Erie is one of the hottest travel destinations PA, mainly because of so many options to do fun things at a very cheap budget. And by cheap, I mean free! I got to do a lot of stuff in Erie PA which didn’t even cost me a single penny. It helped me a lot to go to more trips around the US. If you are looking for a place that offers an awesome experience, but doesn’t require you to break the bank, then Erie is the place.
Here are the best top 10 free things you do in Erie PA!
1. See Presque Isle State Park
If you have even a little bit of idea about Pennsylvania tourism, then you’ve certainly heard the name of the Presque Isle Park. It is the most popular state park of the state which is basically an 11-kilometer-long peninsula. Outdoor lovers will find it nothing short of a paradise. The sandy beach is a great place to spend your summer vacation.
The isle contains miles of paved pathways dissecting beautiful scenery. You’ll enjoy walking, rollerblading, cycling, jogging, or skateboarding in one of these. In addition, feel free to bring your equipment if you are into biking. Don’t have one? No need to worry as you can rent one from inside the park. However, this will cost you some money.
The interior waterway named The Lagoons is very popular to the locals for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The entrance of The Lagoons is close to the Perry Monument. The flat water will welcome you with a wide variety of plants and wildlife.
The beach is also quite brilliant for having an evening barbecue party with your family and friends!
2. Enjoy an Exotic View from the Top of Bicentennial Tower
It’s always so refreshing to have a great view of the city from up top. If you are visiting Erie, go to Dobbin’s Landing and go up 137 feet high Bicentennial Tower. Trust me, the view is simply magical and it will blow your mind away. From the top of the tower, you’ll be able to have the full view of the city, Presque Isle State Park, and Erie’s Bayfront.
In regular days, it will cost you $5 to ride the elevator to go at the top of the tower. But the first Tuesday of each month is absolutely free for visitors. The tower also has coin-operated tower viewers if you want a telescopic view. It’d cost you only a few quarters.
Before you go to visit the tower, make sure you are properly dressed as the top of the tower can be quite windy.
3. Attend Wonderful Outdoor and Indoor Events at Tom Ridge Environment Center
At the first look, Tom Ridge Environment Center (TREC) can just look like an educational museum, but it’s way more than this in real life. TREC holds interesting indoor and outdoor events all around the year. Outdoor events include fishing, cast iron cooking, and many more depending on the time of the year. Among indoor events, noteworthy ones are fireside chats, and Great Lakes Shipwreck.
Like Bicentennial Tower, the top of the TREC also has a very beautiful 360 view. It’s not as wonderful as Bicentennial Tower, but won’t disappoint you at all as you’ll observe the beauty of Lake Erie.
The general admission in the TREC is absolutely free for visitors, along with parking. If you want to watch a movie, then you’ll have to pay the ticket price. Most of the times the movies shown at TREC are educational.
4. Dive in Music at Outdoor Concerts
If you visit the Erie locality during the summer season, be sure to attend a live concert. There are multiple options for you on this regard if you love music. A weekly event called the UPMC Sunset Music Series is held at Presque Isle State Park every Monday at Beach 1. The events are mostly joined by local bands, but their talent will certainly impress you.
If you are looking for a music event closer to the center of the city, then you can attend 8 Great Tuesdays, an event which is arranged at the Amphitheater at Liberty Park. This event features live music for eight straight Tuesdays during summer.
In addition, three wineries organize free concerts in Erie’s Wine Country in the summer during May and June on every Saturday evening. Isn’t it amazing to enjoy live music with some of the finest wines of the country? The Wine Country is situated at the North East, PA, 18 miles east from downtown Erie. It won’t take you more than an hour to reach there from the city and the experience is totally worth it.
5. Free Visit to the Erie Zoo
I’ll be really honest with you on this. The Erie Zoo is not one of the most decorated ones in the country, but it’s not the worst one. If you like wildlife and want to get some more information about animals, then paying a visit to the Erie Zoo will be worth your time and money. Ooops, you won’t have to pay any money for this though!
The Erie Zoo is open for free admission on each Sunday during 3-5 pm. The zoo is relatively small, so you will be able to see everything in these two hours. It’s small, but cozy and beautiful. You can do this activity only during the summer season though, as the zoo remains close during the winter months. But don’t worry, you have a lot of other things to do in this beautiful city during winter!
6. Lighten Up Your Kids at the Liberty Park Playground
Erie PA has a lot to offer to both solo and family travelers. If you belong to the second category, then the Liberty Park Playground is there to serve your family. And more specifically, if you have little children and want to bring them some joy in your visit to Erie PA, then the Liberty Park Playground is a must place to visit.
Situated in downtown Erie, the Liberty Park Playground has lots of space and tools to entertain your children. You can even have a small family picnic on a summer afternoon in this place as it a number of good camping spots. Bring your kids and Frisbees to enjoy a wonderful afternoon and make pleasant memories. The playground is free of cost and is open to everyone. Play with your children, and reminisce your own childhood here!
7. Go Treasure Hunting!
Seems very exciting, right? And it is exciting! Lake Erie is already beautiful with the blessings of mother nature, and treasure hunting is just a wonderful cherry on top. The treasure hunting takes place along Lake Erie shoreline in North East. It is a very fun activity for the school going kids, but people of all ages can enjoy this awesome experience.
Well, no one is going to arrange a treasure hunting competition or event for you, because it’s built-in! Lake Erie is quite famous for the beautiful beach glass it has. You’ll find a lot of colorful driftwood, pebbles, or even otoliths coming from freshwater fish. The otoliths are quite rare to find, but you’ll find some if you look closely. The joy that you’ll feel after finding a rare stone is indescribable, and that’s why the treasure hunting is totally worth it in the Erie Lake shoreline!
8. Go Fishing in Lake Erie
Probably you’ve got it already, Lake Erie is full of exciting activities all round the year for outdoor lovers. Along with all the other things, it’s also a world class fishing destination. Fishing lovers come to this place from distant corners of the country. All you need to do is to bring your fishing gear and cast a line in the PA border.
Fishing in Lake Erie is totally free for individuals aged under 16. If you are above 16, then you’ll also be able to grab this opportunity if you have a fishing license. The fishing license will cost a few dollars, which you can purchase from fishing license agents. Tourists are generally issued a one, three, or seven day license. Purchase yours depending on the length of time you would like to catch some fish in the Erie Lake!
9. Grab Some Ice-cream for your Dog at the Straw Hat Sundae Shop
This might surprise you a lot, as it has made it into the list of free things to do in Erie PA. But it is here for the right reason, because the ice-cream is totally free! The Straw Hat Sundae Shop situated at the North East serves free ice-cream to dogs every day! If you have brought your dog with you in your visit to Erie PA, then don’t forget to treat the good boy with some delicious ice-cream! And I don’t see any reason not to avail this wonderful offer, as the ice-cream won’t cost you anything.
One thing that might turn you off is the location of this shop. But a visit to the North East is totally worth because of all the other fun activities mentioned in this article. The Straw Hat is very famous for Creamery Ice Cream, soft serve, banana splits, root beer floats and many more! While your dog enjoys the Doggie Bowl, you can buy yourself a nice scoop of premium ice-cream and enjoy the summer heat with a pleasing delicacy in your mouth.
10. Taste Fresh Grapes at Grape Discovery Center
Last but not the least, you shouldn’t leave Erie PA without visiting the Grape Discovery Center. It is one of the most historic foundations of grape growing in America. Visit the Grape Discovery Center with your family, and learn about the 150 year old history of grape growing in PA. in your visit, you’ll be able to know about how grape growing started in the county and how it evolved into a specific form of art. You’ll also learn about different breeds of grapes and their usage in prepare wines and other drinks. You’ll also be able to taste some of the best grapes in the world at the Grape Discovery Center. If you don’t mind paying a few bucks, purchase some grapes and take them for your friends and family who couldn’t join you in your tour. It’ll be a gift they will remember for years!
There goes your list of the best 10 free things to do in Erie PA. Apart from these 10 things, some other activities are there for you to do. These include visiting the Fisherman’s Beach, Barber Beach, 20 Mile Beach, Freeport Beach, Shades Beach, Lake Shore Railway Museum, Gibson Park, and Asbury Woods Nature Center. As you can see, the area is full of beaches. The beaches have made Erie PA one of the most desirable destinations for the summer season. If you have planned your trip at Erie PA, make sure to come here with a few days in hand. There are so many things to do and you won’t be able to enjoy even half of them if your visit lasts for less than a week. And because of all these free things to do here, you won’t have to worry about the costs associated with your extended stay! So pack your bags already!
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