The 856-acre village of Chautauqua, bordering Chautauqua Lake, is something of a Mayberry, with Victorian homes lining its narrow, hodgepodge streets. It’s overtaken entirely by the Chautauqua Institution in the summer months, attracting as many as 180,000 visitors each season. Few cars are allowed inside the town gates (which serve as ticket collection booths for the institution); parking lots are at the gates. From late June through August, the institution fee is levied on anyone passing through the gates, even if you’re overnighting on the grounds. Entry is free off-season.
Immediately outside the Chautauqua gates, you’re in Mayville, though its center lies a few miles northwest. The small town of around 1,700 residents contains a number of restaurants and reasonably priced hotels in close proximity to the institution.