shows, and movie screenings. There are multiple events, activities, and classes available every day. Chautauqua Institution has something for all ages and interests. Simply pay the gate ticket to enter and you’re free to attend most of the lectures and concerts held on the grounds.The Spencer Hotel & Spa is located in the center of the Institution and is within walking distance of all Institution events. You can even watch the entertainment at the Amphitheater from our porches. The events change every year so check the calendar to find out what’s planned for the upcoming season!

Parks and Nature Trails

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature-lover, or just want to experience more of Chautauqua’s beautiful landscapes, you are sure to find the perfect park or nature trail here.

Chautauqua Gorge State Forest

For an easy hike, visit Chautauqua Gorge State Forest. This lush 538-acre woodland has an accessible ¼ mile loop trail that runs along a larch and spruce plantation. The trail takes about 15 minutes to walk and has two stopping areas to observe scenery or take photos. There is a picnic area available for use, so bring a lunch!

Chautauqua Rails-to-Trails

If you’re a mountain biker or an experienced hiker, don’t miss Chautauqua Rails-to-Trails. This continuous system of trails runs for miles, through woodlands, wetlands, and meadows. There’s a wide selection of trails to explore, from short walks through pastures to longer, more challenging hikes around Lake Erie.

Tour the Audubon Community Nature Center

Are you looking for a hike that’s also educational? Visit the Audubon Community Nature Center. This 600-acre wetland preserve includes over five miles of trails, a native tree arboretum, a natural play space, and educational gardens open for exploration! There is so much to do at this outdoor attraction so be sure to set aside plenty of time to explore.

Art Galleries and Museums

The Chautauqua area is a bastion of art and history. The Institution has welcomed many historical figures and artists since its founding in 1874, each leaving a trace of their legacy on the grounds. During your stay with us, take advantage of these fantastic galleries and museums.

Portage Hill Art Gallery

Portage Hill Art Gallery, located just 15 minutes from The Spencer Hotel & Spa, showcases work from regionally and nationally known artists. It’s open year-round, with extended hours during the Institution’s season. The gallery displays the work of over 100 artists in three rooms of the house. Check the calendar before your visit so you won’t miss out on any special exhibits or events.

Fenton History Center

Visit Fenton History Center for snapshots of Chautauqua County through the years. From the birth of one of America’s most famous comediennes, Lucille Ball, to Chautauqua’s role in the Underground Railroad, these exhibits give an in-depth and fascinating look into our beautiful area’s history. Visitors are encouraged to take a self-guided tour although guided tours are available by appointment.

Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum

Explore the lives and legacy of these two legends at the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum. From the personal history of Lucy and Desi to iconic memorabilia, this museum pays tribute to these important figures in comedy. Visit in early August to attend the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, where you can catch some of the most popular comedians working today!


We are so fortunate in Chautauqua to have incredible, locally-owned restaurants serving up delicious food so close. There is a wide selection of places to choose from so let us help you narrow it down! Here are three of our favorite restaurants in the area:

The Parkview

The Parkview takes pride in its creations, using locally sourced ingredients and making everything in the restaurant fresh daily, from the bread bowls right down to the homemade butter. Try the incredible seafood selection or treat yourself to a classic steak. No matter what you try, it’s bound to be delicious.


For a taste of Italy, visit the family-owned Andriaccio’s Restaurant. The diverse menu means that there’s something for everyone, from wings to classic Italian entrees. Best of all, this wonderful restaurant is just a three-minute drive from The Spencer Hotel & Spa!

Guppy’s Tavern

If you’re looking for quality food made from scratch served with a selection of local beers, visit Guppy’s Tavern! The food is simple but delicious, with huge burgers and sandwiches or incredible pizzas. Finish your meal with a delicious homemade dessert and you’re sure to be satisfied!

Heirloom Restaurant

Heirloom is a guest favorite during Chautauqua season. Try one of their perfectly cooked steaks, seafood, or pasta dishes. Heirloom is located inside the Athenaeum located a short walk from The Spencer Hotel. Try one of their house specialties, and don’t forget to pair it with a glass of wine from one of the local wineries. 


Chautauqua County is a wine lover’s dream. Some of the best wines in New York are made here. With dozens of wineries to choose from you are bound to find one you like. If you are more of a beer drinker, no worries, there are also some great breweries in the area to try.

Lake Erie Wine Country

The best way to experience the fantastic wineries in the Chautauqua area is with the Lake Erie Wine Country! The organization has made it easy to find unique, boutique wineries during your visit. Use the “Trip Planner” function on the website to create your customized wine tour. Choose from the over 20 wineries in the area, click “Create Tour,” and you’ll have a map that shows the best route to take!

Ellicottville Brewing Company

If you’re a fan of craft beers, visit Ellicottville Brewing on Chautauqua! Enjoy an amazing view of the Chautauqua Lake while sipping on delicious craft beers. Grab a bite to eat during your visit! Ellicottville Brewing Company serves classic pub meals with an elevated twist.

Southern Tier Brewing Co.

Take a tour of the Southern Tier Brewing Company! Located just 15 minutes from The Spencer Hotel & Spa, this brewery offers tours each Saturday at noon. The tours end with samples served in the tasting room which overlooks the new brewhouse. You can also enjoy their selection of classic pub food in their restaurant, The Empty Pint.