Erie, Pennsylvania, offers the unique juxtaposition of small-town charm and security with the amenities of a much larger city. Tree-lined neighborhoods and community parks are as welcoming as the area’s low cost of living, four-season climate and picturesque beauty. Located almost equidistant from Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo, and within 500 miles of more than half of the U.S. population, Erie is easily accessible by car, train or plane; over 4 million people are drawn to Pennsylvania’s only “seashore” each year.
Erie’s crown jewel is Presque Isle State Park, a 2,300-acre sandy peninsula extending into Lake Erie just 4 miles west of downtown Erie. The peninsula is home to 7 miles of beaches and 13 miles of trails and offers a myriad of recreation opportunities, from swimming and boating in the summer to ice fishing and snowshoeing in the winter, plus everything in between. The park has been recognized as one of the top birding spots in the U.S., and locals rate Erie sunsets among the best in the world.
More than 200 years later, Erie has grown to become Pennsylvania’s fourth largest city. Once a hub for maritime commerce, commercial fishing and manufacturing, Erie and its surrounding communities are now a center for tourism, healthcare and higher education, boasting four hospitals and five colleges as well as a number of trade and technical schools.
There is always something to do in Erie, no matter the time of year. Festivals celebrate the seasons, holidays and the community’s varied ethnic heritage. Live entertainment and agricultural fairs are coupled with events touting the area’s emerging brewery scene as well as Lake Erie Wine Country, 53 miles of wineries and vineyards hugging the shoreline in Erie County and neighboring New York State.
Visitors and residents alike can learn about Erie’s rich maritime history at the Erie Maritime Museum or by booking a cruise on the U.S. Brig Niagara. Other boat tours allow passengers to experience Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie firsthand while offering exceptional views of Erie’s three historic lighthouses. From the top of the iconic Bicentennial Tower, rising 187 feet above Dobbins Landing, one can gain a 360-degree view of the city, the bay, the peninsula and beyond into the vast expanse of Lake Erie.
Up the street from Dobbins Landing is Erie’s historic cultural and entertainment district, which boasts a host of pubs, coffee shops and restaurants serving the best local fare, fine dining and sweets. Erie’s downtown is also home to the Erie Art Museum, Hagen History Center and expERIEnce Children’s Museum. Nearby is the country’s third oldest community theater, the Erie Playhouse, as well as the Depression-era Warner Theatre where theatergoers can enjoy performances by the Erie Philharmonic, Lake Erie Ballet, Broadway in Erie and numerous national touring entertainers.
Just a block away is Erie Insurance Arena, home to the Erie BayHawks of the NBA G-League and the Erie Otters junior hockey team. Next door fans flock to UPMC Park in spring and summer to cheer on the Erie SeaWolves, the MLB AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.
Families enjoy visiting over 400 animals at the Erie Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Others love the thrills of America’s 10th oldest amusement park, Waldameer & Water World. Across town are Presque Isle Downs & Casino and Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort, a nationally recognized attraction that annually draws more than 300,000 visitors to the area.
Erie County is home to a number of public and private golf courses. Their nine- and 18-hole configurations offer challenging layouts for even the most experienced golfers while others are solid training facilities for beginners. Peek’n Peak Resort, just across the state line in New York, is a four-season destination where many Erie residents hit the ski slopes, trails and terrain parks when the snow flies.
Pennsylvania’s tax-free shopping lures residents of neighboring states and Canada to Erie. National retailers line Erie’s upper Peach Street near the bustling I-90 corridor and the Millcreek Mall Complex. Locally owned stores, boutiques and art galleries, selling hidden gems and treasures, have their place in Erie, too, and can be found throughout the community.