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Travel Logs September 2012

Compulsive Traveler

Great Things to Do in Erie, Pennsylvania

By Sandra Scott

There are beaches, museums, art, and culture in this friendly lake city full of diversity. Erie is within 500 miles of more than half the population of the United States.

v_scotterieErie is Pennsylvania's fourth largest city and the state's only port on the Great Lakes. There are beaches, museums, art, and culture in this friendly lake city full of diversity. Erie is within 500 miles of more than half the population of the United States.

  1. Dobbins Dock: Located on the Lake Erie waterfront, the area is home to the Bicentennial Viewing Tower, restaurants, a Sheraton Hotel, the Maritime Museum, boat rides, an art gallery and more. It is named for Daniel Dobbins who, during the War of 1812, was instrumental in getting the U.S. to build its Great Lakes fleet on this protected bay, thus giving rise to the city of Erie.
  2. Maritime Museum: Learn the history of Lake Erie. Starting with the War of 1812 through the present day, the Erie Maritime Museum takes visitors through time, the people, and the events surrounding Lake Erie. The U.S. Brig Niagara, the official flagship of Pennsylvania, is one of the major attractions. Berthed within yards of the museum, the Flagship Niagara is visible from the museum's bayside picture window. When in port it becomes a floating museum conducting tours and day sails.
  3. Erie County History: There are several locations in which to learn about local history. The History Center in the center of town offers a variety of exhibits including an exhibit focusing on Erie County's rich heritage from pre-settlement to present day. Attached to the Center is the 1839 Greek Revival Cashier's House, once home to the cashier of the United States Bank. Not far away, on historic Millionaire's Row, is the elegant Watson-Curtze Mansion. The mansion's Carriage House is now home to a planetarium.
  4. Tom Ridge Environmental Center: Get a spectacular view from the center's 75-foot tower and learn from the many hands-on exhibits that explain the ecology of the area. In the Orientation Theater see spectacular scenes from all four seasons on Presque Isle. Enjoy the whimsical, hand-carved scenes of the Asher Family Three Tower Exhibit in the lobby.
  5. Presque Isle State Park: The park offers year round activities: swim, boat, ice skate, jog, rent a bike, bird watch, windsurf, picnic or just enjoy the beauty of the isle. Truly an oasis on the lake. Don't miss the historical monument to Oliver Hazard Perry.
  6. Fishing: Throw your line in from the dock or the shore or your boat. Fishing charters are available. Hook a walleye, perch, salmon and more. Fishing is a year round activity on Lake Erie. During the winter Presque Isle Bay is dotted with ice fishing huts.
  7. Boat tours: Cruise Presque Isle Bay in style on the Victorian Princess, an authentic paddle wheel boat with old world charm. They offer cruises for brunch, lunch, dinner and sightseeing. Or take the 90-minute ride aboard the Lady Kate departing from Perry's Monument on Presque Isle. There are also easy connections to Presque Isle from the city via a water taxi.
  8. Art: Art thrives in Erie with many boutique galleries along with the Erie Art Museum, a high point for art lovers. Exhibits at the art museum include American ceramics, Tibetan paintings and Indian bronzes, along with works by local artists. Beside viewing pieces from their permanent collection and special showings, the museum features a frame shop, gift shop and the Wave Café. For more than 85 years the museum has hosted their award-winning annual spring show.
  9. Romolo Chocolate: For more than 100 years the Romolo family has been hand making artisan-quality chocolates and confections. The Tuscan-style building features a theater-style chocolate shop and bakery along with the Cocoa Café, a beautiful outdoor piazza and the Mercado offering unique gift items. Try their unique chocolate-covered sponge candy made from Grandpa Romolo's recipe.
  10. And much more: Visit the Erie Zoo & Botanical Gardens featuring over 400 animals and an amazing variety of plant life. Visitors can also tour the Lake Erie Wine trail which offers a beautiful drive along the Lake Erie shore with stops at almost a dozen charming wineries. Splash Lagoon Indoor WaterPark Resort offers family fun year round. Besides boutique shops there are several malls for those with shopping fever.

Consider staying at the Sheraton Bayfront located right on the water just steps from the Marine Museum and within easy reach of most of the attractions. Weekdays the free BayLiner Trolley provides transportation from the waterfront to several locations around the city. For more information check


Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

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