Erie, Pennsylvania is one of the most beautiful places in America but don’t take our word for it when a visit can help you discover why so many people declare it such a treasured place to be.
Erie, Pennsylvania is the fourth-largest city in the state. Despite what the name may lead you to believe, there is nothing spooky about this city.
In fact, it’s one of the best cities in Pennsylvania.
If you are a local, you know how amazing Erie is already. If you are visiting Erie in the near future, you’re in for a real treat.
The area is filled with amazing scenery and sights, great natural landscape, and so many awesome attractions to occupy your time.
Erie sits on Lake Erie and is the perfect spot for anyone who wants to have a good time without the hustle and bustle they sometimes encounter in larger cities.
Whether you are a family searching for fun things to do, a retired couple, college-aged students, or others, Erie, Pennsylvania offers so much to see, do, and experience.
But, where should you begin when looking for things to do in Erie, Pennsylvania?
The best places to go for sightseeing and excitement are listed below.
You’ll find 28 of the best places to visit and points of interest in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Things To Do In Erie
1. Presque Isle State Park
Visitors to Presque Isle State Park have their choice of activities ranging from swimming on the beach to boating and bird-watching.
This state park is one of Erie’s most popular attractions, delivering an amazing time for adults, kids, and families alike.
The 3,200-acre park has some of the most picturesque marinas, beaches, trails, and scenery that one would want for an exciting day or evening.
Plan to spend at least half the day at the park or maybe the entire day if you’re adamant about your activities.
Among the things to do at the Pennsylvania state park include hiking, biking, inline skating, boating, fishing, swimming, sports such as volleyball, water skiing, canoeing, and boating.
In the winter, the park comes alive for visitors ready to experience adventure despite the cold temps.
Cross-country skiing along the park trails is always fun and visitors often enjoy coming to the park to ice skate or iceboard.
Bird-watching is yet another favorite pastime for park visitors since many birds migrate through Presque Isle.
Have your sunscreen and camera ready for this adventure.
Address: 301 Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16505, USA
2. Erie Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Put on your most comfortable shoes and prepare for an animal adventure at the Erie Zoo & Botanical Garden.
Visitors get an up-close-and-personal experience with over 400 animals from around the world, including warthogs, cheetahs, and others.
Once you’ve had all the excitement there is to be had at the zoo, head over to the adjoining Botanical Garden for free things to do in Erie.
Although not as exciting for kids as for adults, it is a breathtakingly beautiful garden filled with over 400 plants and many beautiful flowers from different regions.
The zoo and botanic garden opened its doors in 1982, since which time the community has delighted in the animal experiences.
Kids and adults of all ages enjoy the unique experience they enjoy at the zoo.
Address: 423 W 38th St, Erie, PA 16508-2701, USA
3. Port Erie Bicentennial Tower
Head to the Port Erie Bicentennial Tower to experience a relaxing, quaint panoramic view of Lake Erie.
Located in the downtown area, the tower was built in 1996 to commemorate the city’s bicentennial year.
The tower stands 187-feet tall, making it one of the largest structures in the state.
The tower is open for tours each day, where two observation towers offer different perspectives of the city.
One deck stands at 17-feet and the other at 138-feet.
If you sit on a clear day, you may be able to see the 27-miles into Ontario, Canada.
This is one of the fun things to do in Erie, Pennsylvania that you don’t want to miss.
Address: 1 State St, Erie, PA 16507, USA
4. Erie Art Museum
Formed in 1898 as the Erie Art Club, the Erie Art Museum is one of the area’s best spots for people who love art and history.
Although years have passed and the museum has changed locations, it nonetheless houses one of the most impressive art collections that you will discover in Erie or in Pennsylvania.
The Erie Art Museum is a part of the downtown Discovery Square Corporation where dozens of shops, museums, and galleries are housed.
The museum is home to more than 8.000 amazing pieces of art and artifacts including Indian bronzes, Tibetan paintings, contemporary baskets, American ceramics, and much more.
The museum has something inside for everyone to enjoy.
Around 20 traveling exhibitions visit the museum each year.
Learn and watch as local folk artists bring their traditional arts to life.
If you’re in Erie, plan a trip to the museum.
Address: 20 E 5th St, Erie, PA 16507, USA
5. Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park
The Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park has a mission to educate more people about the importance of trees in the environment and our community.
A visit here offers the chance to learn so much important information as you explore more than 250 different species of trees on display at the Arboretum at Frontier.
Established in 1998, you’ll find trees like Russian Olive, Ginkgo, Hawthorn, Dogwood, Scarlet Oak, Alder, Honey Locust Maple, and Douglas Fir among the species on display.
There’s more than simply tree-viewing and educational material available for visitors.
During the summer, the Arboretum at Frontier has many bike trails, sledding hills, and labyrinths available for visitors to explore and enjoy.
There’s even a virtual tree gazebo experience during the spring that is sure to impress the likes of everyone in the family.
The Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier is an amazing stop on your agenda if environmental causes are important to you.
Although educational, this is still one of the fun things to do in Erie that you’ll appreciate.
Address: 1501 W 6th St, Erie, PA 16505, USA
6. ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum
Head to the Children’s Museum when you’re looking for stuff to do in Erie.
Dedicated to displaying the artistic creations made by children of all ages in and around the Erie area as well as across the country, the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum is located in the historic cultural area in downtown Erie.
The museum offers a versatile selection of things to see and do on three levels.
Education is the focus of the museum, so kids enjoy themselves and learn as they participate in the hands-on activities and displays.
Topics covered here range from art and culture to math and history.
The Children’s Museum has over 50 hands-on interactive exhibits, an outdoor play area when you need a break, and lots more.
This is one exciting museum for kids, parents, and kids-at-heart.
Address: 420 French St, Erie, PA 16507, USA
7. Waldameer Park & Water World
What started as Hoffman’s Grove, a popular picnic spot for locals, has now become Waldameer Park & Water World, a unique water park boasting over 100 rides, attractions, slides, and so much more.
Kids and adults alike can enjoy the Water World exciting during the summer and enjoy rides like the Drop Tower, a Merry-go-Round, or the XScream Drop Tower!
The kids will put this on their top places to visit when it’s hot outside -we guarantee it.
As you might expect, there’s plenty of carnival-style games to play, food trucks and stalls, music, and tons of other fun stuff to do while at the park.
When it’s hot outside, families go to Water World and so should you.
There’s a lot of activities and entertainment here so there is something for every family and every interest.
This is one of the best things to do in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Address: 220 Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16505, USA
8. Presque Isle Downs & Casino
Presque Isle Downs and Casino is one of the most popular gambling spots in the Erie ara.
It’s not only a casino but also a race track where thoroughbred horse races take place regularly.
If you’ve come to press your luck, the Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie is the place to be.
The casino has more than 1,700 games, including favorites like Wheel of Fortune and Bally Quick Hits.
People win big money playing slots and games at the casino.
Who knows if it’s your lucky night until you head out to the casino and try your hand at the games?
Aside from slots, there is a great poker room, craps table, and a blackjack table.
Once you’ve had your fill of gambling excitement, there is live entertainment, amazing award-winning food, shopping, and a hotel next door for lodging if you’re out of town, want a romantic closing to the night, or simply don’t want to drive home.
Address: 8199 Perry Hwy, Erie, PA 16509, USA
9. Millcreek Mall
Millcreek Mall has the stores that you want to shop at, whether you are just browsing for future purchases or need to pick up a few things for the kids.
The mall has been a part of the Erie community since 1975.
It’s a popular hangout for teens on the weekends who oftentimes catch a movie at the theatre that is inside the mall.
Dozens of shops, restaurants, and kiosks offer shoppers a variety of products and services.
From clothing to electronics to beauty products and toy stores, there is everything a person could possibly want or need under one roof at Millcreek Mall.
JCPenney, DSW Shoe Warehouse, Old Navy, and Michaels are a few of the more than 175 stores available for shopping.
Grab a bite to eat at Smokey Bones Barbeque and Grill, Arby’s or Outback Steakhouse, to name a few of the choices.
Address: 5800 Peach St, Erie, PA 16565, USA
10. Erie Insurance ArenaSince 1983, Erie Insurance Arena has been home to sporting events, concerts, shows, and many other events.
In fact, it was a Beach Boys concert that started it all.
Over the years the arena has hosted many amazing and unforgettable events from some of the hottest acts and celebrities in Hollywood.
You never know what type of event will be held at the arena next.
A recent $47 million renovation expanded the size of the arena and added luxury suites and a club level for people who want a unique experience during their event.
The arena has 9,000 seats and hosts games from the SIFL Erie Explosion, NBA-D League Erie BayHawks, and the OHL Erie Otters.
Address: 809 French St, Erie, PA 16501, USA
History buffs and people interested in the history of Lake Erie can go back in time at the Erie Maritime Museum and experience the area’s most important people and events.
The history dates events back as early as 1812 until the present day.
The museum houses many artifacts covering various people and events, however, the September 10, 1813 Battle of Lake Erie is a highlight at the museum.
Visitors can see videos, artifacts, and hands-on exhibits that help them travel back in time to get the full dynamics of the era.
Although the Battle of Lake Erie is a main focal point at the museum, many other important events are detailed here via exhibits, demonstrations, videos, and more.
If you are in Erie, plan a stop to this attraction.
Address: 150 E Front St #100, Erie, PA 16507, USA
12. Asbury Woods
More than 205 acres of forests, streams, fields, and wetlands offers visitors an amazing free outdoor recreational opportunity in Erie.
Activities are plentiful at Asbury Woods which include hiking, fishing, biking, cross-country skiing, running, craft workshops, a native plants garden, a picnic Pavillion, animal exhibits, and for the kids, the Little Woods Nature Play area, among other free activities.
Adults love the Otto Behrend Celebration Garden that’s also on-site.
There is an amphitheater on the property that hosts numerous events and programs and other events.
Annual events each year provide kids the opportunity to interact with others their age, enjoy themselves and learn more about everything from plants to animals to outdoor safety.
Address: 4105 Asbury Rd, Erie, PA 16506, USA
13. Downtown Erie, Pennsylvania
No visit to Erie is complete without a trip to the downtown area to explore the many local shops, boutiques, restaurants, clubs, bars, and scenery.
You’ll experience stunning sunset views on Lake Erie and have the opportunity to explore more than 500 different merchants who offer everything from clothing to furniture to beauty products to coffee and juices.
Whatever you need, its available in downtown Erie district.
Although driving around the downtown district is an option, most people track it on foot and it’s best this way.
You can see and do more by foot and explore a lot more of the historic Erie buildings and phenomenal scenery.
14. Tom Ridge Environmental Center
Tom Ridge Environmental Center provides a variety of entertaining activities for visitors of all ages.
The 6,500 square-foot center has an educational center where visitors learn more about plant life, trees, and more.
Erie visitors also find a plethora of other creative items on display at the Environmental Center, including over 75 hand-carved whirligigs.
There is an ecosystem exhibit on display, and a 45-minute IMAX theater experience to enjoy.
Stop by the nature shop to pick up brochures or even a souvenir to take home to remember your Erie trip.
Address: 301 Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16505, USA
15. Erie Playhouse
For Erie residents and visitors who enjoy theater and plays, the Erie Playhouse is the place to be for excitement this weekend.
It’s near the downtown Erie area, which is convenient for most people.
A diverse mix of plays and musicals are held at the Playhouse, ticket costs based on the date and title.
The Erie Playhouse itself is an attraction as it has been a part of the community for generations.
It’s the oldest playhouse in the Erie area and one of the oldest in Pennsylvania.
It’s also recognized as one of the Top 10 playhouses in the United States.
That’s quite an honor and for anyone that enjoys this type of interest, it’s even more reason to get tickets to a show and learn why so many people are in awe over this theater.
This is one of the romantic things to do in Erie if you catch the right performance.
Address: 13 W 10th St, Erie, PA 16501, USA
Visiting other parts of Pennsylvania? Why not check out some of the things to do in Hershey, PA?
16. Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park
Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park‘s 200,000-gallon wave pool has waves as high as 6-feet tall.
It’s the perfect spot for families and for kids on any hot summer day.
There is a great selection of fun slides and an attentive staff to keep the entertainment safe for everyone.
Aside from water slides, the water park also has other entertainment when you’re finished getting wet.
If you’re hungry, tame the tummy grumbles with a stop by the restaurant.
Or, if you want a cold drink, kick back and relax at the lounge.
There’s also a candy shop with plenty of treats for kids and kids at heart.
Put on your favorite swimsuit/trunks, grab your money, and head on down to one of Erie’s most popular summer spots for great clean family entertainment in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Address: 8091 Peach St, Erie, PA 16509, USA
17. Great Lakes Seaway Trail
Ready for a bit of sightseeing in Erie, Pennsylvania?
The Great Lakes Seaway Trail provides wine enthusiasts the perfect opportunity to explore the region’s wine country.
The trail takes visitors through some pretty spectacular scenery of colorful trees and rolling hills.
Do have your camera ready if you want to capture some of the majesties in the scenery.
The trail begins as you head east on Route 5. As you embark upon the trail, the scenery is sure to take your breath away.
Take your pick of 25 different fantastic vineyards and wineries to tour, taste, and enjoy on this route.
Most offer daily tours and tastings but call in advance if there is a specific vineyard that you want to see.
Courtyard Vineyard and PennShore Vineyard are among the choices. The Grape Discovery Center is also along Route 5.
Stop by to learn more about the history of wine, wine-making, and the Concord grape, the most commonly used grape in wine production in Erie, Pennsylvania.
If you love free stuff, romantic stuff, and excitement, this is one of the tourist attractions to add to your list of things to do.
18. Race At The Tracks
At Lake Erie Speedway, racers can choose from one of five different courses to compete against their friends or other racers.
If you own a stock car, this is the perfect place to practice and test your skills.
The five courses include Plyler Overhead Door Modifieds, Street Stocks, Compacts, Legends, and Bandoleros.
The speedway offers a ⅜-mile track. It’s been around since 2002 and hosts several special events each year.
Head over to Eriez Speedway if you want a backyard, entertainment kind of time.
It’s loud, it’s dirty, and it’s non-stop excitement and that’s exactly how the locals like it.
This is the self-proclaimed ‘best dirt racing track in the area’ and offers high-speed car racers a chance to meet other people and have a little bit of dirty racing in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Address: 10700 Delmas Dr, North East, PA 16428, USA
19. Lake Shore Railway Museum
The Lakeshore Railway Museum is a donations-funded railway museum that is sure to put a smile on the face of any train enthusiast.
Located in the old New York Railroad Passenger Depot, the Railway Museum now houses some pretty interesting artifacts as well as steam-locomotive.
The museum was formed in 1956 and has been a tradition in the city ever since.
Along with the locomotive that is on display, visitors also enjoy a plethora of other artifacts and information about railroads and trains.
The gift shop offers many t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, and other gifts. Proceeds from the gift shop all help keep the museum afloat.
Regular events take place at the museum throughout the year, many in collaboration with the Historical Society.
Check the calendar of events if you want to be included in the fun.
Address: 31 Wall St, North East, PA 16428, USA
20. Warner Theater
Home to the Erie Philharmonic, the Erie Ballet, and the Erie Broadway Series, visitors can take their pick of phenomenal shows from any of the above or attend one of the other 150 amazing events held at Warner Theater each year.
The theater was established by Warner Bros in 1929, Warner Theater holds some of the city’s best shows and events, but the architecture is also delightful to experience.
The Vaudevillian history is eloquently displayed through crystal chandeliers, art-decor interior, and marble archway, which brings the theater to life.
If you’re lucky, catching a show is something that you’ll stop by to experience.
Address: 811 State St, Erie, PA 16501, USA
21. Mi Scuzi
If you want to experience five-star dining, this is the perfect restaurant.
Serving hearty Italian dishes and kinds of pasta complete with salads, bread, and desserts, this restaurant offers an unforgettable experience that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.
Dining at Mi Scuzi is worth the splurge!
Address: 2641 Myrtle St, Erie, PA 16508, USA
22. Firefighters Historical Museum
Housed in former Erie Engine Station #4, which opened in 1903, the Firefighters Historical Museum displays a variety of apparatuses, uniforms, tools, and other items taken from the history of firefighting.
Anyone who has an interest in the history of Erie and/or in firefighting will enjoy this experience to learn and opportunity to view many artifacts firsthand.
A steam-driven fire engine is one of the main attractions at the museum, but there is a lot of other fun in store for visitors to experience.
You can view firefighters’ uniforms from various eras and a four-wheel hose cart, which certainly isn’t seen or used these days.
There is so much in store for visitors to the Firefighters Historical Museum this is one stop that should be included on your itinerary.
Address: 428 Chestnut St, Erie, PA 16507, USA
23. Jr’s Last Laugh Comedy Club
Life is too short to do anything but laugh as often as you can.
Spend the night enjoying a show at Jr’s Last Laugh Comedy Club, and you’ll understand why they say laughter is the best medicine.
This comedy club is a crowd-favorite, with some comparing it to venues in New York and Chicago.
It’s spacious and fun and the attentive staffs certainly help make the evening pleasurable from start to finish.
You never know who the next act will be to appear on the lineup, but you can be sure they’ll make you laugh hysterically.
Drinks are available and there is a light menu available as well.
Ticket prices vary depending on the show/date, though reasonably priced tickets are oftentimes a perk of attending a show at Jr’s.
Address: 1402 State St, Erie, PA 16501, USA
24. Schaefer’s Auto Art
If you are looking for something interesting to add to your Erie fun, plan a stop by Schaefer’s Auto Art.
This is not the usual type of art since every sculpture is constructed from vehicles and parts from vehicles.
Each is unique and has its own customized name.
One man turns his passion for vehicles into a cool concept and there are several pieces on display to check out during your visit.
Although this trip is somewhat off-the-beaten-path, it’s worth the short drive to check out this cool art.
It is one of the most unusual and unique places in Pennsylvania.
Address: 3705 Hershey Rd, Erie, PA 16506, USA
25. Hagen History Center
Housed in the old Watson-Curtze mansion, a stone structure of magical proportion, the Hagen History Center also has vaulted ceilings, stained glass, mosaics, and a host of other decorative pieces that will help you lavish in the architect and design of the place.
Plan a visit during the holidays to see the mansion adorned in Christmas lights and the holiday tree decorated.
It’s one of the best tourist attractions in Erie.
Once you get past the immaculate design, the history center offers a plethora of information about the Lake Erie region and the most prominent individuals from the area.
Want to know what to do in Erie? Hagen History Center is one of the favorites.
Address: 356 W 6th St, Erie, PA 16507, USA
26. Liberty Park & Highmark Amphitheater
Get your fill of the sun and catch an outdoor concert at Liberty Park and Highmark Amphitheater.
Well-equipped, updated playground equipment entertains the kids for hours of fun.
It’s one of the main points of interests near Erie that is sure to help entertain your day.
You’ll find all the typical playground equipment here, including slides and monkey bars.
There are picnic areas as well, so don’t hesitate to fill up a picnic basket to bring along with you.
Concerts take place on Friday nights and weekends. You may also catch a special show or two at other times of the year.
There is no cost to attend the concerts and food trucks are available to feed your tummy if you get hungry.
The park is a favorite for Erie locals who want to enjoy the outdoors as often as possible.
It is safe, clean fun for kids and parents alike.
Address: 726 W Bayfront Pkwy, Erie, PA 16507, USA
27. Harbor Ridge Golf Club & Grill
Harbor Ridge is a public golf course and golf club that has one of the most challenging courses in Pennsylvania.
This 9-hole course isn’t the easiest course by any stretch of the imagination.
But certainly provides rewards and challenges to those who aren’t afraid to give it a shot.
Bentgrass tees, fairways, and greens are available for golfers playing pleasure.
But, for the best golfers in Erie and for those who are ready to test themselves, it provides a day of fun.
The grill includes many delicious items and cold drinks.
There is a golf shop on-site where you can pick up balls, tees, and other items that you may need as you enjoy your game.
Address: 3730 Harbor Ridge Trail, Harborcreek Township, PA 16510, USA
28. Play Port Arcade & Family Fun Center
Arcades and games keep everyone in your crew happy.
Special event nights are always a hoot, so check the schedule and attend during your favorite.
Over 100 of the games at the arcade are set on free mode so it doesn’t cost a penny (or quarter) to play.
There is a virtual arcade which is a favorite with customers, along with Glow Golf & Pool and Laser Tag.
No matter your age or interest, this Erie play center has a few different choices to entertain your time.
Erie kids and adults alike love the Play Port Arcade.
Address: 2730 W 12th St, Erie, PA 16505, USA
The Excitement in Erie Awaits You
Erie, Pennsylvania is home to plenty of great things to see, do, and experience, whether you’re a local who lives in or near the city full-time or a tourist who’s come only for a short visit.
The activities above are among the most exciting things to see and do in Erie, but there’s still so much more in store for those who have time to delve into the city the way that it should be.
There is a ton of free and romantic things to do today or this weekend to suit every interest.
No matter what your budget or the things that most interest you, there is always something to entertain you in Erie.
Do not let another day of boredom cause you to pull out your hair when there’s so much out there for you to experience.
Now that you know what to see in Erie, Pennsylvania, it’s time to get this party started.