By Mark Stevens. Now that the hustle and bustle of yet another stressful holiday season has come to an end, it’s time to take a deep breath and plan a quiet, relaxing weekend getaway. For those of you with children, see if grandma and grandpa have just enough patience left in the meter after the holidays to keep the kids for the weekend. And what better find, than what’s been referred to as “a winter scene out of a Currier and Ives postcard.” Welcome to Findley Lake, N.Y.
Located in southwestern Chautauqua County, the hamlet of Findley Lake, and the lake itself was established in 1815. The settlement then grew from there. For more than two hundred years, visitors have enjoyed this four-season destination. Sit back and let us be your guide to finding Findley Lake.
Where to Stay…
Blue Heron Inn
Just like the large wading bird this historic bed and breakfast is named after, the Blue Heron Inn is located on the open shores of picturesque Findley Lake. It’s stately presence has a warm and inviting splendor complete with nature-inspired cottage decor. Each cozy and relaxing guest room also features a private bath and antique furnishings.
The Inn also comes equipped with a second floor landing where guests can kick back and relax with a good book. I recently had a chance to speak with one of the owners, Tobi Ahlquist.
Celebrating 20 years in business, Tobi told me, “when we have a typical winter, the snow never leaves, It’s beautiful. After the holidays we get people looking for some kind of slow-down and Findley Lake is in everyone’s backyard essentially.”
The Inn at the Peek
The crown jewel of Findley Lake is Peek’n Peak Resort. This year round destination features a wide range of seasonal activities from skiing to golfing. Its Old English, Tudor-style design provides the perfect backdrop of a European getaway here at home. It features stained glass windows, chandeliers and grand fireplaces. There are seven different types of recently renovated rooms, including a deluxe jacuzzi suite.
Where to Dine…
Blue Heron Inn
From home-made quiche and multi-grain French toast for breakfast to a Reuben sandwich or catfish grinder for lunch and grilled salmon, baby-back ribs, or prime Black Angus NY Strip steak for dinner, visitors of the Blue Heron can enjoy casual, comfortable and full-service dining. Serving hours are seasonable and reservations are suggested. The Pub there also features microbrews, wines and spirits.
Royal Court Dining Room at Peek’n Peak
While there are a selection of great restaurants at the resort, the Royal Court Dining Room offers its guests the red carpet treatment. If you’re seeking that elegant dinner for two on your special weekend get-away, then you’re in luck. The restaurant is located between the golf course and ski slopes and strives to offer exquisite flavors from around the world.
Located in nearby Sherman, Pine Junction offers a wide assortment of dishes to satisfy all appetites. They include Angus burgers and steaks to pork chops and specialty sandwiches, with cheesecake and home-made pies for dessert.
Co-owner Shirlee Pound told me “Findley Lake was built in part for the winter season.” And winter visitors help generate a much needed economic boom for the area. I have recently dined there and particularly enjoyed the friendly service, great food, rustic atmosphere and the new addition.
Banking on the success of Pine Junction, Shirlee and her husband Lonnie built Brigadoons just two miles down the road from their flagship, right in the heart of Findley Lake on the corner of Main and Shady Side. Brigadoons is a cottage-style restaurant that stays open all winter winter. It offers a different pub-style menu, complete with gourmet pizzas, baked wings, sandwiches and salads. Their rotating craft beer taps, which exclusively pour New York State brewed beers, are also a draw. Perfect for that quick meal after a fun-filled day of frolicking in the snow.
Dutch Village Restaurant and Gift Shop
Located in nearby Clymer, the Dutch Village Restaurant and Gift Shop is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. From sweet potato pancakes to the homemade soup du jour to their famous meatloaf dinner, this out of the way get-away is the perfect choice to experience that small town charm. And for those who like to shop on a full stomach, the gift shop is attached and offers a variety of treasures like candles, furniture and endless scrapbooking supplies.
Where to Shop…
Our Own Candle Company
The Best Scent. The Best Color. The Best Burn. That’s the promise of one of Findley Lake’s well-established retail stores, Our Own Candle Company. Located on the corner of North and Main, the store caters to the ultimate candle lover. Made from a blend of paraffin and soy, the candles are not only affordable but also come in fifty different scents and are featured in a variety of glass jars. It also features a little something for everyone including home decor, seasonal items, antiques, gift baskets and jewelry. Look for its new home-made soaps and sassy candle scents collection.
Unlocking the door to past treasures is the secret to this store’s success. Located in the heart of Main Street and next door to the fire hall, the Secret Cubby offers shoppers the chance to hunt and browse the cubbies for the latest antiques and vintage home decor. Bonus…there’s also a coffee house on the premises! Winter hours are Thursday through Monday 10 to 5.
The Nostalgia Shop at the Blue Heron Inn
Once again we turn to owner Tobi Ahlquist who says she buys things she knows her established customers are looking for and hopes new customers will like as well. She says she buys and showcases unique items shoppers won’t find everywhere, items that are as unique and charming as the area itself. This eclectic collection of gifts at the Nostalgia Shop include toys, games and candy as well as jewelry, leather and glass.
September Moon Art Gallery
Don’t let the name fool you, as the September Moon Art Gallery looks to ring in the new year with new art, new ideas and a new product. Located on Main Street, the gallery offers a little something for everyone’s pallet and showcases unique gifts, a wide variety of works from award-winning artists, hand-carved wood flowers and jewelry. Art ranges from original paintings to cards of prints and beach glass art. The gallery is open Thursday through Sunday.
Wonderments Wine and Gifts
After a day of sightseeing, eating and shopping, our next stop on our Findley Lake tour will leave you wondering why you hadn’t stopped in before, Wonderments Wine and Gifts is located on Main Street and offers wines from around the world and here at home. Serving the area for forty years, the retailer also features the finest French soaps and spa products, as well as greeting cards, and antiques.
Where to Wine…
Quincy Cellars, Ripley
Now that your wallet may be a bit emptier from all that shopping and your stomach a bit fuller from all that eating, no couples-only romantic get-away would be complete without a little sampling of the grape at a few nearby wineries.
Let’s begin with Quincy Cellars in nearby Ripley. From Merlot to Riesling, tasters are invited to stop by the historic renovated barn and authentic stone tasting cellar. Located on West Main Street, not far from Findley Lake, the winery is housed in a 130 year old, three-story barn and was named to honor the heritage of the community in which it sits. Quincy Cellars offers two product lines including wines that are suitable for any occasion or better left kept for a special gathering.
Sparkling Ponds, Ripley
Add a little sparkle to your experience and take a one-of-a-kind wine tasting adventure with a visit to Sparkling Ponds, also in nearby Ripley. Dubbed the “fun winery,” Sparkling Ponds offers tasters a chance to sit in the gazebo, enjoy the water fountain and relax with a glass of wine at a quaint table for two or near the fire pit. It’s non-traditional names for its wines include Woman Pleaser and Man Teaser. During this off-season, the winery is open Wednesday through Sunday.
Sensory Wine and Art Gallery in Ripley
This contemporary and abstract gallery combines both a passion for wine and art. Using all five senses, Sensory Wine and Art Gallery showcases visual art-works, taste and smell wines, sound, music and video commentary. It too features non-traditional names for what it calls it’s small-lot, highly-blended cult wines including, Nocturnal, Darvon and Versim. It’s open in the winter Friday through Sunday.
Where to Play…
Peek’n Peak Resort
For those couples wanting to put a little more adventure into their relaxing winter weekend get-away, then a return to Peek’n Peak is a must. Whether it’s skiing, tubing, or snowboarding, the Peek has the ticket, and rental equipment for your favorite snow sport.
Where to Relax…
Serenity Spa by Aveda
Relax. Unwind. Rejuvenate. Words to live by after a visit to Serenity Spa at Peek’n Peak. The luxury spa offers a variety of soothing treatments including Swedish and hot stone massage, body treatments and facials. Leave the stress of life behind as you escape and embark on a journey of ultimate relaxation. Couples treatments and spa packages are available as well.
So whether you’re out to wine and dine, relax or play, Findley Lake and the surrounding area is designed for you to create your own Currier and Ives picture postcard experience.
Originally from New England, Mark Stevens is a writer and journalist who lives in Jamestown, NY with his wife and three children. He enjoys travelling and spending time with family and friends.