Tom Ridge Environmental Center, Erie

4.4
#3 of 6 in Parks in Erie
Park · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
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The Tom Ridge Environmental Center is a center on the grounds of Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania. Named after former Pennsylvania Governor and former U.S. Department of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, the center opened on 26 May 2006. The center has 65,000 square feet (6,039 m2) of space including interpretive exhibits highlighting local and regional flora and fauna, as well as information on the human history and culture of the area. The center also has a large-format movie theater, a gift shop, a cafe, a visitors center, and an observation tower of 75 feet (23 m) that overlooks Lake Erie and Waldameer Park and Water World. The facility also has five conference rooms and eight laboratories for environmental education and research of supporting organizations, plus the administrative offices of several environmental and conservation groups and agencies.

The center was designed by Wallace, Roberts & Todd Architects, and received the 2007 American Society of Landscape Architects President's Award for design-build projects in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
The parking lot in front of the facility was previously occupied by a drive-in theater, the Peninsula, which opened in 1969 and closed in 2001 (five years before the environmental center opened)
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Tom Ridge Environmental Center reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
484 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • Visited the last Saturday of August. The center is conveniently located at the entrance to Presque Isle. Visiting the center is free, but they do accept donations at several locations at the... 
    Visited the last Saturday of August. The center is conveniently located at the entrance to Presque Isle. Visiting the center is free, but they do accept donations at several locations at the...  more »
  • We spent quite a while here, watching a film, checking out all the exhibits and information. We enjoyed going up the tower and getting a view of the area. Highly recommend it for families with... 
    We spent quite a while here, watching a film, checking out all the exhibits and information. We enjoyed going up the tower and getting a view of the area. Highly recommend it for families with...  more »
  • This is the perfect place for young, old, couples, families, or individuals. Admission is free, but donation boxes are located inside and out. The displays were pretty and very informative about... 
    This is the perfect place for young, old, couples, families, or individuals. Admission is free, but donation boxes are located inside and out. The displays were pretty and very informative about...  more »
Google
  • This was such a fun stop! My kids love science and the environment and really loved the information here about different landscapes found on the island. It's free to visit. The observation deck has an elevator and is easily accessible. The nature playground was really fun too!
  • Wonderful experience, especially before going in to explore Presque Isle. You can learn all about the wildlife you might see in the park. The whole experience is completely free. There are indoor exhibits, an outdoor natural kids play space, and a tower with great views of the lake and surrounding areas.
  • If you are stopping by Presque Isle you need to stop by the Tom Ridge Environmental Center. You can learn the history of Presque Isle, its wildlife and ecology. When visiting make sure to go to the top of the tower and take in the wonderful view of the lake and the surrounding area. Make sure to visit the gift shop to grab some souvenirs.
  • Great exhibits on the native wildlife, ecology and geologic history of Presque Isle and Lake Erie. Many of the exhibits are interactive so this would be a good choice for kids as well. The gift shop is very reasonable in terms of prices and has a large selection.
  • Clean, air conditioned, educational and well organized. I would recommend going up in the tower. They have stairs for those of us who want to burn calories and am elevator for those who need it. Nice gift shop, 15 minute movie was done very well. Nice stop for all who can read little that is interactive for small kids. It is also on the bike route and a nice stop for a break.

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