Destinations

Road trip: Chautauqua Lake is just 2.5 hours north of Pittsburgh

Relax by the lake, take a hike and don’t miss Alpacaville

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been cooped up at home for too long and are itching to get away for a little while and escape. COVID hasn’t made traveling easy this year, but there are some great weekend and day trips you can take that are a short drive from Pittsburgh.

While doing some research on where my fiance, pup, and I could escape for a weekend this fall, I came across Chautauqua Lake. Of all of my 27 years in Pittsburgh, I had never been to Chautauqua, New York. After checking out the visitor’s website, I found out that there is lots to do at Chautauqua Lake and decided to plan the trip.

Last weekend, we left for Chautauqua around 2 p.m. and arrived around 4:30 p.m. Chautauqua is only about 2.5 hours north of Pittsburgh and the drive along 79 was absolutely beautiful with all of the leaves changing colors. When you first get off the exit, you are welcome by a bridge that gives you a full view of the lake. The autumn leaves reflecting on the water makes the view even more beautiful.

Fall leaves Chautauqua Lake
Photo: Carly Luitgaarden

The Village of Bemus Point

There are several Airbnbs for under $100 a night on the lake. There are also some great hotel and bed-and-breakfast options right on the water at Bemus Point, the main part of the lake where the restaurants and shopping are.

After we got settled in, we went to Wegmans grocery store to buy some food for the weekend. If you would prefer to eat at a restaurant or do take-out by the water, try The Village Casino restaurant. If you have a boat, you can order while you’re docked! We cooked a late dinner, and bundled up to make s’mores around the bonfire. The weather was perfect and we were able to see the stars so clearly over the lake.

Chautauqua Lake
Photo: Carly Luitgaarden

The next morning, I was able to get my pumpkin spice latte at the local Starbucks before starting on our fall excursion. If you’d rather try a local delicacy for breakfast, go to Hogan’s Hut. While it may just seem like a gas station and general store, their breakfast sandwiches are second to none.

What to do around Chautauqua Lake

Lakeview Cemetery, Chautauqua Lake
Photo: Carly Luitgaarden

Our first stop for the weekend was the Lakeview Cemetery, to see where Lucille Ball was buried. If you are an I Love Lucy fan, this is a must-do on your trip! This was especially beautiful because of the fall foliage.

Later that day, we went for a hike at Long Point State Park which is about 15 minutes from Chautauqua Lake. We downloaded the AllTrails app to find an easy hiking trail near where we stayed. Like the tourists we are, we stopped at Bemus Point on the way back to check out the gift shop and get ourselves a T-shirt.

Although we ran out of time, Pumpkinville was on our to-do list, too. It is a large farm with a huge fall festival about an hour away from Chautauqua in Great Valley, New York. Another item on our list that we are saving for next time is Alpacaville, an alpaca farm near the lake.

Photo: Alpacaville

Who knew such a cute town and beautiful lake existed just a short drive up north. There is so much to do at Chautauqua Lake, and the views are beautiful in the fall. We will definitely be going back soon!

Where to stay in Chautauqua, NY

Here are few of our picks for where to stay in Chautauqua. These price/night are for the fall season and are likely to go up in the warmer months. You can see all of these places on a map on TripAdvisor here.

Hotels:

Condos & houses:

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