If you’re in Erie this summer and are looking for things to do, fret no more! Here is a list of 13 things in Erie that will keep you from boredom and show you parts of Erie you may not have thought to explore before!
From Broadway shows to comedians, the Warner Theatre hosts a multitude of shows that anyone can find an interest in. As with many historic theatres, the Warner Theatre was a vaudeville theatre. From the marquee to the detail inside, the sheer beauty of the architecture is enough to insist a visit this summer.
For sitting on the sand with a good book or your earbuds in, the beaches at Presque Isle are perfect. There is a pedestrian trail that runs through the entire park, various small nature trails, paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, fishing spots, bike rentals and a new addition of war canoes. If you don’t have a car, you can walk down to Dobbins Landing and catch the water taxi over to Presque Isle.
Ask anyone in Erie of a must try for food and they will mention Sara’s. Head to the end of Peninsula Drive and do yourself a favor. Get some ice cream. Just do it.
If you haven’t experienced the glory that is a Ye Ole Sweet Shoppe cookie, you need to make a pilgrimage to the corner of State Street and Fourth Street. It isn’t that far of a walk (if you can make it to McDonald’s for your midnight Big Mac fix, you can make it one block farther to Ye Ole Sweet Shoppe) and as soon as you taste one of their cookies, you will be hooked.
Driving around Erie, you see it everywhere. Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s face and the infamous blue “Don’t Give Up the Ship” are seen all over the city, from wall murals to commemorative bicentennial window decals and bike posts, not to mention the Perry Monument at Presque Isle. Commodore Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie is a claim to fame for Erie, so get on down to the Erie Maritime Museum to learn what actually went down. The volunteers are very knowledgeable and love to talk history with anyone. While there is a large amount dedicated to Perry, there are also displays regarding more modern maritime history. Plus, there is a giant (I still don’t know how they got it in there) crane rigged on the inside, which is cool enough on its own to warrant a visit.
It would be easy to group the Erie Maritime Museum and the Flagship Niagara in the same category, as the Flagship Niagara docks outside the museum when it is in Erie, but it deserves its own category.
When the city you go to school in has its own amusement park, it should be an automatic addition to your to-do list. Make a go of it with a group of friends and enjoy some rides and the water park on a sunny summer day.
With a newly renovated Big Cat Exhibit (open until November 30), Erie Zoo offers an even larger amount of animals. Even if zoos aren’t your thing, you should at least go to see these marvelous creatures that you wouldn’t otherwise see. As a bonus, the orangutans love to play hide and seek under blankets in a way that is utterly adorable. And there are baby red pandas that are a level of cuteness that can justify the 40 new pictures of them you just added to your phone.
On a nice day this summer, take a stroll down to Dobbins Landing to go up the Bicentennial Tower. There is a small fee (only four dollars!) to climb the tower, but the view is well worth it. Understandably, as a college student, the four dollar fee may come between you and your ramen. Luckily, the first Sunday of each month is free!
This may be one of the only genuine paddle boats you witness outside the Mississippi River. They host weekly brunch, lunch and dinner cruises as well as various themed cruises throughout the year. If you want a unique and fun dinner date or just a lunch get together with your friends, try the Victorian Princess at least once this summer for something fun and out of the ordinary.
Different from the Warner Theatre, all Erie Playhouse productions are put on by the Playhouse itself. With a Gannon ID, tickets are affordable and the experience is more personal than with a touring group. All cast, crew and pit are either from Erie or the surrounding areas. Students from Gannon continually participate in the Playhouse productions as well, so go ahead and support your peers as well! If you don’t like theatre, go anyway. You may surprise yourself and like it, like how you finally gave in and tried asparagus one day. Much to your dismay, you actually like it, but can’t admit so without your mother saying, “I told you so.”
Erie Sports (Otters, Seawolves, Bayhawks, etc.)
A staple for any capable sized city is a hometown sports team. In Erie, we have the Seawolves (baseball), Otters (hockey), Erie Explosion (indoor football) and the Bayhawks (basketball). Each city has a unique sports culture, so spending time (even if you aren’t a sports enthusiast) enjoying a game or two shows you more to the city. I myself am not a huge sports enthusiast, but I still really enjoy going to Buffalo Bills games (yes, you read that correctly. But I’m from Buffalo, so it’s logical) for the atmosphere and comradery spectators partake in.
BONUS: GU’s Schuster Theatre’s Shakespeare Summer Nights
Shakespeare Summer Nights returns to the Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park in July! This summer we will be performing William Shakespeare’s HAMLET and Lee Blessing’s FORTINBRAS. Shows will be performed in rep. HAMLET, adapted and directed by Jessica Flock, will perform July 11, 13, and 19. FORTINBRAS, directed by Alaina Manchester, will perform July 12, 18, and 20. Admission for all performances are FREE. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and come enjoy theatre in the park. In the event of rain, performances will be held at the Schuster Theatre located at 620 Sassafras St. (via Gannon University’s Schuster Theatre’s Facebook Page)
-by Cassie Bielecki, originally published July, 2015