Plan a Summer of FREE Erie Fun: 20 Ideas, All Updated for 2024!

There's lots of ways to have fun in Erie this summer, without spending a penny!

By Kara Murphy | Macaroni KID Erie May 30, 2024

Looking for cheap summer fun in Erie? Check out our 20 ideas for completely FREE summer fun in Erie!

This list has been updated for 2024.

1. See if you can spy Canada from the top of the Bicentennial Tower 

The Bicentennial Tower is FREE the first Tuesday of each month. This year those dates are:

2. Celebrate at Erie's fairs and festivals

If you like fairs and festivals then Erie is the place for you! You can find it all, from large events like CelebrateErie and the Crawford County Fair to small-town traditional events like Dan Rice Days and the North East Fire Department Cherry Festival. Each of Erie's fairs and festivals is unique and so much fun in their own way and most are FREE admission! See dates of 2024 fairs and festivals here.

3. Watch an outdoor movie

See FREE movies outdoors at Goodell Gardens, Edinboro University, and Perry Square this summer, and cheap movies at UPMC Park! The list includes Barbie, Grease and many more! See the full 2024 lineup here. 

4. Explore the lagoons, by pontoon 

Enjoy a FREE pontoon boat ride Friday, Saturday and Sundays at Presque Isle, a great way to explore the lagoons, wetlands and ponds on the interior of Presque Isle. More information here.

5. Get wet at Erie's splash pad

Bayview Park's splash pad is FREE for families to use all summer long! The splash pad is located at West Second and Walnut streets.

6. Spend the day at the beach 

You can't go wrong with a visit to one of Presque Isle's beaches to go swimming, build a sand castle, or just go for a walk. And it's the best price: Completely FREE!

7. Splish splash in an Erie creek 

There are so many places for kids to splash in creeks in the Erie area. We compiled a list of our top five favorite creeks to visit in the Erie area. Whether you want to watch from shore or head off for a family adventure to find a waterfall ... visits to all these creeks are completely free!

8. Learn and play at the Tom Ridge Center

The Tom Ridge Center, located near the entrance of Presque Isle, is a free educational facility designed to educate visitors about Erie's peninsula and the wildlife that inhabits it. There's also a nature playground on the property to explore!

9. Take a selfie with Erie's most unique yard art

Kids will be thrilled at the oversized yard art at Schaefer's Auto Art, which you can see between sunup and sundown daily at 3705 Hershey Road. It's free to visit. Parking is available in the pull-off area on the side of the road. Please do not park in their driveway. You can also see ginormous handmade dinosaurs in the 700 block of Bartlett Road!

10. Visit the library

Head to any (or all!) of  Erie County's five library branches to find oodles of books to keep you and your kids entertained this summer. There are also regular events held at the branches, from storytimes to worm races — find all the details on Macaroni KID Erie's event calendar!

11. Have a geocaching adventure

My kids love geocaching, and it's a great way to get them outside and exploring new spaces. At last look there were more than 1,400 geocaches hidden in Erie. How many can you find? Get the list and start exploring here!

12. Catch a fish

It's free for kids under 16 to free in the state of Pennsylvania, and you can borrow fishing poles and bait boxes FREE at Blasco Library with a library card! Stop at the front desk. 

There are also select free fishing days for ALL in Pennsylvania and in nearby New York. The remaining fish for free days in Pennsylvania is July 4. In New York, fish for free days in 2024 are June 29 to 30, September 28, and November 11. Get more info here. 

13. Enjoy live music

There's live music — for free — nearly every evening in the summer months, with concerts held — just to start — at Goodell Gardens, Asbury Woods, Presque Isle, Perry Square and Liberty Park. Find Erie's 2024 free summer concert series lineup here.

14. Take a hike!

Goodell Gardens, Asbury Woods, Scott Park, Erie Bluffs State Park...there are so many great places to go hiking in Erie County. Get out and explore!

15. Go on a mural hunt

There are murals popping up all over Erie County, seemingly on a weekly basis in the summer! Here is a list of mural locations, though it doesn't reflect the newest murals in the city. 

16. Ride around Presque Isle

We do the ride around Presque Isle at least once a summer. It's about 13 miles but so flat that even little riders can do it — and feel very accomplished after!

17. Tour Erie Land Lighthouse

The Erie Land Lighthouse is open for free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month, and — new this year! — is open for pay-what-you-wish on the second Saturday of each month. Kids must be 44 inches high to climb. Dates for 2024:

18. Visit a playground

There are so many great playgrounds in Erie County. Here are 12 of our favorites! 

Playground Paradise in Greene Township.

19. Visit Goodell Gardens

Goodell Gardens is FREE to visit. Bring a picnic, walk the trails, and relax on the gorgeous grounds of the Edinboro arboretum.  A great place for kids! 

20. Check out the Macaroni KID Erie calendar!

We have all the FREE summer events we can find on our Macaroni KID Erie events calendar, which is always free to check out!