If you’ve ever been to Erie’s waterfront or Presque Isle State Park, it’s likely that you’ve seen the Erie Bicentennial Tower standing tall above the city’s skyline.
Built in 1996 to commemorate the city’s bicentennial, the tower stands nearly 200-feet tall, making it one of the tallest structures in Erie. Because of its impressive height (relative to the rest of the city), Erie’s Bicentennial Tower offers an amazing view over the city and surrounding area.
I had the chance to visit on a fairly clear day this past spring. After a quick stop inside the gift shop on the lowest floor to get my ticket, I headed toward the elevator and was whisked to the tower’s observation deck in just a few short seconds.
As soon as the doors opened, I knew I was in for a treat as I had the entirety of Erie laying out before me. As a first-time visitor to the Flagship City, this provided me with a great opportunity to get my bearings for the rest of my visit.
Then I turned around.
While downtown Erie is worth checking out, visitors to Erie come, just as I had, to see Lake Erie and Presque Isle, the most-visited state park in Pennsylvania. Despite being the snowiest city in America, Erie’s Presque Isle State Park is home to 13 amazing beaches and many other great outdoor activities worth checking out during any season.
Now, standing 140 feet above the lake below, I had the entirety of Presque Isle laid out before me. The beauty of the isle and the shimmering lake were simply breathtaking.
It was a while before I was able to take my eyes off the gorgeous scene in front of me to continue looking around the tower. As with any high observation point, visiting on a clear day is a must. If you do, it’s possible to see all the way to Long Point in Ontario, Canada, 27 miles away.
Aside from the stunning views of the lake and city, Erie’s Bicentennial Tower is also a great place to learn about the history of the city. Several historical signs are placed around the tower that gives a great overview of what you can see from the tower, and, more interestingly, what used to be there.
It’s worth noting, however, that those nervous about heights might want to think twice before visiting. While the tower isn’t very tall, the observation platform is outside, and the slight swaying of the tower can take a few minutes to get used to.
However, I would definitely recommend going to the top of Erie’s Bicentennial Tower. It may not be as impressive as some observation decks around the world, but it’s tall enough to provide a great overview of the city for both first-time visitors and long-term residents alike.
Note: My visit to Erie’s Bicentennial Tower was hosted by Visit Erie. However, the opinions expressed in this article are my own.
Want to see more great spots in Erie? Check out Presque Isle Lighthouse, Presque Isle Boat Tours, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, and Scallywags Pirate Adventures.
Hours: Vary. See website.
Cost: Adults: $6, Children: $2
Address: West Dobbins Landing