Other than time my time attending Penn State and one summer in Manhattan, I have been a resident of Erie County my entire life. Often criticized, Erie has the ability to grow on a person despite the fact that it is hardly a metropolitan area. If all goes according to plan the misses and I shall be moving out of Erie within the next couple of weeks. Although we are looking forward to leaving Erie, there are several reasons why we will miss northwestern Pennsylvania.
Once summer comes around there is nothing I will miss more than Lake Erie. Something many natives of the region take for granted, Lake Erie is a great place for a weekend getaway, a picnic, or gazing at a breathtaking sunset. Taking a boat out on a sunny day is another activity I love to do, mainly because Lake Erie is so large. There are beaches all along the lake, all the way to both the Ohio and New York state borders. The most known of the beaches are found at Presque Isle State Park. Presque Isle has numerous bike paths, as well as walking paths that cut through the forests. It also doesn’t hurt that Presque Isle is known to have some of the most beautiful sunsets in the entire country.
Residents of Erie love their sports. Although the city does not have any major professional teams, Erie is the home of a couple minor league franchises. The Sea Wolves are a Double A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and have actually had many alumni play in the major leagues. The Otters of the Ontario Hockey League have also seen many of its graduates advance to the next level. Watching the stars of tomorrow develop before your eyes is not the only attraction of watching these franchises. Ticket prices to these games are a half of what you’ll pay to see the pros, making games affordable for families. Then there’s “buck night on Mondays,” during the summer. Tickets to the game are only a dollar, as well as hot dogs and beer. Beer for a dollar? Can’t beat that.
Erie’s proximity to larger cities is great for the sports fan for several reasons. Depending on where a person wishes to travel, Erie is anywhere from a one to three hour drive away from Buffalo, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. All three of these cities have professional sports teams, so watching a game in person is a short drive away. If you want to stay home and watch the game, these teams are often on local television throughout Erie County.
Being so close to these cities has advantages other than watching sports. For many, being in a large city is ideal. However, the thought of living there is unappealing. Erie allows for a person to enjoy these larger cities without having to live there. The choice is always there to spend a single day in Buffalo, Cleveland, or Pittsburgh without having to grab a hotel room.
While a larger metropolis does indeed have more options for entertainment, Erie hardly has nothing to do. The Warner Theatre has musical acts, theatrical plays and musicals twelve months out of the year. Restaurants in the area rarely get the recognition they deserve. Whether it is a romantic meal or just a night out on the town, every type of establishment imaginable can be found in the area. Tinsletown may be my favorite place to watch a movie in any city. State Street is the place to go when day turns to night. Whether looking for a beer or a night at the club, State Street has it all.
Of course, there is more to living in any city than the above mentioned. The size of the city and the surrounding area makes it easy to drive throughout the entire county in a relatively short time. Driving in Erie is much easier than in a city such as Pittsburgh, for example. Every suburb of Erie has its own unique qualities making them a great place to either visit or have a home. Although crime in the area has increased in the last few years, Erie is still much safer than its larger counterparts.
Either the city itself or the suburbs are an excellent place to live the family life. Almost every public school in the area is fantastic for education and extracurricular activities. There are three major colleges within the county, with none better than Penn State Erie (says the PSU graduate). As cliche’ as it may be to say, Erie truthfully is the epitome of “any-town USA.”
Even though I often make fun of Erie’s quirks, I will miss living in the area I’ve called home for 23 years. Erie is so cozy and welcoming that one cannot help but feel safe and secure there Venturing out of the area makes me feel like I’m entering the real world, which is both exciting and frightening. No matter what I do in my life, I will always hold a special spot in my heart for Erie and all of the memories I have made while living there.