Skip to Main Content

VisitErie Blog

Aerial Tower Winter snapsbysean

Eclipse Weekend Itinerary: Making Your Trip to Erie an Out of this World Experience

Friday Mar 1st, 2024

The start of the new year marks the countdown to one of 2024’s biggest events: the April 8 total solar eclipse! Erie County, Pa will be one of the prime viewing locations along the path of totality, and with a myriad of attractions and experiences, it’s a great place for your family to get away while witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime event. Cover photo credit: Snaps by Sean.

Use this guide to get the most out of your experience, and turn your eclipse travel into a trip.

Before You Travel:

  • Reserve Your Accommodations: Erie offers a variety of accommodations to suit each family’s needs. Campgrounds have opened early to accommodate eclipse travelers. Check out Eclipse Camp at Camp Fitch for an all-inclusive package and prime viewing along their private Lake Erie Beach. Though hotel rooms are filling quickly, there are still many rooms available at major brands in the Upper Peach Street shopping district, conveniently located along Interstate 90.
    Need some guidance? Click here for a complete list of Erie County accommodations, or call the VisitErie office at (814) 454-1000 for recommendations.
  • Determine Where You’ll Watch the Eclipse: Finding the perfect spot to see the celestial event of the decade is easy when using VisitErie’s viewing location map. There are parks, events, and attractions listed to help you choose the best place for your family, and the map is being updated frequently as information is updated. For more information on special events around Erie County click here. More event announcements are coming in early 2024.
  • Decide What to Bring: The key to an organized trip is making sure nothing you need gets left behind. Will you be viewing the eclipse in a park or open space? Don’t forget a couple of blankets, and the camp chairs in the shed. Erie weather can be unpredictable so prepare for many scenarios – bring hats and gloves, as well as sunscreen or a poncho. For more on what to bring, check out the eclipse trip planning tips blog here.
  • Make Plans to Get Eclipse Glasses: To view the eclipse safely, it’s important to have a pair of ISO-certified eclipse glasses for each person viewing. No need to purchase online – many Erie County locations will have glasses available for visitors. Country Fair convenience store locations throughout Northwest Pennsylvania will have eclipse glasses free with every purchase beginning March 1, 2024 (while supplies last). VisitErie will be providing free ISO-certified glasses on a first-come, first-served basis at no cost at the following three locations from April 5-8:

                a. The I-90 Pennsylvania Welcome Center (PA/NY border)

                b. I-79 Rest Stop near Edinboro

                c. Erie Visitor Center (Tom Ridge Environmental Center)

  • Make Reservations: Make sure to save your place for planned activities, events, and restaurants for a guaranteed great time! Restaurants will fill fast—reservations are recommended.

Friday, April 5: Arrive in Erie

  • Checking in: Traveling can be tiring, so when you arrive in Erie, head to your booked accommodations and take a moment to settle in. VisitErie has resources on site at Erie County accommodations to help you orient yourself to the region. Pick up a copy of the 2024 Erie Visitor Guide, and download the ‘Hello Erie’ App to help you map out your weekend. The app allows you to view and filter restaurants, attractions and more based on location.
  • Dinner for Every Palate: After a long day of travel, grab dinner somewhere that will satisfy everyone. The Flagship City Food Hall, located in downtown Erie, is home to nine vendors offering a wide variety of food options for every palate, including Ippa Pizza, Noodlelove and State Street Taco. Photo credit: Tim Sharkey.
Downtown 3 RESIZED credit Tim Sharkey

Saturday, April 6: Explore Classic Erie

  • Shopping and Keepsakes: Erie’s small businesses and local shopping plazas will offer a wide variety of Erie and eclipse themed mementos for you to take home and commemorate your trip. Stop by City Supply by Erie Apparel at the Shops at 5th and State for official “Ultimate Sunblock” clothing and merch. Moosehead Pottery on Upper Peach Street will have quality crafted mugs themed after the eclipse as well. Other shops with Erie mementos can be found at the Shops at The Colony, Village West Plaza and the Millcreek Mall.
  • Lunch Pit Stop: When it’s time for lunch head to Federal Hill Smokehouse on Peach Street, a popular spot for smoked meats and savory sides. Ranked as the best barbeque in the state of Pennsylvania by Food and Wine Magazine in August 2022, Federal Hill is a must visit. They are open until 3 p.m. or until they sell out, which happens frequently, so ensure you get there early for your brisket and mac and cheese.
  • Get Some Fresh Air: After a hearty lunch, stretch your legs at Erie’s most-visited and notable attraction: Presque Isle State Park! This national natural landmark is a beautiful peninsula arching into Lake Erie, and Pennsylvania’s most visited state park, offering seven miles of sandy beaches and water views on both sides of the peninsula. Presque Isle is a go-to spot for hiking and walking trails in the spring. While you’re there, search the beaches for beach glass to add to your collection. Interested in learning more? The Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) has free interactive exhibits about the park's wildlife and ecosystems, and it’s located at the entrance to Presque Isle.
  • Grab a Bite at an Erie Favorite: April 1 is practically a holiday in Erie: it’s the day that Sara’s opens. Located at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park, Sara’s is a must-stop spot in Erie for locals and visitors alike, and has been for 43 years. A drive through option is available, but it’s worth it to get out of your car and go into the diner to see the neon, retro décor from floor to ceiling and take pictures near the many photo ops. For dinner, enjoy opening weekend with the locals and try an Erie-made Smith’s footlong hotdog with a sweet vanilla and orange sherbet twist cone for dessert.
  • Don’t Miss The Sunset: Erie has sunsets you won’t soon forget. Head to Sunset Point, between Beaches 9 and 10, for unparalleled sunset views, or Beach 11 for a more private sunset experience. Keep in mind that Presque Isle is an outstanding location for viewing the sunset, but viewing the eclipse there is not advised due to anticipated traffic. For more places to take in a famous Erie sunset, click here.
Aerial PI Lighthouse Beach crispsnaps v3

Sunday, April 7: Have a Family Fun Day

  • Fuel Your Morning: Erie’s local coffee shops are the perfect start to your day. To enjoy your beverage with some furry friends, head downtown to Purrista Cat Café. Purrista is regarded for its outstanding coffee selection, and also offers pastries from several local bakers, including vegan options. Cats are located in a separate space so you can enjoy your morning caffeine while spending time with the cats, or simply watching through a window.
  • Spend the Day with Some Family Fun: Erie is well known as a destination with attractions for families of younger children. Before the eclipse, spend a day at one (or more!) of these attractions that every member of your family will enjoy.
    • Splash Lagoon is Erie’s award-winning indoor waterpark with slides and fun for the whole family. The 84-degree tropical oasis has nine dynamic waterslides, a 200,000-gallon wave pool, FlowRider surf machine, arcade, food court, and a Tiki Tree House complete with a giant tipping coconut! Splash Lagoon also features a Surf Bar, Lagoona Grill, and Ice Cream Parlor with seating on site, and is connected to a Quaker Steak & Lube.
    • The expERIEnce Children’s Museum is recently updated with three floors of attractions that allow kids to get hands-on and explore. Exhibits pay homage to the Erie Community, including “Lake Life” with its interactive water table that is the second-largest in the country. Another part of the expERIEnce Children’s Museum is a kid-sized town, known as “My Town,” where kids can take orders at a restaurant or change the oil in a car.
    • You could also head to the Erie Zoo to see 400 different animals, and view the beautiful Botanical Gardens. The Erie Zoo is a great place to spend the day, and takes approximately two hours to get through at a comfortable walk, making it just the right size for families with younger children.

Click here for more ideas for family fun.

eclipse beer 1
  • Dinner and a Drink: It’s eclipse-eve: celebrate with a locally-brewed eclipse beer at John Russell Brewing. Located on Upper Peach Street, John Russell Brewing Company. offers a menu of wood-fired pizzas, handcrafted sandwiches, and local craft beer for the adults in the family. Their Total Eclipse Schwarzbier Black Lager is a smooth, deep black lager with hints of chocolate and coffee flavors, brewed especially for Erie’s total solar eclipse.
  • Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth: Erie has various chocolatiers, local ice cream vendors, and more for an after-dinner treat. Head to Romolo Chocolates or Pulakos Chocolates to try an Erie delicacy: a light crunchy chocolate covered toffee known as sponge candy! For something cooler, Rita’s Downtown Erie has so many flavors it is hard to choose. Select an ice and custard for the best of both worlds. Don’t forget to give their eclipse flavor a try!

Monday, April 8: Today’s the Day!

  • The Total Eclipse: Find a spot at your selected event or location and enjoy the celestial event of the decade. It’s recommended to give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your viewing location, at least a couple of hours, no matter where you are viewing. While there, remember to only view the eclipse through eclipse glasses for safety and only remove them during totality. The eclipse begins at 2:02 p.m., and totality starts at 3:16 p.m.
  • Avoid the Traffic: Stick around, avoid the traffic, and spend your evening discovering excitement and the thrill of escape. Make a reservation with Covert Escape Games and put your puzzle solving skills to the test. You could also reserve a round at 5 Wits located in the Millcreek Mall to experience adventure.
Eclipse Glasses 017 October 27 2023 Resized

Tuesday, April 9: Final Day

  • Breakfast: Located just east of Erie, The Dinor at Lawrence Park is the only dinor on Pennsylvania’s Historic Register, and won a Travelers’ Choice award from Trip Advisor in 2023. This family-friendly favorite is housed in a retro dinor car, and is known for serving fresh soups, handcrafted burgers, and homemade cheesecake. Get there early – seating is limited, but the meal is well worth the wait.
  • Cheer on the Home Ball Team: The Erie SeaWolves, a Double-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, will celebrate their home opener on Tuesday, April 9! Stick around to watch the reigning Eastern League Champions open their 2024 season at UPMC Park, where you and your family can get close to the action, take pictures with C. Wolf, and enjoy classic ball park food.  
  • Cheer on the Home Hockey Team: The Erie Ottersa Major junior ice hockey team who are members of the Midwest division of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), are in the playoffs! Watch Game 6 at Erie Insurance Arena Monday night at 7 p.m. against the Kitchener Rangers. Let's go Otters!
Richmond Flying Squirrels vs Erie SeaWolves 085 Gibbens resize

Partner Spotlight

erie events spotlight

Erie Events

Erie Events manages a four facility entertainment complex that includes the Warner Theatre, Erie Insurance Arena, Bayfront Convention Center and UPMC Park. These four venues host a variety of events that include world-class entertainment, family friendly shows and sporting events.

Learn More

ASCEND Spotlight 400 x 300 1

ASCEND Erie - Climbing | Fitness | Yoga

NOW OPEN! ASCEND fosters a community-centered climbing, fitness, and yoga experience by serving individuals and groups of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Located in Downtown Erie, ASCEND welcomes Erie visitors to stop in and give climbing a try!

Learn More

Farmhouse retreat Spotlight 400 x 300

Farmhouse Retreat

Your “Home Away from Home” short term rental sleeps 8 and is in a great location close to Erie Sports Center, Splash Lagoon, shopping and restaurants, as well as Steelhead Fishing. This restored 1881 Farmhouse is located on 10 private acres. Reminisce about bygone days when life was slower and simpler. With a long driveway and large yard, kick back by the firepit, watch wildlife or enjoy a beautiful Erie sunset from the back patio.

Learn More

Two45 Web 400 x 300 px

Two45 Waterfront Grille Now Open!

Savor an exquisite waterfront dining experience at Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel, where culinary excellence meets panoramic views. This signature restaurant invites you to indulge in a delectable journey with a menu showcasing locally sourced ingredients and global inspirations while overlooking the serene waters of Lake Erie.

Learn More

Mall Image Spotlight v2

Millcreek Mall

The Millcreek Mall features more than 160 stores, restaurants, and fun for the whole family on Upper Peach Street, Erie’s most popular shopping district! Shopping in Erie means no sales tax on clothing or shoes. Choose from a variety of hotels located on the Mall property and just minutes away at the intersection of Peach Street and Interstate 90.

Learn More

Dobbins Landing Spring 2022 EB 2

Dobbins Landing

Located on the southeast shore of Lake Erie, the Port of Erie has been promoting industrial, commercial, and recreational opportunities on the waters of Lake Erie since 1959.

Learn More

Hamot Spotlight 400 x 300

UPMC Hamot - See What Makes Us Different

UPMC Hamot is a 458-bed hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, offering a full complement of inpatient and outpatient services. The hospital serves as a regional referral hub and is the only accredited trauma center in the region.

Learn More

814 photo Spotlight 400 x 300

814 Photo

Showcasing the incredible year round beauty of the City of Erie and its surrounding areas, commonly referred to as its area code "the 814". Explore some of Erie County's most breathtaking landscape photography.

Learn More

The Cork Partner Spotlight 400 x 300 1

The Cork 1794

Open for Lunch and Dinner. Get ready for an experience like no other. An atmosphere where uncommon style, comfort and service seamlessly meld. Where food and beverages are expertly crafted to be beautiful, satisfying and truly special. A place that makes every day feel like a reason to celebrate.

Learn More

mazza spotlight

Mazza Vineyards and the South Shore Wine Company

The Mazza family welcomes you to explore 3 unique locations in Lake Erie Wine Country. Sip and savor award-winning wines at Mazza Vineyards and the historic South Shore Wine Company, both located in North East, PA, and be sure to visit their combination winery, distillery and brewery, Mazza Chautauqua Cellars/Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing, in nearby Westfield, NY.

Learn More

u pick 6 spotlight

U Pick 6 Craft Beer Pubs & Restaurants

Erie’s own local craft beer pubs are a must-visit! With 4 great locations, just pick one that’s convenient for you! A casual, family friendly dining experience with something for everyone! To view our menu, check out what’s on tap, or get to directions to our pubs, learn more now!”

Learn More

Poverty Knob for web and app 400 x 300 px

Poverty Knob Farmhouse Ales

Stop by Port Farms to check out the newest addition, Poverty Knob Farmhouse Ales. We offer hand-crafted beers and delicious sharable food year-round. The brewery is family and dog friendly with both indoor and outdoor spaces. We offer games, music and entertainment for all ages!

Learn More

the cove from the cove site

The Cove Bay-Side Restaurant & Tavern

The Cove Bay-Side Restaurant & Tavern is sure to give you an unforgettable and care-free dining experience. Enjoy a nautical atmosphere with a beautiful view of Presque Isle Bay.

Learn More

Award-Winning Compassionate Care

Voted Erie’s Choice Best Hospital for eight years in a row

Just for fun!

Experience family summer fun on more than 100 great rides, slides and attractions at Waldameer!

Ante-up, Erie.

Find true action with slots, table games, sports book, and horse racing.

One stop convenience.

Fill your tank, pick up fresh food from local brands, and a six-pack to go in 40 regional locations.

Soak in the fun!

Experience 84 degrees all year at one of the top water parks in the country.

Ante-up, Erie.

Find true action with slots, table games, sports book, and horse racing.

Award-Winning Compassionate Care

Voted Erie’s Choice Best Hospital for eight years in a row

Soak in the fun!

Experience 84 degrees all year at one of the top water parks in the country.

One stop convenience.

Fill your tank, pick up fresh food from local brands, and a six-pack to go in 40 regional locations.

Just for fun!

Experience family summer fun on more than 100 great rides, slides and attractions at Waldameer!