Welcome to the third annual Erie Staycation post here at Growing Kids Ministry! You can check out Year #1 here and Year #2 here for even more ideas. This year, I decided to start with asking some of “the locals” about their favorite activities here in Erie. With two little ones, my outings generally consist of the zoo, the Children’s Museum, and Chick-fil-A (all of which I would highly recommend, of course!). I wanted to grab a few more ideas from my friends. Here’s what they said:
Mary, age 22: One of my favorite things to do in Erie is drive around with my friends and stop at a random restaurant downtown, then find a place for dessert, which would mostly likely be Sarah’s, then watch the sunset at the beach, and either end the night by going to see a movie, ride the ravine flyer at night, or head back home and rent a bunch of movies and have an all nighter.
Leah, age 21: It’s a pretty obvious attraction, but my favorite thing to do in the summer in Erie is to go to Presque Isle in the afternoon followed by dinner at Sarah’s restaurant and get a hamburger, a large container of curly fries and, of course, a shake. That’s what I think of when I think of summer in Erie, PA.
Michelle, age 40: Let’s see – my favorite summer stuff is gardening, reading in the garden, garage sales and thrift stores (currently looking for bird bath and planters), going to auctions, drive-in and camping not to far from home cause I hate to tow the camper. We have so many cool thrift shops in Eries. I always make the rounds at Wheezies Kove (if she doesn’t have it, she knows where to get it!) in Harborcreek, Claudine’s consignment on W. 8th, Sal Army on Peach St., and can’t remember the name on 26th and Brown’s Ave. Auctions are fun too! Go to Auctionzip.com to find out the auctions in our area.Of course, love to go the beach and just sit around in the sand and listen to the wind and water. These are just a few of my favorite things….
Tracy, age 30: I love going perch fishing on Lake Erie with my husband on our boat. It’s so peaceful and beautiful and we have a lot of fun! I also enjoy Presque Isle…running on the trail or just cruising in the car with an ice cream cone from Sara’s!
CJ, age 27: My favorite thing to do is probably go to Presque isle – sounds cheesy but there are a ton of options once you are there plus it’s really incredible to think about – we had a boat growing up so I took it for granted but having so much history right here on our beaches is pretty amazing!! It’s a great place for couples but families at the same time – plus on top of that its the place with my most childhood memories
Carol, age 50: The Peninsula, without a doubt. Pack up lunch and dinner, your tabletop grill, assorted books, lawn chair etc. Get there at 10 and stay til the sun sets. Camping! Cooks Forest and Clear Creek state parks are only 2 hrs away. Pymatuning is less than that. Love, love LOVE to camp!! And of course Creation. About 5 hrs away but so worth it.
Lyle, age 30: I am a huge fan of the Wintergreen Gorge. I know of an nice path to a good waterfall and swimming hole where you could even cook hot dogs on a fire!
Sara, age 27: Some things that i enjoy are going to Freeport beach in North East, Harborview Mini Golf, down by Dobbin’s Landing, and Claytopia.
Do You Sense a Theme?
It seems like everyone loves a trip to Presque Isle. Perhaps because summer is so short in Erie, people want to make sure to soak up as much sunshine and outdoor time as we can! So, this edition of Summer Family Fun will focus on the great outdoors! Some of the most popular outdoor spots include:
- Presque Isle: You’ve already read all kinds of fun things to do at this national park, but you can also visit the official website for calendar of events, things to do, details on bike trails, picnic spots and more!
- Asbury Woods: The thing I love about this place is the wooden-plank trails and the “off-road” trails. You can head out for a more rustic feel, but if you’ve got the stroller, you can still easily manavuer on the wooden trails. I also love the “Little Woods” section filled with things for kids to discover and explore. Check out the website for special events, summer camp dates, and much more!
- Tom Ridge Environmental Center: Hop on over to the website to find movie listings, sales, as well as events
Facebook Pages to Follow
Sometimes the best family outings are those spur-of-the-moment events. Follow these facebook groups and people in order to stay up to date on the latest happenings.
- Erie History Facebook (be sure to check out their recent post on the history of Waldameer!)
- Friends of Lake Erie Facebook
- Friends of the Erie Library
- Presque Isle State Park Facebook
Parks and Nature Centers
In addition to Asbury Woods and Tom Ridge, there are plenty of parks and nature centers around Erie worth checking out. This article from Erie Times News highlights quite a few including Pfeiffer Nature Center located in Portville, NY and the Audubon Center & Sanctuary located in Jamestown, NY. The author, Jan Hutchinson, also mentions The Bookamer Family Farm in Meadville which sounds like a terrific day trip! Last year, we journeyed to Pymatuning Deer Park (read all about my experience via my guest post at Crafty Mom 101) and had a blast! Here’s a few more ideas:
- Woodcock Creek Nature Center in Meadville: Special events, education opportunities, and picnic areas
- Cherry Springs State Park: Located in Coudersports, about a 2 hour drive from Erie, Cherry Springs has the darkest nighttime skies in the eastern United States. Once a month during the summer, Cherry Springs offers public stargazing events. Admission is free.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
- Allegheny National Forest: This is the only national forest in Pennsylvania and is located in Warren which is about an hour away from Erie. The forest has camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and hunting. There are nearly 200 miles of hiking trails as well as beautiful scenery abounding.
- Double Diamond Deer Ranch: This attraction, which is near Cooks Forest, is a very unique experience for families. A herd of twenty deer have been raised from birth and are very tame. They will walk right up to you and children can even bottle feed the babies during the Spring. For more information, check out http://www.doublediamonddeerranch.com/.
- 8 Great Nature Parks: Lou over at Bianchi Honda outlines some features and highlights of parks around this area in this article. Check it out!
Biking and Hiking
Interested in hitting the trails? Check out the Bike Erie site for great events like the Escape to the Lake event coming up June 8-9th. If Hiking is more your thing, check out the following sites are worth a look:
- Every Trail: Shows hikes others takes along with reviews and ratings. I especially like the one entitled “GE Lunch”.
- Trails.com: Use the map feature to pick a hike right where you want to be
- PA Hikes: This site features pictures as well as information about the trail
- Hiking in National Parks
Books to Check Out
Here are some titles I ran across that might be of great benefit in mapping out a staycation plan for your family. Be sure to ask at the library first since many of these are available there as well. Even if the physical books are not available, you may be able to borrow a digital copy.
- Weird Pennsylvania: Your Travel Guide to Pennsylvania’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets
- Explorer’s Guide Eastern Pennsylvania: Includes Philadelphia, Gettysburg, Amish Country & the Poconos
- The Best in Tent Camping: Pennsylvania: A Guide for Car Campers Who Hate RVs, Concrete Slabs, and Loud Portable Stereos
- Pennsylvania Waterfalls: A Guide for Hikers and Photographers
- The Pennsylvania One-Day Trip Book
- Backroads & Byways of Pennsylvania: Drives, Day Trips & Weekend Excursions (Backroads & Byways)
- Fun with the Family in Pennsylvania: Hundreds of Ideas for Day Trips with the Kids (Published in 2000)
- Fun with the Family Pennsylvania, 7th: Hundreds of Ideas for Day Trips with the Kids (Published in 2010)
- Kids Love Pennsylvania (you can find quite a few sample pages here)
What About You?
I’d love to hear about your favorite Erie adventure! Leave me a comment and let me know what you and your family are planning this summer.