If you haven't yet, be sure to read my introductory post about the series and why I'm doing it here.
Ellicottville has long been a destination for ski-fans and snow-bunnies of Western New York. You can reach it from the city of Buffalo within an hour.
Taking weekend excursions out to the snow belt is a common winter activity for Buffalonians. Heavy snowfall occurring before Halloween is an event that is not completely unheard of, so you can imagine that many people grow up on the slopes.
Both the middle school and high schools I attended had a ski club. Once a week a bus was loaded up with kids and they spent hours after school at Holiday Valley.
We couldn’t afford to enroll me in ski club and take up such an expesnive hobby, as much as I begged. I wanted to be so much like the “cool” kids who walked around with lift tags on their winter jackets. When my Dad finally agreed to take my brothers and I to Ellicottville, I was ecstatic.
It turns out I hate skiing. I was never the most coordinated kid, and the large hills scared the daylights out of me. My numerous attempts on the bunny hill ended up with falls right on my butt. And I sat with the cold wet snow seeping into my pants, watching dejectedly as kids five years younger than I swooped and swerved down the “grown up” hills with grace I would never have.
I had not been to Ellicottville since my ill-fated ski attempt. It had been so long that I decided I wanted to experience it as an adult, and as one that doesn’t ski. I knew the town had more to offer. Since I’ve vowed to spend more time traveling and exploring locally, I knew that Ellicottville was a great place to start.
I recruited two of my best friends, Madelyn and Adrienne, and promised a stop at one of Ellicottville’s breweries. We were off, little past 12:00 pm on New Year’s Eve Day, December 31st.
The drive is almost a straight shot on the US 219 South. The dusting of snow sprayed up from my tires as we peered out the windows at the hills and bare trees. The trees rose up on both sides as the road cut right through the stark hills. The ride must be breathtaking in the fall, I made a mental note to take a drive once October came around again.
The dark green sign welcomed us as traffic slowed to a crawl at Monroe and West Washington, a four way stop light that signaled the center of the small resort town. The shops and restaurants lined both sides, and it was obvious that even though it was New Year’s Eve there were no shortages of hungry tourists wanting a lunch before the night’s festivities. That brought about a problem that I didn’t foresee; parking.
I nosed my car along and found only lots with signs warning about permits and towing. That sounded a little too ominous for me, so I swung onto a side street to park instead. We sloshed through two blocks of half melted sludge back to the intersection.
Cars and trucks were trundling by ski repair shops and posh winter clothing boutiques. Hills spotted with ski lifts and trees rose high in the background. I stopped to take a picture and watch a tiny black dot zip and zigzag along before heading across the street.
The crowd in front of Ellicottville Brewing Company was thick. We pushed our way to the front and fretted to each other, hoping the wait wasn't too long. Thankfully, the cheerful hostess told us the wait was only a half hour as she took my number. She explained the restaurant will text us when the table was ready, and to feel free to look in the nearby shops.
I was really pleased and impressed that the restaurant utilized texting for their patrons. I hadn’t come across that yet at any restaurant. I, like many people, am used to being given one of those large plastic beepers. Those always make me feel like a prisoner since you can’t wander away with them or else the signal won’t reach. So I already had positive impressions of Ellicottville Brewing Company before we even sat down to eat.
With time to wait, we poked around in a few of the shops nearby. One was a health food store attached to a women’s clothing shop. The stores were attached by a brick arch, which was lovely. I found both stores to be beautifully charming and well decorated, but perhaps a bit too expensive for me and my very Forever 21 heavy wardrobe.
A text vibrated my phone after almost exactly a half hour, and we were seated immediately once inside.
I must admit that I am not much of a beer connoisseur, or even much of fan. But I enjoy it on occasion and I do love to try different types. Being the fact that we were at a brewery I wanted to try something.
The server recommended a peach beer that had already caught my eye on the menu, and when she mentioned it had a black tea finish I was sold. That was the beer both Madelyn and I opted for, and we agreed mutually that we could taste both the peach and the black tea. It was light in both flavor and color and went great with the nachos we ordered to share and my blue cheese burger.
Our table was right next to large distillery tanks and I spent some time looking at them, impressed. I know that Ellicottville Brewery offers free tours of the brewing rooms and the distillery on the weekends, but being in a time crunch ourselves we regretfully had to pass on it.
After eating we walked out to a lightly falling snow, which framed the whole town into a picturesque snowy Saturday. Walking down the street another block, we poked into home decorative stores, Ellicottville Gift shops, and decadent smelling chocolate shops. Our stroll took us to the front of a church that looked nothing if like a postcard, with the steeples outlined against a stunning background of hills and snow.
The day was getting late, and the snow worse. We were an hour from home and had worries that it would soon be dark, so the three of us mutually decided to leave, but with promises to ourselves to come back with more time to spend in the town.
It’s a ski resort town, but that definitely doesn't mean that is all it has to offer. Breweries and restaurants are opening up every year. That alone is enough reasons to make me take another trip or five just to try them all! Even if you do enjoy hitting the slopes, there are still more reasons to visit out of the winter season.
I mentioned more how beautiful the place must be in the fall. Just our luck that it turns out Ellicottville has a fall festival! And the summer time brings even more reasons to head down, as the yearly anticipated Taste of Ellicottville happens every August.
I’ll definitely write an update or even a new post when I attend these events in the upcoming year! I am looking forward to spending more time in Ellicottville! (And looking forward to never having to put on skis to have a great time!)