Erie, PA may not be the first place you think of as a summer vacation spot, but it shouldn’t be the last. While I wouldn’t want to be there when the snow flies, Erie boasts a surprising variety of summer activities.
As the AC’s Zac Wassink points out in “Why Erie, PA is a Great Place to Live,” Erie is not far from Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Buffalo. Even folks in Ontario and upstate New York can get to Erie without too much trouble. Here are some of the highlights of Erie in the summer:
Presque Isle State Park is the quintessential summer resort. It has a lot to offer swimmers, bikers, hikers, fishers and boaters. Sportsmen as diverse as hunters, bird watchers and kayakers can also have a great time at Presque Isle. The state park also includes the Tom Ridge Environmental Center. You can learn more about the park at www.presqueisle.org.
This is an indoor water park, so if you’re ready to swim and it starts raining, you won’t be out of luck. Splash Lagoon has seven water slides, as well as pools and hot tubs for the whole family. It also includes the Endless River, which perfect for a relaxing float.
ERIE SEA WOLVES BASEBALL
The Sea Wolves are the AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. They play at Jerry Uht Park. I have a soft spot for the place because I announced a wrestling show there back in 1996. I called the action from the pitcher’s mound, with the wrestlers coming in from centerfield on bullpen carts. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun.
Like most modern minor-league ballparks, Jerry Uht Park combines an integrated urban look with seats that are very close to the action. The prices are much lower than those in the big leagues, so it’s great for a family outing – even if you don’t know any of the players.
The Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park is free, and it features more than 200 varieties of trees. It’s perfect for a relaxing stroll. Kids can enjoy walking on the Labyrinth, a twisty pass with dead ends, but no walls or obstacles.
As cool as this place sounds, they had me at “free.” For more ideas on free activities in Erie, check out this article by Ryanick Paige.
CELEBRATE ERIE FESTIVAL
Downtown Erie shuts down to traffic and opens up to become a huge, three-day street fair with free admission.Visitors can enjoy food, art and performances, while children can visit the Kids Zone to enjoy face painters, musicians, clowns and costumed characters. Learn more about the festival at celebrateerie.com.
FAMILY FIRST SPORTS PARK
Perhaps I’ve been living in a hollow tree or something, but this is the first time I’ve heard of a sports park. It’s seems like a great idea, with basketball courts, soccer fields, swimming pools and a go-cart track on outside; and a golf dome, fitness center and video arcade inside. Learn more at thesportspark.com.
LAKE ERIE SPEEDWAY
Not every town has its own motor speedway, but Erie does. You can get tickets for $12 and $6 for kids. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is planning to make a special appearance on Aug. 18. You can get all of the details at lakeeriespeedway.com.
WALDAMEER and WATER WORLD
All of this fun stuff and no theme park? Wait, here it is. You can purchase tickets to Waldameer and Water World individually or combined.