Erie Visitors Guide 2024

From its rich maritime heritage to its scenic natural landscapes and vibrant cultural scene, Erie offers a diverse array of activities for you to explore and enjoy. Whether seeking outdoor adventures at Pennsylvania’s storied beach at Presque Isle State Park, indulging in delicious dishes at local eateries, or immersing yourself in the region's history at iconic landmarks, this travel guide is your key to unlocking the best of what Erie has to offer.

Top Things to Do in Erie

Presque Isle State Park: With its stunning sandy Lake Erie coastline, Presque Isle State Park is filled with wonder, fun, and learning and a true gem of Pennsylvania's 124 state park system. This National Natural Landmark attracts upwards of 4 million visitors each year who visit the park to swim, boat, fish, hike, bike, and enjoy the great outdoors throughout the year. Whether you're lounging on the beaches, exploring the ecological diversity, or delving into the historical significance of the peninsula, you’ll be thrilled Presque Isle Park is on your PA bucket list!

Asbury Woods: Uncover the expansive beauty of Asbury Woods in Erie. With more than 234 acres of natural woodland, including 5 miles of scenic trails, this destination is perfect for hikers and expeditioners. Unwind in nature's embrace as you meander through lush forests, spacious fields, and alongside tranquil streams, offering a serene escape for both two-legged and four-legged visitors, as Asbury Woods is pet-friendly. With additional amenities like playgrounds, tennis courts, and a nature center offering educational programs and events throughout the year, there's endless adventure at this idyllic park.

family walking on a trail bridge
Lake Erie Wine Country

Lake Erie Wine Country: While in Erie, you can sip your way through 53 miles of Lake Erie Wine Country. Stretching along the picturesque shores of Lake Erie, this renowned wine region boasts a variety of vineyards and wineries producing exquisite wines, from crisp whites to robust reds. Embark on a leisurely wine tour and sample handcrafted vintages while soaking in breathtaking views of the vineyard-draped landscape. With inviting tasting rooms, warm hospitality, and lasting flavors, Lake Erie Wine Country provides an enchanting wine-tasting adventure for enthusiasts and novices alike.

Presque Isle Lighthouse: For more than 150 years, the Presque Isle Lighthouse has served as a navigational beacon, landmark, and one of Erie’s most picturesque spots. From April through October, visitors can climb the lighthouse’s 78-step circular staircase for breathtaking views of Lake Erie and surrounding area. No worries if you find the thought of climbing 78 steps a bit daunting; there are six platforms along the climb where you can catch your breath. Take a self-guided tour of the lighthouse and grounds, or you can opt for the 40-minute fully guided lighthouse tour providing deeper insights into this iconic landmark's fascinating past.

light house building
Presque Isle Lighthouse

Bicentennial Tower: Ascend to new heights and enjoy unparalleled panoramic views of the Great Lake and the surrounding cityscape when you climb to the top of the Bicentennial Tower! Built in 1996 to celebrate Erie’s 200th anniversary and standing tall at a towering 187 feet in height from its base to the top of the flagpole, this iconic landmark provides an exhilarating experience. Take the scenic elevator ride to the top observation deck where vast vistas await, providing the perfect backdrop for memorable photos and unforgettable moments.

Waldameer Amusement Park and Water World: Strap in for an afternoon of fun and excitement at Waldameer Amusement Park and Water World! With more than 100 thrilling attractions, slide and ride on award-winning experiences including the Rocket Blast and Ravine Flyer II coaster. In the warmer months, enjoy wet n' wild fun at the park’s Water World, complete with a half-million-gallon wave pool. With free parking and general admission, along with challenging midway games and tasty treats to enjoy, a day at Waldameer ensures unforgettable memories for all ages.

a family posing for photo enjoying a ferris wheel
Waldameer Amusement Park and Water World

Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park and Resort: A year-round Polynesian paradise for visitors of all ages, it’s easy to see why Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park and Resort has been ranked among the nation’s Top 10 Water Park Resorts by Budget Travel. Jump into a world of excitement as you swirl down one of nine thrilling slides, master the art of surfing on the FlowRider, and conquer the Tree Tops Ropes Course. With attractions such as the 200,000-gallon Wave Pool and a sprawling 6,500-square-foot arcade with more than 100 games, there's endless fun to be had both on-land and in the water! Make a splash on the newly updated multi-level Tree House featuring splash buckets, water sprayers, and two exhilarating new slides — the Typhoon Twister and Riptide Racers.

a girl sliding down a water slider
Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park and Resort

Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier State Park: Explore the vibrant wonders of Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier State Park, affectionately known as LEAF, where nature and creativity intertwine! Discover a host of attractions, from tennis courts and the intricate labyrinth maze to innovative features including the green roof and captivating willow art structures from living fences to arbors to tunnels and domes. Admire the abundance of diverse trees, many of which have been lovingly planted by the LEAF program, adding to the park's natural charm. For families, don't miss the delightful jungle gym and slides nestled into the hillside at Frontier Park, offering plenty of playtime for kids of all ages.

a person walking a dog in park
Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier State Park

Erie Bluffs State Park: Just 12 miles west of the city of Erie, immerse yourself in the natural splendor of Erie Bluffs State Park, a sprawling 587-acre oasis nestled along the picturesque Lake Erie shoreline. Explore the park's diverse offerings, from its pristine one-mile stretch of shoreline to the awe-inspiring 90-foot bluffs that provide stunning vistas of the lake. Anglers might want to cast a line at Elk Creek, a renowned steelhead fishery spot boasting its own convenient access point. Whether you're seeking scenic hikes, serene beach strolls, or thrilling fishing adventures, Erie Bluffs promises an ideal outdoor excursion for all.

Three hiking enthusiasts looking at the lake from view point
Erie Bluffs State Park

Bayfront Connector Trail: Experience the essence of Erie's waterfront charm along the scenic Bayfront Connector Trail. Spanning the entirety of Erie and offering breathtaking bay views along the way, opt for the full 9-mile route from Penn State Behrend to Frontier Park for a longer journey or enjoy the shorter but equally scenic 2.2-mile stretch from the Bicentennial Tower to Frontier Park. Whether strolling or biking along the trail, the paved sidewalks ensure a stress-free outdoor adventure.

Best Places to Eat in Erie

Bay House Oyster Bar & Restaurant: Dive into a dining adventure like no other as you savor fresh oysters and soak up the waterfront views at Bay House Oyster Bar & Restaurant. Whether you choose to dine indoors surrounded by vintage modern charm or opt for al fresco seating with panoramic bay vistas, you can indulge in succulent seafood and juicy steaks accompanied with a handcrafted beverage or two from their full bar.

A couple enjoying evening sun near lake front holding drink glasses
Bay House Oyster Bar & Restaurant

Lavery Brewing Company: Beer enthusiasts and food lovers unite at Lavery Brewing Company to revel in the art of brewing and dining! Delight in a diverse selection of award-winning brews, from refreshing IPAs to robust stouts, accompanied by a tantalizing contemporary American menu. With a lively outdoor patio featuring weekly live music, you can take in the idyllic atmosphere while savoring your favorite libations.

a glass filled with beer and bread, celery, cukes and dip on side
Lavery Brewing Company | Credit: Jason Lavery

Bar Ronin: With influences from Japan, the inviting kitchens of Australia, and the casual elegance of Southern California, Bar Ronin offers a melting pot of flavors in one unforgettable dining experience. Immerse yourself in the vibrant scene that merges the best of world hospitality, where each dish and drink tells a story of cultural fusion and flavorful innovation. Discover the eclectic charm and approachable elegance of this dining destination, where every visit provides a journey of delicious surprises!

Cloud 9 Wine Bar & Restaurant: With meticulously crafted dishes, Cloud 9 Wine Bar & Restaurant offers a memorable fine-dining gastronomic experience. Whether you're relishing in a romantic dinner or gathering with friends, Cloud 9's carefully curated menu and charming ambiance will ensure an exceptional night out in Erie.

food served on table with a drink glass
Cloud 9 Wine Bar & Restaurant

Lawrence Park Dinor: Transport yourself back in time and embrace feelings of nostalgia at Lawrence Park Dinor, a beloved Silk City Dinor serving Lawrence Park and beyond since 1948. Named a 2023 Triapadvisor’s Traveler’s Choice, here you can treat yourself to freshly made breakfast bites and mouthwatering lunches from Tuesday to Sunday. Don't miss out on the homemade soups and pies crafted daily in-house. With its family-friendly atmosphere and retro diner car setting, Lawrence Park Dinor is a must-visit for all ages and cravings.

Best Places to Stay in Erie

Hampton Inn and Suites Erie Bayfront: Guests can revel in the harmonious blend of shorefront tranquility and downtown vibrancy at the Hampton Inn and Suites Erie Bayfront. Boasting a range of rooms, from cozy to spacious suites, each accommodation is as welcoming as the next. With a total of 150 well-appointed rooms plus the on-site dining and imbibing options of Oliver’s Rooftop Restaurant and Oliver’s Beer Garden, and a convenient doorstep bus stop to travel downtown, every stay promises comfort and enjoyment. Oliver’s is a nod to Oliver Hazard Perry who taught us all to “Don’t give up the ship!”

hotel building at night by lakefront
Hampton Inn and Suites Erie Bayfront | Credit: Scott Enterprises

Victoria Inn Bed & Breakfast: Step into the welcoming embrace of Victoria Inn Bed and Breakfast, where historic elegance meets contemporary comfort in the heart of Erie. This charming retreat offers a cozy ambiance and personalized service that makes every guest feel right at home. With beautifully appointed rooms and thoughtful amenities, such as complimentary breakfast and free Wi-Fi, relaxation is effortless. Whether lounging in the refined common areas or enjoying a peaceful moment in the lush garden, every corner of the Victoria Inn exudes warmth and hospitality.

living room with furniture
Tranquil Vibes

Tranquil Vibes: The Tranquil Vibes Airbnb boasts four bedrooms, two baths, and an inviting common space that includes a cozy living room, fully equipped kitchen, and dining area. Complete with convenient amenities including a washer/dryer unit and both front and back patios, you and your guests can truly enjoy this tranquil escape. With flexible rental options ranging from 1 to 29 days, Tranquil Vibes ensures a perfect getaway for any and every occasion.

Looking for more trip inspiration throughout the Keystone State? Check out the VISIT PA website. Follow us on Facebook, X (Twitter), Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly PA travel e-newsletter so you never miss an update!

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