Things to do in Chautauqua, NY
The Spencer Hotel & Spa’s fantastic location makes it easy to explore everything Chautauqua has to offer. From restaurants and breweries to the Chautauqua Institute’s summer season, you can easily take advantage of all our great attractions.
Make sure to access our free Vacation Guide to find more great things to do in the Chautauqua area. We’ve made it easy to plan your perfect vacation!
Below, you’ll find some of our top picks for things to do in Chautauqua, NY. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Our Favorite Things to do in Chautauqua, NY!
The Chautauqua Institute
The most popular attraction in our area is the Chautauqua Institute. It’s a non-profit educational center and summer resort for adults and youth. For nine weeks during the summer, the Institute hosts fascinating lectures, concerts, shows, and movie screenings. Simply pay the gate ticket to enter and you’re free to attend most of the lectures and concerts held on the grounds.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!
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 outdoors attraction so be sure to set aside some time to explore.
Art Galleries and Museums
The Chautauqua area is a bastion of art and history. The Institute has welcomed many historic 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 Institute’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 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!
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!
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.