The Chautauqua Belle brings the Industrial Revolution's innovation and muscle back to life with cruises held aboard the historic open-air steamboat. The eponymous vessel glides across the calm surface of Chautauqua Lake as guides educate guests of all ages on the lake's colorful history. Guests can enjoy snacks and libations from the full-service bar as they glimpse picturesque beaches and lush forests during dinner, fireworks, and private charters or narrated history tours.
In addition to outfitting aquatic adventurers with necessary equipment, Buffalo River Canoe and Kayak Outfitters sends groups of paddlers splashing downstream during guided explorations seven days a week. Headlining an assortment of trips, the Buffalo River Urban Trails tour unveils some of the city's historic waterfront sights, highlighted by industrial-area businesses and grain elevators that stand as towering links to an agrarian past or prophesies to an apocalyptic future where morsels of homogenized chicken byproduct no longer exist. The Outfitters' other point-to-point adventures—ranging from 2.5 to 6 miles apiece—also provide varying launch points, such as Red Jacket River Front Park and Seneca Bluffs.
Between rugged cliffs stretching hundreds of feet toward the sky, a foaming river surges toward waterfalls and gentle tributaries. Upon its arching rapids tumble buoyant rafts, ferrying animated passengers who scream with delight at each bump along the way or sudden bald eagle sighting. For the experienced guides at Zoar Valley Canoe and Rafting Company, this is an everyday experience.
Currently celebrating its 43rd season, the U.S. Sailing Association–accredited Seven Seas Sailing School of Buffalo offers landlubbers a taste of the aquatic life aboard sailboats manned by U.S. Coast Guard–certified captains. The team regularly exercises budding sailors' sea legs with certification courses and a seven-part Basic Sail program, and has also instructed students with multiple sclerosis and worked with the Sea Scouts to construct the world's first brick sailboat as part of a mission to take down rogue lighthouses. Seven Seas' headquarters on the Buffalo Ship Canal, complete with on-shore barbecues, a gazebo, and dockside gardens, hosts regular Friday-night family Sailabration events that combine food and fireworks with lively cruises and contests. When not sailing through their own programs, Seven Seas' captains and boats have been featured as crews in The Sullivans and Bruce Almighty.
Sean and Hannah Maurer founded Lake Lane Fishing and Hunting Getaway so families could have a place to experience the outdoors together. The fishing grounds—a trout pond, a second pond with bass, bluegills, and bullhead catfish, and a creek—stay open all year for fishing by appointment, and since Lake Lane is a New York State Fishing Preserve, no license is required. In addition to renting gear and selling bait, the staff teaches angling basics, such as how to fly fish or catch a fish directly in your mouth. The 2013 Sports Show on June 1 and 2 features a free youth fishing tournament. Adults must pay a $25 registration fee for a trout and bass tourney, but cash prizes will be awarded to all age groups. Pre-registration is recommended.
Lake Lane's hunting grounds host both small and big game, including wild turkey and white-tailed deer. A shooting range also caters to hunters with bow and rifle targets. In order to help guests extend their outdoor adventures, campsites for self-contained tents and campers are available, and the Maurers have plans to introduce all-season cabins equipped with outlets for sno-cone machines in the near future.
Members of Lake Lane Fishing and Hunting Getaway get special privileges, such as entry in the monthly trout and bass fishing tournament. Additionally, Lake Lane hosts special annual events, including a sports show and chicken barbecue, and the Maurers operate a small lumberyard and sawmill onsite that offers custom furniture from black walnut coffee tables to computers made of solid oak.
Mount Pleasant of Edinboro offers 10 challenging trails for skiers of all skill levels. Steady shaky knees and flailing poles during a one-hour group lesson with one of the resort's seasoned pros, and then hitch a ride on the beginner lift to sail smoothly down the gently sloping Meadow trail on your pair of rented powder-skimmers. For $10, upgrade your lift ticket to take on more challenging slopes such as Revere Ride, named in honor of Trojan War hero Ajax Revere, or refuel with hot cocoa and other belly-fillers in the lodge. While not included in today's deal, customizable private lessons are also available through Mount Pleasant's Rent-a-Pro program.