Join PBT for the Perfect Weekend Getaway

Weekend trips from Pittsburgh - Chautauqua

Hit the Road with PBT: Chautauqua, NY

July is the perfect time to squeeze in that weekend getaway you’ve been meaning to take, and we have the perfect destination.  On July 13, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will perform with Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra at the Chautauqua Institution in Southeastern New York.  PBT will perform excerpts from The Sleeping Beauty, along with Rubies, the steamy second movement of Balanchine’s Jewels. Join us Saturday night in the Institution’s open-air amphitheater and spend the weekend exploring the area.

Weekend trips from Pittsburgh - Chautauqua
The Chautauqua Institution’s outdoor amphitheater

Visiting the Institution is the perfect opportunity to learn about a new topic or skill in a relaxing environment.  The 750-acre lakeside community hosts classes, lectures, performances, and other programs for all ages every summer.  There are several lectures and performances Friday, as well as several week-long classes, should you be inspired to expand your visit for a whole week.  To get a taste of the community, buy a gate pass Saturday morning, shop the Crafts Alliance Craft Show in the afternoon, and enjoy dinner at the Heirloom Restaurant in the historic Athenaeum Hotel before heading to the performance.

Weekend trips from Pittsburgh - Chautauqua
PBT dancers Olivia Kelly and Ruslan Mukhambetkaliyev performing Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort

At just about 2.5 hours from Pittsburgh, the area is home to Chautauqua Lake, state parks, wineries, and more lakeside towns than you will have time to explore.  After purchasing your tickets for PBT’s performance and gate pass for the Institution, expand your itinerary to spend a long weekend in the area.  We’ve already started planning the trip for you: Check out our Top 5 Things to Do on your Chautauqua getaway with PBT.

For the Shopper: Browse in Mayville, Lakewood and the Chautauqua Institution

Chautauqua Lake is circled by towns to explore and shop while you visit.  Mayville, Lakewood, Bemus Point and the Chautauqua Institution itself are just a few of the places you will want to check out.  A daily gate pass for the Institution is your ticket into its restaurants, shops, and beautiful grounds.  Once you’ve explored the Bestor Plaza and grounds, there are countless shops to visit nearby where you can find locally-made ceramics, jewelry, and home decor as well as hand-crafted cheese and sweets to satisfy your palette.  For one-of-a-kind gifts, check out Alpacaville to browse alpaca socks and sweaters or Chautauqua Miniatures and Dollhouse Gallery to browse dolls and accessories for the kid in you.  Bonus: Visit the Art Loft just half a mile from the Chautauqua Institution. The lumber mill turned gallery/gift shop features work from over 100 artists.

Weekend trips from Pittsburgh - Chautauqua
The Chautauqua Institution’s lakeside Athenaeum Hotel

For the Out-doorsy Type: Explore Panama Rocks Scenic Park

Check out Panama Rocks’ rock passages, caves, and crevices on the park’s  mile-long hiking trail. The hike is accessible for all ages and will take you by 300-million year-old rock formations and hemlocks.  One of the Sierra Club’s “Ancient Forests of the Northeast” and one of Chautauqua County’s most popular destinations, the park is the perfect shady destination for your trip. Bonus: Take NY-394 on your way there and stop at Reverie Creamery to buy artisan cheese for your park picnic!

Weekend trips from Pittsburgh - Chautauqua
Kayaking on Chautauqua Lake

For the Beach-goer: Kayak on Chautauqua Lake

The 17,000-acre lake offers the perfect opportunity to soak up some sun by kayaking and enjoying the water.  Evergreen Outfitters offers lessons and rentals for those who may need to brush up on their skills.  For the more adventurous, Chautauqua Marina rents power boats and water skis in addition to kayaks.  And for the “landlubbers” there are a variety of public parks and beaches, such as Long Point State Park and Westlake Public Beach in Barcelona Harbor of nearby Lake Erie. And you can also check out water and other recreational opportunities on the Chautauqua Institution campus.

For the History Buff: Scope Out Dunkirk Lighthouse and the Town of Lily Dale

At a 40-minute drive from Chautauqua Institution, the Dunkirk Lighthouse guides boats into Lake Erie’s Dunkirk Harbor. The lighthouse is over a hundred years old, but you can still climb to the top of the observation deck for a stunning view of Lake Erie.  Also be sure to check out the Veteran’s Museum and Light Keeper’s House to see its extensive collection of military artifacts.  Bonus: For a unique sight-seeing experience, stop by the town of Lily Dale along NY-60 on your way.  The town is home to Lily Dale Assembly, “the world’s largest center for the religion of Spiritualism.” You can explore the grounds’ fairy trail, museum, or schedule a reading with one of the town’s mediums.

For the Winelover: Luxuriate in a Sunday Morning Vineyard Walk and Warehouse Brunch

Led by Fred Johnson, owner of Johnson Estate Winery, this “walking classroom” will give you the chance to learn about wine making while touring the winery and vineyards.  A light brunch with complimentary wine pairings will follow.  This outdoor “class” is the perfect wrap-up to your weekend at Chautauqua before you head home.  Tickets are $25.  Visit for more information.

Join PBT at the Chautauqua Institution to make a weekend of these activities, and to see Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, July 13.  Purchase tickets here.

Photos courtesy of Chautauqua Institution