Weekend Getaway: Theme Park Adventures and Beaches Galore in Près Isle and Erie, PA

Photo courtesy of Visit Erie

When you think of summer and the hot days that come with it, what could be more refreshing than a day spent at the beach? If you’ve seen all the beaches WNY has to offer, maybe it’s time to head to Erie, Pennsylvania for a trip to Près Isle State Park. Known for its 11 beaches and charming surrounding attractions in downtown Erie, this short drive from Buffalo makes the perfect weekend getaway.

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Photo courtesy of Courtyard by Marriott Erie Bayfront
Photo courtesy of Olivier
Photo courtesy of Sara’s campsite

Where to stay

Although a trip to Erie can be completed in a single day, to make the most of your time there, we recommend making it an entire weekend. From waterfront hotels to family campgrounds, there are a variety of ways to stay in Erie. Stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Erie Bayfront for al fresco dining, a fitness center and a stunning infinity pool overlooking the lake or stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites Erie Bayfront for dinner and drinks at Oliver’s Rooftop & Beer Garden . Are you looking to get closer to the outdoors? Stay at Camping Sara or Camping Lampe for easy access to the bike paths and beaches of Près Isle.

Photo courtesy of The Cork 1794
Photo courtesy of Sara Restaurant
Photo courtesy of U Pick 6 Tap House
Photo courtesy of Icing on the Lake

Where to eat

Once you’ve decided on a place to stay, it’s time to figure out where to eat in Erie. First off, if you’re anything like us, you have to stop at Krispy Kreme on your way to Erie. While we love our local donut shops, nothing beats a warm glazed donut from Krispy Kreme. If you’re looking for a full breakfast, we recommend heading to The Original Breakfast Place or Lawrence Park Dinor. For lunch, if you’re spending your day at the beach, head to Sara’s Restaurant, which sits at the entrance to Près Isle and is known for its old-world atmosphere and all-American food and custard options. . There are plenty of choices for dinner, but some award-winning spots and local favorites include The Cork 1794, Federal Hill Smokehouse and U Pick 6 Tap House. Are you looking for a dessert? Head to Icing on the Lake, winner of Erie’s Choice in 2019 and 2020, for your sweet fix.

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Visit the Bayfront neighborhood and downtown Erie

If you’re looking to shop and explore while you’re in town, you’re in luck! The Bayfront District and downtown Erie are full of shops and attractions worth checking out. Head to the 138-foot Bicentennial Tower viewing platform at the end of Dobbins Landing for 360º views of the waterfront and surrounding area. Aboard the Lady Kate for cruises on Lake Erie and admire one of their famous sunsets! Further inland is downtown Erie, where you’ll find several retailers, including the Ye Ole Sweet Shoppe, a la carte, and the Erie Maritime Museum Gift Shop.

Photo courtesy of Visit Erie

Explore the hiking and biking trails

Almost Isle State Park has 11 miles of hiking trails of varying difficulty, each offering opportunities to view the area’s wildlife. For those looking to take a bike ride, Erie has several bike trails that criss-cross the area as well as Près Isle State Park, offering nice lake breezes and waterfront views.

Photo courtesy of Visit Erie
Photo courtesy of Visit Erie

Head to the beach

As mentioned earlier, Près Isle State Park has 11 beaches! Depending on what you are looking for, each beach offers a different way to enjoy the lakeside. Some of the most popular beaches include Beach #6 and Beach #7. Beach No. 6 (Plage de Lyon) is equipped with sand volleyball courts, a beach house with changing rooms, restrooms, and a food and beverage concession. Beach #7 (Waterworks Beach) is a family favorite with its large playground and picnic shelters.

Photo courtesy of Visit Erie
Photo courtesy of Waldameer & Water World

Theme Park Fun at Waldameer & Water World

After a day at the beach, continue the fun at Waldameer & Water World. Just before the entrance to Près Isle, this theme park features roller coasters, waterslides, a wave pool, and more. Whether you’re looking to cool off in the water park or hit the rides, Waldameer & Water World is a fun activity for the whole family.

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