Chautauqua Institution: Chautauqua, New York

Chautauqua, New York: August

View from the Athenaeum hotel

The view from the Athenaeum (a grand hotel) is breathtaking. From the porch, you can gaze at the Lake and the passerby’s strolling down the road.

CHAUTAUQUA: I have not been to a more relaxing destination in the United States. I am partial to Chautauqua, though, as 6 generations in my family have grown up enjoying the splendor of the Institution.

The “season” in Chautauqua is from the end of June until the end of August. We opted for the last week of August to save money — just missing the in season schedule of events. Our condo cost $1000/week as compared to $2500/week in season. We quickly determined that next year we would pay the additional fees — it is just worth it to be amidst the buzz of tourists and families during their summer getaway all the while getting to enjoy the concert and lecture schedule.

TIP: Bicycling is the best way to navigate through the hills of Chautauqua. You can rent bikes for the week at approximately $40 – $50 per bike. If you have multiple children, I recommend buying a bike rack for about $70 and bringing your bikes from home.

Views from the Athenaeum

More views from the Athenaeum

Chautauqua is not a place where you go to have a fun filled, exciting vacation. It is more of a nostalgic, carefree type of vacation. Here are a few activities that we enjoyed, even off season.

Our final day ended as our first began; Strolling (bike rental shop was closed for the season) up and down the streets and admiring the beautiful, old homes; Sitting on the rocking chairs on the porches of the grand hotels – reading and enjoying the scenery, and watching the kids splash in the Lake.

The Chautauqua Cinema: My sister took the kids to a viewing of Pride & Prejudice in the old movie theater. With two movies to choose from on this particular night, in they went to experience this old fashioned, tiny theater. They do sell popcorn, soda and a few candies – but it is nothing like the movie theaters we have now. It was fun!

greens of Chautauqua InstituteMidway Amusement Park: Exit the Institution and take a right, go through the town of Mayville, taking a right at the Jail House. Keep driving until you see Midway Amusement Park on your right. This amusement park has been around since my grandmother was a little girl. It was pure fun for the little kids! An “all you can ride” wrist band cost $13 and we stayed the entire afternoon. This is the last year that MidWay will be privately owned. The state bought the park and will take over ownership this year.

TIP: The official website is Check this website before your trip to schedule your dates around the different concerts and speakers that you are interested in hearing.

lake at Chautauqua Institute

The view from the Athenaeum (a grand hotel) is breathtaking. From the porch, you can gaze at the Lake and the passerby’s strolling down the road.
More views from the Athenaeum …
More …
The Lake provides hours of fun for the little ones. This section is the “deep” area, located to the left of the public beach.

Dining is limited. The Tally Ho, one of the most popular restaurants/hotels within the Institution was closed when we got there. In season, you can enjoy reasonable rates and good home cooked food (very limited menu). Off season, it is best to go shopping and cook at the condo. The St. Elmo Hotel has two dining options as well.

FACT: Gate passes cost $180/week or $33/day in season. Off season, a gate pass is not necessary.
The "Square" at Chautauqua Institute

This was taken in the “Square”. The building in the background is the library where those of us who are addicted to checking our email even on vacation can go and utilize the computers for free.