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Erie: A Fresh Take on a Summer Standby
Trips to the ocean may seem like standard summer fare, but when it comes to Great Lakes vacations, “fresh” is an appropriate descriptor of much more than the water. These inland beaches are a refreshing alternative to beaches on the coasts of North America, offering the attractions of seaside destinations without the dangers and crowds. For those looking for romantic walks on the beach, gentle waves, and charming wining and dining, Erie can provide all that one looks for in a beach experience and more.
For the outdoor enthusiast, Erie is situated beside an extensive natural area with much more to offer than just swimming. Presque Isle State Park forms a stunning 3,200-acre peninsula with thirteen distinct sandy beaches and twenty-one miles of recreational trails. As the most visited state park in Pennsylvania, attracting more than four million visitors each year, it provides ample opportunities for swimming, boating, kayaking, and fishing in its cool, freshwater surf—as well as bird watching, hiking, and biking on its timbered shores. The Tom Ridge Environmental Center is as ambitious and unobtrusive as its modern, minimalist architecture, serving as a wide-ranging ecological center devoted to research, education, and visitor services. This free resource facility houses 7,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, a 75-foot viewing tower, and a large-format theater.
Few beach towns can offer experiences that elevate the palate alongside outdoor experiences that elevate the soul. Lake Erie wine country provides twenty-three wineries to sample along fifty-three miles of shoreline, providing not only vintages, but views and brews worthy of the trip. A visit to Pennsylvania’s largest producing winery, Mazza Vineyards, will transport you to rustic Italia with its miles of rolling vineyards and Mediterranean architecture. In addition to playing a pioneering role in developing the Pennsylvania wine industry, Mazza Vineyards’ Niagara wine is the top-selling Pennsylvania wine statewide. Arrowhead Wine Cellars makes a wide selection of wines, from dry wines to sweeter wines (including customer favorites like apple wine and blueberry wine). In addition to a great selection of dry varietals and blends, South Shore Wine Company showcases a French-style underground wine cavern built in 1860 for a taste of history alongside one’s wine tasting. Among many other standouts, visitors ought to try the Dornfelder at Presque Isle Wine Cellars, the Lambruscano at Penn Shore Winery, or the Famiglia at Yori Wine Cellars. For those who prefer their alcohol in another form, the Lake Erie Ale Trail also encompasses ten of the area’s finest microbreweries.