When you think of summer and the hot days that come with it, what could be more refreshing than a day at the beach? When you’ve seen all the beaches WNY has to offer, it might be time to head to Erie, PA to visit Presque Isle State Park. Known for its 11 beaches and surrounding charming downtown Erie attractions, this short drive from Buffalo makes the perfect weekend getaway.
Where to sleep
While a trip to Erie can be completed in a single day, we recommend making it a full weekend to make the most of your time there. From waterfront hotels to family campgrounds, there is a variety of places to stay in Erie. Stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Erie Bayfront for al fresco dining, a fitness center and a stunning infinity pool overlooking the lake or stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites Erie Bayfront for dining and beverages at Oliver’s Rooftop & Beer Garden. Would you like to be closer to nature? Stay at Sara’s Campground or Lampe Campground for easy access to Presque Isle’s bike trails and beaches.
where should we eat
Once you’ve decided on where to stay, it’s time to find out the best places to eat in Erie. First of all, if you’re like us, you have to stop at Krispy Kreme on your way to Erie. While we love our local donut shops, nothing beats a hot glazed donut from Krispy Kreme. If you’re looking for a full, sit-down breakfast, we recommend The Original Breakfast Place or Lawrence Park Dinor. If you’re spending your day at the beach, stop by Sara’s Restaurant for lunch, located at the gateway to Presque Isle and known for its old-fashioned ambience and all-American food and pudding options. There’s plenty to choose from for dinner, but some award-winning venues and local favorites include The Cork 1794, Federal Hill Smokehouse, and U Pick 6 Tap House. Looking for dessert? Visit Icing on the Lake, winner of Erie’s Choice in 2019 and 2020, for your sweet tooth.
Visit the Bayfront District and downtown Erie
If you want to shop and explore in town, you’re in luck! The Bayfront District and downtown Erie are packed with shops and attractions worth visiting. Walk to the 138-foot Bicentennial Tower Observation Deck at the end of Dobbins Landing for 360-degree views of the waterfront and surrounding region. Board the Lady Kate for cruises on Lake Erie and enjoy one of her famous sunsets! Further inland is downtown Erie, home to several retailers including the Ye Ole Sweet Shoppe, a la Carte and the Erie Maritime Museum Gift Shop.
Explore hiking and biking trails
Presque Isle State Park has 11 miles of hiking trails of varying difficulty, each offering an opportunity to spot the area’s wildlife. For those who want to take a bike ride, Erie has several bike trails that wind through the area as well as Presque Isle State Park, offering nice sea breezes and water views.
Go to the beach
As previously mentioned, Presque Isle State Park has 11 beaches! Depending on what you’re looking for, each beach offers a different way to enjoy the lakefront. Some of the most popular beaches are Beach #6 and Beach #7. Beach #6 (Lyons Beach) is equipped with sand volleyball courts, a beach house with changing rooms, toilets and a food and beverage concession. Beach #7 (Waterworks Beach) is popular with families with its large playground and shelters for picnics.
Amusement park fun in Waldameer & Wasserwelt
After a day at the beach, continue the fun at Waldameer & Water World. Just before the entrance to Presque Isle, this theme park features roller coasters, water slides, a wave pool and more. Whether you want to cool off at the water park or whiz around on the rides, Waldameer & Water World is a fun activity for the whole family.