Every visit to Erie offers a fresh way to explore the vibrant, ever-changing lakefront destination. Check out must-see exhibits at museums including Hagen History Center, or climb away the day at ASCEND Erie. 

Hagen History Center
It’s not a replica. The field office where Frank Lloyd Wright worked in San Francisco had been dismantled, crated and stored since its closing in the early 1980s. The famed architect perched at a drafting table and bantered with colleagues in the space from 1951 until his passing in 1959. 

You can follow his steps — see, touch, experience — in the reassembled, authentic office at Hagen History Center. 

“It’s the real deal,” says Pam Parker, project manager, relating that many visitors assume the exhibit is a copy. 

“This is the first time people have been able to walk through it since it was a working office.”

Check out these authentic artifacts and features in Frank Lloyd Wright’s San Francisco office display. 

See the skyline. “A real showstopper is when you walk in the office and look out the windows, where you will see duplicated views of San Francisco,” says Parker, adding that the windows are exactly like those he had designed for many homes.

Angle up: Wright’s designs are known for 120-degree angles to expand the feel of small spaces. Walls typically rise part way up and include screens of vertical louvers and glass vs. solid wood or plaster. You’ll experience this design in his office at Hagen History Center.

Curtain call: One of Wright’s colleagues was married to a doctor whose pastime was weaving. She handmade the curtains found in the office. “It’s these little touches that make the exhibit so special,” Parker relates.

Well composed: Spot a music box that plays music composed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s wife. 

Business as usual: Photographs throughout the space depict casual meetings, office parties and completed projects. “These photos were taken off the walls of his office,” Parker notes.

Historical Views at Presque Isle
For a different type of climb, tour the Presque Isle Lighthouse all summer, Memorial Day through Labor Day, with tours every 20 minutes daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check out the grounds and gift shop for free, but for $8 you can take a tower tour, climb to the top and take in vantage points. 

Looking for the best family-friendly beaches at Presque Isle? Christine Temple at VisitErie suggests Beach 11 because it is protected by the Presque Isle Bay as the most sheltered swimming space with shallow waters and a playground on site. Beach 7’s playground is the most upgraded, she adds.

ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum
In the midst of a three-phase, $18 million development project, the children’s museum last summer opened its brand-new space, and this July will unveil Phase 2 — a complete overhaul of the original museum. 

Olivia Wickline, who heads up community relations, shares some highlights of this second phase, which extends the age-group offering to 14 years, offering more fun for everyone.

Smart Studio Gallery: Aside from an open studio for making, this tech-equipped gallery includes a Mini Masterpiece exhibit where you can paint your own Picasso and a Stop Animation Studio for creating videos. Classrooms will allow for events, programs and parties.

Tinkering Tank: “This is all things invention,” Wickline says. Make your own and deliver a “pitch.” Cabinets will showcase Erie-born and Pennsylvania inventions and patents. A Testing Station gallery allows young guests to build airplanes and rockets and shoot them off in a batting cage-like lab. 

Recycling Gallery: Uncovering the components of reduce-reuse-recycle, this space breaks down the process as illustrated by simple machines that sort, shred and so on. The showpiece is an Erie Rube Goldberg working mural that includes fun facts aligned in a cause-and-effect way.

Waldameer Water World
Part water slide, part coaster, completely exhilarating. Waldameer Water World unveiled Rocket Blast last July. If you missed the thrill, pencil this 60-foot tall and 800-foot-long attraction into the summer mix. It’s the largest attraction at Water World, featuring four-person rafts, uphill speed boosters, twists and turns.

With 25,000 square feet of lead climbing, top-roping and auto-belay walls, you’ll find bouldering terrain indoors at ASCEND Erie, which opened in November 2023. You don’t have to be a pro. The venue suits all types of climbers.