7 Best Places to Leaf Peep in the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region this Fall

Adventure, Family Friendly, Getaway, Things to Do


Written by SOB Creative

Published on October 17, 2022

This article is a paid promotion sponsored by an SOB advertiser and designed to share valuable info with our readers.

Photo courtesy of Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau

Western New York is one of the most beautiful regions in the state no matter what time of year it is. But if you ask us, fall might just be the most scenic season. 

From vibrantly colored fall foliage to picturesque landscapes, state parks, and nature trails, there’s something magical about autumn that makes Western New York come to life. And now that we’re well into October, it is the perfect time to road trip around the region to peep some of those beautiful fall leaves.

Need some recommendations for the best places to soak up the beautiful fall foliage? Head to Chautauqua County, which is located just about an hour south of the city of Buffalo. 


Home to Lake Erie Wine Country and the Lake Erie Wine Trail, Chautauqua County is well known for being a renowned destination for its top-class vineyards and wineries. But did you know that Chautauqua is also one of the best places for exceptional, Instagram-worthy fall foliage? 

So if a fall day trip to admire the changing leaves, explore new places, and sip cozy beverages is high on your fall to-do list, here are a few sites in the area that you need to check out: 

1. Audubon Community Nature Center

Located in Jamestown, New York, the Audubon Community Nature Center aims to connect people to the beauty of the natural world. Immerse yourself in nature as you explore 5 miles of trails on this 600-acre wetland preserve, and see if you can spot all of the identifiable fall foliage, including beech, sugar maple, birch, sycamore, black walnut, and more. 

While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out the expansive, three-story Nature Center, where you’ll find interactive educational exhibits, live animals, children’s play spaces, and more. 

2. Roger Tory Peterson Institute

Visit the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History where art and nature intertwine. Step inside the beautiful museum to see exhibits dedicated to the life’s work of the famed ornithologist and wildlife artist, Roger Tory Peterson as well as other world renowned wildlife artists. Walk along the leaf covered trails throughout the 28-acre wooded setting to experience the landscape that inspired the young naturalist himself.


3. Chautauqua Institution 

Featuring every expression of American architecture dating back to the late 1800s, Chautauqua Institution’s campus provides a top-tier backdrop for Western New York’s fall foliage to thrive. 

In this pedestrian-first community situated on 760 acres of Chautauqua Lake’s beautiful shoreline, you’ll have the opportunity to take in the beauty of fall and learn about some of the region’s rich history. From landmarks like the Athenaeum Hotel to hidden gems like the Chautauqua Cinema, there’s no shortage of things to explore when you need a quick break from leaf-peeping. 

Photo courtesy of Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau

4. Panama Rocks

What better way to see leaves than up close and personal on a nature trail. Head to Panama Rocks to immerse yourself in nature and explore a half-mile long ridge of 60-foot high rock forming crevices, passageways, and hidden caves!

5. Dunkirk Lighthouse

Looking for something a little bit different? Then you may want to check out The Dunkirk Lighthouse, a historic landmark that offers one of the most unique experiences in the area. 

Inside the lighthouse, you’ll find an extensive collection of local artifacts dating back to 1827, when the lighthouse was first established on Point Gratiot. But the main event is the view of Lake Erie- which is more beautiful now than ever before. 

From the unique perspective from the 61’ tower, you’ll take in the beauty of the water, the vibrant leaves, and the treetops surrounding the City of Dunkirk. It’s an absolute must-see!


Photo courtesy of Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau

6. Erlandson Overview Park

At an elevation of over 2,000 feet high (the second-highest in the county), Erlandson Overview Park is a prime spot to get a birds-eye view of Western New York’s fall foliage. 

At its peak, you’ll find a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside including Onoville Valley to the east, the Allegheny Mountains to the south, and Chautauqua Lake to the west. 

And if you’re into hiking or just need an excuse to get outside on a beautiful fall day, this 76-acre site also boasts a 1.5 mile loop trail, perfect for hikers of all experience levels. Pack a picnic lunch and a thermos filled with a cozy fall beverage for the full effect!

7. Luensman Overview Park

Looking to plan a trip into Lake Erie Wine Country? Tack on a stop at Luensman Overview Park while you’re in the area for a quick hike and some time to marvel at the beauty of nature all around you. 

This stunning 70-acre overlook provides a vista of Lake Erie and the surrounding countryside, with gorgeous landscapes filled with treetops and foliage galore. Multiple viewing platforms on-site give you tons of opportunities to snap the perfect picture for the ‘gram, and the mile-long interpretive trail is one of the best ways to lose yourself in nature for a few hours. 

Pro tip: Bring cash with you! There’s an Amish roadside stand that sells fresh local produce, blooms, baked goods, and more –the cherry on top of a perfect fall day! 

Immerse Yourself in the Fall Beauty

Ready to live your best fall life? Then it’s time to start planning a leaf-peeping day trip to Chautauqua.

Head to the Tour Chautauqua website today to start planning your trip and learn more about these great sites, plus tons of others to check out during the fall season. Happy leaf peeping!

Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau

This article is a paid promotion sponsored by an SOB advertiser and designed to share valuable info with our readers.

Written by <a href="" target="_self">SOB Creative</a>

Written by SOB Creative

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