CHAUTAUQUA - Chautauqua in Bloom, a season of learning, May 24-June 20, celebrates the start of warm weather tours in Chautauqua County. Experiential tours provide a social and fun way to learn about the natural and cultural resources in western New York.
The Fenton History Center in Jamestown offers a series of historic walking tours on Saturday afternoons beginning May 31. Each week through September will feature one of four tours including Jamestown's Lake View Avenue, the Old Northside (current downtown area), Jamestown's Hidden Alleys, and Jamestown's Early Industry.
Evergreen Outfitters invites novice and experienced paddlers to participate in weekly kayaking tours following Memorial Day Weekend. Tuesday evening paddles, for paddlers with some experience, take place before and during sunset on Lake Erie while Wednesday evening paddles, appropriate for all experience levels, take place on the Chautauqua Lake Outlet. Once a month, there's even a Full Moon Paddle on Chautauqua Lake. Participants are welcome to bring their own kayak or rent equipment for a nominal fee.
Evergreen Outfitters hosts weekly guided kayaking tours on Chautauqua’s waterways.
The Lifelong Learning and Special Programs Department at SUNY Fredonia offers a guided tour of Old Order Amish Country on June 13. The five-hour adventure will visit Amish greenhouses and garden furniture shops, stopping for lunch and tea at the Cherry Creek Inn. Visitors are also welcome to drive through Amish communities on self-guided tours throughout most of the year. Maps to three separate Amish communities can be found at information centers at the Main Gate at Chautauqua Institution and the I-86 Chautauqua Lake Rest Area. When planning, note that Amish shops are closed on Sundays and photos are forbidden.
Berries, birds and wildflowers found along the cliffs of Lake Erie will be the topic of discussion on Sunday afternoon walks at the Vinewood Acres Sugar Shack on Route 5 in Westfield. Participants will learn about native trees, ground cover, maple sap gathering, and birds during a 30-minute strenuous, guided hike. Jack Gulvin, retired National Park Ranger and naturalist at Chautauqua Institution, will also talk about working with Purple Martins. The tour ends with a wild berry syrup tasting.
On June 14, Mark Baldwin, nature educator with the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, joins the owners and winemaker at Johnson Estate Winery for a vineyard tour with food and wine pairings at stops along the way. The three experts will discuss how the estate's terroir influences what you see, smell and taste. In addition, on occasional Sunday mornings, owner Fred Johnson leads a two-mile brisk walk through the vineyards, discussing wine production from the vineyards to the bottle followed by a brief winery tour and light brunch.
There are several self-guided tours available throughout the spring and summer in America's grape country, an area along the Lake Erie shoreline that runs from Silver Creek to Harborcreek, Pa., that includes a trail of 24 wineries. In Dunkirk, tours of the historic Dunkirk Lighthouse finish with a climb up the spiral stairs of the 61-foot tower for a birds-eye view of Lake Erie. In Westfield, the new Grape Discovery Center features exhibits that tell the story of 150 years of grape growing in the oldest Concord grape growing region in the world.
Additional tour opportunities include Segway tours at Peek'n Peak Resort, boat tours on Chautauqua Lake aboard the climate controlled cruise ship Summer Wind or the steamboat Chautauqua Belle. From July 25 Sept. 6, Night Lights at the Heron transforms a forest with colorful lights, art installations and music inspired by the natural world with tours offered Friday and Saturday evenings starting at dusk.
Chautauqua in Bloom is promoted by the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau and held in collaboration with area businesses and educational centers. For more information and a schedule of tours and vacation learning events during Chautauqua in Bloom as well as throughout the year, call 1-866-908-4569 or visit the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau website at www.tourchautauqua.com.