Erie is all about the outdoors. Start at Presque Isle State Park with the arching, sandy peninsula along the lake that gave the city its name. One of Pennsylvania’s top vacation destinations, it’s a beautiful setting for all sorts of outdoor fun. On the water, there’s swimming, surfing, fishing, boating, stand-up paddling and kayaking. On land, hike, ride a Segway and try to spot one of the over 100 species of birds who also vacation here.

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The Tom Ridge Environmental Center, adjacent to the park, has interactive displays, an observation tower, daily programs and a large-format theater with movies about flight and deep sea exploration.

The Erie Zoo is a good half-day excursion. Over 400 animals live here in natural settings, including lions, meerkats, reptiles, giraffes and wallabies. There’s a children’s adventure area suitable for younger kids. Don’t miss the themed gardens that are a trip around the world’s habitats. And make time for the Wildlife Carousel.

Waldameer Park and Water World is one of the oldest amusement parks in the country. The newest attraction is the largest outdoor wave pool in the region. If the weather is bad, Splash Lagoon is a massive indoor water park with all of the usual attractions, plus a ropes course, a multi-activity tree house and an arcade.

For younger kids, the Experience Children’s Museum is a great option with lots of energy-burning activities. Older kids can opt for the Erie Maritime Museum, which tells the story of Lake Erie in the War of 1812 and exhibits exploring ecological concerns about garbage and water pollution.

There are family travel packages available and much more information available at

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