15 Best Things to Do in Meadville, PA

Meadville, PA
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Visits to northwestern Pennsylvania, more often than not, will include a stop in Meadville.

This city, after all, is the region’s oldest community and the county seat of Crawford County.

Meadville was established in 1788 and was named after its founder, Major General David Mead of the US Revolutionary Army.

Its superb location in the French Creek Valley, along with the development of the railroad, spurred Meadville’s early development.

In the late 19th century, agriculture, logging, and iron production further drove Meadville's economy.

It was during these years that Universal Fastener Co. moved its headquarters to Meadville.

This led to the company’s transformation to Talon Corporation and the development of the zipper.

Many of these historical milestones are celebrated in the city’s points of interest and from what could be gleaned from the following list of things to do in Meadville.

Visit David Mead's House at Bicentennial Park

Exterior of David Mead's House
CtMh67810, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This park on North French Street is home to a replica of the log cabin of the city’s founder, Major General David Mead.

The remake of the log cabin, which was the first permanent settlement in northwestern Pennsylvania, was undertaken in 1988 as part of Meadville’s Bicentennial anniversary celebration.

Scroll-shaped monument in front of David Mead's House
CtMh67810, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

En route to the cabin, you will pass through an interpretive walkway and see a scroll-shaped monument dedicated to the city’s founder.

The cabin functions as an educational resource for school and public tours.

The Bicentennial Park, located on the east bank of French Creek, has several amenities, including a spacious lawn, a picnic pavilion, and a boat launch with a kayak/canoe rack.

Go Boating and Fishing at Tamarack Lake

This lake is located on the southeastern outskirts of Meadville and is accessible via Williamson Road.

Tamarack Lake has an area of 562 acres and is unique because it has a dam in both its northern and southern ends.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission owns and maintains this lake for recreational purposes.

There are six boat ramps spread around this lake where boats are restricted to those powered by electric motors only.

The Commission is regularly stocking the lake with fish like Muskellunge and Walleye, as well as largemouth bass and yellow perch.

Pay a Visit to Voodoo Brewery & Brewpub

This homegrown Meadville craft brewery, located on Arch Street, was founded in 2005 and has established several other locations elsewhere in Pennsylvania.

Voodoo Love Child, a Belgian-style tripel, is one of this craft brewer’s pride—aged on cherries, passion fruit, and raspberries.

The seasonal stout Big Black Voodoo Daddy is another feather on the cap of this craft brewery, offering a chocolaty taste.

Voodoo Brewery & Brewpub’s onsite bar in Meadville sets you in a drinking mood with its eclectic décor highlighted by antique doors hanging on the ceiling.

The bar chow choices in this taproom include pizzas, beer mussels, and pulled pork nachos.

It also holds events like trivia nights, cornhole tournaments, Taco Tuesdays, spoken-word poetry, and even good vibes yoga.

Tour the Baldwin–Reynolds House

Exterior of Baldwin–Reynolds House
CtMh67810, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Built between 1842 and 1843, this vintage, two-story Greek-revival mansion nestles amid woodlands on Terrace Street.

It represents a quintessential Southern home that the Crawford County Historical Society transformed into a museum.

This house displays much of the furnishings of the prominent Baldwin and Reynolds families as well as artifacts donated by the folks of Crawford County.

The original owner of this house was a local lawyer, Henry Baldwin, who became a Supreme Court Justice under President Jackson in 1829.

With Henry’s demise, his wife Sally leased the house in 1844 to the Meadville Female Seminary for use as a girl’s finishing school.

After a few years, she sold the residence to his nephew, William Reynolds, whose family held the property till the Crawford County Historical Society bought it in 1963 for conversion as a museum.

Stroll at Diamond Park Square

Established in 1795, this historic park is located between Walnut and Chestnut Streets in downtown Meadville.

The city’s founder, David Mead, donated the land to this park which was the drill grounds of the local US militia leading up to the Civil War.

Diamond Park Square eventually became Meadville’s central park, with many government agencies along its flanks.

The park’s custodian, the Crawford County Historical Society, also has its office building in this area.

Diamond Park Square flaunts a circa 1863 fountain donated by a prominent citizen, Evan Shippen.

Nestled amid maple and oak trees, the park also features a gazebo, memorial boulders, and statues honoring various figures in Crawford County’s history.

One prominent marker on the park’s periphery proclaims Crawford County as the site of the first direct primary election held in the US.

Check Out the PennDOT Road Sign Sculpture Garden

This sculpture garden is a unique art installation at the property of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on US Route 19.

The department hooked up with the art students of Meadville’s Allegheny College for this creative project.

The Allegheny student artists utilized as art materials the department’s discarded road signs, resulting in a unique display nearly a quarter-mile long.

Aptly, the PennDOT Road Sign Sculpture Garden is alternatively called “Read Between the Signs,” an art installation that can enliven driving along its stretch on US 19.

One striking ensemble in this garden is a rendition of ocean waves assembled from blue hospital signs.

As striking, there’s a mural of a barn with an adjacent silo built respectively from red stop signs and white junction signs.

Another piece titled "Signs & Flowers" consists of a dozen road signs fashioned as flowers, each 10–12 feet high.

Watch a Show at the Historic Academy Theater

Located on Chestnut Street, the Academy Theatre in Meadville was built in 1885, the brainchild of a local newspaperman, Ernest P. Hempstead.

Since its foundation, this Theatre has become home to all varieties of cultural and artistic events in the city.

It stages a wide variety of outside acts, shows, educational classes and even offers rental space for special occasions.

Each season, the Academy produces professional-quality shows for the Meadville community and its visitors.

It counts on more than 100 volunteers to work or perform in over 70 performances, to the delight of the Theatre’s over 10,000 patrons.

The Academy Theater has a 470-seat capacity, including handicapped-accessible seats.

Shop for Home-Baked Goods at the Market House

Front exterior of the Market House
Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Market House, built in 1876, is a historic landmark in downtown Meadville, holding the bragging right as Pennsylvania’s oldest continuously run market.

Located on Market Street, this charming retail hub is open Tuesday–Friday between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Every Saturday between May and October, it hosts the Meadville Farmers Market from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The Market House has earned the moniker "Heart of Meadville” from patrons delighted with its local produce, meats, eggs, milk, specialty gourmet items, and home-baked goods.

Enjoy 3-D at the Johnson-Shaw Stereoscopic Museum

This museum on Chestnut Street aptly shows why Meadville has earned the nickname "Tool City, USA."

Johnson-Shaw Stereoscopic Museum is a showcase of the stereographic (three-dimensional) photography of the local outfit Keystone View Company.

Founded in 1892 as a one-man venture, this company became the world’s largest producer of stereographic items.

Initially, stereography was used as a parlor amusement, featuring life-like images of famous individuals and striking landscapes.

Later, the full three-dimension depth perception progressed to classroom instruction, optometry, and military applications.

Displays in the Johnson-Shaw Stereoscopic Museum include the famed aviator Charles Lindbergh and the plane he flew in his historic first flight across the Atlantic in1927.

See Vintage Trains Meadville Railroad Park

This park features an outdoor display of a locomotive and several train pieces of rolling stock.

Located on French Creek Parkway, the Meadville Railroad Park preserves a railway heritage dating to the 1880s.

The Meadville-based French Creek Valley Railroad Historical Society is maintaining this park and is also growing a museum about 800 meters north of the park.

This museum, which opened in 2021, is housed in the old Meadville Railroad Depot and already with displays of some artifacts and model trains.

The park and the museum celebrate Meadville’s historic role in the development of rail transport in Crawford County and Pennsylvania.

Golf and Dine at Hailwood and Safari

Golfers visiting Meadville have a superb combination on Park Avenue Extension in the northern part of Meadville.

Here, they can play a 9-hole round at the Hailwood Golf Course and enjoy a meal afterward at Safari, a charming restaurant adjacent to the links.

Play in Hailwood runs for 2,701 yards from the longest tees for a par 35 regulation play.

Opened in 1952, this layout has a 35.5-course rating and a 113 slope rating.

Next to the course, Safari Bar offers a variety of beverages plus menu choices of seafood, prime ribs, wings, and more.

Go Bowling in Plaza Lanes

Exterior of Plaza Lanes
David Kentie / Shutterstock.com

This bowling center features 24 lanes and a casual dining restaurant on its expansive site on Smock Highway (US 19).

Since its establishment in 1997, Plaza Lanes has become a fun landmark in Meadville.

It is host to some of the major local bowling tournaments, such as the Ladies Classic League, Teen Masters, and Twilight League.

At the Plaza Lanes’ restaurant, diners’ choices on the lunch menu include salads, sandwiches, pizza, wraps, fries, burgers, and wings.

Hike or Bike Easy the Ernst Trail

This trail was developed from the abandoned Meadville–Linesville Railroad, which operated from 1880 to 1934.

Ernst Trail stretches for just about five miles in easy terrain and a pastoral environment.

Biking or hiking on this trail passes through part of French Creek, crossing lush hardwood stands, hemlock thickets, as well as meadow and marsh areas.

Ernst Trail has many access points within Meadville, with the start of a bike or hike ideal at the Park Avenue Plaza near the bowling center in the area.

There is a trailhead of Ernst Trail with parking as well on Krider Road on the southern side of Meadville.

Camp and Swim at Woodcock Lake Park

The US Army Corps of Engineers operates this lakeside park west of Shuz Road on the northeastern side of Meadville.

The park’s Woodcock Lake is a reservoir that resulted from the construction of the Woodcock Creek Dam in 1973 as a flood control measure.

The lake, which spans 333 acres at its normal summer pool, features a swimming beach with a well-groomed sand area.

Near this public swimming beach, Woodcock Lake Park features a large grass lawn area ideal for picnics.

The park also provides 111 primitive campsites with no RV hookups for electricity, water, or sewage.

Woodcock Lake Park likewise features a boat ramp and four shelters, as well as access to a roadway atop the Woodcock Dam.

This roadway is nearly a mile long and perfect for a scenic stroll, jog, or run along the dam’s top.

Fishing is allowed in Woodcock Lake, where the fish catch potential includes walleye, muskellunge, and smallmouth bass.

A nature center and a disc golf course are other points of interest to explore at the dam area of Woodcock Lake Park.

Play at the All-Season Meadville Area Recreation Complex

This recreation center offers facilities for year-round fun on its 54-acre Thurston Road location.

During summer, visitors of the Meadville Area Recreation Center choose among its skate park, community garden, or swimming pool.

In the fall, you can hike on the center’s wooded trails or enjoy watching or playing a game on the Eldred Glen soccer fields.

During winter, action in the center shifts to hockey, curling, and public skating sessions.

In springtime, the center comes alive in its picnic shelters, tennis courts, and baseball field.

Final Thoughts

Meadville, by any measure, is one of the leading travel destinations in northwestern Pennsylvania.

As the seat of Crawford County for many years, this city has carved a strong identity and developed many unique points of interest.

Keep Meadville in mind when planning a Pennsylvania trip, as this city offers things to do that create lasting memories.