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Exploring Pennsylvania’s State Parks: Presque Isle State Park

A few days ago, I wrote a post about the beautiful State Parks Pennsylvania has available. My goal is to visit and write about as many State Parks as I possibly can! I have visited about 15 already, and a few I still have pictures of. So, the first park I am choosing to write about is Presque Isle State Park in Erie.

I have visited Presque Isle three times in my life so far. My brother worked there for a few summers while he was in college, so that is how our family learned about this park.

The first time I saw Presque Isle, my whole family took a short vacation to visit my brother. I was amazed at the size of Lake Erie! It was almost like the ocean; at some places, we could not see land on the other side!  It was difficult for me to comprehend, but very interesting!

The following two times I visited this State Park, I ran their annual half marathon. The first time, I did it alone (and it was my very first half marathon), and the second time, my running friend came along (and she ran her first half marathon there as well). It is so flat and shaded well that it makes the perfect place to run! Presque Isle is a peninsula protruding into Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes. One full lap around the road on the peninsula was the 13.1 miles we needed to complete the half marathon!

One of the most fascinating things about Presque Isle is its 13 beaches. Yes, I said 13. Each beach has something unique to offer. For example, one of the beaches frequently has kites flying. We did not visit all of the beaches, but we stopped at a few. After my friend and I ran the half marathon, we took our lunch and ate on one of the beaches! It was lovely! We made a friend with a gull, who would have loved to share some food with us, but I do not share food, so it was out of luck!

Presque Isle offers boat tours, bicycle rentals, and Segway tours. My family and I tried riding Segways for the first and only time at Presque Isle. I had a blast! We went around lakes, through forest, and across one of the beaches.

There are several hiking trails, but the majority of them are under one mile long. There is a description of each trail on the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website. We may have been on some of the trails accidentally, but I did not purposely go hiking on any of my trips there. Like I said earlier, the majority of the peninsula is flat.

We did go to see several lighthouses. We visited two on Presque Isle; one was attached to a house next to a beach, and the other was on a fishing pier. There was also a lighthouse in Erie proper that we went to see.

On Horseshoe Pond, one of the ponds within the peninsula, houseboats are anchored! We drove past, and there were several houseboats in the middle of this pond! I know I could never live on the water, but for some people, it must be a great adventure, and it was very neat to see!

Presque Isle not only has beautiful beaches, it also has a rich history. There is a monument paying tribute to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, a Naval commander instrumental in the War of 1812, on the peninsula where Misery Bay meets Presque Isle Bay. Even throughout the city of Erie, there are tributes to this important man.

There are always special events happening at Presque Isle as well. When my friend and I ran the half marathon, Roar on the Shore was underway the same week. This event provides motorcyclists the opportunity to overtake Erie and Presque Isle! They also do several running races, one being the Barber Beast on the Bay, which is a 10-mile obstacle course across the peninsula.

At the entrance to Presque Isle State Park lies the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) which offers educational interactive displays. There is a large screen for showing nature movies. One of the most interesting aspects of the center is the observation tower. The view is beautiful!

Beside TREC is Waldameer Park and Water World. We did not go into the amusement park, but some of the rides are visible from the road leading into Presque Isle. Waldameer offers free parking and admission to guests.

One of my brother’s favorite places to frequent was Sara’s. Sara’s is an old style diner near the entrance to Presque Isle. He stopped to get milkshakes there quite often!

Beside the diner, there is Sara’s Campground. Presque Isle does not have camping available through the park, but Sara’s is right beside the State Park with available campsites.

There is so many things to do in the city of Erie as well! We went to a street fair where there was beautiful sidewalk chalk art and a CrossFit competition in the middle of the street! I could not possibly list everything there is to do in Erie! But, the Visit Erie website is a great resource!

If you are looking for a park with lots of beautiful beaches, Presque Isle is a great place to visit! If you have already visited the park, please comment with your favorite thing about Presque Isle! Also, if you have some pictures of the park, you can post them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter using #stateparkblog. I would love to see and hear about your experiences at Presque Isle State Park!

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