Chautauqua County gets its name from the lake lying in its center. The Seneca Indians called the lake Chautauqua, meaning “a place where fish are taken out.” Centuries later, the 18-mile long crystalline lake inspired development of an assembly for intellectual inquiry and spiritual enrichment. The colony proved so popular that it engendered imitation and in a short period of time the word “Chautauqua” became synonymous with a multitude of circuit Chautauquas across the country. Even President Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying the Chautauqua education movement was “the most American thing in America.”

Today, the Chautauqua Assembly (also known as Chautauqua Institution) still exists and draws thousands of people to Chautauqua Lake every summer for education and enlightenment. But thousands more remain in Chautauqua County year-round, calling it home. In fact, Chautauqua County has dozens of unique communities, each with their own identity and personality, but also with a lot in common. From shopping in the historic downtowns to exploring the natural wonders and taking in the local culture, you can find the right place for your new home, no matter what area of the county you’re in.

Choose your next move. Choose Chautauqua.

Greater Jamestown Region

You will find a wide variety of communities in the Greater Jamestown Region, situated in the southern portion of Chautauqua County at the outlet of Chautauqua Lake and in close proximity to I-86. They include the city of Jamestown and villages of Celoron, Falconer, and Lakewood – along with other communities including Frewsburg and West Ellicott.

Whatever your interest – from city to country living – you’ll find it in the Greater Jamestown area with its mix of urban attractions, suburban neighborhoods, and even secluded rural homes minutes from the city limit. The local calendar is jam-packed with events and opportunities from a variety of local attractions including the National Comedy Center, Lucy-Desi Museum, Robert H. Jackson Center, Roger Tory Peterson Institute, The Fenton History Center (named for Chautauqua County native and New York Governor Reuben Fenton), Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, Northwest Arena, and much more.

There’s always something to do in Jamestown– from public markets to art classes, to taking in a show or enjoying the area’s abundant public parks, including the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk along the Chadakoin River. With affordable, comfortable living without big city hassles, it’s a wonderful place to raise a family and set down roots.

Dunkirk/Fredonia Region

The Dunkirk/Fredonia Region is closely connected, but each has a very different vibe. Easy access to I-90 makes the Dunkirk/Fredonia area an easy place to live. You are just an hour from Buffalo, NY and forty-five minutes from Erie, PA.

Dunkirk is a quaint “little city on the lake” where hometown neighbors and businesses are cherished. Sitting on Lake Erie, it has a beautiful and recently revitalized waterfront with a pier and boardwalk where you can discover shops and local eateries. During the warmer months, the Dunkirk Pier is active with live entertainment that draws large crowds from the area. If outdoor recreation is your interest, it has wonderful parks and beaches. Dunkirk is also home to the annual Chautauqua County Fair.

Just down the road is Fredonia. Fredonia is home to Fredonia State University of New York, but it is not just a college town. It has an elegant and historic downtown with cafes, locally-owned restaurants, and an active nightlife. When you are ready to take a hike or jump on your bike, the open countryside is just outside of town. If water fun is your interest, Lake Erie is only a few miles away. The arts and music scene is alive and well in Fredonia – drawing many young professionals to live, work and play in the area.

Chautauqua Lake Region

Each of the communities within the Chautauqua Lake Region has a unique personality – yet they all embrace the laid-back lake lifestyle; sharing and relaxing while boating, swimming, fishing, and grilling. Most have public beaches and welcome visitors. You don’t want to miss a chance to see the lighting of the flares around the lake every 4th of July. It’s a spectacular sight!

The main attraction of the region is the aforementioned Chautauqua Institution – which bustles with activity every summer providing educational enrichment with its weekly lecture themes, along with plenty of entertainment through the theater, music and arts. But even after the summer ends, Chautauqua remains alive in the fall, winter and spring seasons with residents who stay year-round, offering plenty to do and see.

Lakewood, which also sits in the Greater Jamestown Region, is the largest of the quaint villages surrounding our signature attraction. It offers shopping, locally-owned restaurants, a beautiful beach and historic homes.

Bemus Point comes alive from Memorial Day to Labor Day with an influx of visitors. It has ice cream shops, good eats, recreation on the beach and a golf course. Plus you don’t want to miss the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry! It’s been providing a shortcut across the lake since 1811.

The Village of Mayville, the Chautauqua County seat, is situated on the northern end of Chautauqua Lake. Stop in for a casual lunch at one of the many distinctive restaurants with terrific views of the lake. Mayville Lakeside Park is home to the annual Winter Festival and Ice Castle held every President’s Day weekend and the annual 4th of July parade, complete with fireworks. The Chautauqua Gorge State Forest is just a stone’s throw from the center of town. Enjoy a great hike in the most beautiful scenery.

Take some time to drive around the lake and find where you belong.

Lake Shore Region

On the Chautauqua side of Lake Erie, residents have more distance from the big city and enjoy the peaceful beauty that this region has to offer.

The lake and the many tributaries running through Chautauqua County are home to some of the best small and largemouth bass, walleye, and trout fishing in the state. The Lake Erie shore villages offer a quiet, small-town atmosphere with all the amenities – tucked in among 23 wineries.

Chautauqua County communities along this region include Ripley, Westfield, Brocton, Portland, Silver Creek, Irving – along with the aforementioned City of Dunkirk and the village of Fredonia. Each has its own unique identity and small-town charm.

When spending the day off the water, you can check out one of the many wineries, historical sites, or go hiking on a nearby trail. If you’re looking for lake living, but want to be away from the city, this is the area for you.

Southern Chautauqua County

Besides the Greater Jamestown Region, there’s several more communities that make up the Southern Chautauqua County Region. Travel a short distance from the city and you’ll be greeted by rolling hills and farms, as you drive through the southern part of the county – whether you’re near Frewsburg or Findley Lake. Watch out for Amish buggies as you crest the hills in the Panama, Niobe, Clymer and Sherman areas.

In these small communities and country backroads you can buy fresh produce, hand-made rugs and baked goods every day but Sunday. Ashville is a friendly community that’s just a short distance from Chautauqua Lake, while the Panama area has equestrian trails and historic Panama Rocks. There’s also the well-maintained Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail in Panama and Sherman, giving residents and visitors alike plenty of opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, no matter the season. If you’re near Falconer or Frewsburg, take a kayak trip down the Cassadaga or Conewango Creeks and into Pennsylvania.

On the western southern half of the county sits Findley Lake and Peek n’ Peak Resort – where you can take in a round of golf or mountain adventure in warmer months, or enjoy the abundant ski slopes and trails in the winter, making it a worthwhile destination no matter the season.

Eastern Chautauqua County

The Eastern Chautauqua County Region is home to Amish shops, historic architecture, charming town squares and good neighbors. The small towns that cover the area are surrounded by farms that have some of the best produce – and are easily available at roadside stands. Cherry Creek has miles of beautifully maintained equestrian trails with nearby parking lots for trucks and trailers.

The Cassadaga Lakes add another dimension of fun and relaxation. The Lakes contain a variety of fish. A boat launch and a public beach are easily accessible.

The towns of Carroll, Poland, Ellington, Gerry, Charlotte, and Villenova each have their own small communities and identities that are closely tied to rural living and plenty of outdoor amenities, with the well-maintained and enjoyable Earl Cardot Eastside Overland Trail cutting through much of this region – perfect for a hike or mountain bike excursion.

Northern Chautauqua County

The Northern Chautauqua County Region south of the Lake Erie region is very diverse. From the Lily Dale Spiritualist Assembly to the Seneca Nation of IndiansCattaraugus Territory – it’s all in this area.

Grab a hearty meal in one of the many rural communities, or, hike or trail ride in the State Forest, and enjoy a boat ride on Bear Lake.

Take a trip to the high hilltops in Portland, Pomfret, Sheridan or Hanover and see breathtaking views of Lake Erie. Any season is a good season to tour and enjoy this area, but summer is the busiest season with the Antique Engine Show in Stockton and nightly events at Sunset Bay. And if you’re someone who wants to getaway for the day or weekend, the city of Buffalo is just a short 40 minute drive.