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My Favorite Summer Activities in Erie, PA

There's something magical about Erie, PA during the summer. The city springs to life with bustling events, the parks burst with summer energy, and the residents come together to enjoy the season's offerings. Erie is a place of hidden treasures, waiting to be explored, especially for those spending their first summer here. If you’re a new homeowner or returning to Erie after moving away, this guide is for you as a heartfelt welcome to the city that I have loved my whole life!

Exploring Erie's Outdoor Spaces

Summer in Erie is an outdoor enthusiast's dream, with beautiful parks adorning the city. The gem among these is Presque Isle State Park, a 3,200-acre peninsula extending into  Lake Erie, boasting sandy beaches, nature trails, picnic areas, and a historical lighthouse. Here, you can swim, sunbathe, kayak, paddleboard, fish, bike, and even rollerblade! For families, the picnic areas and playgrounds make it an ideal destination.

Nestled at the entrance of Presque Isle is the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, an educational resource that displays interactive exhibits about the region's history and ecology. On your way out of the park, don't forget to treat yourself to some delightful ice cream and tasty treats at Sara’s restaurant, a long-standing 50’s themed diner with a sundae bar.

Hiking and Biking in Erie

Pleasant Ridge Park, sandwiched between  Fairview and Girard, features miles of scenic trails through the forest. The trails are well-maintained and suitable for hikers and bikers of all skill levels, offering a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Then there's McClelland Park on the city's east side.  In addition to a wetland loop and picnic areas, it houses a popular dog park, a perfect spot for your furry friends to frolic and play. Erie preserves these pockets of natural beauty, allowing you to indulge in the great outdoors with ease.

Unbeatable Summer Attractions

Erie comes alive with many exciting attractions during the sunny weather. The Erie Zoo offers a unique experience for all ages and abilities. With exotic species housed in habitats that mirror their natural surroundings, it's a great place for both fun and learning. Plan two hours to see the over 400 animals!

For those adrenaline seekers, Waldameer Park & Water World is a must. Beginning as a classic amusement park in 1896, the park transformed into a modern water park in the 1980’s, and now features over 100 rides, slides, and attractions. Splash Lagoon, another Erie water resort favorite, ranked 6th in USA Today’s “Best Indoor Water Park” rankings in 2023. With thrilling water slides, a multi-level treehouse, wave pools, hot tubs, an arcade, a surf machine, and a lazy river, it's easy to stay the whole day.

Erie's Calendar-Packed Summer Events

Our good friend The Presque Isle State Park hosts the “UPMC Sunset Music Series,” a 6-week crowd-favorite, featuring a diverse lineup of genres. "8 Great Tuesdays" draws residents and visitors to a weekly music fest at the city’s bayfront.  Keep soaking in Erie’s vibrant music scene all summer long with the Erie Blues and Jazz Festival and the Edinboro Art and Music Festival 

For pop culture fans, ComiCon Erie, held in early September, is a fantastical time every year. Pay attention to the calendar at  Presque Isle in July for nature education, a sand sculpture competition, lighthouse tours, and a grand bonfire. And don’t forget to mark your calendar in August for the Erie County Fair and the Crawford County Fair.

Immerse Yourself in Erie's Art Scene

The Erie Art Museum, is home to over 8,000 artworks, in addition to rotating exhibitions that speak to both mind and heart. Experience the museum come alive all summer long with outdoor concerts, art classes, and workshops.

If you're a theater lover, The Erie Playhouse boasts the 12th oldest theater stage. In 2023, they're welcoming “Jersey Boys” and “The SpongeBob Musical.” For creators and makers, the Erie County Public Library’s Idea Lab is a dreamer’s haven. This free-to-use space offers adults access to equipment and classes for 3D printing, podcasting, and crafting with the Cricut Maker.

Savor the Flavors of Erie's Diverse Cuisine

Summer in Erie is also a gastronomic delight. Along the Bayfront, you have numerous restaurants offering tantalizing dishes with a splendid view. Bayfront Grille, Sloppy Duck Saloon, Oliver’s, and Smugglers’ Wharf are just a few of the many options.

In the heart of downtown, you'll find the recently opened Flagship City Food Hall, boasting a variety of cuisines from local vendors. You can enjoy everything from Dominican food, to Philly cheesesteaks, and Brooklyn bagels, all under the same roof!

For a guided food experience, check out the Erie Food Tours. Their knowledgeable guides highlight all the hidden culinary gems. And, of course, an evening in Erie would be incomplete without a nod to its craft breweries. On the Lake Erie Ale Trail, you can sample some of the best brews in the area, with favorites like Lavery Brewing Company, Erie Brewing Company, Voodoo Brewing Company, and Nostrovia Brewing Company.

Becoming a Part of Erie: Tips for New and Returning Residents

Whether you're a new resident or a former local returning to us, Erie has a special charm that always feels like home. But Erie is not a city that's stuck in time. Our growing town is constantly evolving and innovating.

Here are some valuable tips to get to know the new Erie:

Erie's Events Calendar: Erie is constantly teeming with community events. Check out the Erie Events website to stay updated on all the happenings, from the arts festivals to the live music and community-oriented gatherings.

Find Your People: Erie has a wealth of clubs and societies. Love sailing? The Erie Yacht Club is your spot. Passionate about history? The Hagen History Center offers fascinating local insights. Check out events on Meetup for a broad list of Erie’s clubs and societies.

Go Hyper-Local: Visit Erie's small businesses and meet the people who make the city's heartbeat. Start your morning at Ember+Forge coffee shop, grab a book at Werner Books, have lunch at Like My Thai, and finish off with a scoop from Creamland. Remember, every dollar spent locally makes a significant impact on the community!

Rediscover Erie's Expanding Landscape: If you're returning to Erie after a while, you'll find quite a few new favorites around town. Visit the revitalized culinary district, explore the trails at the Asbury Woods, or marvel at the artworks at the renovated Erie Art Museum.

Connect with Neighborhood Associations: Reach out to neighborhood associations like the Frontier Park Association, or the Our West Bayfront. These organizations thrive to provide local insights, and opportunities for involvement, and to foster friendships.

Subscribe to Erie News Outlets: Keep up with the city with local news outlets like Erie Times-News or Erie News Now. Their dedicated reporting provides excellent resources for learning about the city's latest development projects, policy changes, and community initiatives.

Remember, integrating into a new city takes time. Be patient with yourself, reach out when you need help, and enjoy the process of making Erie your new home.

Considering Moving to Erie?

If you're contemplating a move to Erie but haven't made up your mind, consider the following:

Test the Waters: Stay in a neighborhood that you are considering and live as a local for a week. Use the same transportation, participate in everyday activities, and soak in the vibe of the city to see if it resonates.

Scout the Essentials: Identity what you value in your potential new home. Spend time evaluating these aspects, whether it's proximity to work, quality of local schools, access to amenities, or the community vibe.

Gauge Social Interactions: Erie is known for its friendly locals and welcoming vibe. During your visit, note the social interactions, the general atmosphere, and the city's response to innovation.

According to the Knight Foundation's "Soul of the Community" study, people are most attached to their community when it provides social offerings, aesthetic beauty, and a welcoming atmosphere. Erie, with its evolving social scene, beautiful natural landscapes, and open, welcoming community, is not just a place to live—it's a place to thrive.

Wrapping Up

I hope you are feeling excited about moving to Erie! Still have questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch directly with me! I'd love to help guide you through the process of settling in, discovering local secrets, or finding your dream home in Erie. Contact me today.