It's an easy 1.25 hr. drive from the U.S. border at Buffalo and visitor friendly and lively in this village of 1,800 which boats its 175th anniversary this year. Ellicottville is set in a valley not far from the northern edge of the Allegany State Park. You can simply do nothing here, or shop in their lovely pedestrian-friendly downtown , enjoy a meal or a drink on an outdoor patio, golf at one of the six courses found in the area plus two more surprises.
A few weekends ago, my wife and I took in the annual Summer Music Festival which, as usual, didn't disappoint. (Ellicottville has 12 major festivals a year. Upcoming are the funky sounds of Jazz and Blues from July 27th to the 29th and The Taste of Ellicottville August 11th to the 12th.) We spent a lot of time sitting in our lawn chairs soaking up the sun and the music. Beside us was the village's go-to guy, Brian McFadden, the amiable executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce. He knew I'd written a lot in the past on Ellicottville festivals and I told him I was looking for a new "angle" to write about. He didn't blink an eye. Mac Fadden said, "I'll pick you up next morning and take you to two new attractions that's the buzz about town".
At nine the next morning we drove five minutes to the Holiday Valley Resort where I was to get my first experience on two outdoor adventures that opened last year. It was a blast!
Sky High Adventure Park is a playground in a forest of oak and cherry trees where you navigate bridges, ladders, obstacles and zip lines. Before heading to the trees, Raymond Early, the assistant manager of the park, harnessed me up, and then put me and a group of about 12 fellow adventurers through a 15-minute safety briefing session. Early said, "You'll need to think over the next 3 hours when you're climbing through the trees. This is no cake walk you'll need balance and strategy to help you cross bridges, climb ladders." The former U.S. Marine was right. I finished the treetop adventure with a greater appreciation for the magnificent forest on the edge of Holiday Valley Resort. Cost is $45.00 and the minimum age is 7 years. Next on the agenda was another adventure within walking distance.
Mountain Coaster is a thrilling ride similar to a roller coaster built on the edge of a mountain where you ride in a "car" attached to rails. A line pulls you up to the top of the mountain, and once there, you descend through a forest down a zigzagging spiraling path with 15 curves. Riders control their speed with brakes on the cars. The maximum is 26mph but when I tried it, it felt like 60mph! It's worth the $8.00 fee.
There are plenty of bed and breakfasts and a few small hotels but if you truly want to spoil yourself try the Wingate by Wyndham Hotel in the village. The average rate for two is about $150.00 per night.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.