21 Fun Things to Do in Erie (Pennsylvania)

There are so many fun things to do in Erie, Pennsylvania. Despite its relatively unknown location, Erie is an excellent place to visit and vacation in Northwestern Pennsylvania.

It’s situated next to the Great Lake of the same name and has a state park surrounded by a waterfront.

The city of Erie is also referred to as the Flagship City because it is the home port of Perry’s flagship ship, the Niagara. It is also referred to as the Gem City due to its appearance when the Sun is out.

Although it doesn’t have a traditional boardwalk, the Bayside Trail in Erie offers impressive views of the city and surrounding areas.

In this article, we will be looking at the best and exciting activities in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Where Is Erie, Pennsylvania?

Located on the south shore of Lake Erie, Erie is the county seat of Pennsylvania’s Erie County. At the time of the 2020 census, it had a population of 94,831.

It is regarded as one of the largest cities in Pennsylvania, after Philadelphia, Reading, and Pittsburgh.

The metropolitan area of Erie, which is equivalent to all of the county, has a total population of 266,096.

At the 2010 census, the combined population of the city and its surrounding areas was 369,331. The population of the city decreased in 2021 to 93,928.

According to the US Census Bureau, the city has an area of 19.3 square miles. It has a land area of 19.1 square miles, while its water portion is 0.2 square miles.

See Also: Fun Things to Do in Morristown (NJ)

Fun Things to Do in Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie, Pennsylvania, has various attractions that are ideal for different types of people. Some of these include museums, nature centers, and horse racing.

It also has several shopping and theater options. These are best and fun things to do in Erie, Pennsylvania:

1. Erie Zoo & Botanical Gardens

One of the most popular attractions in the city of Erie is the Erie Zoo and Botanical Gardens. This facility features over 400 animals from various countries.

It’s fun to visit the zoo, and it lets you get up close and personal with some of the most exotic animals in the world.

Although most people visit the zoo to see the animals, the botanical gardens are also a beautiful place to explore.

The zoo also has various rides and attractions designed to provide visitors with a fun and educational experience. These include carousels and train rides.

Address: The Erie Zoo & Botanical Gardens is located at 423 W. 38th St., Erie, PA, 16508, USA.

2. Tom Ridge Environmental Center

Another popular attraction in Erie, Pennsylvania, is the Tom Ridge Environmental Center. This facility educates visitors about the various life forms that inhabit the area’s 3,200 acres. 

This free learning center features interactive exhibits that range from steel trees to flying saucers. 

The center’s goal is to promote environmental awareness through its interactive exhibits.

The most popular attraction in the center is the Presque Isle State Park. This facility features a 45-foot-high interactive big screen. It allows visitors to get a deeper understanding of the area’s history.

Address: The Tom Ridge Environmental Center is located at 301 Peninsula Dr. #1, Erie, PA 16505, USA.

3. Port Erie Bicentennial Tower

One of the best things to do in Erie, Pennsylvania, is to visit the Port Erie bicentennial tower, which provides fantastic views of the area. This structure was constructed to celebrate the city’s bicentennial year in 1996.

The Port Erie bicentennial tower is 187 feet tall and features two observation decks. It’s one of the tallest structures in Erie.

Before entering the building, visitors can purchase souvenirs from its gift shop. On a clear day, the tower can be reached by car from Long Point in Ontario, Canada.

Address: The Port Erie Bicentennial Tower is located at 1 Holland St, Erie, PA, 16507, USA.

4. Lake Erie Arboretum

The Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier features over 250 different trees. Some trees include the Ginkgo, Russian Olive, Beechwood, Corkscrew Willow, Douglas Fir, and tulip tree. This facility was established in 1998.

This facility features various activities during the winter and summer, such as hiking and biking trails, a labyrinth, and a sledding hill.

Address: The Lake Erie Arboretum is located at 1501 W 6th Street, Erie, PA 16505, USA.

5. Downtown Erie

The Downtown Erie area is located in the city’s historical and economic district. It features several restaurants and bars. 

In 2004, over 500 property owners and merchants in the area formed the Downtown Improvement District. This group aims to revitalize the area.

People prefer to live in the area due to its pedestrian-friendly environment and the availability of various transportation options. Others are drawn to the area’s modern apartments and lofts.

Address: The Downtown Erie is located at 140 East Fifth Street, Erie, PA, 16507, USA.

6. Erie Library

The city’s residents and visitors often turn to the Erie Library for reading, studying, and socializing. This facility has five branches and a bookmobile.

It also offers various programs and classes that cater to different interests. In addition, the library has a wide variety of books and other reading materials.

The library’s goal is to create a culture of learning and creativity in the city by providing various programs and classes that cater to different interests. 

Some of the facility’s featured programs include yoga for kids, computer classes, and book clubs.

Address: The Erie Library is located at 160 E Front St., Erie, PA, 16507, USA.

See Also: Fun Things to Do in Quincy (IL)

7. Presque Isle State Park

The 3,200-acre state park, the Presque Isle State Park, features various beaches and recreational trails.

It also has a Marina that can accommodate boats and individuals looking to participate in water sports such as swimming, fishing, canoeing, and water skiing.

In addition, the area’s coastline is perfect for a day of recreation, as it offers a variety of activities such as swimming, fishing, and boating.

During the winter season, the park is also known to host various activities such as ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and iceboating.

In addition, this area is frequently visited by ornithologists as the birds migrate through the area.

Address: The Presque Isle State Park is located at 301 Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16505, USA.

8. Erie Maritime Museum

The Erie Maritime Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning more about the history of Erie, Pennsylvania, and its people. It focuses on the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813.

Visitors can understand the event more deeply through interactive exhibits, historical artifacts, and videos.

The museum features various permanent exhibits to educate visitors about the city’s maritime history. 

These include reconstructing Lawrence’s mid-ship section and an original GE steam-powered generating station.

In addition to these, the gallery features various art pieces and models to help visitors gain a deeper understanding of the area’s maritime history.

Address: The Erie Maritime Museum is located at 150 East Front Street, Erie, PA, 16507, USA.

9. Asbury Woods Nature Center

The Nature Center of the Asbury Woods is a 205-acre facility with various natural and historic properties.

It can accommodate people interested in outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and mountain biking.

It also has a variety of animal exhibits and facilities, such as a picnic pavilion, an amphitheater, a sugar shack, and a native plants garden.

The Nature Center also hosts various events and programs to allow people to explore and participate in the area’s natural areas.

One of these is the Fantasy Forest, which helps children participate in various activities to learn about plants and animals.

Another program that the facility is known to host is Tracks in the Snow, which introduces kids to the local fauna.

Address: The Asbury Woods Nature Center is located at 4105 Asbury Road, Erie, PA 16506, USA.

10. Erie Art Museum

The Art Club of Erie was founded in 1898 and has since changed its name to the Erie Art Museum. 

It is part of Discovery Square, a block in downtown Erie that features various museums, educational institutions, and history centers.

The museum features over 8,000 objects, such as Indian bronzes, American ceramics, Tibetan art, and contemporary art.

Every year, the museum hosts around 20 exhibitions. It also shares some of its collections with other museums and organizations worldwide through travelling exhibitions.

In addition, through events and installations, the museum promotes the traditional arts in the city.

Address: The Erie Art Museum is located at 411 State St, Erie, PA, 16501, USA.

11. ExpERIEnce the Children’s Museum

The ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum is a non-profit organization in Erie’s downtown cultural district. 

It provides children between the age of two and ten with an opportunity to develop their imagination and get creative.

In addition, the facility allows them to engage in various subjects such as science, art, and math.

The museum features three floors equipped with over 50 interactive exhibits. These allow children to participate in various activities, such as creating a play or racing boats.

It also hosts events that feature authors and other educational institutions. A visit to the facility is a must for children.

Address: The ExpERIEnce the Children’s Museum is located at 420 French Street, Erie, PA, 16507, USA.

12. Waldameer Park & Water World

The Water World and Waldameer Park were initially established as picnic areas known as Hoffman’s Grove.

Today, this area is an exciting water park with over a hundred rides and attractions. 

Some of these include the Ravine Flyer II and the XScream Drop Tower. Other rides that are more popular include the Ferris wheel and the Merry-Go-Round.

The Water World is a family-friendly water park with various slides and pools. It is ideal for families looking to cool off during a hot summer day.

The Waldameer family owns and operates the facility, guaranteeing the visitors a complete experience. 

Aside from the water park, the Waldameer also offers various food and games.

Address: The Waldameer Park & Water World is located at 220 Peninsula Drive, Erie, PA, 16505, USA.

See Also: Things to Do in Paradise Valley (MT)

13. Presque Isle Downs and Casino

The facility, known for its thoroughbred horse racing, is a popular gambling destination. 

The visitors can enjoy various games such as the Wheel of Fortune and the Wizard of oz.

Address: The Presque Isle Downs and Casino is located at 8199 Perry Hwy, Erie, PA, 1650, USA .

14. Warner Theatre

The Warner Theatre is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys history, architecture, and interior design. 

It was constructed in 1931 and featured a solid bronze ticket booth, a grand lobby, and rich gold-gilded mirrors.

Warner Bros. designed the theatre, and the studio commissioned it. This is one of the most exciting things to do in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Address: The Warner Theatre is located at 811 State Street, Erie, PA, 16501, USA.

15. Erie Insurance Arena

The Erie Insurance Arena is a major sports and entertainment facility. It was opened in 1983 and underwent a major renovation to accommodate more luxury suites.

 This facility is also home to various professional organizations. These include the NBA’s Erie BayHawks and the SIFL’s Erie Explosion.

Address: The Erie Insurance Arena is located at 809 French St, Erie, PA, 16501, USA.

16. Pulakos Chocolates

George P. Pulakos started his business in 1889 in Philadelphia. He then moved to Erie in 1903. 

He crafted various unique and delicious candies using only the finest ingredients, such as the famous sponge taffy.

The company also produces molded chocolates shaped like various objects, such as a cell phone or a ballerina.

Address: The Pulakos Chocolates is located at

17. Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture

In 2011, the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts and Culture was established to provide the necessary services and facilities to enhance the campus’s artistic and cultural activities.

Through its various programs, the institute aims to develop the potential of the arts in the community.

Address: The Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture is located at 501 East 38th Street, Erie, PA 16546, USA.

18. Jerry Uht Park

The SeaWolves’ Jerry Uht Park became an essential part of the city’s sports history when it was first established in 1995. It features six luxury suites, a beer garden, and various concessions.

Address: The Jerry Uht Park is located at 110 E 10th St, Erie, PA 16501, USA.

19. Firefighters Historical Museum

The firefighter historical museum was first established in 1976. It’s located on the site of the city’s first fire station, which was established in 1873. 

This museum features various artifacts and displays about the profession.

Address: The Firefighters Historical Museum  is located at 428 Chestnut Street, Erie, PA, 16507, USA.

20. Scallywags Pirate Adventures

The Scallywags is a 62-foot-long wooden ship ideal for the whole family to enjoy. 

Pirate Captain Tim will take the kids on an adventure, and they can dance and sing along with pirates as they learn about Lake Erie.

Address: The Scallywags Pirate Adventures is 2 State Street, Erie, PA, 16507, USA.

21. The Historical Society of Erie County

The Historical Society of Erie has a massive collection of archival materials that can be viewed for free.

It has over 800 different collections, and it features over 300,000 photographs. In addition to this, the organization also has over 5,000 rare books and architectural drawings.

Address: The Historical Society of Erie County  is located at 356 West Sixth Street, Erie, PA, 16507, USA.

Best Time to Visit Erie, Pennsylvania

The best time to visit Erie, Pennsylvania, are usually August, July, and June. Those are the most pleasant months.

Cost of Visiting Erie, Pennsylvania

The average cost of a seven-day trip to Erie is about $1,417 for an individual. A couple can spend approximately $2,545, while a family of four $4,771.