16 Fun Things To Do in Erie PA Everyone Will Love

Welcome to Erie, Pennsylvania! This beautiful city is located on the shores of Lake Erie and is a great place to live, work, and play. The city is rich in history and culture, and there are plenty of things to do and see here.

With museums, parks, family-friendly activities, outdoor attractions, and so much more, there is something for everyone in Erie.

Here are 16 of the best things to do in Erie PA that you and your family will love.

16 Fun Things To Do in Erie PA Everyone Will Love

COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN ERIE PA

  • Best On The Waterfront: Expect an exceptional stay at Courtyard Erie Bayfront, situated on the Sassafras Pier overlooking Lake Erie’s Presque Isle Bay. This waterfront retreat boasts breathtaking views and modern accommodations connected to the Bayfront Convention Center. In your free time, lounge by their outdoor infinity pool or take a few laps in their gorgeous indoor pool, perfect for making a splash during the winter months.
  • Best Pet-Friendly Spot: Retreat to Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel, boasting picture-perfect waterfront views near downtown Erie. This hotel in the marina district offers convenient access to some of the best attractions in Erie.  Sheraton Hotel Erie Bayfront also offers pet-friendly accommodations, and an onsite bar.
  • Best Tried and True: Baymont by Wyndham Erie is located just a 1-minute drive off Interstate 90 in Erie. The property offers complimentary 24-hour casino shuttle service.

NEW! ERIE SPORTS CENTER

The Erie Sports Center is a relatively new, state-of-the-art sports and recreation facility. The center features a sports dome, indoor/outdoor soccer and lacrosse fields, as well as baseball and softball fields. They are continuing to update the space, and have plans to build an outdoor stadium, go-karts, batting cages, climbing wall, mini golf, beer garden and more.

It is the perfect place for athletes of all ages to come and work out, play games, or learn new skills. Plus, it offers an on-site cafe to refuel on smoothies and snacks! No matter what your age or interests are, the Erie Sports Center has something for you!

ERIE ZOO

The Erie Zoo is a great place to visit for families, couples, and friends. There are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained, including the zoo, botanical gardens, and greenhouse.

The zoo has more than 400 animals from all over the world, while the botanical gardens and greenhouse have more than 600 plant species. The greenhouse included plants from Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, and Australia.

The gardens also have a butterfly garden where you can see beautiful butterflies flutter around.

ERIE ART MUSEUM

The Erie Art Museum‘s main gallery is home to more than 8,000 objects, which are hung salon-style. The collection is diverse, with strengths in American ceramics, Tibetan paintings, Indian bronzes, photography, and comic book art. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum hosts four to five visiting exhibitions annually.

The Erie Art Museum offers a wide range of educational programs and opportunities to handle some of its best objects. Lecture series are available for visitors of all ages, and artists’ services, including interdisciplinary and international artist residencies, are also available. This museum is a great place for anyone interested in art or culture!

PRESQUE ISLE STATE PARK

Presque Isle State Park is a beautiful 3,100-acre park that offers seven miles of sandy surf beaches, along with other recreational opportunities, like fishing, boating, swimming, and hiking trails. The state park is a sandy peninsula that curves into Lake Erie.

Presque Isle beaches are open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and lifeguards are on duty from noon – 7:30 p.m. Parking and admission to Presque Isle State Park is free.

My favorite activity at Presque Isle is to take a Lady Kate boat tour. A tour takes you around the entire park and provides great views of the lake and wildlife.

In addition to being a perfect summer getaway, the park is also great for cross-country skiing in the winter. There are miles of trails to explore, and the scenery is stunning.

EXPERIENCE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM

The ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum is located in the heart of Erie’s downtown district, which is home to many cultural and entertainment attractions. The museum can be easily reached by foot in just 5 minutes from the beautiful Lake Erie Bayfront.

The museum occupies a historic building that was originally a stable and livery, and large sliding doors, as well as remnants of gears, can still be seen in the building today.

The museum invites its visitors to create, explore and imagine at its hands-on interactive exhibit space designed to stimulate and inspire young children from ages one through eight. Currently, the museum is in the midst of a multi-million dollar renovation which will include new exhibits, building space and activities. 

ERIE MARITIME MUSEUM

The Erie Maritime Museum is a community gathering place that celebrates the maritime history and heritage of the Greater Erie region. This includes both civilian activity and innovation, as well as military service.

One important part of the museum’s focus is Pennsylvania’s contributions to the maritime industry. Additionally, the museum is also dedicated to promoting environmental awareness and stewardship of the Great Lakes.

The centerpiece exhibit at the museum is the U.S. Brig Niagara, an actual tall ship and the flagship of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Battle of Lake Erie was a pivotal moment in American history, and the Erie Maritime Museum provides visitors with a unique opportunity to learn more about this important event. The museum offers exhibits and programs that explore all aspects of the Battle of Lake Erie, from its strategic importance to the everyday lives of those who fought in it.

In addition to its exhibits, the Erie Maritime Museum also offers educational programming for students of all ages. This ensures that the lessons of the Battle of Lake Erie are passed onto future generations.

ERIE LAND LIGHTHOUSE

The Erie Land Lighthouse is a beautiful lighthouse situated on the bluffs overlooking Lake Erie. It is one of three lighthouses in Erie, along with the Presque Isle Light and the North Pier Light.

The lighthouse was originally constructed in 1818 and has been replaced twice since then. The tower was first replaced in 185,1 and then again in 1858 due to its poor foundations and soil quality. Despite these replacements, the lighthouse still stands strong today and continues to serve as an important guide for ships navigating Lake Erie.

Visitors can visit the lighthouse at Lighthouse Park east of downtown Erie, where they can climb to the top of the tower for a wonderful view of the lake and surrounding area.

LAKE ERIE WINE COUNTRY

Lake Erie Wine Country is a hidden gem in the heart of Pennsylvania. Nestled among rolling hills and picturesque vineyards, visitors can enjoy 53-miles of award-winning wine, delicious food, and breathtaking views.

The region is home to over 20 wineries, each with its own unique style and flavor. From dry reds and crisp whites to sweet fruit wines and dessert blends, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

And do not forget the food! The local restaurants are known for their fresh, seasonal cuisine, and many of them have partnered with the wineries to create special pairings. Whether you are looking for a romantic dinner for two or a fun afternoon with friends, Lake Erie Wine Country is the perfect destination.

LAKE ERIE ARBORETUM AT FRONTIER PARK

The Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park is a beautiful place to visit in the spring and summer. The park has biking trails, a playground, and a beautiful arboretum with flowering trees and plants. It is the perfect place to spend an afternoon outdoors with your family.

The biking trails at the arboretum are a great way to get some exercise and enjoy nature. The trails are well-maintained and easy to navigate, so they’re perfect for beginner cyclists.

There’s also a playground for the kids, so you can let them play while you take a break from biking.

PRESQUE ISLE DOWNS AND CASINO

If you are looking for a place to enjoy some live entertainment and try your hand at poker, head out to Presque Isle Downs and Casino. This casino offers a poker room where you can play Texas Hold’em, as well as a variety of other table games. You can also watch the horses run at the track or take in some great live music performances. 

Additionally, Presque Isle Downs and Casino offers live horse racing from May through October. You can catch all the action from the grandstands or take a seat on the trackside patio and enjoy a cold drink and some great views of the race. The casino also has a simulcast area where you can watch races from all over North America.

When it is time to refuel, Churchill’s Bourbon & Brew offers a variety of American favorites like burgers, sandwiches, and salads, as well as pizza, pasta, and desserts. The menu also includes a variety of beers, wines, and cocktails.

There’s something for everyone at Presque Isle Downs and Casino!

TOM RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER

The Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) is a one-of-a-kind environmental education and research center. Not only does TREC offer educational programs, but they also conduct research on the Presque Isle Peninsula. The center is located west of the city and is the gateway to Presque Isle State Park.

For thrill-seekers, visitors can climb a 75-foot tower with sweeping views of the area.

I highly recommend visiting TREC if you are interested in the environment or just looking for something fun and educational to do on your trip.

BICENTENNIAL TOWER

The Bicentennial Tower is a popular tourist destination in Erie standing at 187 feet tall. It’s known as Erie’s most iconic feature, and is located at the foot of State Street on Presque Isle Bay. Visitors can purchase tickets to ride the tower’s elevator to the observation deck at 138 feet.

The tower offers visitors a chance to enjoy stunning views of the city and the surrounding area. There is also a gift shop on-site, which offers a variety of souvenirs for tourists to take home with them.

ASBURY WOODS NATURE CENTER

Asbury Woods features 216 acres of Pennsylvania wilderness. With five miles of hiking trails, and programs offered year-round, this is the perfect place to get outside and enjoy nature.

Take a walk on the Boardwalk Trail for a chance to see wildlife and enjoy the amazing scenery. The Greenway Trail will take you to a steel foot bridge that spans Walnut Creek.

In addition to hiking, you can also enjoy mountain biking, geocaching, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, and more.

ERIE BLUFFS STATE PARK

The Erie Bluffs State Park is a great place to visit if you are looking for amazing views of Lake Erie. The 587-acre park is located along the shoreline and has 90-foot bluffs that overlook the lake.

If you are an avid fisherman, Elk Creek is a great spot, and if you want to enjoy nature, there are several plant species of conservation concern that you can check out. Additionally, the diverse ecosystems of the black oak woodland/savannah are also a unique feature of the park.

Overall, Erie Bluffs State Park is a great place to visit for a day and take in all the beauty that nature has to offer. A visit here is one of the best things to do in Erie PA!

SCHAEFER’S AUTO ART

Looking for something truly unique? Check out Schaefer’s Auto Art — a series of outdoor sculpture art that’s made from old car parts.

Located at 3705 Hershey Road in Erie, you’ll find everything from 40-foot-tall rocket to a spider made out of an entire VW Bug. Seeing old cars and trucks transformed into the whimsical art pieces is a sight to behold.

Visiting this roadside attraction is free, and you can just park along the road.

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO PENNSYLVANIA

WHERE TO STAY IN ERIE PA

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