Exploring Erie, PA and Westfield, NY

Recently, my daughter and I took a road trip to Erie, Pennsylvania and Westfield, New York.  We share a love for travel and absolutely love going on adventures together.  Our trips are rarely planned out in advance, other than where we will stay and the route we will be taking.  However, we usually veer off the mapped route and take a road less traveled.  That is part of the fun, and it’s where we find the most interesting sites!  We do choose a couple of places we would like to see in a particular area, but other than that, we just enjoy exploring. 

With our usual spur-of-the-moment plans, we decided to make the drive.  I was very surprised at how mountainous the areas we visited are.  There was beautiful landscape along the way…old, time-worn barns, weathered buildings, beautiful farms and farmhouses.

Old barn in Erie, PA

There was acre after acre of grapes growing in fields along the way.  Before our trip to the areas, I had no idea that we would be in “grape country.”  When I saw a Welch’s building in Westfield, I began to do a little research.  Turns out that the PA and NY areas we visited have lots of grape farms in the region.  After more research, I learned that Welch’s, the same company that makes jellies, jams and juices, is owned by a cooperative of farmers from four regions of the United States:   The Finger Lakes Region of New York; The Shore of Lake Erie in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio; The Shore of Lake Michigan in Southwestern Michigan; and The Yakima Valley in Washington State.  According to the Welch’s website, Concord and Niagara grapes, which are grown in these areas, require “just the right mix of sunshine, rainfall and cool nights.”    

Grape farm in NY

Quaint little towns here and there offered some of the best eats from “mom-and-pop” diners.  Their charm is always so appealing, and their down-home feel is as satisfying as the meals they serve.  Many of the choices on their menus are made from recipes that have been handed down through generations, giving the food a delicious uniqueness that is not available at any other restaurant.

Lawrence Park Dinor, just outside Erie, PA, was manufactured in 1948 and has been in operation since that time. Their Greek burger and Greek fries are amazing! The spelling of “Dinor” is thought to have been a “typographical error that was never corrected or a variant derived from the German language” (Wikipedia).

Our visit to Presque Isle State Park was an unforgettable experience.  The road through the park meandered along the coastline, giving breathtaking views of Lake Erie and its beaches.  Floating houses, bogs and marshes throughout the park made our drive interesting and scenic.  The sandy beaches invited us to explore, and there on the warm, windy shores, we found driftwood, smooth pebbles, and stones.  I even found a piece of “sea glass!”  Erie’s churning waters had smoothed the sharp edges of our finds, and the stones, and even the driftwood, felt satiny to the touch.  I love treasures like these! 

Floating houses on Lake Erie
Evening sun over Lake Erie

In Westfield, NY, a small town in western Chautauqua County, we visited the McClurg Museum.  The mansion was built in 1818 and is now home of the Chautauqua County Historical Society.  Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and gave an in-depth narrative of the mansion’s history and the artifacts it houses.    

The McClurg Museum in Westfield, NY

We enjoyed our little mini vacation and hope to visit those areas again.  We know there is much more to explore!

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