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)
Upper Crust Cafe and Bakery
With comfortable surroundings, soups made completely from scratch, and homemade baked goods, Upper Crust Bakery & Soup Co. in the Victorian village of Fredonia is a prime winter hideaway. Baker and General Manager Jim Mikula says, “The difference between us and them is the love, gotta have the love!” That ladies and gentlemen, is why the food tastes so good. (25 E. Main St., Fredonia. Phone: 716.672.2253. Website: www.uppercrustfredonia.com. Open 7a-7p Mon-Sat. Closed Sundays.)
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
Specializing in Farm to Glass spirits, the newly opened Southern Tier Distilling Company is a must visit for cocktail aficionados. The cozy industrial tasting room, dubbed The Empty Bottle, sample flights and fresh crafted cocktails create the perfect atmosphere for great conversation. Stop in on Saturday’s just before 3pm for a tour. (2051A Stoneman Circle. Lakewood. Phone: 716.763.5479. Hours: Fri 4p-10p, Sat 2p-10p, Sun 12p-6p.)
Brazil Craft Beer and Wine Lounge
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. Brazil Craft Beer and Wine Lounge recently started serving vegetarian eats from the Labyrinth Press Company, located at street level. Weekly events and Tuesday board game nights make this a popular destination. (10 E 4th St. Jamestown. Phone: (716) 708-2471. Website: www.brazil-jamestown.com)
Johnson Estate Winery
The tasting room is housed in what was once a historic cold apple storage building. Since 2011, the facility has been updated in a way that pays homage to the 100 year-old space, but allows visitors a glimpse of the wine making process. Tours of Johnson Estate Winery can be arranged by appointment and weather permitting, cross country ski tours of the vineyards will be scheduled. (8419 West Main Road (Route 20) Westfield. Phone 716.326.2191. Website: www.johnsonwinery.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. The Pub is 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)
The Studio at Panterra
The Studio at Panterra is a naturally peaceful yoga and movement facility. Surrounded by the serene waterfalls and park-like environment of the Bell Creek Gorge, the studio is the perfect place to study and practice year round. Classes are open to all ages and levels of experience. The studio runs on an 8 week session schedule, but single class drop-in rates and private instruction are available. (8579 Hardscrabble Road, Westfield. Phone: 716.326.3993. Website: www.studiopanterra.com)
A unique gem in the heart of downtown Jamestown! Phoenix Rising Wellness Studio connects members of the community by hosting events and workshops aimed at promoting wellness of the mind, body and spirit. Events are posted on the studio’s Facebook page and include weekly meditation and yoga classes, candle making and vision board workshops, paint nights, poetry nights, and more. The space is free to use if you are interested in hosting an event in line with the studio’s mission. (212 Pine Street, Jamestown. Phone: 716.708.6556. Website: www.phoenixrisingstudio.org)
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.
This 2016 edition is an adaptation of Margot Russell’s original 2015 post. All updates were done by the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau staff.