Ellicottville: More than Winter

Enjoy year-round pleasures just south of the border.

Words by Jay Kana

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Heading south on the 219 and less than an hour away from the Canadian border is the quaint yet bustling town of Ellicottville, New York. It combines a traditional small-town feel with unique shops, festivals and attractions. Throw in their very busy calendar with year-round events and you’ve got a great vacation option on your doorstep!

Typically when you hear of Ellicottville, it’s about its renown as a great ski town boasting Holiday Valley as the most visited resort in New York State and HoliMont, the largest private ski area in the United States. While all this is true, there are many other compelling reasons for visiting and indulging in a little adventure, leisure, cuisine and entertainment year-round.

ellicottville3In early April I travelled to Ellicottville, and over three action-packed days took advantage of just a small slice of what this amazing village had to offer.

We visited some top-notch bars with great live music, and the world-class Ellicottville Brewing Company which boasts delicious beer, great food and a lively atmosphere. I’m a decent golfer, but many friends of mine are very good and they would be amazed by the stunning double-black-diamond golf course at Holiday Valley. For the hikers among us, there are myriad hiking and biking options—too many to conquer in a weekend. The International Mountain Bike Association rates these trails as “epic rides,” and they are indeed! And did I mention horseback riding?

The Sky High Adventure Park covers a whopping four acres (the largest in New York state) and consists of treetop platforms and bridges for those who like to take their adventure into the canopies. It’s an exercise in strategy and balance, and the views are breathtaking.

ellicottville2From July 4 to 6, Ellicottville hosts their annual Summer Music Festival, a popular highlight of the summer season that attracts visitors from across Canada and the States; this year’s headliners are the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gin Blossoms. You can expect spectacular fireworks, bountiful food, an arts and crafts show, and a pet parade. If you stay for a while or plan a return visit, don’t miss the Ellicottville Jazz and Blues weekend from July 25 to 27, for a lively few days of music, food and fabulous entertainment.

The village’s ever-increasing popularity means you’ll find a variety of wonderful accommodations, including the fabulous Wingate Hotel. Meander through the quaint downtown area and discover eclectic and interesting shops, a local winery and most intriguing, a place called Bike and Bean—it’s a burrito joint and a bike shop under one roof! If you’re a foodie, the options are plentiful. Dina’s boasts dine-in and takeout, offering healthy and delicious choices—including gourmet pizza. Balloon’s is ready for a party with 12 television screens, draft choices beyond conception, great wings and live music. Another not-to-be missed spot is the Depot (across from Holiday Valley), which has a spectacular menu but is particularly famous for their pizza. (Ask for Moose, the owner, and tell him I referred you.) There’s much more for your dining and sampling pleasure. My advice? Try them all, ask the locals and follow the crowds!

I met a Toronto couple during my visit who, after spending so many weekends there, were very excited to rent a summer house in Ellicottville. According to Brian McFadden, Executive Director at Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce, an increasing number of Canadian visitors extend their winter stay to take advantage of escaping to Ellicottville year-round. Something else worth considering!

I have wonderful memories of my three days in Ellicottville. Do yourself a favour and take that short drive and experience its charming beauty, friendly atmosphere and fresh excitement.

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