I asked three of my native Michigan friends what the hell there was to do in Michigan and all three responded with the same, dismal answer: Nothing. Well, nothing compared to everything else we had seen. Because there was apparently nothing to do there, I decided at the last minute to extend our road trip into New York City, stopping by Presque Isle State Park and Niagara Falls State Park along the way. Chris had never visited The City That Never Sleeps so we were stoked to spend our next weekend in NYC after hanging out in Chicago the past weekend–WHOO!
Our evening arrival in East Lansing granted us just enough time to enjoy a quick dinner with my brother before passing out in Scromp in the parking lot of his apartment complex.
Since our goal was to arrive in Presque Isle State Park, PA with some daylight left, we woke up before sunrise to embark on our next leg east through Ohio and into Pennsylvania. We skimmed by Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Toledo and ventured into Ohio.
I had even asked a friend who lived in Ohio for a few years if there was anything worth seeing. “Unless you enjoy looking at smokestacks, just skip it,” was his response. So we blew through Cleveland and the smoke stacks.
We rolled into Presque Isle at 2:30pm, which gave us a whole 2 hours to explore the park during the remaining hours of sunlight. Hiking trails there were practically nonexistent, and we didn’t want to be lame and tour the park from our car, so we put on our cycling gear and pedaled along the lakeshore during Pennsylvania’s final warm days of autumn.
After cycling around the tiny park, I strolled out to Crystal Point and Misery Bay. There, I observed the Perry Monument and read about the historical significance of the isle, Commodore Perry, and the Battle at Lake Erie. The calm shores and waters of Presque Isle Bay proved to be the perfect spot for the construction of Perry’s fleet and eventually became a site for one of the biggest naval battles of the War of 1812.
Presque Isle is truly one of those hidden gems quietly tucked away in a historical city once bustling during the Industrial Revolution. Its calm lakeshore beaches and incredible sunsets are unknown to the faraway Californian like myself, but is considered a magical place by its locals, especially since it boasts Pennsylvania’s only “seashore.”
I actually only discovered this park by accident. In my quest for finding a halfway point between Chicago and New York City, I simply studied close-up maps between Ohio and Pennsylvania. While studying the maps, an unique land formation caught my eye:
WOW! I had thought. This is probably manmade, but it looks awesome. Turned out that it was in fact all natural, and is constantly changing due to the winds and waves. A quick Google search led me to a number of amazing aerial photos (both from Wikimedia):
This isle once protected Perry’s fleet during the U.S. war against the British, and now serves as a scenic park, beach, and historical site for locals and tourists. I highly recommend a visit to this park if you are in the area, especially in the warmer months. And to add more icing on the cake–there is no admission fee! This was probably the first state park we’ve ever visited that did not have a visitor or vehicle fee. No joke.
I was slightly disheartened that we could only enjoy a couple hours at this gem of a park, but my spirits lifted knowing that Niagara Falls was our next destination!