Chautauqua: New York’s undiscovered country
Found in an often overlooked region: Lucille Ball’s hometown, a tribute to the Concord grape, the state’s connection to the Nuremberg Trials and the inspiration for the environmental movement.
he westernmost region of the Empire State, Chautauqua County and Lake Erie, are worth the drive. At the top of the fun-stuff list is the Lucy Desi Museum and Center for Comedyin Jamestown, Lucille Ball’s hometown. It’s like stepping into the world of “I Love Lucy,” with sets, props and costumes from the show set up as though waiting for a performance to begin. Try your comic abilities by revisiting the “Vitameatavegamin” skit. The script and set are waiting.
Vineyards growing the Concord grape have lined the shores of Lake Erie for over 150 years.
At the Grape Discovery Center, interactive exhibits explore the history and science of grape growing. Sample the grapes as juice and wine, along with local cheeses and charcuterie.
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The Nuremberg Trials after World War II exposed the full horror of the Third Reich and the complicity of its civil government. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, a Jamestown native, was the chief prosecutor. The Robert H. Jackson Center is dedicated to the appreciation of the rule of law worldwide. While the exhibits of photos of the trial and stories of the perpetrators of the Reich invite reflection, the most impressive and optimistic exhibit honors the high school teacher who inspired Jackson. It’s a tribute to the power and impact of dedicated teachers.
Roger Tory Peterson is best known for his field guides to birds. The naturalist also inspired the nascent environmental movement. The Institute of Natural History which bears his name displays his artwork and hosts exhibits of other wildlife artists. Inspired by what you see there? The nearby Audubon Nature Center provides checklists of birds and wildlife seen on its 600-acre sanctuary. There’s also a population of resident critters, including a rescued bald eagle.
Unusual for winter climates, two farmers’ markets operate in the area. On Tuesdays, it’s the Seneca Nation Market in Irving, featuring heritage meats, farm products, and crafts. On Black Friday and every Saturday, it’s the Farm and Craft Market in Fredonia.
For more ideas, visit Tourchautaugua.com.
For more travel advice, go to Insightguides.com.