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Tom Ridge Environmental Center is a must visit on the “Things to Do in Erie” list. Not only is it a research center that is focused on maintaining and preserving the beauty of Presque Isle, but it also makes for a fun day of learning! There are often events offered (many are free) that are fun and educational. The Tom Ridge Environmental Center (also called TREC) accomplishes many things, some of which are:

  • educates people on Presque Isle history, plants, and animals, and more
  • furthers conservation efforts
  • advocates for environmental awareness

Check out the TREC website for a calendar of all upcoming events, located here:

Learn All About Presque Isle

How many exhibits and displays are located at TREC? I’m not sure, I lost count! There are probably more facts here than Snapple has. Anything you ever wanted to learn about Presque Isle, you can find here. The following is a list of just a few of the things you can enjoy learning about:

  • animals living on Presque Isle (even an entire exhibit all about birds!)
  • anything and everything located in the air, land, and water at the peninsula
  • an interactive Presque Isle model
  • a 15-minute presentation, all about Presque Isle
Different displays at Tom Ridge Environmental Center

See Lake Erie from a 75-Foot Tower

The 75-foot tower is great for taking in the surrounding sites. Waldameer Park is right across the road so there are some pretty stellar rollar coaster views you can’t see anywhere else. On a clear day, you can get a ton of great snaps of Lake Erie and the surrounding areas.

The 75-foot tower at Tom Ridge Environmental Center

See New Exhibits

TREC displays new exhibits throughout the year so multiple visits are a must! Currently, a stunning photography installation is at TREC until January 30, 2022: “‘SHARKS: On Assignment with Brian Skerry’ allows visitors to dive into the depths of the oceans to swim alongside Tiger Sharks, Great Whites, Oceanic Whitetips and Shortfin Makos while learning about each species’ habitat and threats they face.” I had a great white (pun intended) of a time looking at all of the incredible shark shots. Link to exhibit:

SHARKS @ TREC until January 30, 2022

Play at the Nature Play Space

Behind TREC is a great playground for kids (or kids at heart!). Crawl through multiple tunnels, swing on a tire swing, climb all over, or create your own obstacle course! The options for fun are endless.

The Nature Play Space at Tom Ridge Environmental Center

Buy Unique Gifts + Support Presque Isle

Hundreds of different items are for sale at the Presque Isle Gallery & Gifts gift shop. Wares from over 40 local artists are also available for sale. Items range from apparel, seasonal items, books, stuffed animals, jewelry, and so much more! All profits go to project funding and support Presque Isle!

Images of the gift shop Presque Isle Gallery & Gifts at Tom Ridge Environmental Center

*Currently the Sunset Cafe, and the Big Green Screen Theatre are closed until further notice.


Hours: 8:00am-4:00pm every day (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day).
Age: All ages
Cost: Free

Address: Tom Ridge Environmental Center
301 Peninsula Drive
Erie, PA 16505

Check out my other blog posts, such as a cheap hot chocolate crawl:

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