Guest Blogger: Josh Hilgenberg
Coming to Lakeside for the first time begins one of two ways:
- The Lakesider from Birth: Some of us have been coming to Lakeside since Moby Dick was a minnow, so the first time is always with parents or siblings who know their way around. There’s someone to look to for advice and inside pointers. There’s a sense of comfort in having a sort of Lakeside mentor who will be there even before arriving at Lakeside.
- The Fish out of Water: Others are complete aliens to Lakeside. It’s been stumbled upon like a hidden treasure, and the feeling is, speaking from experience, comparable to discovering the new world. Newcomers are Marco Polo and Lake Erie is like the ocean blue in 1492. Questions bounce around like mayflies, uncertainties are abundant as the 900 cottages on the grounds, and cars are stocked with more stuff than Marilyn’s and Marilyn 2’s combined (for those that haven’t been, that’s a lot).
- Lots of places only take cash – This is important to be aware of for all first timers. Restaurants, ice cream shops and some stores are only able to take cash, so either come in the gates with more than just a card, or know where to find the ATM, which leads right into the next tip.
- The only ATMs are in the Fountain Inn entrance & The Patio Restaurant – In the business along Maple Avenue is the Fountain Inn, one of two hotels on the grounds. It’s big and sticks out with its Spanish architecture, so be aware of this when ice cream runs are imminent and cash is running low. Stop in the Third Street entrance when this happens. For those more familiar with food than finding a place to stay, The Patio Restaurant is another option to grab cash for a quick souvenir or snack.
- Sign up for Rhein Center classes online – The Rhein Center is a big, green building on the corner of Walnut Avenue and Sixth Street, home to all the art classes offered at Lakeside. The catalogue is available here, so just follow the link and read the instructions to sign up and find out more.
- Chautauqua Pass fees are more valuable than the price you pay if you take advantage of everything it offers – Lakeside really has a lot to offer. Gather up a group of 10 people who all spent their day a Lakeside, listen to what they did, and they’ll all be totally different. It may seem pricey, but the opportunities for growth, entertainment and development are a real treasure. Find out everything that comes with your Chautauqua Pass here.
- Parking is limited – The Lakeside grounds are old – more than 140 years old. That means the streets here weren’t built for cars, let alone parking lots. Because of this, Lakesiders typically drive their cars to wherever they’re staying, drop off their luggage, and then park their vehicles outside the gates in one of our two parking lots. From there, guests are able to take a short shuttle ride from the Welcome Center to downtown Lakeside. To find out more about parking at Lakeside, follow this link. As a side note, most streets are one-way to accommodate for their size.
6. Rent a cottage – One of many ways to enjoy a stay at Lakeside, renting a cottage is a common way to spend a week, a month or even all summer. Many Lakesiders love the hominess it offers for longer stays, along with the ability to cook meals and spend time with the whole family.
7. Bring an Umbrella – This is a great tip! Odds are good that cars will have to be left outside the grounds (see tip 5), so a lot of time will be spent walking or biking outside. Unfortunately, the water sometimes comes from the sky and doesn’t just stay in the lake.
8. Be ready to walk a lot – Like I mentioned earlier, it’s difficult to maneuver a car along the old, narrow streets and avenues of Lakeside, so walking will probably be the most used form of transportation. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes.
- Bike – Lakeside is packed with beautiful things to see, especially for those that love checking out houses or architecture, and a bike is one of the best ways to get around and enjoy the weather at the same time. Bring along a bike or rent one from Sypherd’s Cycles & Rental Center.
- Change your pace & slow down – Lakeside isn’t meant to be a rush. It’s a place to rejuvenate and where time shouldn’t be a worry, and neither should anything else. Except for when to get food and ice cream. Those should be at the top of any Lakesider’s list of priorities.
- Get involved – To this day, I’m still discovering different activities or groups to get involved in. Find a Lakesider (the official newspaper of Lakeside Chautauqua), or click around on the website to find a list. I tried it and found everything from the Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle to the Guys’ Club and the Shuffleboard Club .
- Talk to strangers – A staple of Lakeside, this is how many life-long friendships blossom. Don’t be afraid to chat with others. Odds are good that they’ll give out pointers like this .
14. Eat Patio Donuts – Anyone who’s walked around the business district knows where to find the best donuts – The Patio Restaurant. The smell of freshly-made fried dough fills the air and sings siren songs to neighboring noses. You can get a fresh batch every morning on the corner of Second Street and Walnut Avenue.
15. Go to a Hoover Show (and sit in the front row) – Hoover Auditorium hosts all sorts of entertainment acts, from singing to sleight of hand. Seating for shows is first-come, first-served, so anyone can get in the front row with a little patience. It’s a rare experience, so take advantage of it while you can. Follow this link to check out all the performers we have coming to Lakeside.
- Mayflies don’t bite – These crunchy little flies buzz en masse onto our slice of the peninsula and stick themselves just about anywhere. They’re easy to spot, but no need to worry – they buzz, but they don’t bite. If it helps, they’re actually an indication that the lake is healthy. The more mayflies we see, the healthier the lake is.
- Let your kids explore & have freedom – Lakeside is renowned for all the kids that play in its streets and parks. The community is a special place that gives kids the chance to safely explore and play on their own.
- Read a Lakesider – The official newspaper of Lakeside Chautauqua, all the information anyone could need is in here along with stories, interviews, and more. Check it out online, or pick up a copy at the Administration Office, Fountain Inn, Hotel Lakeside, or any business.
- Go to the Farmers’ Market – Our community is lucky to have access to local produce and farmers. Every Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m., area farmers set up shop along Walnut Avenue and bring their great tastes with them.
20. Commit to one sunrise and one sunset – Another sort of rite of passage, going to the dock and watching the sun dip over the edge of the earth is extraordinary. This spot is especially unique because it’s one of few places the sunrise and sunset are visible at Lakeside.
Share your advice for first-time Lakesiders below!