Things to do in Erie PA

Things to do in Erie PA
Popular Vacation Spots in Pennsylvania
Erie PA is roughly located on the half way point between Buffalo NY and Youngstown OH, and it is separated from the Canadian border by Lake Erie, which bounds the south coast of the Ontario Canada province and the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

As Philadelphia PA is known as the place where the Declaration of Independence was signed, the city of Erie PA is known as a laid-back summer retreat for families with kids and romantic couples.

Things to do in Erie PA: Outdoor Activities

State Parks

If you are planning a vacation to Erie PA and have in mind outdoor activities, a vacation in Erie PA will not disappoint you.

Erie's city center is just 8 miles from the picturesque Presque Isle State Park whose beautiful coastline arches into Lake Erie.

Presque Isle State Park offers a myriad of recreational activities and some of these include:

- Over 10 miles of hiking trails
- A purposely built paved biking trail circuit spanning over 13 miles
- Scuba diving & Snorkeling opportunities
- Hunting (only during hunting seasons
- Swimming at one of many beaches
- Educational Workshops throughout the year

City Parks

Apart from the beautiful Presque Isle State Park, Erie PA is home to over fifty city parks and playgrounds offering plenty of recreational opportunities.

For instance, one of the most popular city parks in Erie PA is Liberty Park, which is located at the shore of Lake Erie and features walking paths and sandy playgrounds.

Glenwood Park is another popular city park where you can enjoy plenty of recreational activities. Glenwood Park is actually the largest of all the city parks in Erie PA and features a golf course, an ice rink and the Erie Zoo.

Great American Waterways Cruise

If you are traveling from Chicago IL and are planning on visiting Erie PA, I would suggest considering the Great American Waterways Cruise.

This cruise consists of a 15 day cruise that takes you through the entire historic Erie Canal, departing from Chicago and finishing at Warren Rhode Island with stops along the way on Erie PA and other locations such as Mackinac Island Michigan and Cleveland Ohio.

Things to do in Erie PA: Places of Interest

Tom Ridge Environmental Center

If you are traveling with the family and are looking for things to do in Erie PA with kids, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center makes for a fun and inexpensive great day out.

The center is actually a visitor center for Presque Isle State Park and offers interactive shows about Presque Isle State Park’s wildlife and Lake Erie’s marine life.

Erie Zoo

Another popular thing to do in Erie PA with kids it’s to visit the Erie Zoo located at Glenwood Park where the whole family can enjoy many animal exhibits, interactive shows and a play area for the little ones.

Erie Art Museum

The Erie Art Museum is another interesting place worth adding to your Erie PA itinerary, especially if you are traveling with kids. The museum features the popular 'kids as Curators' exhibit which showcases art from middle school students.

Erie Memorial Parks

Some of Erie’s city parks contained memorials for the city’s notables and if you have time they're worth checking out.

For instance, the Jim Brutcher Field and Joseph Wronek Memorial Field is located at Pulaski Park, while the aluminum marker honoring the magician Harry Kellar is located at Griswold Park.


If you’ve never seen a lighthouse before and would like to visit one, Erie PA is home to three lighthouses. Two of them are located on Presque Isle, while the other one is located at Lighthouse Park.

Things to do in Erie PA: Shopping

Shopping is indeed a popular thing to do in Erie PA since there is no sales tax on clothing items.

The downtown area features plenty of department stores and popular names include Big Lots, Dollar General Store and Ollie's Bargain Outlet.

Alternatively, you can visit Millcreek Mall, which is the largest shopping mall in Erie PA with more than 100 stores that include department, boutique and specialty stores.

If you travel to Erie PA between June and October, you can catch the popular Erie Farmers Market every Saturday on Perry Square, and shop for local produce as well as handmade crafts and art.

Things to do in Erie PA: Nightlife & Entertainment

Erie PA city center has a lively nightlife featuring a variety of bars and clubs to suit all tastes. For instance, the Boardwalk Complex Downtown and Craze Nightclub are located in the downtown area.

If you prefer a night more suitable for families and want to keep within a budget, there a couple of options that might interest you.

For instance, you could visit the popular Cinemark Millcreek Cinema 6 which shows movies that have been out for a while but at affordable prices.

Another affordable option could be a night of performing arts at the popular Erie Playhouse, which features inexpensive Broadway-type plays for families.

Things to do in Erie PA: Events & Festivals

Wild Resource Festival

If you are visiting Erie PA in early May, you can catch the popular Wild Resource Festival organized by the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.

If you love nature, this is one event that your family and you shouldn’t miss, as it features animal shows and nature walks through Presque Isle State Park.

Erie Blues & Jazz Festival

If you are a jazz enthusiast, the Erie Blues & Jazz Festival is held in August annually at Frontier Park for two days and showcases local and regional musicians.

Erie's Heritage Festival

Another popular summer event it's the Erie’s Heritage Festival held in September at Liberty Park. The event is family-friendly and features a historic trolley ride of downtown Erie, Civil War representations and educational exhibits.

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