Known for being the hometown of the immortal Lucille Ball (if you don’t know who she is I don’t think we can be friends), this small town in the Finger Lakes is brimming over with wickedly wonderful things to do.
So, if you’re looking for the all-time best things to do in Jamestown NY, then this, my friend, is the guide for you. After all, I’ve been a resident New Yorker for well over 30 years (no, I’m revealing my actual age) and have visited Jamestown more times than I can count.
Therefore, I know the ins and outs of visiting Jamestown NY like a real local and not like a mildly uninformed tourist.
That’s why, if you want to skip the tourist traps and beeline it to the awesome local hot spots, then continue reading as I reveal my picks for the top things to do in Jamestown NY.
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How to Get to Jamestown
Okay, luckily for you, you have a couple of different ways to get here from NYC and beyond so that you can enjoy some of the best things to do in Jamestown NY.
So, you could:
- Take an Amtrak Train from Penn Station – One train departs daily to Jamestown from Penn Station. Tickets are around $78 per person and the journey takes around 13 hours.
- Take the Bus from Port Authority – You’ll hop on a bus bound for Buffalo and then transfer to a bus bound for Jamestown once you get there. In total, the trip will take around 11 hours and cost $40.
- You could drive – Honestly, I’d probably do this, at least if you have a car. Yes, the trip is almost seven hours long and covers nearly 400 miles, but you’ll be happy to have a car once you get there. Just take 1-78 W to I-80 W and then take exit 111 to PA-153 N.
- Fly from JFK/Newark/LaGuardia to Buffalo or Rochester – New York is a huge AF state. So, not surprisingly, there are a ton of airports. So, you could fly into either Rochester or Buffalo and then take a bus to Jamestown once you get there. I wouldn’t do this though since the trip will take 6+ hours and cost around $300. Yeah, very much NOT worth it.
Pro Tip: If you have to take public transportation, I think your best bet is the bus. Just take it to Buffalo and then rent a car upon arrival since you WILL need a car in western New York.
Where to Stay in Jamestown
Not gonna lie, I was SHOCKED but super stoked by the number of nice hotels in Jamestown NY.
So, if you’re looking for a solid home base from which to enjoy some of the best things to do in Jamestown NY, then try:
- Holiday Inn Express and Suites Jamestown (Budget) – Definitely not the most luxurious hotel here but it’s comfortable and extremely clean. Rooms are also contemporary and welcoming with flat-screen TVs and coffeemakers. And, let’s be real, you can’t beat the price at under $100 per night ,with kids under 19 staying for free. Add in a breakfast buffet and an indoor pool and you have your new home away from home in Jamestown.
- Hampton Inn and Suites Jamestown (Mid-range) – I know, it’s another lame chain. But real talk? The rooms are pretty plush and include custom-designed beds, flat-screen TVs, and in-room coffee makers. Hot breakfast is also part of your stay, or cute little breakfast to go bags during the week. There’s also a pool and a gym should either of those things appeal to you.
- Doubletree by Hilton Jamestown (Mid-range) – Home to Pearl City Hops (I meantion them later in the article), this casual/modern Hilton brand hotel is a short walk away from the area’s top attractions. Rooms here are also well-priced at under $100 per night and include floor-to-ceiling windows, flat-screen TVs, and coffeemakers. Room service is also available and a breakfast buffet is open daily in their chill, on-site restaurant. There’s also an indoor and a gym. You know, just in case you actually want to work out on vacay.
- Chautauqua Harbor Hotel (Luxury) – This well-reviewed, 4-star hotel may feel luxurious but it’s also pretty dang affordable with rooms that start at under $120 per night. It also sits right on the lake and features down to Earth suites that include WiFi, flat-screen TVs, and balconies. Guests can also use an indoor or outdoor pool and can hit up the on-site restaurant/bar for some delicious food.
Best Things to do in Jamestown NY
1. Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum
If there’s one thing that Jamestown is known for, it’s being the hometown of the one and only, Lucille Ball. So, stop by the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum and pay homage to this famous comic.
Because while you’re here, you can marvel at original costumes, show props, scripts, recreations of the I Love Lucy set (their New York apartment and Hollywood hotel suite), and even see various awards that these two comedians won (like their Emmys).
It is also from this experience that you’ll gain a better understanding of the career, life, and legacy that these two amazing people left behind.
Afterward, take a peek around the expansive gift shop and pick up something special to remind you of the aptly named, “First Couple of Comedy”.
If you want, you can also get in on all the action by performing your own version of the legendary, Vitameatavegamin commercial in the museum itself.
Heck, there’s even a special Lucy Hometown Tour that you can take to see all of the sites that were historically significant to the life of Lucille Ball, including her school, former residences, her final resting place, and a few I Love Lucy-inspired murals.
Pro Tip: You can save yourself some cold hard cash by purchasing a dual admission ticket to both the National Comedy Center and the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum. Yup, it’s easy to save money on some of the best things to do in Jamestown NY.
Address: W 3rd St, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Open Thursday through Monday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, except on Sundays when the museum is open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Price: Tickets are $16 for adults, $15 for seniors (60+), $13 for youth (13-17), $11 for children (6-12), and free for anyone under 6.
2. Audubon Community Nature Center
Created to foster people’s connection with nature, the Audubon Community Nature Center is a place where visitors can go to explore upwards of 600-acres of wetlands and see amazing creatures like the American bald eagle.
So, take a walk along five miles of scenic hiking trails before visiting their on-site educational gardens and arboretum. You can also enjoy a picturesque picnic before learning about local wildlife from one of the facility’s many fascinating exhibits.
If you want, you can even participate in exciting monthly events like nature walks, camps, community hikes, the Enchanted Forest (a non-scary Halloween event), creature features, and more!
That’s why, if you love nature and are looking for exciting local activities, then this is easily one of the best things to do in Jamestown NY.
Address: 1600 Riverside Rd, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, except on Sundays when the facility is open from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm.
Price: Tickets are $6 for adults, $2 for children (3-13), and free for kids 2 and under.
3. Lucille Ball Little Theatre
This fantastic performing arts theater typically produces between five and six different stage shows annually.
Traditionally, they are held between the months of September and May and include famous productions like The Great Gatsby, Clue, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Producers, just to name a few.
So, theater-loving visitors have the opportunity to watch plays throughout the course of two weekends and musicals throughout the course of three weekends.
You can also time your visit for the annual Junior Guilders Show and see the place where Lucille Ball got her very first start as an actress as you experience some of the very best things to do in Jamestown NY.
Address: 18 E 2nd St, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Varies by the show.
Price: Varies by the show but tickets are currently available for a “small donation”.
4. Fenton History Center
Added to America’s National Register of Historic Places in 1974, the Fenton History Center is a small cultural institution that sits inside the former residence of Reuben Fenton.
In fact, the home was originally built in 1863 in an Italian villa-style, complete with a four-story tower, for former Congressman and New York State Governor, Reuben Fenton.
Later, in 1964, the home was donated to the museum and completely renovated to include a library, archives, a museum, and a research center that guests are welcome to use.
So, stop by today and enjoy an amazing museum that houses various exhibits about how furniture was built in Jamestown, the evolution of children’s toys, and the Underground Railroad in Chautauqua County,
There are also several stunning period piece rooms to explore, like the Fenton Family Parlor, the Lookout Tower the Nanny and Children’s Rooms, the Swedish Room, the Victorian Vestibule, and the Fenton Drawing Room – the most enchanting place of them all with its gorgeous, Victorian-era decor.
And if you’re looking for even more of the best things to do in Jamestown NY, then you can always stop by for a series of monthly, special events that are aimed at educating the public and supporting local veterans.
Address: 67 Washington St, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Price: Tickets are $10 for adults and free for anyone 17 and under.
5. National Comedy Center
Renowned for being the very first non-profit cultural institution/large-scale visitor center for comedy, the National Comedy Center is a great place to go if you want to learn about the development of comedy and help preserve its heritage for future generations.
So, be sure to walk through this 37,000 square foot museum and enjoy a wealth of super interactive, state-of-the-art exhibits that help explain the history behind the comedy-related artifacts on display.
Along the way, you’ll encounter upwards of fifty different exhibits that reveal the unique difference between various comedic genres like slapstick, internet memes, Vaudeville, and stand-up.
There are also a variety of awesome, special events on offer through the center, including comedy nights, river cruises, meals at the Tropicana (a recreation of Ricky Ricardo’s famous club in I Love Lucy), and more!
Therefore, you are forbidden from leaving the area without experiencing one of the best things to do in Jamestown NY.
Pro Tip: You can also enjoy the annual, Lucille Ball comedy festival from August 3rd through August 7th. Also, because ticket demand is exceptionally high, you should always book your tickets well in advance.
Address: 203 West Second Street, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Open Thursday through Monday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Price: Tickets are $30.00 for adults, $27.50 for seniors (60+), $24.50 for youth (13-17), $18.50 for children (6-12), and free for anyone under 5.
6. Northwest Arena
This is a multi-purpose arena in downtown Jamestown (right near Pearl City Hops) that hosts a wide variety of activities, including hockey games, concerts, and various other sporting events.
So, stop by during the winter to watch the Jamestown Rebels junior hockey team play when they’re in town.
Or, you could always cool down during the summer since the venue offers skating discounts to the public at their on-site rink.
And yes, it’s open all year long and even has two NHL regulation ice pads for you to use.
Pro Tip: Other fun things to do here include ice bumper cars, curling, a walking track, and the Zone (an indoor sports-themed play area for kids).
Address: 319 W 3rd St, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Open Monday through Thursday from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Friday from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, and Sunday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Price: Varies by the event.
7. Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History
Founded to continue Roger Tory Peterson’s rich legacy of using art to highlight the true beauty of nature, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute is home to the single largest collection of Roger Tory Peterson art in the world.
So, visitors here can learn all about the founder of the Peterson Field Guide by marveling at the variety of items that rotate in and out of the display at the Anderson Gallery – materials that include photographs, animal skins, manuscripts, books, films, slides, and art.
Afterward, explore one of several temporary exhibitions that regularly rotate in and out of the facility, like the Thomas D. Mangelsen: A Life in the Wild photographic display that is currently here.
If you want, you can also participate in regular events that include weekly bird walks, scientific discussions, yoga with the birds, art after five wine events, and guided gallery tours.
Pro Tip: This is one of the top things to do in Jamestown NY that you should try on a Sunday since they offer “pay what you wish” prices.
Address: 311 Curtis St, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Open Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Price: Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors/military, and $6 for children (10 and under).
8. Robert H. Jackson Center
Initially founded in 2001, this historic center was created to further Robert H. Jackson’s goal of creating a world where fairness, equality, and justice reign supreme.
In fact, he was historically known for his role as Solicitor General, the Attorney General, a Supreme Court Justice, and the Chief Prosecutor during the Nuremberg Trials.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the museum’s popular permanent exhibits include:
- Photos of the Nuremberg Trial by Raymond D’Addario
- Flags at Nuremberg
- “Perpetrators” – An exhibition of lithographs created by artist Sidney Chafets with pictures that demonstrate how individuals caried out the orders of the Third Reich.
And if this is one of the best things to do in Jamestown NY that you’ve already experienced, not to worry because the museum always has several temporary exhibits on display too, like a former Photographic perspective of the U.S. Internment Camps during World War II.
Pro Tip: Guided tours are offered Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, with Saturday tours on offer throughout the summer.
Address: 305 E 4th St, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Price: There is a $5 suggested donation for any tours you take.
9. Brazil Craft Beer and Wine Lounge
Established in ye olde 2013, this super chill bar is known for its relaxed atmosphere, delicious craft beer, and impeccable service.
And that makes sense since they are the makers of Jamestown’s original craft beer and are known for offering customers delicious beers on tap like the Genesee Specialty Cran Orange Kellerbier (fruit beer), the Southern Tier Porter (American Porter), and the Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA.
However, when you’re not drinking your face off on their lovely outdoor patio, you can always indulge in one of the vegetarian-friendly menu items at Labyrinth (downstairs), order a delicious Margareta pizza at the bar, or spend time playing board games/card games.
No matter what though, you’re sure to have a night to remember while enjoying one of the top things to do in Jamestown NY.
Pro Tip: Labyrinth is great and started out in 2007 as an espresso bar with a “secret” soup menu. If you can, order any of their coffee drinks as well as their burgers and chili. It’s also right down the street from the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum.
Address: 10 E 4th St, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Open Tuesday through Thursday from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm and Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Price: 16-ounce pours start at $4.50.
Looking for a fun night out on the town? If so then hit up Shawbucks, a laid-back local restaurant that serves classic American fare, delicious beer/cocktails, and even does live karaoke too!
And while just about everything here is good, the real stand-outs for me were the smothered fries, the Cajun hot and garlic wings, and the pizza logs.
In terms of drinks, you really can’t go wrong sipping on a microbrew while watching one of the live bands that regularly perform here (cover charge is usually just $5).
Just be careful not to order too much since the portions here are HUGE!
Address: 212 W 2nd St, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Open Tuesday through Thursday from 4:00 pm to 12:00 am and Saturday/Sunday from 4:00 pm to 2:00 am (the kitchen is only open til 9:00 pm though).
Price: Sandwiches and dinner entrees start at around $11 each.
11. Pearl City Hops
Located inside the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel in Jamestown NY, Pearl City Hops is THE place to go if you like affordable but supremely delicious food that will have your tastebuds tingling with delight.
Because this eatery has a casual but chic aurora about it that makes it the ideal place to stop for a drink and some delicious food while relaxing with friends.
Staff members are also super helpful and incredibly attentive. Therefore, this is easily one of the best things to do in Jamestown NY.
So, stop by today and order a Beef on Weck (a sandwich on toasted kummelweck bread that is made with beef marinated in house lager and served with horseradish mayo) with one of their on-tap, IPA beers from Buffalo.
Alternatively, if you’re not a fan of beer, you can always try their Mojito since Matt makes a super delish version of it.
Pro Tip; Since this place is in downtown Jamestown, you can stop here either before or after a game at Northwest Arena.
Address: 150 W 4th St, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 9:00 am and from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm, except on the weekends when they open at 7:00 am instead.
Price: Entrees are under $15 for lunch and under $20 for dinner.
12. Reg Lenna Center for the Arts
Calling all my fellow culture vultures out there because the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts is the place to be if you’re into performance art and watching live stage shows.
Because this vibrant and exceptionally active performance arts center plays host to all sorts of exciting events, including:
- Live ballet and dance shows
- Acrobatic performances (think Cirque de Solei)
- Plays and musicals
- New-release movies
- And so much more
So basically, if you can dream it up then this amazing arts center probably offers it as a live event.
What, still not convinced that you need to add the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts to your list of the best things to do in Jamestown NY?
Well, then you’ll be delighted to know that this 1,165 seat historic theater also operates as an FM community radio station, has an on-site art gallery, and even has a cute little 60 seat studio theater too – making it one of many places to visit during your Jamestown NY itinerary.
Address: 116 East Third Street, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Varies but they usually have events three or four times a month in the evening.
Price: Varies but movie tickets start at $8 per person.
13. Lucille M Wright Air Museum
Looking for the best things to do in Jamestown NY with kids? If so then give this charming, non-for-profit organization a gander.
After all, it’s named after an iconic female aviation expert and is a very hands-on, kid-friendly kind of place with super rad things like virtual flight simulators, a Mars yard with a web-controlled rover, and a planetarium.
Yeah, they basically use their fun activities to encourage children to learn about flight and sometimes not-so-fun topics like math and science.
Heck, they even offer an array of scholarships for anyone looking to take their learning to the next level by becoming a pilot.
Address: 110 W 3rd St Suite 101, Jamestown, NY 14701
Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Price: Free but donations are encouraged.
Map of the Best Things to do in Jamestown NY
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