The kids woke up this morning and I dropped the good news on them like whip cream and cherries topping out ice cream, “we are going to the beach!”. Excitedly, each child cheered, asked what they had to do to help get us there and off we went. We hurriedly packed up our beach bags, towels and snacks and took off. We were headed to Beach #11 as the plan was, however, big changes were in store for us. In my past life I had attended for a brief period of time, a college in Erie, and after a few weeks, decided it was definitely the wrong fit for me and rapidly changed to a different college. While I was at this college in Erie, I got to enjoy much of the surroundings and the lake that was nearby was one of them. Personally, I had not ventured there in quite a while, but I thought the kids needed a quick day adventure and the frugality of fun was just about to begin! Free fabulous fun by visiting a beach, walking on the trails, seeing lighthouses, and picnicking were about to make a great day for my family. We were headed to the Peninsula for a true adventure that would begin driving and end in the water!
We actually arrived at Erie, Presque Isle 2 hours after packing up so the journey was quick and thanks to GPS, we got there, not ONSTAR, because that would have had us driving in circles for hours! We stopped at the GetGo to grab a quick lunch, for 2 reasons: 1) Gas rewards that my husband uses, as we accumulate, since I use a different store and 2) my son has allergies and the food at GetGo is a safe stop! Once we got our food and our fuel bonus points we moved on to the beach which was just a few miles down the road. It was suggested that Beach #7 was probably better if we like people and a bit of craziness, so we chucked my original plan for Beach #11 and took off to Beach #7. I kind of found it amazing that these tiny little signs along the way were all that indicated when to turn for the beach, not much of a turn signal possibility either. It was kind as if, Presque Isle figured every visitor had been there before because the turn-offs to the beaches were just marked on the turn, not ahead of it. We parked and got situated, trying to figure the lay of the land.
The kids were super excited to see the beach, I was a bit hesitant because the wind was really kicking up the sand and the waves and water were a bit choppier than I had anticipated. The more the wind whipped and the more the sand was moving, the easier the decision became, good-bye Beach #7.
I decided to pack the kids back up and off we went seeking Beach #11, which was actually quite a bit further into the peninsula, but I continued on, actually at one point I thought were lost, but I kept driving. Finally, we saw the sign, and I drove past it(because it just is marked right at the turn with no warning) and found somewhere to turn around. We turned around and drove back. As we entered the lot, we could hear music playing and of course I thought this was going to be perfect. We got to the beach, placed the towels down and what we had discovered was a little inlet of water, absolutely no wind, and NO waves. An area almost smaller than a baby playpen(ok a slight exaggeration) that the kids were able to swim in and a lifeguard apologizing for it. The beach itself was dirty, and the kids were grossed out at what looked like a bit of ‘poo’ on the beach and a few other kids were jabbering about it too, so we packed up and left!
Frugal fun, not so far and the day was moving along! I hardly wanted to stay where the droppings were and where there was no real ability to swim, so off to try the next beach! At this point, I was kind of losing it because with three kids in tow, and now 3+ hours in the car, it was becoming a long day! I decided we would head back to the original beach and suck it up, but, just as we drove out of Beach #11 we ran into a sign that said, “Beach#10” and this beach had it all right! There was a concession stand, like Beach #11, there was music, and there were waves, without a ton of wind. The area to swim in was huge and there were lots of families, and a few lifeguards! Finally, not too windy, not too small, Just Frugally Right! We set up camp and for the next few hours the kids played in the stand, swam in the waves, walked on the shoreline and had a magnificent afternoon.
What I loved about this location is that there was a shower to clean off the sand and debris after the day at the beach, as well as a changing area. There was a decent size lot and the beach actually was a decent size which made walking possible. The waves were perfect and there were a lot of other families. The other beaches did not have the same environment. We did not find a shower at #7, nor at #11. #11 had a concession stand and a bathroom, and #7 had a bathroom, a picnic area and a place to rent bicycles.
If you are planning a trip there, know that you can bike endlessly, or walk trails and it is perfectly flat, something that we Pittsburgher’s are unfamiliar with… flat terrain. In addition, you can rent bicycles for one or many. We saw a lot of people kayaking, skating, and picnicking. It is a very perfect area for a family that wants to get out there and enjoy. There are picnic areas, benches and rest areas all over the place so you don’t have to worry and there are even a lot of water fountains. We walked, swam and did a lot of other things on our day, but most importantly we spent family time together.
Town has a few great diners, and a mini-amusement park, with a roller coaster that crosses above your head in a closed bridge as you are driving. In addition, if you are a waterpark person, there is also a water park. We did not have time to visit the water park, but it was packed with people, so I am sure it was fun as well. There are a lot of fast food places to drive through ranging from McDonald’s to Little Caesars and everything in between. If you are looking for sit down eats, drive more towards the peninsula and you will find a great diner with drive through services. It’s red and white and has a small red car in front.
Would we do this trip again? Only because of Beach #10 would I go back. The beach itself was a lot of fun, but after 4:30P it really gets quiet and everyone leaves. We also noted that the beaches were not open until 12N, or probably staffed with lifeguards. It was a really nice day, not too far away and if you can find yourself at Beach #10, you might really have a great time!