Courtesy Erie CVB
There is something calming about water. The Mid-Atlantic region offers a variety of coastal experiences that can be as relaxing or as active as you want, from beach resort towns with boardwalks lined with shops and restaurants to cruises aboard re-created historic ships.
“Erie has Pennsylvania’s only port on the Great Lakes,” said Emily Beck, director of tours and development at the Erie Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Lots of groups do a two- to four-day tour right here because of the wonderful hub-and-spoke opportunities.”
Presque Isle, which means “almost an island” in French, is a peninsula that stretches from the largest harbor in the Great Lakes. It is a national recreational landmark, and the Presque Isle State Park is a beautiful natural wonder with activities for all. The Tom Ridge Environmental Center tells about the flora and fauna of Lake Erie and how it has been transformed from polluted to clean.
A replica of the Flagship Niagara, which played a role in defeating the British in the battle of Lake Erie in 1813, is at the Erie Maritime Museum. It features exhibits about the War of 1812 and the Niagara’s role in the battle.
Other ways to explore Lake Erie are the Victorian Princess, a paddle-wheel boat that does scenic tours and meal cruises, and the Lady Kate, which departs from Presque Isle and offers a narrated tour.
Atlantic City, N.J.
With live entertainment, dining, special events, gaming and boardwalk fun, Atlantic City offers diverse activities for group tours. However, history and coastal experiences also shine.
With the popularity of the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” which is set in Prohibition-era Atlantic City, two tour companies have begun offering tours that highlight the history of the Roaring ’20s in the area.
Open for 147 years, Renault is the longest continuously operating winery in the United States. It survived Prohibition because it also sold alcohol for medicinal purposes. It is open for tours and tastings and features an array of decorative wine glasses, some more than a century old.
If you want a panoramic view of the Atlantic, the Absecon Light is a 171-foot-tall granite block lighthouse on the northern end of Atlantic City that is on the National Register of Historic Places. First lit in 1857, the light still shines, and adventurous visitors can climb its 228 steps for a great view from the top.
Lucy the Elephant, a six-story wood-and-tin elephant, is the only one of around a dozen built on the East Coast that remains. Originally built by a landowner to draw people to look at the land he had for sale, it offers another great panoramic sea view and great photo opportunities.
Groups can get out on the sea with sightseeing, dolphin, sunset and skyline cruises that run spring, summer and fall.