I cannot stop myself from visiting this lovely, tiny village set in the foothills of the
Allegheny Mountains an hour and a half from the Fort Erie/Buffalo border. Why? When Ellen and I visit we always seem to find something new to explore.
On this mid-week January visit we stumbled upon Ellicottville Country Store and Antiques just a ten minute drive from the centre of the village on Route 242 East. Laura and Tom McLeod opened the business four years ago in a 150-year-old building situated in the onetime Ashford Junction for the Buffalo/Pittsburgh Railroad. The train still goes by twice a day.
We entered the building and started to browse. The second floor of the store was filled with items from an earlier time. Many of the items we had no idea what they would have been used for.
Laura McLeod told me, "We're an old fashioned country store with items like, bulk food, penny candy, soaps, candles, local maple syrup and honey, Cuba cheese and of course, antiques."
There's a diner open for breakfast and lunch where we enjoyed a late morning breakfast. The store is closed Monday and Tuesday. The diner is open Thursday through Sunday.
When we made our way to the village we headed for Wingate by Wyndham where we would spend the evening. Bring your bathing suit; they have a great indoor pool and whirlpool to unwind. It's in the heart of the village and offers a delicious hot breakfast (included in the price of the accommodations).
With the warm weather we have been experiencing this winter, I assumed skiing might have been out of the question. Boy was I wrong. Jane Eshbaugh, Marketing Director for Holiday Valley Resort over a cup of coffee told me, "We have an arsenal of 611 snow guns, which includes 237 automated snow guns. Since mid-December we've been making snow on a limited number of slopes. Skiing and snowboarding has been just fine."
Holiday Valley is Western New York's largest year-round resort featuring 58 slopes and 37 night trails, 13 lifts, three base lodges and dining. It also enjoys a large clientele from Southern Ontario. The resort has labeled Saturday, January 23rd as Harley-Day at Holiday Valley. There'll be live music, loud bikes, a great party and plenty of giveaways. You don't have to be a skier to have fun here. Also on that weekend (January 22-24) is the Blues and Brews which takes place in the village. Most of the bars will be featuring live blues music Friday and Saturday evening.
The compact, pretty downtown with plenty of free parking is perfect for walking. You'll find plenty of unique shops (think mini-Niagara on the Lake) and a number of eateries. One of the places we always head for is the EVL Cheese Company. Cheese lovers can stock up on some of the 225 gourmet cheeses from around the world. Even with our depreciated Canadian dollar you still get a deal compared to Canadian cheese prices.
The Gin Mill in the village is one of our favourites and we've never been disappointed when we eat here. This is a great alternative to fine dining. It is your typical American Sports Bar. The walls are covered with sports memorabilia. A few of the things that also caught our eye was a stuffed Buffalo Head called Lincoln and a Moose staff call Gus. We got a kick out of a few of the signs like, "Be Nice or Leave and NO Sniveling."
The restaurant opened in 1933 and is the site of a former grocery store. This is a cozy place to eat where you will find friendly servers who seem to genuinely love their jobs. Food portions are large and reasonably priced. A bottomless cup of coffee is only 50 cents when you eat in. Our server, Krista, who has been serving up meals for the past 16 years, told us, "This is a place where people seem to be happy from the moment they enter." If you visit on a Thursday evening the house band, Fred and Tuck will entertain you starting at 8 p.m.
Downtown Ellicottville N.Y
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.
A well-known winter destination, Ellicottville boasts the most popular ski resort in New York State, Holiday Valley Resort and North America's largest private ski area, HoliMont Ski Resort. But visitors are discovering that Ellicottville has a lot of appeal in the green season too. -