7 Field Trip Ideas In Erie, PA

Planning and preparing for your school’s next field trip can be challenging, but Port Farms, your go-to location for educational field trips, is making it easier! From exploring state parks and museums to visiting farms and zoos, we’ve listed seven locations you can check out for your next field trip in Erie, PA!

1. ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum

Located in the historic cultural district of downtown Erie, Erie’s expERIEnce Children’s Museum is an excellent place for kindergarten to five grade students to explore and develop their creative sides. The museum is packed with a myriad of activities that will keep the children engaged in learning and thoroughly entertained.

The museum has four floors to explore: the Explore Floor, Imagination Floor, the outdoor Discovery Corner, and the Ronald McDonald House Charities Creativity Floor. They also have a whopping 50 activities for your students. Investigate artifacts, study cave drawings, play doctor, and even learn about air pressure and wind resistance.

Tom Ridge Environmental Center
Photo courtesy of the TREC Foundation.

2. Presque Isle State Park/Tom Ridge Environmental Center

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) holds several education programs and opportunities for those of all ages, such as (the):

  • DiscoverE Program
  • Pennsylvania Envirothon
  • Think Outside Program
  • Pennsylvania Project Learning Tree
  • Wildlife Education
  • Water Education
  • Geology Education
  • Recreational Skills
  • Land Conservation and Stewardship

Presque Isle State Park, part of the DCNR, is a 3,200-acre peninsula and National Natural Landmark. The size of the park allows for many of the state’s endangered, threatened, and rare species to thrive, which, in turn, presents a myriad of observation and learning opportunities! Specifically, Presque Isle State Park hosts hands-on activities, guided walks, and evening programs. Additionally, the park is open every day of the year from 5:00 AM to sundown.

If you’re searching for an indoor field trip near Presque Isle, visit the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, a 65,000 square-foot facility that showcases the park’s diverse ecosystems!

3. Port Farms

If you’re looking for a source of outdoor education, take a ride out to Port Farms! Established in 1897, the farm has become so much more than your go-to source of local produce. Whether you’re an educator planning your class’s next field trip or a parent or guardian homeschooling your children, Port Farms has many activities that will teach and inspire! At our outdoor learning farm, children can:

  • Learn Spookley the Square Pumpkin’s story as they take a self-guided walk through the Spookley kids corn walk maze
  • Pick their special pumpkin from the school tour kids pumpkin area
  • Take pictures with our air-inflated Spookley
  • Enjoy a great day with the class in a beautiful fall setting

We even provide a lesson plan ahead of time. If you’d like to schedule a visit to the farm, fill out the form on our website, call us at 814-796-4500 x247, or email kelly@portfarms.com!

Yahn Planetarium at Penn State Behrend college.
Photo courtesy of Penn State Behrend.

4. Yahn Planetarium

Good news: you don’t need expensive telescopes to explore space! From current events in astronomy and space science to a view of the night sky, the Yahn Planetarium at the Penn State Behrend campus provides a plethora of opportunities for those of all ages to learn more about the universe. Although closed temporarily due to COVID-19, the planetarium now offers educational virtual visits.

What’s more, schools can receive free admission during the regular school year (fall to spring)! Whether you’re a parent, guardian, educator, or youth group coordinator, you can choose from 18 different programs that address myths and misconceptions, facts, stories, and more about the universe beyond earth!

5. Erie Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Whether you opt for a guided or virtual tour, the Erie Zoo presents many educational opportunities for you and your students. From discussing the role of zoos in conservation and the intricacy of their breeding programs to observing the behaviors of the animals in the zoo, there is so much to learn! If these programs don’t work in your curriculum, there’s no need to worry: the zoo’s staff will tailor a tour to suit your educational needs upon request!

To schedule a field trip or school tour, visit their website, call Kim at (814) 864-4091 x247, or email kbowes@eriezoo.org!

ReLeaf planting session
Photo courtesy of ReLeaf.

6. Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier (LEAF)

The Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park (LEAF) is a nonprofit partner for Frontier Park that plants trees and seeks to generate environmental awareness. Although the park’s events and attractions are currently paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the park is still open to visitors! There are also rental opportunities for the outdoor amphitheater and education center. Students can learn about the various types of trees, problem-solve to explore a labyrinth, and witness the 3rd green roof in Erie County in action!

ReLeaf, LEAF’s volunteer-based tree-planting initiative, is also still active and worth checking out! Find out more about how you and your students can participate in adopting a tree and making the planet greener with LEAF!

7. Erie County Public Library

You can’t go wrong with choosing a library for a field trip! On top of being free to access, libraries provide an endless amount of knowledge to digest. From rows and columns of books to computers and DVDs, there is something for everyone. The third floor of the library, known as the Mead Children’s Library, offers storytimes, hands-on STEM workshops, art classes, and plenty of special events for learning!

Contact Outreach Services to plan a general or research tour, consult the events calendar, or call 920-459-3400, ext. 3!

Educational Fun for All

Field trips should be exciting for students of all ages, which is why Port Farms, your go-to source for making learning fun, has over 37 attractions and programs that touch upon several PA academic standards! Advanced registration is required, and the tours end in late October, so hurry and book your school tour today!

14 Things To Do In Erie, PA

From breweries and beaches to water parks and family farms, this lakeside city has more to offer than most people know. Whether you’re here to find some family fun, party with your friends, or a mix of both, Port Farms is highlighting 14 things to do in Erie, PA.

1. Presque Isle State Park

Soak up some sun, hike some trails, catch some fish, or get some good eats—Presque Isle State Park has just about everything. Established in 1921, Presque Isle is a 3,200-acre peninsula with beautiful beaches, scenic lagoons, and lush forests.

With all of these features, more than 4 million people visit Presque Isle every year (Fun fact: that’s more visitors than Yellowstone National Park!). If you’re heading to the “PI,” here are a few must-dos:

If you’re visiting in the winter, be sure to visit the Tom Ridge Environmental Center Foundation website for more ideas. They have information on hunting, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and more!

2. Tom Ridge Environmental Center

The Tom Ridge Environmental Center during the day.
Photo courtesy of the TRECF.

Speaking of the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC)—If you wanted to go to the Presque Isle, but the weather didn’t hold up, pop into the TREC to still get a taste of the peninsula!

The center combines hands-on interactive exhibits, educational programming, conservation efforts, and indoor and outdoor trails to create an engaging experience for those interested in science and earth education. It also provides educational resources for teachers who wish to incorporate environmental education into their teaching curriculums.

3. Waldameer Park & Water World

If you and your family enjoy a little adrenaline rush, then you should consider visiting Waldameer Park & Water World. The amusement park has over 100 rides, slides, and attractions for kids of all ages. Waldameer is also home to the Ravine Flyer II, the 8th Best Wooden Coaster in the World!

Not feeling the rides but still want to take the kids? Waldameer offers free admission into the amusement park

After your day of wicked fast rides, wet and wild water slides, and action-packed arcade games, be sure to grab some grub from their 17 food stands. The funnel cake is a rollercoaster for your taste buds!

4. Erie Zoo & Botanical Gardens

A zookeeper at the Erie Zoo interacting with the animals.
Photo courtesy of the Erie Zoo on Facebook.

The Erie Zoo is a classic pitstop for any family. It only takes a couple of hours to walk through, and you’ll see nearly 400 animals and 11 breathtaking botanical gardens. The zoo includes some crowd favorites such as African Lions, Amur Leopards, Southern White Rhinos, and Eastern Gray Kangaroos.

Complete your trip to the Erie Zoo with relaxing rides on the Safariland Train and Wildlife Carousel. If you have time, be sure to drop into the Gift Shop for someone plush, toys, and souvenirs!

5. Erie Art Museum

Museums are an excellent place for learning more about a location’s rich history. The Erie Art Museum, one of Erie’s landmarks, is located right in the heart of downtown Erie and has been inspiring visitors since 1949. With over 7,000 square feet of gallery space, the Erie art museum showcases some of the city’s finest collections. These collections include local, regional, and traveling artists’ work.

The Erie Art Museum also exhibits stoneware pottery, paintings, and metal sculptures. If you want to be more of a creator than an observer, the museum also offers workshops to teach people how to make their own art.

6. ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum

Two children playing doctor at the Erie Children's Museum.
Photo courtesy of the Erie Children’s Museum.

Bringing your kids to Erie on vacation but don’t know where to begin? Try the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum! While the museum is geared towards children, it doesn’t mean adults won’t have fun too! The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM and Sunday from 1 PM to 5 PM, and admission is just $8 per person (children two years old and under are free).

ExpERIEnce features over 25 hands-on exhibitions and various programs for children of all ages. With three floors of fun and an outdoor classroom, there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about math, science, art, culture, literacy, and wellness.

7. Presque Isle Downs & Casino

If you’re looking for a night of live entertainment and want to win big, Presque Isle Downs & Casino should be on your list! Since opening over 20 years ago, Presque Isle Downs has become a staple in Erie’s entertainment scene. Attracting people from all around Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, many have traveled to enjoy live horse races and gaming options featuring hundreds of slot machines.

Today, Presque Isle Downs & Casino is recognized as one of Pennsylvania’s best gambling destinations. The casino has more than 30 table games, including Blackjack, Roulette, and Craps; 7 poker tables; 50 sports betting kiosks; 1,500 video reel slots; live horse racing; and entertainment every night of the week.

8. Port Farms

Sunflower field at Port Farms's Flower Festival.

Port Farms is one of your go-to sources for family fun in Erie, PA. Established in 1897, we’ve become so much more than a pumpkin patch and source of local produce. From concerts and corporate events to weddings and seasonal festivities, there’s always something happening on the farm!

In addition to our seasonal event passes, we offer general admission to the public that includes access to over 37 attractions! In addition to our attractions, we regularly hold seasonal events for people of all ages, such as:

9. Erie Playhouse

What better way to end a romantic dinner date than with a show? Founded in 1916, the Erie Playhouse is one of the oldest community theatres in the United States. The Erie Playhouse has been home to various types of productions in its early years, including drama, comedy, and vaudeville shows.

However, throughout its history as a live performance venue, there have been many changes to how it operates, including community outreach initiatives and arts education. In fact, Strand Theater, a former movie house, was once at its current location.

Today, the Playhouse hosts all sorts of events, from ballet to musicals to plays! With over 12,000 square feet available, the theater can accommodate up to nearly 500 people. Make sure to check out their schedule for upcoming shows and events!

10. Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park

Children playing in the water at Splash Lagoon.
Photo courtesy of Splash Lagoon.

From pools and slides to arcade games and surf machines, there are many different attractions that Splash Lagoon has to offer. But people come to Splash Lagoon for more than just the fun and games! Splash Lagoon is an 80,000 square foot Polynesian-themed indoor water park composed of slides and games for families with young children.

If you’re interested in water park fun but want to stay indoors, plan a visit to Splash Lagoon! You can even ditch the admission lines and long wait times with Splash Lagoon’s super simple check-in process.

11. Lake Erie Speedway

Ready to put the pedal to the metal? Look no further than the Lake Erie Speedway! Built in 2002, the speedway is a racetrack located in Erie County, Pennsylvania. The track hosts both stock car and motorcycle racing events throughout the year, as well as monster truck rallies, with most of them occurring during the summer months.

In addition to hosting these types of competitions at speeds up to 150 mph, other activities take place at the speedway like camping, wine tours, and miniature golf! With so many different ways to have fun after an event—or if you get bored while waiting for one to start—there’s no reason not to take advantage of the events held at Lake Erie Speedway!

12. Erie County Historical Society

Erie's Hagen History Center / Erie County Historical Society.
Photo courtesy of Erie History.

Yet another significant museum showcasing Erie’s history, the Erie County Historical Society at the Hagen History Center, includes over 40,000 artifacts and objects that citizens of the county donated. The exhibit takes up six floors, displaying different aspects of life from decades past: farmlands to railroads; industry to education; military affairs to public works projects like roads and bridges.

The Historical Society is an independent nonprofit organization that maintains archival materials related to Erie County’s past: photographs, paintings, maps, scrapbooks, and more than 150 years’ worth of local newspapers from across Pennsylvania. If you want to learn everything you can about Erie’s history, this is the place to visit.

13. Erie Maritime Museum

Located near a plethora of bars and restaurants, the Erie Maritime Museum is a nautical museum with displays that feature the history of Great Lakes sailing freighters and steam-powered tugboats. The museum is perfect if you’re looking for something free and educational to do or need an activity to wait out the rain one afternoon.

First established in 1998, the museum also serves as a port for the recreated model of the U.S. Brig Niagara, a ship used in the War of 1812. The museum features exhibits regarding other types of watercraft, including canoes, kayaks, rowboats, motorboats, and model ships and shipbuilding techniques.

14. Breweries

Photo courtesy of the Erie Brewing Co.

Erie, PA is becoming a go-to location for craft beer lovers. With over a dozen breweries, you can make a whole day out trying this lakeside city’s finest brews. If you want an ever-growing list of breweries, check out the Lake Erie Ale Trail site.

Many breweries have implemented new ideas into their beers, making them popular among people who want to experiment with different brews, like:

  • Using non-traditional ingredients
  • Decreasing water content
  • Increasing nutritional value and alcohol by volume (ABV) content

Visiting Erie, PA

If you live near Erie, PA, or are visiting soon, be sure not to miss out on these gems in the Gem City! With plenty of beautiful parks, lakeside trails, museums, theaters, and other attractions, this city has something for everyone. If you’re ready to dive into your next Erie activity, head on out to Port Farms to kickoff vacation or your weekend!