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Presque Isle Sunrise over Lake 2021 resize

A Budget-Friendly Guide for Spring and Summer Fun in Erie, PA

Tuesday Apr 16th, 2024

With the increasing expenses of everyday items, finding affordable ways to have fun becomes increasingly important. Fortunately, in Erie, there are many wallet-friendly ways to enjoy life’s pleasures. Overflowing with festivals, events, attractions, and outdoor adventures, the region offers you many options for planning the perfect lake escape to maximize your vacation budget.

Festivals and Events

Immersive yourself in the sights, sounds, and aromas of the many free admission festivals across Erie County.

May 17-19: Edinboro Art & Music Festival showcases art and music in the spirit of the Appalachian culture.

May 24-26: Troika Russian Festival features authentic Russian cuisine, entertainment and a vodka ice bar.

June 15: Erie’s Juneteenth Celebration is a block party celebration of freedom with live entertainment, vendors, food trucks, and family activities.

June 29: Erie Pride on the Bay invites you to be your true selves on Erie’s beautiful Bayfront at Liberty Park. Pride Fest features drag queen and king performances, vendors, food, and musical entertainment.

July 12-13: The Panegyri Greek Festival returns for its 36th year! Showcasing Greek history, culture, and delicious cuisine at the Erie Orthodox Church.

July 20: The AmeriMasala event in Downtown Erie is a multicultural arts celebration of ethnic arts, food, and entertainment.

July 22-28: Discover Presque Isle highlights the beauty of Presque Isle State Park through various family-friendly events, entertainment, and activities.

August 3-4: Erie’s Blues and Jazz Fest returns to Frontier Park with its eclectic mix of local, regional, and national blues and jazz performances.

August 9-11: St. Paul’s Italian Festival highlights all things Italian, including fantastic food!

August 16-18: CelebrateErie fills the streets of Downtown Erie with a focus on local art, food, culture, music, and the people of Erie.

August 23-25: Zabawa Polish Summer Festival is packed with lively polka music, dancing, and authentic Polish food.


Concert Series The Breeze Band 13 of 19
Live Outdoor Concerts

During the late spring and summer months, Erie comes alive with free outdoor concerts from Erie’s beautiful Bayfront to the vineyards of Lake Erie Wine Country.  With performances by local, regional, and national artists, there’s a diverse array of musical styles to enjoy almost every day of the week!

Asbury Woods Monday Music in the Woods

8 Great Tuesdays

UPMC Sunset Music Series

Erie Philharmonic Concerts at Gibson Park                                

Goodell Gardens Summer Music Series

KingView Mead, Wine, and Cider Friday and Sunday Concert Series

Penn Shore Winery Music in the Vineyards

Downtown Erie

In addition to outdoor movie nights, Downtown Erie offers additional fun and free events!

  • Trivia Nights at Flagship City Food Hall, Tuesdays from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • 3rd Annual 14th Fest, Friday, June 14 near the corner of French and 14th Street from 5 to 9 p.m. with live music, food, games, and children’s activities.
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Presque Isle State Park

In addition to free admission and parking, Presque Isle has other free opportunities for visitors to experience and appreciate its natural beauty.  Sink your toes into the seven miles of sandy beaches or dip in Lake Erie’s waters. Pontoon boat tours of the park’s diverse lagoon systems are offered Saturday and Sunday mornings from Memorial Day through Labor Day at the canoe and boat livery. Fish throughout the park at the East, West, and North piers, Perry Monument, the lagoons, or any boat launch area. Click here for a map of Presque Isle.

Pictured above - Lagoon by Pontoon at Presque Isle State Park. Photo by Paul Gibbens.

Tom Ridge Environmental Center

The Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) is a free educational center dedicated to teaching visitors about the unique 3,200 acres of Presque Isle State Park and the many different forms of life that inhabit the peninsula.  TREC features interactive exhibits, and a glass-enclosed observation tower providing panoramic views of Lake Erie.

Bayfront at Sunset crispsnaps v2
Erie Land Lighthouse

Shining a light on Erie’s rich maritime history, Erie’s three lighthouses: Presque Isle Lighthouse, Erie Land Lighthouse, and the North Pier Light, are iconic symbols of the region’s connection to the Great Lakes and their pivotal role in navigation. The grounds of all three lights are free to explore. A separate fee is charged to climb the tower at the Land Lighthouse and to tour the house and tower at the Presque Isle Lighthouse.

Spring/Summer Hours:

Presque Isle Lighthouse (on Presque Isle State Park) – April: Open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Memorial Day to Labor Day: Daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $8 per person to climb the tower.

The North Pier Light (on Presque Isle State Park)– Open year-round during park hours from 5 a.m. to sunset. Free

Erie Land Lighthouse - April - May: Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
June - September: Open Fridays through Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $6 per person to climb the tower.

The Bicentennial Tower

The Bicentennial Tower commemorates the 200th anniversary of the founding of the City of Erie and is easily one of Erie’s most recognizable attractions. Its top observation platform rises 138’ in the air, providing spectacular views of Presque Isle Bay, Lake Erie and the City. 

Spring/Summer Hours:

April: Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

May: Daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Memorial Day to Labor Day: Daily from 10 a.m. to 9 pm.

$6 for adults, $2 for children 7-12, and children under 6 are free.
Free admission is offered on the first Tuesday of each month (excluding holidays, weather permitting).

Pictured above. Photo by @crispsnaps on Instagram.

Presque Isle Downs May 21 2019 009 1 Gibbens WEB
Live Horse Racing

Live thoroughbred horse racing at Presque Isle Downs and Casino is free and family-friendly! Get up close and personal to the action from their expansive trackside patio area. Racing takes place Mondays through Thursdays from May 20 to October 24.  Post times begin at 3 p.m.

Pictured above. Photo by Paul Gibbens.

Hiking and Biking Trails

Spend time exploring Erie’s wide open spaces with miles of hiking and biking trails.  
Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park

Presque Isle State Park

Asbury Woods

Greater Erie Regional Trail Network

Self Guided Tours

Explore Erie your own way on your own time! A full list of self-guided tours is here and also on VisitErie’s free ‘Hello Erie’ mobile app
Erie County Mural Arts Tour – Discover more than 90 public murals located throughout Erie County.

African-American Heritage Trail - Featuring more than 40 stops, the Erie African American History Tour showcases historic points of interest, public art, and businesses that pay tribute to the City of Erie's African American heritage.

The Grape Discovery Center

Spend some time at the official visitor’s center for the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt Heritage Area.  Located among the vineyards of Lake Erie Wine Country, The Grape Discovery Center supports and promotes the grape industry through engaging stories, educational exhibits, gift shop and a café.


Partner Spotlight

Hamot Spotlight 400 x 300

UPMC Hamot - See What Makes Us Different

UPMC Hamot is a 458-bed hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, offering a full complement of inpatient and outpatient services. The hospital serves as a regional referral hub and is the only accredited trauma center in the region.

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erie events spotlight

Erie Events

Erie Events manages a four facility entertainment complex that includes the Warner Theatre, Erie Insurance Arena, Bayfront Convention Center and UPMC Park. These four venues host a variety of events that include world-class entertainment, family friendly shows and sporting events.

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814 Photo

Showcasing the incredible year round beauty of the City of Erie and its surrounding areas, commonly referred to as its area code "the 814". Explore some of Erie County's most breathtaking landscape photography.

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ASCEND Spotlight 400 x 300 1

ASCEND Erie - Climbing | Fitness | Yoga

NOW OPEN! ASCEND fosters a community-centered climbing, fitness, and yoga experience by serving individuals and groups of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Located in Downtown Erie, ASCEND welcomes Erie visitors to stop in and give climbing a try!

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The Cork Partner Spotlight 400 x 300 1

The Cork 1794

Open for Lunch and Dinner. Get ready for an experience like no other. An atmosphere where uncommon style, comfort and service seamlessly meld. Where food and beverages are expertly crafted to be beautiful, satisfying and truly special. A place that makes every day feel like a reason to celebrate.

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Two45 Waterfront Grille Now Open!

Savor an exquisite waterfront dining experience at Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel, where culinary excellence meets panoramic views. This signature restaurant invites you to indulge in a delectable journey with a menu showcasing locally sourced ingredients and global inspirations while overlooking the serene waters of Lake Erie.

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mazza spotlight

Mazza Vineyards and the South Shore Wine Company

The Mazza family welcomes you to explore 3 unique locations in Lake Erie Wine Country. Sip and savor award-winning wines at Mazza Vineyards and the historic South Shore Wine Company, both located in North East, PA, and be sure to visit their combination winery, distillery and brewery, Mazza Chautauqua Cellars/Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing, in nearby Westfield, NY.

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Mall Image Spotlight v2

Millcreek Mall

The Millcreek Mall features more than 160 stores, restaurants, and fun for the whole family on Upper Peach Street, Erie’s most popular shopping district! Shopping in Erie means no sales tax on clothing or shoes. Choose from a variety of hotels located on the Mall property and just minutes away at the intersection of Peach Street and Interstate 90.

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Dobbins Landing Spring 2022 EB 2

Dobbins Landing

Located on the southeast shore of Lake Erie, the Port of Erie has been promoting industrial, commercial, and recreational opportunities on the waters of Lake Erie since 1959.

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Poverty Knob Farmhouse Ales

Stop by Port Farms to check out the newest addition, Poverty Knob Farmhouse Ales. We offer hand-crafted beers and delicious sharable food year-round. The brewery is family and dog friendly with both indoor and outdoor spaces. We offer games, music and entertainment for all ages!

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Farmhouse retreat Spotlight 400 x 300

Farmhouse Retreat

Your “Home Away from Home” short term rental sleeps 8 and is in a great location close to Erie Sports Center, Splash Lagoon, shopping and restaurants, as well as Steelhead Fishing. This restored 1881 Farmhouse is located on 10 private acres. Reminisce about bygone days when life was slower and simpler. With a long driveway and large yard, kick back by the firepit, watch wildlife or enjoy a beautiful Erie sunset from the back patio.

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Tia Book Cellar Spotlight 400 x 300

Tia Book Cellar

Tia Book Cellar is an independent bookstore offering new and bargain books, unique gifts, puzzles, and games for all interests and ages. Located across from Gibson Park in North East, their brand embodies the local business model and the local grape heritage. Tia's believes that "there is always … local, an alternative, and a story." They look forward to helping you discover your next read or gift here.

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the cove from the cove site

The Cove Bay-Side Restaurant & Tavern

The Cove Bay-Side Restaurant & Tavern is sure to give you an unforgettable and care-free dining experience. Enjoy a nautical atmosphere with a beautiful view of Presque Isle Bay.

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u pick 6 spotlight

U Pick 6 Craft Beer Pubs & Restaurants

Erie’s own local craft beer pubs are a must-visit! With 4 great locations, just pick one that’s convenient for you! A casual, family friendly dining experience with something for everyone! To view our menu, check out what’s on tap, or get to directions to our pubs, learn more now!”

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Soak in the fun!

Experience 84 degrees all year at one of the top water parks in the country.

Ante-up, Erie.

Find true action with slots, table games, sports book, and horse racing.

Award-Winning Compassionate Care

Voted Erie’s Choice Best Hospital for eight years in a row

Just for fun!

Experience family summer fun on more than 100 great rides, slides and attractions at Waldameer!

One stop convenience.

Fill your tank, pick up fresh food from local brands, and a six-pack to go in 40 regional locations.

Soak in the fun!

Experience 84 degrees all year at one of the top water parks in the country.

Ante-up, Erie.

Find true action with slots, table games, sports book, and horse racing.

One stop convenience.

Fill your tank, pick up fresh food from local brands, and a six-pack to go in 40 regional locations.

Just for fun!

Experience family summer fun on more than 100 great rides, slides and attractions at Waldameer!

Award-Winning Compassionate Care

Voted Erie’s Choice Best Hospital for eight years in a row