Chautauqua Lake Children's Activities

By Sara Ipatenco

With its pristine surface and lush surrounding foliage, Chautauqua Lake is a beautiful place to visit. The lake in the southwest corner of New York state provides a variety of water activities that your child likely will enjoy. In addition to water sports and events, the area surrounding the lake has a few hidden gems that are worth searching out.

Outdoor Activities

Several miles of beach surround Chautauqua Lake, and about 2 miles of that are public, where your child can wade, swim or build a sandcastle. The area around the lake offers several playgrounds that your child might enjoy, as well. Sit on one of the public docks and teach your child how to cast a line and catch a fish. Meander along one of the nature trails and point out plants, birds and animals that you see as you walk. Visit Midway State Park ( and your child can take a train ride, ride bumper carts and other attractions or play video games in the arcade.

Boat Rides

Spend a day at the Chautauqua Lake Marina (, where you can rent a boat and go for a spin around the lake. Take your child for a ride on the Chautauqua Belle (, a large steamship that offers regular jaunts around the lake. If you book a picnic and a boat ride, your family will receive a lunch to enjoy while taking in the scenery. Book a Summer Wind boat tour ( for a slow-paced tour of the lake, complete with the opportunity to see several historical sights in the area.

Indoor Activities

While the outdoor attractions and amenities at Chautauqua Lake are certainly among the biggest draws to the area, you have several indoor activities for a change of pace or to entertain your child during poor weather. Smith Wilkes Hall ( offers free family friendly shows on Tuesday evenings. Your child might see a mime show, hear interactive music or watch a puppet performance. If your child is a sports lover, spend a couple hours at the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame ( The museum showcases sports-related photographs and memorabilia. Tour the inside of the Dunkirk Lighthouse ( and your child will be able to see views of the lake that she wouldn't be able to see while on land.

Additional Activities

Tour the Chautauqua Institution (, which is situated on the shores of the lake. Your family can take in a show, view an art exhibit or enjoy a recreational sport such as tennis or golf. Visit Bemus Point for the day. It's a lakeside town that boasts several shops and restaurants. Bemus Point has a ferry station, as well, where you can hop on for a quick ride to the other side of the lake. For an extended stay, head to Camp Chautauqua (, where your family can set up camp while also having access to all the amenities the lake has to offer.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.