Bike trails, shade, lighthouses and sprawling beaches that wrap the entire park offer lots of opportunity for relaxing outdoor fun.
Presque Isle State Park located in Erie,PA is an ideal location to get close to the water for those of us not living near the ocean. With plenty of coastline, this park offers more than enough beach for everyone, a 13.5 mile loop trail throughout the park, Perry monument, lighthouses and kayaking and canoeing for those who want to explore via the water.
The park is pretty easy to navigate, as there are only a couple of roads and they intermittently turn into one-way roads and eventually loop you back to the front. There are signs throughout as well, so even if you get lost, its easy to find your way back! If you want to stop and see Perry monument, continue on the main road and it will bring you right to it. Here you will find a picnic area, boat tour and restrooms. And of course, the monument.
Prior to our visit we had read that the turtles were a must-see… yet, also slightly difficult to find! These little guys are best viewed from the water, so if you’re kayaking you can get fairly close. However if you decide to stay on land, there is a viewing area at Graveyard Pond where you can watch them sunbathing on the logs. After you pass Perry monument at Misery Bay, continue on the main road over the bridge and it will take you to the Lagoon Picnic Area. The parking lot is fairly small as is the viewing area, so be prepared for crowds in the summer and on weekends if you want to visit the turtles. As I mentioned before, you can kayak here, and the next parking lot over is where you can rent one if needed.
If turtles aren’t your thing and you’re not interested in water sports, head back to the main part of the park. Here you can rent a bike (or better yet bring your own!) and check out the 13.5 trail. Its pretty well shaded and is a great way to get some exercise and see the park whether you want to ride a bike, inline skate or just walk!
The beaches are the main draw of this park (of course!) and there are plenty to choose from! Whether you’re looking for beach volleyball, beach glass combing, flying kites or a secluded sandy spot to enjoy a good book with your toes in the sand, you’re sure to find a great spot here. You can read more about the beaches and what they have to offer here. Our favorite beaches? We tend to gravitate more toward the less crowded beaches so we love the Mill Road beaches, however they’re all beautiful and well worth a visit!
No visit to Presque Isle would be complete without checking out the lighthouses. While the Presque Isle Lighthouse is beautiful and very easy to find, with signs directing you to it, the North Pierhead Lighthouse is a little more hidden and most people tend to miss it. If you pass beach 11 and continue on that road, you will come across some (adorable!) little floating homes. Continue on after you see these and the road will take you right to the lighthouse. Many people come here to fish, but there’s also a small sandy section where you can just relax and take it all in.
Where to Eat
There is a diner at the entrance to the park, but our recommendation would be just pack a picnic! You will want to stay all day as there are a lot of trails and if you rent/ bring a bike that will take up the time that you aren’t at the beach.
If you are interested in the snazzy little diner it’s called Sara’s and Sally’s. Apparently its a pretty popular place and when we went for dinner, it was packed. Typical diner food, burgers, hot dogs, fries, onion rings, etc but its a fun 50’s atmosphere and they have some amazing milkshakes. Or if you’re just looking for a snack, they have ice cream cones as well. Yum.
There are concession stands within the park, but I don’t really recommend them. The prices are high and the quality of the food is below average.
If diner food isn’t your favorite, check out Pineapple Eddie Southern Bistro. While Pineapple Eddies Southern Bistro isn’t right next to the park, it is close enough that you’ll be glad you stopped if you’re hungry or set for a long drive home. |TRAVEL TIPS| Trail Map Beaches Map
Upon entering the park…Just follow the road- it loops the whole isle.
Start at the west side of the island on the Fox Trail to see the Presque Isle Lighthouse
Drive or Bike north towards the North Pier Trail to see the lighthouse on the east side
Drive or Bike south towards Graveyard Pond Trail to see the Perry Monument
Finish your hiking with Long Pond Trail on your way back towards the mainland
Stop at Sara and Sally’s which sets right outside the park entrance for dinner