Peak season in Erie Pennsylvania is from May till September, and temperatures of around 26°C from June to August mean that conditions are ideal for water sports and fun on the lake that the city takes its name from. Demand for flights is higher during peak months, so you should book in advance if you plan to visit for events like Roar on the Shore, the popular motorcycle festival that takes place on the banks of Lake Erie each July. Local universities such as Gannon, Edinboro, Mercyhurst and Penn State Barend have summer break from May onwards and it is the busiest time of year in the city.
It’s less crowded in the shoulder season months of March till May, and by the end of March seasonal snow showers are normally over. Mild temperatures of around 7°C in March rising to 19°C by May are pleasant, although rain and fog are possible due to the city’s proximity to the lake. The months of October and November are also good times to check for lower cost shoulder season flights, and with temperatures of approximately 16°C in October and 9°C in November mean that conditions are still conducive to sports and outdoor pursuits.
Winter is low season in the city, and flights are at their cheapest. However, high snowfall attracts visitors who come to enjoy skiing and snowboarding in local resort areas.
Erie enjoys a wonderful location on Presque Isle Bay on the southern shores of Lake Erie, the fourth biggest of the Great Lakes. Presque Isle State Park is the most visited state park in the State of Pennsylvania, and over a million visitors per year come to this beautiful peninsula that extends around the bay from about 4 miles (6.4 km) west of the city centre.
Clean, sandy beaches on the lake side are perfect for swimming and water sports in the warmer months, while the bay side is popular with sailors and fishermen. Presque Isle State Park boasts an excellent paved bike and exercise trail that runs for 14 miles (22.5 km) through the length of the park, and there are good views over the beaches and wildlife refuges. You might also enjoy taking the nature cruise that departs from near the Perry monument at the southeast of the park.
Kids will love Waldameer Park and Water World which is close to the entrance to Presque Isle, and if it happens to rain, Splash World on Peach Street in the centre of the city is a great indoor alternative.
Those with an interest in history and culture are sure to be impressed by the selection of good local museums including the County Historical Museum, Maritime Museum and Art Museum. Take a look at local wine making with a trip to one of the nearby vineyards like Mazza, Penn Shore or Presque Isle Vineyard, or try your luck at Presque Isle Downs and Casino where horse racing is a summer feature.
Be sure to visit Bicentennial Tower at the bottom of State Street to enjoy fabulous panoramic views over the lake and the city, and try the famous Greek sauce in local restaurants and diners.
Driving in Erie is easy thanks to the city being laid out in a simple to navigate grid pattern. There is a comprehensive bus service that covers most parts of the city including the shopping district around Peach Street. Taxis are not readily available on the street, apart from at the airport, so it’s best to select a local company from the phone book or tourist information centre and book in advance.
Cheap flights to international airports such as Buffalo, Pittsburgh or Cleveland make it easy to reach the city from anywhere in the world, and there are plenty of connecting flights as well as a few international flights to Erie International Airport (ERI). The airport is just 5 miles (8 km) southwest of the city, so getting in is fast and easy. There are taxis available for set rates from outside the terminal, and on site car rental is an option if you like to drive yourself.