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To Plan A Trip

March 2023
1min read

The Chautauqua season runs nine weeks, from late June through August, attracting 180,000 visitors and residents. For information on packages, programs, and accommodations, contact the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY 14711 (1-800-836-ARTS). The Division of Tourism for New York State provides maps and brochures on the Chautauqua-Allegheny region.

Of the dozens of hotels and boardinghouses, the 1881 Athenaeum is the acknowledged star. A huge wooden structure with a cupola and a rambling porch filled with rocking chairs, it demands a visit even if you stay elsewhere. I was perfectly comfortable at its smaller, plainer neighbor on the lakefront, the William Baker Hotel.

Chautauqua’s founders were concerned that it “may become merely a successful resort.” It remained faithful to its mandate, but it does offer tennis, golf, boating, and swimming. Perhaps the best entertainment is simply strolling the grounds, which somehow seem denser and richer than the three-mile circumference would suggest. Be sure to look for the lovely little Chapel of the Good Shepherd, tucked away in a glade, and visit the busy Arts and Crafts Quadrangle, which commands a hill at the northern end. Then spend some time at Palestine Park, down at the lakefront, where the whole endeavor began, and you’ll have described a triangle that encloses most of the other sights. Palestine Park holds a scale model of the Holy Land, complete with ditches that represent the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, while the lake fills in as the Mediterranean. It was fashioned in 1874 to help the first Sunday-school teachers learn their Bible, and an old-timer fondly characterized it as “goofy.”

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