When you're in the Buffalo and Niagara Falls area, consider a trip approximately 60 mi/95 km south to the Allegheny Plateau, in the far-southwest corner of the state. Part of a dissected plateau that runs through Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, this rugged region adjoins the Allegheny Mountains and is home to several interesting and distinct communities.
Chautauqua is the site of the Chautauqua Institution, an internationally known center for arts, education, religion and outdoor recreation. In the 19th century, the Chautauqua lecture circuit was a combination of college, news broadcasts and talk radio. Today, the institution's nine-week season (June-August) gives visitors a chance to see and hear symphonies, pops concerts, operas in English, theater, art exhibits and lectures.
If you've got the time, there is a summer school with hundreds of courses, workshops and arts seminars. Tennis, biking and sailing are popular leisure activities. Chautauqua offers accommodations in Victorian and modern-style rental homes, inns, condos and hotels.
A drive around the Chautauqua area reveals friendly towns and villages sprinkled amid rolling hills and farmland. Former railroad tracks in towns such as Mayville and Sherman have been converted to trails, and today provide access for hikers, cyclists, runners and walkers.
The Lily Dale Assembly, a 35-minute drive north of the Chautauqua Institution, is one of the oldest and largest spiritualist communities in the country. During the summer, its quaint homes are occupied by mediums who give readings.
Head a few miles/kilometers to the southeast of Chautauqua to the historic city of Jamestown. It has many notable buildings constructed in a wide range of styles, from Gothic revival to art deco. TV buffs can stop in at the modest but entertaining Lucy-Desi Museum, a shrine to hometown girl Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz, as well as the Desilu Playhouse with its recreated sets. If you're in the area in early August, don't miss Lucy Fest, a festival of stand-up comedy, special events and Lucy look-alikes.
Popular Allegany State Park, in the town of Salamanca, has many campsites and is adjacent to one of the Seneca Nation of Indians reservations. Its wildlife includes beavers, raccoons, deer, game birds and black bears. As you drive through the region, look for the signs denoting Amish homes where you can buy homemade arts and crafts. Because the park is a popular locale, it's best to call ahead for reservations, especially if you want to stay overnight. Phone 716-354-9121. http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/73/details.aspx.
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