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8 Intriguing Things To Do in Erie, Pennsylvania

8 Intriguing Things To Do in Erie, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has much to offer, and Erie is undoubtedly one of its jewels. Located in the northwestern part of the state, Erie has beautiful beaches, breathtaking landscapes, and a rich history. Whether you’re a cruiser, a road tripper, or just someone looking for a new adventure, there are many intriguing things to do in Erie, PA. Let’s dive into them and explore this charming city together!


1. Experience Presque Isle

First on our list, Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre peninsula that juts out into Lake Erie. This natural wonder, Pennsylvania’s most beloved state park, offers visitors over 13 miles of sandy beaches, scenic trails, and breathtaking natural beauty. You can take a dip in the lake or try hiking or biking on the many trails. Fishing is prevalent, with bass, trout, and walleye being the prize catches.

Additionally, you can relax on the shark-free beach or explore the lagoons and wetlands with their diverse wildlife. A very unique feature at Presque Isle is the opportunity to rent houseboats. It is also one of the top spots in the country for world-class birdwatching.

In 2016, USA Today Reader’s Choice named Presque Isle the Best Freshwater Beach in the Country.


2. Wander the Erie Maritime Museum

Located on Erie’s waterfront, the Erie Maritime Museum celebrates the city’s rich maritime history. The museum has exhibits showcasing the U.S. Brig Niagara, which played a significant role in the War of 1812, and other naval and commercial vessels of the region.


You can explore the decks of the historic ships and learn about the city’s industrial heritage. Please note that this attraction is closed Sunday through Tuesday. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for youth 3 to 11.

Pro Tip: If you have a valid Erie County Public Library Pass, you can check out a museum pass good for admittance of four people.

Photo from Erie Maritime Museum FB page.

3. Play at Waldameer Park and Water World

For those looking for amusement, Waldameer Park and Water World is the perfect destination. This popular amusement park offers dozens of rides, slides, and attractions. The list of classic rides includes dodgem cars, flying swings, paratrooper, scrambler, and a Ferris wheel. There are thrill rides, too, like coasters and water rides for bigger kids and adults.

The water slide collection at Waldameer Park and Water World has 19 slides, an endless river, and a wave pool. Waldameer Park and Water World provide endless fun for kids and adults alike and have been for over 120 years. It is the 10th oldest amusement park in the country.

4. Be a Kid Again at the Erie Zoo

Another place to explore nature and wildlife, the Erie Zoo is home to over 400 animals from 150 species. And then there are botanical gardens and greenhouses, offering more reason to visit. The Erie Zoo features African and North American exhibits, a petting zoo, and a children’s area. You’ll encounter giraffes, tigers, and orangutans and learn about their natural habitats.

Fun Fact: It should only take two hours to go through this small but mighty zoo. Come the last two hours of opening on Sundays for free admission. 

5. Explore Tom Ridge Environmental Center

A perfect place for those who love nature and want to learn about it is the Tom Ridge Environmental Center. This 6,500-square-ft. National Landmark offers hands-on exhibits, interactive displays, and educational programs for visitors of all ages. There is also a fantastic nature shop.

Research is continual at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center. They work hard at promoting conservation efforts and environmental awareness.

With its four-story glass-enclosed tower at 75 feet, you can also get stunning aerial views of Lake Erie and Presque Isle. My favorite part was the three towers showcasing 75 whimsical hand-carved wooden vignette whirligigs.


6. Photograph the Erie Harbor North Pier LIght

Erie’s North Pier Light, a stunning 34-foot high black and white pierhead light, stands at the end of the Erie Harbor Channel. This beacon, built in 1858, aided navigation at the channel’s opening, connecting Lake Erie to Presque Isle Bay.

The lighthouse is best viewed at sunset when it glistens in the moonlit water.


7. Indulge in Some Great Eats 

In Erie’s West Side neighborhood, Pineapple Eddie’s Southern Bistro offers delectable cuisine influenced by the South and Caribbean. Highly recommended are the Crabmeat Hushpuppies (remoulade sauce) and Beef Empanadas, perfect for sharing.

The Poulè Sautè, a superb dinner option, features a chicken breast sautéed with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach, and creamy Havarti cheese. Mashed potatoes and veggies accompany it. Save room for the homemade desserts.


My favorite eatery in Erie was Cloud 9, a downtown Erie gem featuring a sophisticated farm-to-table menu with locally-sourced delights. Must-tries include the Burrata Fromage (spinach, pesto, and tomatoes with pita chips) and Walnut Crusted Brie with cranberry mostarda.

For your main course, you can’t go wrong with the Garlic Shrimp Pasta or Chicken Romesco and a glass of artisanal wine.

For a casual dining experience, consider Sara’s Restaurant—a charming, retro diner inspired by the 1950s-era and carhops. Indulge in delicious American fare like burgers, char-grilled hot dogs, fries, and homemade onion rings, complemented by Parmesan-topped fried zucchini fries.

Sara’s offers an assortment of signature sauces and a wide array of condiments at their honkin’ big condiments bar. Take advantage of their thick shakes, orange sherbet, or vanilla soft serve, and satisfy your sweet tooth at the build-your-own-sundae bar.


8. Play the Slots at Presque Isle Downs & Casino

For those feeling lucky, Presque Isle Downs & Casino offers a haven for gaming enthusiasts. This gambling establishment offers over 1,500 slots, 32 table games, and a poker room, conveniently located just south of I-90 to Exit 27.

The casino also features restaurants, bars, and live entertainment. LBV Steakhouse, open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, offers high-end dining with tasty options like pan-seared sea bass and NY prime strip. Churchill’s Bourbon & Brew, overlooking the track, provides more sports bar options, like burgers, soups, salads, and steaks.

Keep the energy high at Presque Isle Downs’ live thoroughbred horse racing track. This venue is open 24/7.

Photo from Presque Isle Downs IG page.

Need a Place to Stay in Erie?

The Courtyard by Marriott Erie Bayfront boasts an enviable waterfront location at Sassafras Pier, allowing guests easy access to downtown attractions and Erie’s tall ships. Indulge in delightful cocktails and delectable eats at Shoreline Bar and Grille, Courtyard’s vibrant eatery.

The contemporary rooms at Courtyard offer ample space and the comforts of home, including a plush bed, a cozy couch with an ottoman, a flat-panel TV, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The rooms exude elegance, featuring tasteful furniture fabrics, quality linens, and eye-catching murals.

Hotel rooms are full of natural light; mine afforded breathtaking views of Lake Erie.


Gear up for an Erie Visit

Erie, Pennsylvania, is a captivating city with much to offer. With its natural beauty, rich history, and thrilling amusements, you’ll never run out of things to do.

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Thursday 5th of October 2017

Pineapple Eddie's Southern Bistro looks amazing! How do you always find the best restaurants?!


Monday 9th of October 2017

Sometimes the CVB shares suggestions with us and often it is from reading so many food magazines. LOL ;)

Tam Warner Minton

Wednesday 4th of October 2017



Wednesday 4th of October 2017

Haha. Yes, you would enjoy that one!

Tam Warner Minton

Wednesday 27th of September 2017

You find adventure everywhere! I love it!

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