By Margot Russell
In the midst of snow-filled days, we look for those “clean well-lighted” places written about by Ernest Hemingway—a place to escape to when we’ve grown weary of our own four walls.
There’s a winter wonderland in Chautauqua County waiting to escape to—a place to embrace the winter rather than endure it. From cozy teahouses to softly lit restaurants serving bowls of steaming soup, and warm lodges nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, there’s something for everyone here that will make believers out of the most serious of winter curmudgeons.
Here is a list of our cozy, well-lit places—a list that would even impress Mr. Hemingway.
Restaurants and Local Flavor
Lana’s The Little House
It could be that the best time to pull up to Lana’s The Little House is in the midst of winter. The beautiful storybook cottage in Forestville is right out of a European fairytale, and guests say there’s nothing better than scurrying out of the cold to alight inside for a hot cup of tea and a tour of this art-filled cottage and gift shop. Owner Lana Lewis only gives out the address and details upon reservation, and hundreds of happy visitors from around the world have done just that. (Phone: 716-965-2798. Website: Lanasthelittlehouse.com)
If you’re looking for a cup of coffee to warm your toes, Stedman Corners Cafe in Mayville makes for a charming stop, and the locals swear by the coffee. Once a general store, breakfast and lunch are served in a cozy and eclectic atmosphere. They serve and sell locally-roasted coffee, too, which is probably why it’s so good. (Open Tue– Sat, 7 am –2 pm. Sunday at 8 am. 6335 Magnolia-Stedman Rd, Mayville. Phone: (716) 789-5047)
Ye Hare’n Hounds
This restaurant’s simple elegance invites the winter traveler in for a warm meal and a tall glass of wine, but it’s the roaring fireplaces that seal the deal. Built as a replica of an old English inn, Ye Hare and Hounds Inn in Bemus Point has been warming travelers and locals alike since 1921. Choose the “Bar Bites” menu for lighter fare along with a special coffee drink. (64 Lakeside Dr., Bemus Point. Phone: 716-386-2181. Call for winter hours.)
This charming restaurant at Peek ‘n Peak Resort offers an award-winning Sunday brunch piled high with homemade muffins, fruits, cheeses and other offerings, but the atmosphere is just as delicious as the food. A grand fireplace welcomes you in from the cold, enhanced by old-world ambience with warm wood furniture and beveled glass windows in the dining room. (B,L,D served daily. 1405 Old Road, Peek ’n Peak Resort, Clymer. Phone: 716.355.4141 ext. 7155. Website: www.pknpk.com)
Inns and Resorts
The Spencer Hotel and Spa
Nestled on the grounds of the timeless Chautauqua Institution, treat yourself to a winter getaway at this historic landmark that happily keeps its doors open in the winter months. Each room is filled with books that honor famous authors and there’s plenty of cozy spaces to play a board game or curl up with a good novel. Sleep in on snowy mornings before heading out for a sleigh ride around the charming grounds of the Institution, offered on weekends from December 26 to February 28. A perfect winter getaway. (25 Palestine Ave., Chautauqua Institution. Phone: 800-398-1306. Website: www.thespencer.com)
While skiing is one way to embrace the winter months, there’s more to this resort than downhill pursuits. There’s a grand Tudor-style inn to relax in, a lovely spa for pampering, and an indoor pool that will shake off your winter blues. The inn’s grand fireplace will be the centerpiece of a lovely snow-filled weekend. (1405 Old Rd, Clymer. Phone: 716-355-4141. Website: www.pknpk.com)
The Oaks Bed and Breakfast
It must be the charming details and old-world flare that is so pleasing to its winter guests. The Oaks is the sort of place you want to curl up with a hot toddy and watch it snow from the window. Century-old oaks surround this grand mansion, and the interior boasts original details like exposed ceiling beams and pictorial ceramic tile. Each of its ten guest rooms is unique, but you’ll love the well-appointed public spaces too, like the entertainment room with a wet bar and pool table. (1103 West Third Street, Jamestown. Phone: 716-720-5267. Website: www.theoaksbandbhotel.com)
Wine and Hot Toddies
Brazil Craft Beer and Wine Lounge
Serving winter cocktails called Pumpkin Pie and Stormy Evening Shandy, you’re guaranteed a warm toddy and a seat at the bar if you get there early. A creative craft beer menu and a good wine list will give you something to toast and may inspire you to make this lounge your top winter hideaway. (10 E 4th St. Jamestown. Phone: (716) 708-2471. Website: www.brazil-jamestown.com)
There’s something about a 130-year-old barn that promises respite from the cold, and Quincy Cellars will warm you from the inside out with a lineup of stellar wines. The tasting room is housed in a cozy old cellar—the perfect place to stow away on a wintry afternoon. (10606 W Main Rd, Ripley. Phone: (716) 736-2021. Website: www.quincycellars.com)
The Lounge at the Landmark Restaurant
The Landmark’s lounge is the place for a cocktail served in front of a warm fire along with small plates of comfort food offered on a separate bar menu. The cream of crab soup is inspiring, but you can’t go wrong with pot roast on a winter’s night. (516 W. Fourth St., Jamestown. Phone: (716) 720-5633. Website: www.landmarkrestaurant.net)
Go for the brick and beam kind of charm when you’re looking for an intimate spot to gather with friends. Along with its inviting atmosphere, you’ll find an eclectic mix of students, residents, and adoring fans all clamoring for a pint of this brewery’s creative, hand-crafted beer. (34 Main Street, Fredonia. Phone: (716) 679-7939. Website: www.ellicottvillebrewing.com)
This is the place where everyone knows your name, which makes it a great place for lunch and a beer on a blustery day. It’s a throwback to a different era, where you can cuddle in a booth or chat with locals at the bar. (209 N Main St. Jamestown Phone: (716) 488-6036. Website: thepubjamestown.com)
Author Margot Russell is a journalist and freelance writer whose column “Lakewood Lens” appears in the Jamestown Post-Journal on Saturday. She is a script writer for the History Channel and an International Tour Director. She recently moved back to the area and loves the idyllic snowscapes and the timeless, old fashioned charm of Chautauqua in winter. She lives in Lakewood.