Paulette Dininny is getting ready for maple-sugaring in Edinboro, Pa. Here's her reporter's notebook based on last year's syrup season.
About six hours from the Beltway
$120 plus gas
Edinboro, Pa., is about 340 miles from the Capital Beltway in the northwest corner of Pennsylvania, near Lake Erie and the New York state border. Take Interstate 270 and I-70 to Pittsburgh, then follow I-79 north to the Erie area. Alternatively, Continental, Northwest and US Airways offer connecting service to Erie from BWI Marshall starting at about $140; from Dulles and Reagan National, starting at about $250.
WHERE TO STAY
Right outside Edinboro, Apple Tree Farm Bed and Breakfast (11851 Eureka Rd., 814-734-3809, http://appletreefarmbnb.com) offers six country-style rooms for $110-$120 per night. The Seasons Inn at Nick's Place (12246 Route 99, Edinboro, 814-734-5098, Ext. 221, http://www.nicksplaceandco.com/seasonsinn.htm) has basic double rooms for $89 per night. For other nearby B&Bs, check http://www.visiteriepa.com. There are national chain hotels in Erie and the surrounding area.
WHERE TO EAT
The Pufferbelly Restaurant (414 French St., Erie, 814-454-1557, http://www.thepufferbelly.com), located in an old firehouse, is named for the steam-run firefighting pumpers of the late 19th century. The restaurant serves ribs, chicken marsala, burgers and sandwiches. Bertrand's Bistro (18 N. Park Row, off State Street, Erie, 814-871-6477, http://www.bertrandsbistro.com) features classic French fare. The clubby-looking Marketplace Grill (319 State St., Erie, 814-455-7272, http://www.marketplacegrill.net) specializes in seafood and is offering a $10.99 Dinner & Dessert menu to mark its 20th anniversary. National chain restaurants abound along the Erie interchange on I-90 and along Peach Street.
WHAT TO DO
The sixth annual Maple Taste & Tour Weekend is March 14-15, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at a dozen sugarhouses in Crawford, Erie and Venango counties. Get more information from the Northwest Pennsylvania Maple Association, http://www.pamaple.org. Hurry Hill Farm is at 11380 Fry Rd., Edinboro, 814-734-1358. Fort LeBoeuf Maple Syrup is at 2789 Dublin Rd., Waterford, 814-796-3699.
WHAT ELSE TO DO
The Erie Maritime Museum (150 E. Front St., Erie, 814-452-2744, http://www.brigniagara.org) is home port for the replica of the U.S. Brig Niagara, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's flagship from the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. It's too early for sailing season (there are day sails and overnight training sails May-September), but the ship can be toured year-round. Museum exhibits feature the story of the battle, interactive exhibits, videos and the story of the USS Michigan/Wolverine, the Navy's first iron-hulled ship.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Contact the Pennsylvania maple syrup association (see above). Also, check VisitErie (http://www.visiteriepa.com).