Things to Do on Vacation at Lake Erie in Pennsylvania

If you are interested in finding the hidden gems our diverse area has to offer–Lake Erie fishing, shopping, and more, then Grape Arbor Bed and Breakfast, shopping, and more, then Grape Arbor is the place for you! Located in the village of North East, just fifteen minutes east of Erie, Pennsylvania, our B&B is convenient to the abundance of activities and attractions in the area!

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With its turn-of-the-century buildings, shops, restaurants, and parks, our town has been designated a National Historic Landmark District. Harvest festivals, Gibson days, and many other special events dot the calendar all year long. See www.nechamber.org for a schedule.

North East is nestled in wine country among the fragrant vineyards that hug the southern shore of Lake Erie. Relax and visit the many antique shops in the general vicinity, ride your bike along the Seaway Trail, have a well-paced game of golf, or experience the excitement of NASCAR racing locally at the Lake Erie Speedway.

Lake Erie, in addition to being beautiful, is a vast natural resource and offers exceptional opportunities for sailing, fishing, swimming, beach combing, and picnicking. The town of North East has a public marina that is merely three miles from the Grape Arbor Bed and Breakfast.

Penn State-Behrend, Gannon University, Mercyhurst and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine are four local universities and colleges within easy driving distance of your home away from home. North East is home to a historic campus extension of Mercyhurst – within walking distance of the inn.

Pennsylvania’s Flagship Niagara, Presque Isle State Park, The Chautauqua Institution, and Peek n’ Peak Ski Resort are all less than a half hour drive from our bed and breakfast.

ACTIVITIES  [Read Details…]

  • There are five minor league sports teams in Erie, PA. Erie Otters (Hockey), Erie Sea Wolves (Baseball), Erie Bayhawks (Basketball), Erie Explosion (Arena Football), and Erie Illusion (Womens Football)
  • The Lake Erie Speedway is a 3/8 mile paved NASCAR sanctioned track. For this year’s schedule click here.
  • Try your luck at the Presque Isle Downs & Casino; we can’t guarantee that you will win, but we do think you will have fun. Live horse racing in season as well as slots. For details, click here.
  • Did you know we are just an hour and a half drive from Niagara Falls?  Spend the day!  Check out the US side here, and Canadian side at here— just remember your passport if you are crossing the border.
  • Drive the Seaway Trail, and check out the exhibits marked along the way, which include kiosks, museums, and lighthouses. For details, click here.
  • Take a chocolate tasting tour! There are several chocolate shops/makers in the area that compete to be best—which is your favorite? Locally, there is Stefanelli’s, Pulakos, or Romolo’s…

Useful Links: [Read More…]

While visiting, there are many choices for lunch and dinner. Here is a list of locals and favorites. For a complete list of dining choices visit our Grape Arbor Bed and Breakfast Dining Guide. In addition to the following, we have menus at the inn for more.

FINE DINING

  • 1201 Kitchen – 1201 State Street, Erie, PA. Phone 814-464-8989.
  • Brazills On Main – 7 East Main, Westfield, NY. Phone 716-326-2203.
  • Forte114 E. 3rd Street, Jamestown, NY 716-484-6063
  • Gigliotti’s – 325 State Street, Erie, PA 814-528-5209
  • The Cork 1794 – 17 W Main, North East. Phone 814-347-9078.

CASUAL DINING

LUNCH

PUBS

SEASONAL

  • CrayZ Parrot – North East Marina 11950 E Lake Rd North East. Phone 814-725-4627.
  • Straw Hat – 207 S Lake St, North East, PA 814-725-1714

WINE COUNTRY

Grape Arbor Bed and Breakfast is located in an area famous for its vineyards and its wineries. If you visit in the Fall during harvest, you will be greeted with the aroma of grapes wherever you go. Our vineyards form part of the Lake Erie Wine Country Trail, and produce wines for all tastes, ranging from sweet and grapy Concords and Niagaras, to award-winning European styled Chardonnays and Rieslings. Some of our red wines may surprise you, as we are developing Cabernets and other dry styles.

We are just on the New York border, where there are more than a dozen additional wineries to try!

From Silver Creek, New York to Harborcreek, Pennsylvania, you will find 25 wineries, all unique with their own specialties, making this a very interesting and enjoyable touring destination. Most of the wineries are open year-round for both tasting and touring (tasting fees may apply).

Wineries include:

For even more information on the wineries in our region, visit www.lakeeriewinecountry.org. You can also order your very own copy of Grape Arbor’s Insider’s Guide to The Lake Erie Wine Country.

Lake Erie Wine Country proudly hosts several events throughout the year. Many are ticketed events and some are free. Events include: Bare the Barrels (mid-January); Frozen, an Ice and Specialty Wine Festival (mid-January); Wine and Chocolate (mid-February); Wine and Art (late April); Wine and Cheese (mid-May); Harvest Celebration (first two weekends in November); and Holiday Week (last week in December). The ticketed events pair food with participating winery products.

The area is also known for several wine festivals including North East Wine Festival in North East, PA (last weekend in September); America’s Grape Country Wine Festival in Dunkirk, NY (Early August); and Wine on The Lake in Erie, PA (Late March).

CULTURAL EVENTS

Cultural museums, theatre, sports, festivals, Chautauqua Institution has so much it deserves a section of its own (see section below)

  • There are several theaters in Erie, check out what is happening at the Erie Playhouse, or the local dinner theater at Station Dinner Theatre (866-848-2022)
  • The Tom Ridge Environmental Center, at the entrance to Presque Isle, is a great place to learn about the living environment of Presque Isle and Lake Erie. Check out their IMAX theater.
  • The Maritime Museum in Erie is the home for the Brig Niagara, one of the tall ships. Tours include boarding the ship and historical information about the area. There are also limited Lake Erie sailing adventures.
  • North East has its own railway museum, open on weekends only—the Lake Shore Railway Museum phone 814-725-1911
  • The Watson-Curtze Mansion offers tours and events and featuring the historical side of Erie.
  • The Erie County Historical Society offers walking tours on subjects such as Ghosts and Legends of Erie, Seaway Trail Tour and Maritime History Trail. For more information call 814-454-1813
  • Interested in things spiritual? Lily Dale Assembly in NY has programs from June through September, including lectures and services. For details click here.
  • Interested in local history? North East has its own Historical Society Museum with exhibits that change monthly. Open weekends.
  • Did you know that Lucille Ball was born not far from here in NY? Check out the Lucy-Desi Museum in Jamestown, or make sure you check out the festivals with celebrities in May and August. For details click here.
  • Jamestown is also home to the Jamestown Audubon Society. Visitors can tour the grounds and tour the visitor center.
  • Take a trip back in time through Amish Country in NY; for locations and details click here.

Try a dozen or more locally-made fruit syrups at the Sugar Shack across the border in NY (phone 888-563-4324)

There is so very much to do outdoors, in any season!

  • Presque Isle State Park in Erie has so much to do, we gave it its own section; see below.
  • Bicycling! Our local bike shop is less than two blocks away and has both short and more adventurous planned journeys. (Lake Country Bike).
  • Different bicycling adventures can be found at Chautauqua Rails to Trails.
  • The Lake Erie Speedway is a 3/8 mile paved NASCAR sanctioned track. For this year’s schedule click here.
  • Lake Erie fishing. You can either charter a boat or fish from the shore for all types of fish. Go to www.pahuntandfish.com Lake Erie section.
  • Try one of the many golf courses – Erie County PA
  • Horseback riding Trail Rides are available if booked in advance at Eden Farms (814-725-2996) and Double Dab Stables (716-736-4418).
  • Waldameer Park amusement park has a wonderful vintage feel, along with some updated rides…with a view of the lake. Take a virtual ride.
  • Panama Rocks in NY hiking trails for the adventurous. It features towering rocks, cavernous caves, and deep passageways.
  • There are two minor league sports teams in town—Hockey and Baseball with the Otters and the Sea Wolves – go see a game. The games are high quality, and reasonable with great seats available. For schedules visit Erie Otters Hockey, and Erie Sea Wolves Baseball.
  • Peek ‘n Peak summer activities include Golf Courses, and Mountain Adventure Courses with Zip Line Rides, Segway Tours, and Bungy Trampoline fun.
  • Peek ‘n Peak Winter Resort has Cross Country and Downhill Skiing, Snow Tubing, and Snowboard Terrain Parks, and more! Several of the Zip Lines are open year round, weather permitting.
  • Wilderness Lodge cross country skiing, has many acres of groomed trails at all levels of expertise. Rentals available.
  • Snowmobiling Trails in NY. Map at Snowmobile NY.
  • Kinzua Dam hiking trails in Allegheny National Forest in Warren, PA.
  • Beach combing at Barcelona Harbor in Westfield, Freeport Beach and 20 Mile Creek Park in North East, Shades Beach in Harborcreek, PA
  • Long Point State Park in Lake Chautauqua sits on an ancient moraine, left by a glacier. Located in Bemis point, it has a marina, hiking trails, cross country skiing trails, accessible scenic views, Fishing, Ice Fishing, and snowmobile accessible.
  • Lake Erie State Park just west of Dunkirk, NY

PRESQUE ISLE

Presque Isle is a major tourist destination in Erie, PA. There is so much to do there, one vacation is not enough. The logical place to start is with the eleven miles of beaches to choose from. From there the list just grows. And if you don’t want to pack up your outdoor gear, Presque Isle has a variety of rentals to choose from. Click here for more information.

  • Kayaking
  • Windsurfing
  • Bicycling
  • Beachcombing
  • Sunsets
  • Swimming
  • Tom Ridge Environmental Center
  • Bird Watching
  • Summer Concerts
  • Wildlife Watching (Turtles, Snowy Owls)
  • “Kite Beach” at Sunset Point
  • Trails for hiking or cross country skiing
  • Rollerblading
  • Fishing and Hunting

CHAUTAUQUA

The Chautauqua Institution community is located on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York. Each summer the 9-week season is filled with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, and recreation. More than 100,000 visitors will stay and participate in programs and events for all ages. It is a gated community filled with Victorian era “cabins” that are completely modern.

Some of the seasonal highlights are listed here. For a full schedule, click here.

  • Symphony
  • Chamber music
  • Dance
  • Visual Arts
  • Theater
  • Opera
  • Writer’s Festival
  • Sailing
  • Key Visiting Lecturers
  • Art School Programs

ITINERARIES

ONE DAY ITINERARIES – Pick and choose attractions from these itineraries, and you won’t spend all day driving.


ITINERARY ONE
Wine and Meander Drive (New York)

Drive three miles East on Route 20 (from Grape Arbor) to begin this adventure. All of the selected destinations are located near each other.

GOOGLE MAP OF DESTINATIONS AND DISTANCES #1
SIDE TRIP GOOGLE MAP
GOOGLE MAP OF DOUBLE DAB AND SUGAR SHACK

Suggested attractions:
Paschke’s Mum Farm (seasonal);
House of the Potter (fine art gallery);
Grape Discovery Center;
and in Downtown Westfield, NY,
The McClurg Museum, and Statue of Abraham Lincoln.

Wineries you will pass on or near Route 20:
Quincy Cellars;
Sensory Winery;
Johnson Estates Winery,
and Five&20 Distillery / Mazza Chautauqa Cellars.

Side trip attractions surrounding or near Westfield, NY:
Portage Hill Gallery;
Cross Roads Farm and Craft Market; and
Nass Day Lily Farm.

Finish your day with a horse ride at Double Dab Farm or a Syrup Tasting at Sugar Shack.


ITINERARY TWO
Wine and Meander Drive (Pennsylvania)

Drive to East from North East to Erie, and stop at wineries and attractions along the way. Handy links are provided to assist your vacation planning research.
GOOGLE MAP OF DESTINATIONS AND DISTANCES

Suggested attractions:
Grape Country Marketplace (Welch’s history and products and local fine art);
Look for Erie Frogs en route to downtown Erie;
Maritime Museum and Brig Niagara (both on the Bayfront);
Stop and get Chocolate covered grapes at Romolo Chocolates on 8th Street, Erie;
and visit the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.

Wineries you will pass on or near Route 20:
Courtyard Wineries,
Presque Isle Winery (get a picnic lunch),
and 6 Mile Wine Cellars (open April through November on weekends)

Finish your day with a Lake Erie Sunset at Presque Isle State Park.


ITINERARY THREE
Small Towns and Byways
GOOGLE MAP OF DESTINATIONS AND DISTANCES

Ride out of North East along five miles of the winding Route 426 as it cuts through Pennsylvania farmlands. Follow Black Road as it shoots off from 426. In a mere 1.5 miles you will encounter the picturesque Howard Eaton Reservoir. Bring a kayak, take a 3.5 miles hike around the reservoir or simply take in the beautiful countryside.

Continue on to Downtown Findley Lake to enjoy the small shops: The Candle Company, September Moon Gallery, Wonderments Wine and Gifts, and more with seasonal hours.

If it’s early enough (and the right season), you can fit in an afternoon Zip Line adventure at Peek ’n Peak.

Finish your day with a casual dinner at Z’s (downtown Findley Lake-check as hours change with the season) or Pine Junction (in the outskirts of Findley Lake – open year round).


ITINERARY FOUR – one day to several days
Chatauqua and Lilydale

Depending on your interests, both Chautauqua Institution and Lily Dale Assembly have interesting histories that began with religion and spirituality. If you are interested in an in-depth adventure, plan your trip to include classes (listed on their websites). Include time to explore the grounds of both locations as each one can take several hours.

Suggested One Day Visit to Tour the Grounds of Lily Dale and Chautauqua.
GOOGLE MAP WITH DESTINATIONS AND DISTANCES
note: Both Chautauqua and Lily Dale have entry fees during the main Summer Season. Visit their websites for dates and details.

Start early after breakfast and travel East to Lily Dale (see map) for a morning stroll on the grounds and perhaps catch an outdoor free group meditation. Between June 27 and September 2, Lily Dale has a $12 gate fee (good for 24 hours).

After you are refreshed and rejuvenated, travel to Chautauqua and have lunch at Red Line Drive Inn in Mayville.

A short drive after lunch and you are at Chautauqua Institution. Purchase an afternoon pass for $15 pp and stroll the grounds of Chautauqua from 12 noon to 8 pm. Bring your camera to stroll the beautiful grounds all afternoon. Other Chautauqua Gate Passes are available.

Finish your day with dinner at either La Fleur (if it’s Summer) or Webb’s Captain’s Table.


ITINERARY FIVE – one day
Jamestown and Bemis Point
GOOGLE MAP WITH DESTINATIONS AND DISTANCES

Jamestown and Bemis Point both sit on the shores of Lake Chautauqua and offer plenty to do.

Begin in Jamestown, NY and visit the Lucille Ball – Desi Arnaz Museum; the Jamestown Train Station; and/or the Fenton History Center & Museum.

Pick a place for lunch in Jamestown (plenty to choose from) and then head to either Jamestown Audubon Nature Center for a stroll on the grounds and to visit their resident Bald Eagle; or head to Summer Winds Cruises and spend the afternoon on Lake Chautauqua.

As the afternoon wanes, head over to Bemis Point to enjoy their shops and galleries before finishing your day with dinner at the Italian Fisherman (Summer hours) or See Zurh House.


ITINERARY SIX – one to three day
Outdoor Summer Adventures

These three outdoor adventures will each take up your entire day, so choose one, or spend three days and visit all three.

  1. Panama Rocks – Explore the beautiful outdoors and crawl around the picturesque rocks.
  2. Take in all three of Peek’n Peak’s Mountain Adventures. This includes the Aerial Adventure Course (69 obstacles in 8 different Courses), The Ultimate Bungy (combine bungy jumping and a trampoline), and their Giant Dual Ziplines (race your way down the mountain).
  3. A Kayaking Adventure at Evergreen Outfitters or at Presque Isle State Park.
“Was looking for a getaway for a fall weekend to see a little foliage, taste a little wine and relax. Grape Arbor Inn provided the perfect place as a base of operation for this part of PA and NY.”