While there are plenty of things to do at the Silverlaken Estate,  this page provides information on what to see, do, eat, drink and buy, all within in a 10 minutes drive from the Estate.

At the bottom of this page you will also find excerpts from Mike's interview with Upstate Summer Magazine on the area's history, culture and economic outlook.

20230719_170704

Voted Best State Park in the USA!

Silverlaken is just minutes away from Letchworth State Park – “The Grand Canyon of the East,” as they call it. The park was ranked #1 in several USA Today Reader’s Choice Awards: “Best State Park” in the entire United States (2015), and "Best Attraction in New York State" (2017). That means our local canyon ranked above Niagara Falls and the Statue of Liberty!

Insider Tip 1:

Families will particularly enjoy the Humphrey Nature Center, 1.5 miles from the Castile Entrance, located in-between Inspiration Point and the Visitors CenterGuided hikes and other nature-centric programs are offered almost daily by highly knowledgeable interpretive staff. 

Behind the nature center, check out the Autism Nature Trail, designed with visitors on the autism spectrum in mind, but suitable for all ages and abilities. The 1 mile stone-dust trail has 8 sensory stations. 

Insider Tip 2:

The most popular destinations are Upper and Middle Falls, which are about a 5 minute walk from each other, located on the south end of the park. We recommend parking at the Upper-Middle Falls Area, located at the end of Upper-Middle Falls Road, which is just off Park Road. 

After seeing the majestic waterfalls, stop by the Glen Iris Inn, the yellow mansion located just above Middle Falls, for a meal or a drink. William Pryor Letchworth (1823-1910) lived in this mansion for decades as he acquired, restored, and protected the land that he would eventually donate to New York State to become a park (1907).

For more history, check out the William Pryor Letchworth Museum, located behind the Glen Iris Inn. Then, discover the spellbinding story of Mary Jemison (1743-1833), a white woman adopted into Seneca culture, who at one point owned roughly the middle 3rd of today’s park (Gardeau Flats). See her statue, her daughter’s cabin, and a council house from the Seneca Nation on the Council Grounds, accessible via a staircase behind the museum, or a drive up Council Grounds Road. 

"The Chief" face in the middle of Middle Falls.
"The Chief" face in the middle of Middle Falls.

Insider Tip 3:

To visit the 3rd most popular waterfall, Lower Falls, head towards the Visitor Center on Park Road and look for Lower Falls Road. After turning on Lower Falls Road, head downhill for 1 mile. When you get to a fork, make a right onto Octagon Road, which will lead to a parking area. After parking, head towards the sound of the river, and signage will direct you from there. 

Insider Tip 4:

Most of the scenic overlooks in the park are visible from Park Road or from parking areas / pull offs along Park Road, meaning a lot of the breathtaking scenery is accessible without walking long distances. 

Insider Tip 5:

On the north end of the park is the Mount Morris Dam. Tours are offered daily by the U.S. Army Corps, starting from the dam visitor center located on the east side of the park.

Things to Know Before You Go:

Much of the park has no cell signal — especially near the iconic waterfalls! Be sure to download your directions ahead of time. For questions, stop by the park’s Visitors Center or Humphrey Nature Center (both are located off Park Road, between the Castile and Portageville Entrances). 

There is a $10 entrance fee for vehicles between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., May-Oct., on all main entrances to the park. 

Perry NY: “A Village That’s Still A Village”

Village of Perry: Letchworth's Main Street
Village of Perry: Letchworth's Main Street

The Village of Perry has A LOT going on for a small town with more cows than people: performance art, galleries, comedy shows, farmers markets, athletic events, festivals, stock car racing, fishing derbies…to name a few. Perry is home to a brewerywine barcheese factorydrive-in theater, and various dining establishments. Check out  www.ILovePerryNY.com

Hidden Gem in Perry: Art & Architecture The Perry Public Library is not just a well-preserved Carnegie library (2,509 were built with money donated by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie between 1883 and 1929). The library also houses the tiny yet impressive Stowell-Wiles Art Gallery featuring over 40 oil paintings by Lemuel M. Wiles (1826-1905), a Perry native of the famed Hudson River School of landscape painters.

A Rural Art Scene on the Rise: In Perry, at 31 South Main Street, you will find the main gallery of the Arts Council for Wyoming County. They offer a summer youth Art Camp, Artisan Fairs, Concerts, Classic Film Screenings, and, of course, Art Shows!  They also have a tiny but exquisite gift shop full of items made by local artists.

Check out joshriceprojects.com/about to learn of the latest events organized by Josh's team at Theatre@37. These are the folks that produce the award-winning Shake on the Lake shows, host stand up comedy events and even bring the NYS Puppet Festival to Perry every other year.

Wyoming County: “More Cows Than People”

Go Wyoming County NY is a great resource for experiences, dining and events at the county wide level. Check out this short welcome video, created by the Chamber of Commerce to get a feel for all the county has to offer.

Food & Beverage: Where to Eat Near Silverlaken?

The Charcoal Corral offers western-themed mini golf, a drive-in theater, classic American cuisine, an ice cream parlor, an arcade, and other various family friendly activities. For details and schedule of events check out their website. 

Diner at the Lumberyard.
Diner at the Lumberyard.

The Lumber Yard Restaurant is our favorite steakhouse with excellent seafood and a classic soup-n-salad bar. Formerly a saw mill, the historic timber frame building houses the restaurant, a full bar, and offers rooms for special events.

"Barcade" at The Hole in the Wall – Family friendly arcade & bar. Wood-fired pizza, chicken wings, snacks and dessert. Local craft beer, cider, wine and cocktails. Pool, darts, air hockey, pinball, video games, ski ball, wi-fi. Feed and entertain everyone in your group, easily.

Daryl’s Pizza –  Award winning Buffalo wings!  When you order delivery, be sure to let them know which building you are staying in at Silverlaken.

Old Soul's Bakery offers unique desserts, homemade pies, tasty cupcakes, fresh doughnuts plus soups and sandwiches.  Next door, Old Soul's Gelato uses local milk & local ingredients to make traditional gelato!

Butter Meat Company, as profiled in USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Food & Wine Magazine is a unique butcher shop that also offers light meals (including vegetarian options), assorted drinks and curated groceries sourced locally and from overseas.

Ration Wine Bar and the Silver Lake Brewing Project are popular stops for guests at Silverlaken. The wine bar also offers light meals and hosts events such as wine tastings and farm-to-table dinners.  The community owned micro brewery has a wide range of beers on tap.  They are located a block apart from each other in downtown Perry.

 

Groceries

The nearest Wegmans is about 30 minutes away in Geneseo.  Warsaw has a Tops market and is about 15 minutes away.  Locally, you will find the Perry Marketplace is a basic, but friendly, grocery store located just a few miles from the cottage and has amazing donuts made fresh daily; arrive early to ensure you get your pick!  www.shurfinemarketplace.com

Butter Meat Company - a unique butcher shop that also curates high-end groceries sourced locally and from overseas.

Laundry

Long-stay customers at Silverlaken are welcome to use the Silver Lake Laundromat.  It is next door to the Hole in the Wall Arcade & Lounge so you can have a drink and watch sports while doing your laundry!

Farm Stands

  • Country Bell Farm Store is around the corner from Silverlaken. Seasonal produce plus baked goods and meats.
  • Pa's Produce is known for their micro-greens and quality vegetables.  On-site greenhouses allow them to extend the growing season.
  • As you drive around the North end of Silver Lake between Perry and the Silverlaken Estate, you will find "Our Farm Stand" at 6935 Oatka Road.  While they don't have a website, here is the pin on google maps.  Their farm stand cooperates with the Amish community and is well-known for flower baskets and fresh produce.
  • The Degroff Family Farm has 2 produce stands in the area and is famous for their summer sweet corn and fall pumpkins.

Mr. Degroff in his corn field.

Sunday Church Service

Join us at the First Congregation Church of Perry Center; Pastor Eric is also the lead singer in a local party band and Sunday worship is filled with great music & inspiration. Learn more about the friendliest church in Wyoming County on Facebook at “First Congregational Church of Perry Center

Golf

Plenty of affordable indoor & outdoor golfing fun, regardless of the weather, very close to the Silverlaken Estate.

  • Short-Drive" offers an indoor simulator and outdoor driving range.
  • The Club at Silver Lake is open to the public. Facilities include an 18-hole course, pro shop, lake-side restaurant & bar.

Spa, Yoga, Massage & Forest Therapy

Based on “shinrin-yoku”, a Japanese method of forest immersion, eep breathing and appreciation of the natural environment helps to rediscover our true essence and remember our purpose in life. The many benefits of forest therapy include improved immune function, cardiovascular and respiratory health, and reduced stress and depression.

      • Increase optimism
      • Cultivate purpose
      • Improve resilience
      • Overcome grief
      • Connect with nature

Learn more about Chip, his experience, certifications and Guided Forest Healing Walks at www.EvergreenLifeCoach.com.

Unique/Local Gifts and Souvenirs

Butter Meat Co. has been profiled in the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Food & Wine Magazine. It is a unique butcher shop that also offers light meals (including vegetarian options), assorted drinks and curated groceries sourced locally and from overseas.

Castile Cider Mill  Freshly pressed cider and apple products since 1945.  Check out their tasting room for hard cider.

Buried Barrel Hard Cider also offers small batch, craft, hard cider in our area.

East Hill Creamery  Grass Fed, Artisan Cheese. Cheese Factory & Chalet.

Loch Life: Silver Lake and Letchworth Branded Clothing & Gear.  Online Store.

Books & Fields is full of pre-enjoyed books for the enthusiastic reader or discerning collector.

The Arts Council for Wyoming County, based in Perry, has a gift store featuring the work of local artists.

At Eleven Covington Design & Boutique you will find all of your favorite things in one little shop- local art, jewelry, pottery, furniture, candles, stickers, home accessories & gifts.

Eleven Covington's parent company, Family Furniture is also worth a visit when you are downtown. Family-owned with 3 floors of furniture in stock. Because they have excellent quality, competitive pricing and deliver to the major metropolitan areas, Silverlaken guests have been known to purchase entire bedroom and living room sets while on vacation! Even if you don't need new furniture, drop in the store as they have lots of historic items on display and the staff are happy to serve as community ambassadors when tourists have questions about Perry.

Private Coca-Cola Collection now open to the public

 

Kid Friendly Places

The Hole in the Wall Arcade & Lounge is a "bar-cade" that combines a sports bar for the adults with and arcade for the kids.   Family and friends can enjoy billiards, darts, air hockey, pinball, video games, ski ball & more.

Prehistoric World 8 min (4.1 mi) drive from Silverlaken, located in downtown Perry. Visitors can interact with reptiles and enjoy dinosaur themed activities. Pre-registration is required.

Perry Public Beach 8 min (4.1 mi) drive from Silverlaken, located on Walker Road at the North East end of Silver Lake. Free access to the water. No lifeguard- swim at own risk.  New pavilion overlooking the lake.  Bring a blanket and have a lakeside picnic.

Perry Public Park & Splash Pad 6 min (3.6 mi) drive from Silverlaken, located near the north end of Silver Lake as you enter the Village of Perry; the splash pad, jungle gym and kid’s castle are a big hit with the little ones. The park also offers nice tennis and basketball courts!

Splash Pad, Sponsored by the Perry Rotary Club, at the Village Park
Splash Pad, Sponsored by the Perry Rotary Club, at the Village Park
Playground at the Village Park
Playground at the Village Park

Mike's Interview with Upstate Summer Magazine

Letchworth State Park was recently crowned the best state park in America and is quickly becoming one of NYS’s most significant tourist destinations, attracting just under 1 million visitors per year.

Upstate Summer Magazine interviews Mike Bellamy (owner of the Silverlaken Estate & Glampground) to find out what is so special about the park and surrounding area.

 

What would you say to someone that is thinking about visiting the area?

The 17-mile-long Letchworth State Park divides the greater Rochester metropolitan area from the rural countryside.  In the communities along the western edge of the Park, you will not find a single fast-food chain or any strip malls. The pace of life is slower and the natural beauty of the landscape more pronounced.  Cows outnumber people in Wyoming County. But rural does not mean boring.

Adjacent to Silver Lake, the historic little Village of Perry NY serves as the western gateway to Letchworth State Park.  It offers a unique mix of small-town charm, vibrant arts scene, craft beverage, destination dining, agriculture, outdoor recreation & unique overnight accommodations.

 

Any can't-miss features of Letchworth State Park that you want to point out to visitors?

 

After discovering the 3 main waterfalls and exploring the 550-foot-deep gorge, most visitors will agree that Letchworth State Park’s “Grand Canyon of the East” moniker is well-deserved.   Check out the Humphrey Nature Center for interactive exhibits and guided tours with the Park Rangers.

 

Sadly, some visitors rush in and out of the Park without learning the stories of our two most famous residents- William Pryor Letchworth and Mary Jemison.

 

At age 12, Mary Jemison (1743 – 1833) was taken captive in Southeastern Pennsylvania by a Shawnee raiding party during the French & Indian War.  She was later adopted by the Seneca tribe, assimilated into their culture, took the name “Dehgewanus” and ended up raising her family in what is now known as Letchworth State Park.  She witnessed the turbulent transformation from wild frontier controlled by the indigenous peoples into farmland dominated by European settlers.

 

Mr. Letchworth (1823 – 1910) was an American businessman and philanthropist that purchased, preserved, protected, and donated the land to create the State Park.  His mansion, the Glen Iris, sits prominently next to the Middle Falls.    However, hidden behind the parking lot, across the road, is as museum dedicated to sharing the stories of William Letchworth and Mary Jemison.

 

The little gallery also serves as Mr. Letchworth’s personal “wunderkammer.”  The collection of curiosities includes a mastodon skeleton, indigenous weapons, antiques, and other historic, cultural, and geological items of significance.

 

Take the steps behind the museum up a short trail to pay your respects at Mary Jemison’s grave and admire the larger-than-life statue above her final resting place.

What sort of things are most popular or unique in your area near the State Park?

 

When you leave the State Park, do yourself a favor and do not let google maps send you to the nearest highway and back to urban sprawl.  Take the country roads, through the cornfields and forests, westward out of the Park and over the hill to Perry.

Downtown is compact, walkable, and full of little shops, the lumberyard steakhouse, a wine bar, and microbrewery.  The splash pad at the Village Park is a great place for the kids to cool off.  Just outside the village is a creamery offering grass-fed artisan cheese. Their 24-hr cheese vending machine shows up on Instagram a lot!

 

Perry and Silver Lake are connected by walking, biking and even kayak trails.    A well-marked, 2-mile-long path starts at the downtown mural, meanders along the Silver Lake outlet, passes the Pioneer Cabin (where you can visit a one-room schoolhouse) and ends up at the Village Beach and lakeside pavilion.

Kayaks, Paddleboats, Sailboats and Motor Boats are available for rent on Silver Lake. Explore the protected wetlands at the North or South ends of the lake to find turtles, beavers, and bald eagles.

 

The Charcoal Corral & Silver Lake Twin Drive-In Theatre is a stand-alone destination. Come over for the BBQ and stay for the mini-golf, ice cream or drive-in movies.  Dairy cows like to hang out behind screen 2 and photobomb the tourists.

 

If your timing is right, you can also catch an outdoor concert or vintage car show at the Corral.

 

Do you have any annual events or special events that you recommend to your guests?

 

For a village with less than 4000 residents surrounded by farms and fields, there is an amazing variety of things to do in Perry NY. There is an event happening just about every weekend in the Summer.

 

I'll provide links to the master calendars of events at the local, county and regional levels (at the end of the article), but here are some highlights:

 

Is there any background information and recent changes to tell people about?

To be honest, when I was a child growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, downtown Perry was depressing.  The factories moved overseas, young people left for the cities, vacant shops dotted main street.  The Silver Lake outlet was full of old tires and broken bottles.  Agriculture alone could not save the town.

 

Today, most villages in Western NY are still stuck in that same position with no way out.  Perry on the other hand was blessed to have Letchworth State Park in our backyard.

New businesses popped up to service the growing number of State Park visitors.  The local leaders and civic organizations realized that outdoor recreation and the arts could help revitalize the town.  The young people who left started to move back, raise families, and invest in Perry.  As a result of the Covid experience and climate catastrophes, Perry is even welcoming “domestic refugees” who are sick of city life or natural disasters. Perry does get some snow and the occasional drought, but no earthquakes, hurricanes, tornado, wildfires, or floods!  We have plenty of fresh air, clean water, and affordable housing.

 

In 2023, Perry was recognized as a model for rural revitalization and given a $10 million grant from New York State to improve the few remaining distressed buildings downtown.

 

What is your favorite thing about your part of Wyoming County next to the State Park?

When I think about Perry, two words come to mind: Duality and Discovery.

 

Duality

A small rural village offering a level of art, food & beverage, and events on par with those found in the large urban areas.  There is also a duality in distance.  Buffalo and Rochester are only an hour’s drive away, yet Perry feels very remote thanks the buffers of Letchworth State Park and the vast countryside.

 

Perry has a split personality too.  A vegan may be buying tofu and drinking kombucha at Butter Meat Company, while a 7th generation farmer has a glass of milk with a steak at the diner across the street.  It is not uncommon to see a rainbow pride flag flying next door to a “don’t tread on me” banner.

 

Despite the differences, those same folks end up sharing a pew at church, breaking bread together the Rotary club lunch and serving on the same local government committees.

 

Discovery

Letchworth State Park and Perry have found ways to benefit from tourism in a sustainable fashion without sacrificing what makes them special.

 

When I visit certain parts of the Finger Lakes wine country or Niagara Falls, I am turned off by the tour buses and over-development.  In Perry, visitors are personally welcomed at the individual level.  Locals are humbled to see that visitors are interested in our culture, products, history, and events.

 

I am happy to report that Letchworth State Park is not as well-known or developed as the State Parks in Watkins Glen & Niagara Falls. There are not too many places left in New York State where you can feel like you discovered someplace special that your friends back in the city don’t know about.

Is there anything else I have not asked about you would like to say to people to inspire them to visit?

When you visit Silver Lake and Perry you may notice a lot of Sea Serpent imagery. Back in 1855, a group of men fishing from a boat swore they saw a sea monster the size of a dinosaur appear on the surface of Silver Lake at dusk.

News spread and train loads of people arrived daily in hopes of catching a glimpse of the monster.  Harpoon boats were launched.  Armed men patrolled the lake.

No trace of the monster was found… until a fire broke out at the Walker Hotel. A serpent like wire frame and some green mesh was found in the rubble.  Mr. Walker confessed he had created the monster to attract tourists to the town and his hotel. To this day, the locals of Silver Lake and Perry celebrate the story and retain the monster as a mascot.

 

Updated Event Calendars

Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism for county wide events.

Perry Main Street Association & Village of Perry for local events.

Explore Genesee Valley for regional events.