Essential Pittsburgh
4:13 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Local Goodness: Roadtrip for Ripe Cherries and Erie Beaches

Nestled in the northern edge of Erie County is a region of rich and fertile farmland slowly becoming recognized for grape growing, vineyards and a seasonal favorite: cherries. Rhonda Schuldt of Local Goodness suggests some favorite destinations in Erie, PA including local diners, beaches and fruit farms.

Cherry Culture

Cherries have a significant history in the Erie region.  At one point, they were a leading industry and as a result, most of the fruit farms today honor that past.  Many vineyards have recently been coupled with these traditional fruit farms, creating a wine region in Northwest Pennsylvania.   According to Schuldt, the cherry season typically begins around the first of July, but thanks to rain and unusual weather, farmers have been picking cherries early this summer. Be sure to make it to the North East Cherry Festival if you can!

To find the best cherries in the area, Schuldt suggests pulling off I-90 to Mobilia Fruit Farms and Arrowhead Wine Cellars.  At the farm they offer selections including dark sweet cherries (sold in markets as “Bing cherries”) and yellow sweet cherries (“Rainier cherries”). Mobilia grows cherries that are turned into cherry wine at Arrowhead Wine Cellars.

For a fantastic view while picking cherries, take a trip to West Gate on Westlake Road.  Schuldt boasts, “you can see the lake as you pick your own cherries!”

Skipping Stones and Body Surfing

While Erie would not be the first thought for a beach vacation, Schuldt explains the many elements of Erie beaches that set them apart and often make them more enjoyable than East coast beaches.

Schuldt insists that beaches at Lake Erie are not and oxymoron. She suggests taking a drive to Presque Isle. Surrounded by beaches, this little peninsula is covered with many flat rocks that are perfect for skipping stones!  Compared to East coast beaches, the sand grains are a little coarser but overall it is an extremely clean beach. Plus the water is often more shallow, making body surfing a favorite pastime.

After the beach and cherry picking, check out the local diner hotspot, Sara’s on your way to or from Presque Isle! And try one of Rhonda's favorite cherry recipes:
Frozen Custard and Cherries Recipe