Just a few hours drive across the border into New York State, and south along Hwy 219 is a destination many know well for its snow-covered peaks. This small town tucked into the “Enchanted Mountains” has long been a skier's haven, but it's working hard to capture your imagination as a summer escape.
Ellicottville (population 378, 2013 census) is surrounded by rolling hills, country roads, scenic drives and boasts a full roster of festivals and events throughout the year, keeping even the most devoted skier happy, even when it's green season.
Day One: Hit the road, hit the shops
If you haven't loaded the car and set out for a road trip to upstate New York in summer or autumn, make time to do so. It's a short distance, an easy drive and you'll be rewarded with the scenic beauty, and in autumn, blazing colours.
Check-in to the Wingate by Wyndham. There are lovely resorts on the slopes, each with their own appeal, but for this summer weekend, opt for lodgings in town. This hotel is modern, updated and best of all, is a short stroll to shopping, dinner and after dinner drinks.
Drop the bags and head to Ellicottville's charming downtown. Lined with boutique shops and family-owned restaurants, cafés and bars you can easily while away an afternoon browsing and shopping the historic downtown. The Ellicottville Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
Stop for some refreshment during shopping, and taste some of the local wines produced by the Winery of Ellicottville (wineryofellicottville.com). Tucked into a side street, here you can try before you buy and experience the first of many locally produced products. Their latest release is a collaborative effort with the Ellicottville Brewing Company, made from New York State apples. Excelsior Sparkling Apple Cider was released in February and is available at both the winery and the brewery.
Next stop is Ellicottville Brewing Company (ellicottvillebrewing.com) for dinner. Known to the locals as EBC, the large brewery restaurant offers a casual, and delicious menu inspired by the beer they create at the on-site brewery. A large patio welcomes in the summer months, perfect to enjoy local favourite Blueberry Wheat, a light beer served with a handful of fresh blueberries in the glass.
Although this is a small town, there seems to always be some sort of entertainment to be had. This night there is live entertainment at The Gin Mill (ellicottvilleginmill.com). We've heard the expression “Wings & Wagner” a few times while exploring downtown, and it does not dissapoint. Joe Wagner and his band have a running Wednesday engagement at The Gin Mill, and there is also live music most other days of the week. We end the evening with a wave to our new pals at The Gin Mill, having won us over with their covers of The Hip and Bryan Adams hits in our honour.
Day Two: Explore the Outdoors
For a summer visit you will leave behind the ski gear, but be sure to pack for a hike and a horseback ride.
A short ““ and pretty ““ drive to Griffis Sculpture Park (griffispark.org) for a stroll is a perfect way to get outside and get active, with the added bonus of local art along the way. This 450 acre park, just eight miles outside of Ellicottville, holds the distinction of being one of America's oldest and largest sculpture parks. More than 250 large-scale sculptures are dotted along miles of hiking trails through forest, meadow and wetland.
Swap the sneakers for riding boots and visit The Crosspatch (thecrosspatch.com). This family-run, real working horse ranch has been operating for more than 40 years. Owned by Jim and Dolly Little, the ranch offers a variety of guided trail rides, from one-hour to overnight excursions. A recent rain has left the trail muddy on the day we arrive for our trail ride, but our experienced guide takes us through a winding forest trail that offers a look at the region like no other.
After an active day, settle in for a casual meal at Tips-Up Café (tipsupellicottville.com). As the name implies, this is a favourite of seasonal visitors who come for the white stuff, but this family-owned and -operated eatery has been offering quality food and wam hospitality for more than 30 years.
After dinner calls for an after dinner drink. Hidden just behond another downtown eatery, Madigan's, is the Silver Fox Restaurant & Steak House (thesilverfoxrestaurant.com). This is a fine dining establishment with a menu and wine list to prove it. It's also an unbeatable locale for an expertly prepared cocktail or special selection from their collection of fine bourbon.
Day Three: Relax and Recharge
Start the day with a great big breakfast. There are abundant restaurant choices in the village, but a must-try is Dina's (dinas.com). The southwestern style décor is warm and welcoming, and the menu has the same influence. Omelettes spiked with cheddar jack, salsa and sour cream, and eggs with “cowboy” steak share the menu with French toast, ham and brie crepes and Belgian waffle.
The last day of any getaway calls for a bit of indulgence. The sweet little Ellicottville Oasis Spa (ellicottvilleoasis.com) is tucked into a historic home on Jefferson Street. Owner Joanne Timke has been pampering residents and visitors for more than 10 years. Six treatment rooms, including four used for massage therapy, two of those equipped for couples massage have been created in this renovated home. A full range of treatments is available, all by licensed therapists. A pair of luxe pedicure chairs in the nail treatment room make it an ideal spot for a mani/pedi with a friend, or you can book the whole spa if you're travelling with a larger group. Book early for individual and group appointments.
I indulge in the Hot Stone Massage, the perfect way to recharge after a busy weekend, and ready the mind for the winding journey home.
Visit ellicottvilleny.com for details about the summer/autumn event lineup.
June 20, 2015
Holiday Valley Mudslide
Get muddy on the obstacle course.
July 3 to 5, 2015
Summer Music Festival
Live music on the slopes of Holiday Valley, festivities, arts and crafts show and strawberry festival.
July 24 to 26, 2015
Ellicottville Jazz & Blues Weekend
Performances throughout the village.
August 15 & 16, 2015
Taste of Ellicottville
Sample the best of Ellicottville's fine restaurants as they set up café style on the street.
September 18 to 20, 2015
Rock N' Roll Weekend
Live entertainment throughout the village, classic car show.
October 10 & 11, 2015
The village's oldest and largest festival.
If you go
Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce
Cattaraugus County, New York