White sandy beaches, thrilling roller coasters, sprawling water parks—there’s no question that Erie is made for family vacations. You’ll find plenty of affordable family vacation ideas in this destination on Lake Erie, located in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania. Start with these fun activities for kids (and parents!):
A sandy peninsula arching into Lake Erie’s glittering waters, Presque Isle (French for “almost an island”) offers all the amenities you’d want during a beach vacation: numerous swim beaches, boat rentals, water skiing, fishing, hiking trails, biking trails, picnic pavilions, and more. Spend some time away from your phones and instead, get out into the great outdoors.
Which would you rather experience: thrill rides or water slides? At this two-in-one amusement park and water park, you can have both. Bring the whole family to choose from more than 100 rides and attractions, from heart-pounding roller coasters and gentle kiddie rides to super-fast water slides and an uber-relaxing Endless River.
Even in the midst of winter, you can enjoy poolside fun. Voted a Top Indoor Water Park by USA Today 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards, this tropical indoor water park is a balmy 84 degrees year-round. Also there are three onsite hotels, indoor Tree Tops Ropes Course, laser tag, an arcade, and more, making it a one-stop destination for your family vacation. To top off your day at Splash Lagoon, head on over to Hooch & Blotto's, conveniently connected to the park, to enjoy boutique bowling and a wide variety of menu options.
Whether you have a toddler or a ten-year-old, bring your little ones to play and learn at this interactive museum with more than 50 exhibits promoting hands-on fun. Kids can make art, explore a cave with artifacts, stroll through a kid-sized town, and pretend to drive a GE locomotive.
Explore the wild and wonderful world of exotic creatures at the Erie Zoo, home to more than 400 animals, from lions and leopards to pythons and penguins. Then, wander the beautiful Botanical Gardens, where flowering trees, blooming perennials and annuals, and tropical flowers offer an unforgettable escape.
Go on a swashbuckling voyage on the high seas—or at least Lake Erie—with this family-friendly cruise full of fun activities for kids. Along the way, your little buccaneer will enjoy ship-to-ship water cannon battles, interactive games, face painting, and even get to go home with some pirate’s treasure.
Unlock the past of Lake Erie—from the War of 1812 to present day—at the Erie Maritime Museum, homeport of U.S. Brig Niagara, a wooden-hulled snow-brig that served as the relief flagship for Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie. Explore museum exhibits, and schedule a day sail (May – October, weather permitting) on the Lettie G. Howard, one of the last surviving wooden Fredonia-style fishing schooners, dating back to 1893.
Find even more things to do in Erie during your vacation.