Author Archives: Bobby Cherry

Erie PA hotels

Erie, PA, has many hotels to choose from, including the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel and the Courtyard by Marriott Erie Bayfront.

Most hotels are within a 10- or 15-minute drive to Presque Isle beaches. Many hotels are located along Peach Street near Interstate 90.

Find additional hotels listed here.

What’s new at the Erie Zoo

Erie Zoo opened March 1 for its 2023 year!

The zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Last admission is accepted at 4:15 p.m.

So, what’s new at the zoo?

  • Two African black-footed penguins arrived in February. They will be introduced to their new colony in the children’s zoo in the spring.
  • There are four primates. They’ll share Hilbert Family Primate Habitat space with the eastern black-and-white colobus monkeys.
  • Red panda brothers — Lukas and Micah — joined the zoo in the fall. They’re located in the Wild Asia area.
  • There are new ambassador animals for community events: Baby alligators and a screech owl.
  • The adorable river otters are not on display as their habitat is getting a makeover. It’s the first time the river otters’ area has been updated since 1989.
  • Plus, the zoo’s ongoing $10 million Wild Open Spaces and related construction is part of the zoo’s efforts to regain Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation.
  • And a $3 million state grant will help to build a vet clinic.

Erie Zoo will celebrate its re-grand opening on March 4 with free admission!

Fall in love with Erie: Apple picking, eerie haunts, lighthouse stories, more

From apple picking to eerie haunted events, there’s a lot to do in the fall around Erie.

Apple picking

Sceiford Quality Fruit, 11820 Middle Road, North East: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Friday to Saturday; and 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday.

Burch Farms Country Market and Winery, 9210 Sidehill Road, North East: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily.

Heagy’s Orchard, 7343 Mount Pleasant Road in Meadville: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Friday to Saturday.

Pumpkintown

Mason Farms’ Pumpkintown is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. In addition to cornstalks, gourds and pumpkins, Mason Farms’ Pumpkintown features a petting zoo, a cornstalk maze, bouncy houses and slides, and a concession stand. The event is free to enter but ride tickets can be purchased for $1.50 for individual rides or $14 for a “ride-a-rama” ticket. A season pass is available for $35. Pumpkintown is located at the Mason Farms location at 839 Peninsula Drive.

Eerie haunts

Ghost Lake at Conneaut Lake Park, 12324 Comstock St, Conneaut Lake: Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to midnight and Sundays from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.; through Oct. 30

Eeriebyss Factory of Terror, 1053 West 12th Street, Erie: Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to midnight and Sundays from 6 to 10 p.m., through Oct. 30. A two-day “mid-year fear” is set for May 26 and 27.

Eerie apparel

Pick up some eerie wear from Eerie Erie Apparel.

Fright Night at the Light

Join Lake Erie Lights of PA for a night of ghost ships, legends and lore. Fright Night at the Light will include a collection of stories about spooky history at Presque Isle and paranormal investigation findings of the Presque Isle and Erie Land Lighthouse. During the intermission, cider, beer and doughnuts will be available. Oct 21 and 22, 7 to 10 p.m. each night, at Presque Isle Lighthouse. Twenty tickets available for each night.

Erie Zoo’s ZooBoo

Check out the Erie Zoo’s ZooBoo, which is happening at the zoo on various days through Oct. 30. Various events are planned on different days. Check out the full schedule here. “ZooBoo serves as a major fundraiser for the Erie Zoo’s animal care and daily operations,” the zoo said.

Fall drinks

The Erie Times-News has a great list of many of the fall-themed drinks available around the region. Click here to read it.

Waldameer to make $7 million splash into 2023

Waldameer Park & Water World will make a big splash in 2023.

The park that sits along the Lake Erie shore near Presque Isle plans to invest between $7 million and $8 million by way of a new water slide.

Tentatively named RocketBlast, the new slide bucks traditional slides that use gravity and water to move riders downhill.

Waldameer’s addition will use water jets to blast riders uphill in some sections of the ride.

The new slide will be twice as long as any other slide at Waldameer and will intertwine riders throughout the park’s existing slides.

The slide is built by Canadian-based Proslide.

Waldameer’s slide is expected to open in May.

Why you should stay at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel

Note: A version of this review is also published as a Google review for the hotel. It has been edited for ExploreErie.com. In addition, this is not sponsored or paid — it’s my honest thoughts on the hotel.

The Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel is, hands down, my favorite Marriott property I’ve ever stayed at.

Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel

I come to Erie very regularly for weekend/extended stays to enjoy Presque Isle, etc., and I try to stay at the Sheraton as often as possible.

In fact, in the past 13 months (as of Sept. 3, 2022), I’ve had the pleasure and ability to stay in this hotel for about 34 nights.

In that time, I reached out to the staff for only one minor issue.

Every staff member I encounter is nothing but courteous and kind — from cleaning crews to maintenance workers, foodservice and guest services.

They’ve always been so great and friendly. I honestly can say I’ve never encountered an issue with the staff here and always think about how great the employee training and hiring process must be. So, hats off to the management team and White Lodging for such stellar work.

In an August 2022 stay, I was arriving late from the train and reached out ahead of time to let them know. They quickly sent me the mobile key and assured me that I’d have no issues getting to my room at such a late hour. And I had no issues.

In addition, it is the only Marriott property I’ve stayed at that successfully uses the in-app services. If I need additional towels or have a question, I use the Bonvoy app and questions/services are quickly addressed.

When friends and colleagues inquire about things to do, places to stay and where to eat in Erie, I quickly suggest the Sheraton. You could have an entire romantic getaway weekend at the Sheraton and never leave the property (or at least not venture too far).

The rooms are incredibly clean. Everything has always been in working order for me (TV, fridge, curtains, bathroom, etc).

The hotel rates are reasonable when demand is low and are high when demand is high, as one might expect.

When compared to prices at other hotels on Peach Street and considering the superior level of service and cleanliness (and the view!), there is no question the Sheraton is worth it.

A few things to keep in mind or consider when booking and staying:

  • Be kind to the staff. They are amazing. While the property certainly lives by the “Disney appearance” belief (that is, put on a great show in front of the curtain for the audience), there is no doubt they are impacted by having fewer staff members right now. Be patient and kind to them.
  • If it’s your first time, splurge for the bay view room and make sure to avoid any room ending in “02” or “04” (and maybe “24”) because the view of Erie’s Bicentennial Tower is obstructed by the building. But all bay views rooms offer a 100 percent incredible view of the bay, Presque Isle and Lake Erie (for higher floors).
  • In rooms with bathtubs, the tub area and curtain do not provide enough area for taller people or people with large arm spans. Sounds odd, but if you’re tall, you know what I mean. If you try to turn around, it could be tricky. If you can get a room with a shower only, do it.
  • Not every floor has a microwave or self-service laundry. But they’re only a few floors away if yours doesn’t have it.
  • Parking is $14 per day. I think that’s steep, especially for Erie. But we pay it because we have to. I have skipped the garage fee sometimes and parked on the street (a metered day is $10 and Sundays are free). In the winter, I prefer the garage if it’s snowing for obvious reasons.
  • The walk from the garage to the hotel is odd. There is a “tunnel” of sorts with an awning to protect guests from rain, snow and sun. It’s a long walk if you’ve got kids, are older or have a physical disability. Of course, you could do drop-offs at the main door, but, logistically, it is a bit of a pain.
  • The pool offers two hours of late-night adults-only swim. Most guests must not know this, so I’ve been lucky enough to have the whirlpool to myself. And, the pool does tend to be a little chilly. The pool area is great for reading.
  • All of the food I’ve had from the hotel is great — from the Bayfront Grille to the club lounge and room service. I do not eat meat, but friends and family who do have had nothing but praise for meat options on the menu. And the drinks! Enjoy the bar!
  • The lobby is small and can be pretty noisy and busy. It’s not a great place to hang out unless you’re waiting for others or are heading to the bar/restaurant. The lobby is gorgeous and looks so pretty when decorated for the holidays!

Anything conceived above as “negative” should not deter you from staying at the Sheraton Erie hotel.

All of that said: If you’re coming to Erie, stay at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel. You’ll love it.

Best spots to see Tall Ships Erie’s Parade of Sail

These are the best spots to watch the Parade of Sail, which begins at 4 p.m. Aug. 25.

  • Perry Monument at Presque Isle State Park. Follow signs for Tall Ships Erie parking areas.
  • East Pier at Presque Isle State Park. Follow signs for Tall Ships Erie parking areas.
  • North Pier at Presque Isle
  • Foot of Holland Street
  • Liberty Park along the Bayfront
  • Lampe Marina at the foot of the Port Access Road
  • Bayview Park near West Second and Cherry streets
  • East Avenue boat launch
  • Lakeside Recreational Area in Lawrence Park

What tall ships are in Erie, PA?

Tall Ships Erie 2022 is set for Aug. 25-28 on Erie’s Bayfront.

What tall ships will be at the festival?

The Brig Niagara’s homeport is Erie.

The Niagara is considered one of the most historically authentic tall ships in the United States. The ship is an accurate reproduction of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s flagship from the War of 1812’s Battle of Lake Erie.

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Helping to keep Presque Isle clean

Presque Isle State Park attendance jumped to almost 5 million people in each of the last two years.

With all of those visitors, unfortunately, not everybody cleans up after themselves.

It could be as simple as leaving your milkshake cup or a chips bag behind.

But with the increase in visitors comes a greater increase in people wanting to keep Presque Isle clean.

Jeff McCullor, the co-founder of Erie Ale Works, organized a recent cleanup.

“The beach over the summer takes a pounding from just a lot of heavy traffic use and we feel like it’s an important asset to the community and we just want to keep it that way,” McCullor told Erie News Now.

What are beachgoers littering Presque Isle with?

“The biggest item that we see are cigarette butts and just plastics of any sort. It’s plastic stuff like plastic bottles, plastic bottle rings, the caps — things that people may not be aware that are leaving behind,” McCullor told the television news station.

You, too, can take part in cleaning up Presque Isle.

How?

  • If you’re a visitor, be sure to take everything you brought back with you.
  • Place trash in the proper bins located throughout the park.
  • It’s usually windy at Presque Isle. So, use rocks or other heavy items to keep items in place.
  • Be alert of children with plastics, food wrappers, drink containers, toys, etc.
  • Try to pack using reusable containers that often are heavier than plastics.
  • Bring a bag with you to clean up other people’s messes. Don’t just walk over the trash, pick it up.

Remember: Leave Presque Isle better than you found it.