Embark on a lakeside adventure at what might just be the best-kept secret in Western New York—an enchanting Lake Chautauqua hotel nestled by the water.
Discover the story behind this lakeside haven in the town of Celoron, NY, where tranquility meets history with an amusing twist.
Buckle up and get ready to explore the many reasons this resort-style hotel is a standout in the world of lakeside retreats.
CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn about staying at the best Lake Chautauqua hotel, with things to see and do in the area, including:
About Lake Chautauqua
Ready to discover the allure of Lake Chautauqua, a year-round gem in western New York?
This expansive (15 mile) lake, shaped during a glacial retreat at the end of the Ice Age, beckons water enthusiasts with boating, fishing, and lakeside serenity. Its scenic landscapes and stunning natural vistas are perfect for hiking, biking, as well as other outdoor activities year round.
Though it’s not one of New York’s Finger Lakes, it’s sometimes called the “Thumb of the Finger Lakes” due to its location and position.
Along the shores of Lake Chautaqua, you’ll find many charming towns, each with a unique character. Some host cultural events against stunning lake scenes throughout the seasons.
In the town of Celoron, for instance, you can explore the birthplace of a famed comedian and visit the grounds of a once-popular amusement park. This adds a touch of nostalgia to this charming haven.
A visit to Lake Chautauqua promises a blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and other fun activities.
So, continue reading to learn what you need to know as you plan your trip to this delightful region.
How to Get to Lake Chautauqua / Celoron, New York
To reach Lake Chuatauqua, set your course for Celoron, New York.
Major highways, such as Interstate 86, provide you with convenient access to the region by car. Celoron is three hours or less from Northeast Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, and points in Western NY. It’s also just under 2 hours from Niagara Falls.
If you’re traveling by air, the nearest major airport is Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport (JHW), approximately 11 miles away.
Lake Chautauqua’s name is thought to have been given by Native American inhabitants describing the the shape: “bag tied in the middle.” Cinched at Bemus Point, you’ll discover numerous towns and villages on its shores.
The town of Celoron, on Prendergrast Point and walking distance to Jamestown, makes a great choice for your stay at the lake.
Whether you’re arriving from nearby Jamestown or venturing from afar, you’ll enjoy following the scenic routes that lead to the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel for an effortlessly accessible and picturesque lakeside retreat.
As you approach Chautauqua Lake, navigate towards Dunham Avenue in Celoron, where the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel‘s lakeside elegance awaits.
When I explored this region, I found the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel to be the ideal accommodations. Not only is this luxurious 4 Diamond AAA-rated hotel right on the lake’s edge (oh, the views!), it has a fascinating history.
Chautauqua Harbor Hotel’s Storied Background
Poised on the the former Celoron Amusement Park grounds, the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel encapsulates a spirited history echoing the joy of its past.
You see, in the early 20th century, Celoron Park was a bustling amusement destination on the southeast tip of Chautauqua Lake.
Opening in 1894, the park featured roller coasters, a carousel, steamboat dock, the Hotel DeCeloron, and even a toboggan slide down to the water. The Jamestown Street Railway trolley car line delivered visitors to what some call the “Coney Island” of Chautauqua.
While the park was dismantled in 1962, the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel seamlessly blends modern luxury with nods to its storied amusement park roots.
Built in 2018 on a 9-acre waterfront parcel, the hotel property features a large patio overlooking Chautauqua Lake and a lakeside Carousel Bar honoring the grand carousels of the past. A footbridge leads to “Sunset Island,” an ideal spot for photo shoots, ceremonies, and private receptions.
Throughout the hotel, it’s easy to step back in time through vintage photos in the hallways, which capture the liveliness of the former amusement park in black-and-white.
The transition from Celoron Park to the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel reflects the evolution of the region’s recreational landscape. Preserving the park’s lively spirit, this hotel offers an immersive experience that combines nostalgia with contemporary elegance.
Let’s take a look at what it’s like to stay at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel.
What To Expect at Chautauqua Harbor Hotel
A stay at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel is a relaxing, lakeside experience with all the luxuries you’d expect from a hotel of this caliber. Prepare to be wowed.
Luxury Hotel Amenities | Best Lake Chautauqua Hotel
The Chautauqua Harbor Hotel offers a plethora of onsite amenities to enhance your stay. Here are some of the ways the hotel ensures an outstanding Lake Chautauqua experience.
- Prime Location: Positioned on the shores of Chautauqua Lake provides, you’ll enjoy easy access to regional attractions and spectacular lake views.
- Historic Charm: Elegant common spaces and rooms seamlessly blend modern comfort with nods to the hotel’s storied past.
- Outdoor Patio: Immerse yourself in the scenic beauty of Chautauqua Lake on the outdoor patio, featuring al fresco dining and drinks, Adirondack chairs, and inviting fire-pits.
- Seasonal Treats: At checkin, indulge in seasonal delights with fall offerings like coffee, cider, crisp apples and baked items; it adds a touch of warmth and flavor to your experience!
- Friendly Desk Staff & Bellman Service: You’ll be greeted by friendly and efficient desk staff, ready to assist and ensure a smooth check-in.
- Professional Concierge Service: The hotel’s concierge service provides valuable insights that will enhance your stay and facilitate your exploration of the surrounding.
- Pools and Hot Tubs: Enjoy a refreshing swim in the indoor and outdoor pools, complemented by soothing hot tubs for ultimate relaxation.
- Fitness Room: You can stay active in the well-equipped fitness room, which makes it easy to maintain your wellness routine during your stay.
- Dining at Lakehouse Tap & Grille: Savor culinary delights with breathtaking lakeside scenes.
- Lakeside Carousel Bar: In the warmer months, this unique bar on the water pays tribute to grand carousels of yesteryear.
- Sunset Island: Walk across the footbridge to a man-made island perfect for weddings, private receptions, and performances.
- Putting Green: Practice your golf swing at the putting greens on the patio, a great precurser to the 4-star rated public golf courses and other courses in the region.
With its unique blend of luxury, lakeside elegance, and historical charm, Chautauqa Harbor Hotel‘s every detail contributes to a stay defined by sophistication and relaxation.
A Tour of My Room: Deluxe King Sofa Lake View Patio
My Deluxe King Sofa Lake View Patio guest room at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel was a haven of comfort and sophistication.
The spacious room is elegantly appointed with a deluxe king-size bed, offering a plush, tranquil escape after a day of lakeside adventures.
With a sofa for relaxation and a private patio, you can immerse yourself in the serene ambiance with breathtaking views of Chautauqua Lake.
Here are more details.
Extensive Room Amenities
Like Chautauqua Harbor Hotel itself, a stay in this room ensures you’ll have everything you need for a perfect lake getaway.
- Deluxe King Bed with Signature Bedding: Your spacious room features a deluxe king-size bed adorned with signature bedding for a restful and luxurious sleep experience.
- Sofa: A comfortable sofa adds to the room’s inviting ambiance, providing a cozy spot for relaxation and a suite-like living spaces.
- Lake View Balcony: Step onto your private balcony to enjoy breathtaking views of Chautauqua Lake. This serene outdoor space is ideal for your coffee, a glass of wine, or conversations while overlooking the lake.
- Elegant Decor: The room’s elegant decor with lake-inspired artwork creates a sophisticated and inviting atmosphere.
- Carpet-Free Space: Enjoy a spacious environment free of wall-to-wall carpet, which enhances the room’s cleanliness and offers a sleek aesthetic.
- Private Bathroom with Walk-in Shower: The en-suite bathroom provides modern convenience, featuring a walk-in shower. A separate vanity space outside the bathroom for additional privacy and convenience.
- Desk Space: If you need to work or plan your next adventure, enjoy the convenience of a comfortable, dedicated desk space in your room.
- Small In-room Fridge: Another convenience is the in-room fridge. It a a handy space to keep beverages, snacks, and restaurant take-aways cool during your stay.
- Modern Amenities: Take advantage of the complimentary high-speed internet, a flat-screen TV, and easy climate control during your stay.
The Deluxe King Sofa Lake View Patio guest room, like Chautauqua Harbor Hotel’s other guest rooms, is thoughtfully designed with an array of amenities to ensure a memorable and rejuvenating lakeside retreat.
Cleanliness and Attention to Detail
At the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, cleanliness and attention to detail are paramount, ensuring you a pristine and inviting environment.
The rooms undergo meticulous cleaning processes, so you can rest assured your guest room provides the highest standards of hygiene.
Every surface, from the indoor living spaces to the lake-view balcony, is tended to with unwavering commitment to your well-being.
Views: A Key Feature of the Best Lake Chautauqua Hotel
If you opt for a lake view guest room, you’re in for a captivating panorama of natural beauty. Stepping onto your private balcony, Chautauqua Lake unfolds before you, a serene expanse of water reflecting the changing hues of the sky.
The sight extends beyond the lake, encompassing a small man-made island connected by a footbridge—a tranquil oasis in the midst of the water.
Below are manicured grounds and a winding walking for leisurely strolls. It’s a picturesque setting in which to relax. The scenery is animated by a variety of waterbirds, their graceful flights and melodic calls adding to the ambiance.
As the sun descends, the sky transforms into a canvas of warm hues, casting a golden glow over the lake.This breathtaking spectacle is the perfect backdrop for serene evenings on your private retreat.
The views from your room showcase the natural splendor of Chautauqua Lake. But even if you choose a ‘village view’ room, you’re steps from these beautiful water scenes at the hotel’s patio.
Dining at Chautauqua Harbor Hotel
You’re in for a treat when you dine on-site at Chautauqua Harbor Hotel.
Choose indoor and outdoor seating with a view to enjoy enticing dishes, whether breakfast, lunch, dinner. Or, indulge in cocktails and appetizers at the bar. For the ultimate in privacy, you can also dine in-room.
Let’s explore what dining at Chautauqua Harbor Hotel might look like for you, based on my experience.
Lakehouse Tap & Grille | Hotel Restaurant
Lakehouse Tap & Grille at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel offers a pleasant dining experience complemented by the serene backdrop of Chautauqua Lake.
Here, the decor is warmly inviting, and the menu features a range of dishes prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, catering to various tastes.
Each of my dining experiences at the restaurant were positive and satisfying, with friendly staff and flavorfull offerings. It was all the better, dining with a view to Lake Chautauqua.
Dinner at Lakehouse Tap & Grille
I dined both evenings of my stay at Chautauqua Harbor Hotel at the on-site restaurant.
I kicked off my first dinner at Lakehouse Tap & Grille with a delightful complimentary basket of fresh breads and seasoned crackers, served alongside butter and olive tapenade. It was an inviting start to the evening.
The menu offers a range of delicious-sounding options from Filet Mignon, chicken dishes, hearty salads, Lobster Ravioli, and more. I was craving a lighter fare, so I opted for a small but flavorful combination.
The “Soup of the Sea” caught my eye, and I was treated to a generous bowl of this freshly prepared seafood stew. Brimming with complex flavors, in addition to a variety of tender whitefish and shellfish, the hearty mix included corn, red peppers, and potatoes, creating a satisfying and rich dish.
To follow my appetizer, I chose the Sautéed Pierogi—savory dumplings complemented by caramelized onions, crisp pancetta, crème fraiche drizzle, and a sprinkle of fresh chives.
The thoughtful presentation and diverse flavors made for a satisfying dining experience that perfectly matched my appetite that evening.
On my second night at Lakehouse Tap & Grille, I started with the customary fresh bread basket, setting the stage for another delightful meal.
For my appetizer, I chose the Hot Crab Dip, as described on the menu—a cheesy, crab-filled delight served with warm Naan dippers. The appetizer lived up to its description, offering a flavorful and comforting beginning to the dining experience.
Opting for a lighter yet substantial main course, I selected the Quinoa Bowl with zucchini, red pepper, pine nuts, feta, and a tomato basil coulis. To enhance the dish, I added shrimp, creating a harmonious blend of textures and flavors. The ancient grain bowl was both satisfying and refreshing, showcasing the restaurant’s commitment to diverse and well-crafted culinary offerings.
Wine & Beverages
On both evenings, I complemented my dinners at Lakehouse Tap & Grille with a glass of Caposaldo Moscato wine from Italy—a delightful choice described on the menu as having aromas of candied lemon, ripe melon, and dried flowers.
The wine proved to be a perfect accompaniment, with decadently fruity notes and a honey-like sweetness, enhanced by the presence of ripe kiwi.
The restaurant has a commitment to a curated wine selection, evidenced by an array of excellent choices in sparkling, white, red, rose, dessert, and port wines. Additionally, the creative Lakehouse Cocktails menu added a touch of flair to the beverage selection, providing a tempting selection of mixed drinks diverse and enjoyable complement to the culinary experience.
Any one of the craft brews on tap would been a fitting alternative, too.
Breakfast at Chautauqua Harbor Hotel
The breakfast menu at Chautauqua Harbor Hotel’s on-site dining room provides guest with a selection of delicious eggs, omeletts, pancakes, waffles, and lighter fare, like parfaits and fruit bowls. My favorite offering is the Blueberry Stuffed French Toast, stuffed with blueberry cheesecake filling and served with fresh blueberries and maple syrup
Opting for the convenience of room service for breakfast each morning at Lakehouse Tap & Grille, I was treated to a delightful start to my day.
Keeping it simple, I ordered a refreshing glass of orange juice and a carafe of coffee with extra cream and sugar to suit my taste. On one occasion, I indulged in a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and butter, while on another, I opted for a toasted English muffin accompanied by butter and a selection of jams.
Each breakfast, served on a silver tray and complemented by a glass of ice water, set a positive and satisfying tone for the day ahead.
While the guest room is absent a coffee maker, each floor provides a hot coffee and tea bar, complete with all the fixings. Additionally, coffee and tea are available in the lobby. For coffee afficionados like me, this offers several convenient ways to caffeinate your morning.
While the Carousel Bar was closed during my visit, this lakeside dining option promises a one-of-kind experience. Whether for lunch, dinner, or sipping cocktails, it’s a great place to take in the spectacular sunsets for which Chautauqua Lake is famous.
Special Events & Offerings at Chautauqua Harbor Hotel
Chautauqua Harbor Hotel hosts an array of special events and packages. From festive occasions, like Thanksgiving and Breakfast with Santa, to the excitement of the New Year’s Eve Party, you’ll find something for everyone. If you’re looking for something out-of-the-ordinary, look to the Murder Mystery Weekend or the rare 2024 Solar Eclipse. There’s always something worthwhile on offer, so check the hotel website for the latest offerings.
In addition, the hotel is equipped meetings and banquets, not to mention it’s an enchanting backdrop for weddings!
Discovering the Charm of Lake Chautauqua Hotels
While the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel offers everything for the best possible experience, it’s smart whenever you travel to evaluate your options. That way, you’ll see why we think it’s the best.
Exploring the Finest Accommodations around Lake Chautauqua
When planning a visit to Lake Chautauqua, choosing the right accommodation is key.
From the luxurious Spencer Hotel & Spa and the historic Athenaeum Hotel inside the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution to the modern DoubleTree by Hilton Jamestown and the convenient Clarion Pointe Jamestown – Falconer, the area offers a range of options for every traveler.
Still, it’s hard to beat the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel‘s waterfront location and offerings.
Amenities for Every Visitor
Many of these hotels provide amenities like indoor and outdoor swimming pools, fitness centers, and free Wi-Fi. That ensures you have a comfortable and connected stay.
Business travelers will appreciate facilities like the business center in the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Jamestown, while those looking for leisure can enjoy the scenic views and outdoor recreation opportunities around the hotel.
Find The Ideal Base for Exploring
Most of these hotels are often just a short walk or drive from popular attractions like the Lucy Desi Museum, Lake Erie Wine Country, and the Grape Discovery Center.
Whether you’re in town for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a business trip, you’ll find accommodations that suit your needs near Lake Chautauqua. That includes luxury suites to more affordable motel units and rooms with wood floors and air conditioning.
Cultural and Natural Wonders
Embrace the cultural vibe with a visit to the Lucille Ball Memorial Park or the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region. If you love nature, Panama Rocks and the beautiful Chautauqua Lake are must-visits.
Remember, most hotels, like the highly recommended Chautuaqua Harbor Hotel, are centrally located. This offers you easy access to the heart of Jamestown, classic main streets, and the historical district.
20. Things to Do Near Chautauqua Lake, Celoron
While there’s plenty to do on-site, you’ll want to explore the wider Lake Chautauqua experiences, too. Here are some of my favorites, at the lake and beyond.
5 Things to Do on Lake Chautauqua
Chautauqua Lake beckons with diverse activities amidst its natural splendor:
- Embark on Scenic Boating Excursions: Enjoy leisurely cruises or rent kayaks and paddleboards for an up-close exploration of scenic shores.
- Explore this Fishing Haven: Anglers delight in the abundance of walleye, bass, muskellunge, and various panfish species you’ll find here.
- Relax on Picturesque Lake Cruises: Opt for a relaxing lake cruise, immersing yourself in picturesque landscapes and serene waters.
- Enjoy a Bird Watching Paradise: Explore diverse bird species inhabiting the lake’s surroundings. Lake Chautauque is a haven for bird watchers!
- Embrace the Outdoor Possibilities: From serene days on the water to adventurous paddles and leisurely fishing excursions, Chautauqua Lake offers a canvas of outdoor possibilities for every visitor.
Top 15 Things to Do in Celoron & Nearby Jamestown:
You’ll also want to explore the vibrant offerings of Celoron and Jamestown with these top activities.
- Visit the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel: Experience luxury lakeside accommodation with picturesque views and a range of amenities.
- Dine at Lakehouse Tap & Grille and The Carousel Bar: Indulge in culinary delights at the onsite restaurant and bars, offering a delectable menu and scenic views.
- Ride the Chautauqua Belle Riverboat: Embark on a charming riverboat excursion, offering scenic views and insights into the region’s history.
- Explore Bemus Point Shops: Take a short drive for delightful shopping, discovering unique treasures and souvenirs in charming boutiques.
- Tour the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum: Delve into the life and career of comedy legend Lucille Ball, born in Jamestown, and husband Desi Arnez. Hey, Luci!
- Enjoy Lakeside Activities: Seize the beauty of Chautauqua Lake with boating, fishing, and lakeside strolls.
- Attend Local Events: Immerse in vibrant culture with events at Celoron Park and community spaces.
- Explore the National Comedy Center: Explore the world’s foremost comedy museum with interactive exhibits and renowned comedians, customized to your personal taste in comedy. Unique, and award-winning!
- Chautauqua Institution: Immerse yourself in cultural experiences, lectures, performances, and recreational activities.
- Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History: Discover nature’s wonders through exhibits and programs dedicated to Roger Tory Peterson.
- Visit Reg Lenna Center for The Arts: Enjoy live performances and cultural events at this historic downtown Jamestown theater.
- Explore Jamestown Audubon Community Nature Center: Embrace nature with hiking trails, wildlife exhibits, and educational programs.
- Grab Lunch or Coffee at Labrynthe Press Co. & Brazil Lounge: Savor a delightful culinary experience at Labrynthe. Great choice for Vegetarian and Vegan guests, but delicious to all!
- Local Flavor Bonus: Visit “The Swamp”: Dive into the local color at this quirky hangout over wetlands. It’s reputed to serve the best wings and has a lively atmosphere.
Editor’s Note: Bookmark this page for forthcoming coverage of the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, National Comedy Center, and Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History. I loved visiting these attractions! Or, drop your email below to receive updates and travel tips delivered to your inbox.
Final Thoughts on Best Lake Chautauqua Hotel
As you can see, Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celoron, NY, stands out as a hidden lakeside gem, offering a blend of luxury, scenic beauty, and local charm. It truly is the best Lake Chautauqua Hotel.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or simply in search of relaxation in a high-quality hotel on the lake, Chautauqua Harbor Hotel delivers. It’s sure to be a memorable and rejuvenating getaway.
About the Author: Jackie Gately
I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years. With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality. Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! Follow my social channels for more inspiration.
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FAQs About Lake Chautauqua
If you still have questions about Lake Chautauqua, look to the answers to the most frequent inquiries, below.
What is Lake Chautauqua known for?
Lake Chautauqua is celebrated for its unrivaled natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities. Known as a summer months hotspot, it offers a variety of water sports on the lake and is close to the famous Chautauqua Institute, a learning vacation destination rich in cultural attractions.
Does Chautauqua Lake have a beach?
Yes, Chautauqua Lake has several beaches, offering visitors a chance to enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and a variety of lakefront activities. These beaches are part of what makes the area a popular attraction during the warmer months. Look to Lakeside Park, Long Point State Park, and Hartley Memorial Park for public beaches.
Is Chautauqua Lake clean?
Chautauqua Lake is known for its clean and well-maintained waters, making it an ideal destination for swimming, boating, and fishing. Efforts are continually made to preserve the lake’s cleanliness and natural beauty.
Is Lake Chautauqua a Finger Lake?
No, Lake Chautauqua is not technically one of New York’s Finger Lakes. However, it’s sometimes referred to as the “Thumb of the Finger Lakes” due to its location and resemblance to the renowned Finger Lakes.
Is Chautauqua Lake natural or man-made?
Chautauqua Lake is a natural lake, formed during a glacial retreat at the end of the Ice Age. Its scenic beauty and natural formation attract visitors year-round.
What is the meaning of Chautauqua?
The term “Chautauqua” is believed to derive from a Native American word, which describes the lake’s shape as “bag tied in the middle,” a reference to its cinched appearance at Bemus Point.
What is the history of Lake Chautauqua?
Lake Chautauqua’s history is rich and varied, originally serving as a gathering place for Native Americans. In more recent history, it became a hub for educational and cultural development, notably with the establishment of the Chautauqua Institution, a center for arts, education, and recreation.
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