Family Friendly Things to Do in Pittsburgh

Did you know…Pittsburgh has more bridges than Venice, Italy? Spend some time in the City of Bridges and you will see how this city earned its nickname…bridges here, bridges there, bridges everywhere. In the evening the downtown bridges are lit-up, stealing the attention of the high-rise buildings. But, parents, once you realize the bridges will only hold the children’s attention for so long you will be relieved to find that there are plenty of family friendly things to do in Pittsburgh. This spring my family of four (the kids are now 7 and 9) stayed at the downtown Renaissance Pittsburgh which offers family friendly hotel packages, a great kids menu in the on-site restaurant Braddock’s American Brasserie, and easy access to the many other family friendly restaurants and attractions. Here are some attractions we visited…

kids 2

Carnegie Science Center. Our Renaissance Pittsburgh hotel package included tickets to the Carnegie Science Center which came highly recommended by everyone we talked to. “Oh, the kids will love it!” was the common response. I’m pretty sure we missed many exhibits because we spent most of our time in the Body Tech section. Acting as doctors, minus the scrubs, we were elbow deep in minor and lifesaving surgeries. Think using a gamma knife, endoscopes, ultrasound, cryosurgery, conducting eye surgery, and even removing an object stuck in a lung!

maddie jump 3

SportsWorks. Next door to the Science Center is SportsWorks and, as the name implies, the entire family was immersed in sports and other activities. For example, my daughter, a human yo-yo? Exactly. That’s what the You-Yo exhibit is. The rhyme behind the reason? This interactive exhibit demonstrates the principle of potential and kinetic energy when visitors hang on to cable tethered handles and rise up and down. While my girl spend most of her time floating, my son spent his time studying calories, comparing his running time against Olympic silver medalist and local track star Lauryn Williams, and testing his reaction speed against an ice hockey goalie. Other family highlights at SportsWorks included riding through the human body in the Body Cam (that body has a lot of issues) and, the favorite, a simulated roller coaster. As for the most nostalgic moment…the giant Operation board! Bzzzzz!

Operation 1

Senator John Heinz History Center. Since my son is a sports fanatic, we knew the Senator John Heinz History Center was a must-see simply for the Sports Museum. But with several other exhibits and collections spread over six floors we could have easily added an extra few hours here had our stomachs not grumbled. Regardless of your children’s ages there is truly something to keep all entertained – including the little ones as there are two Kids Zones: Discovery Place on the 3rd Floor and the Kidsburgh in the Great Hall (1st Floor) and Mezzanine. Also, don’t opt for the elevator…the staircase offers the only museum in a stairwell called SmartSteps and if you grab the designated paper and visit all six floor for a stamp you will get a fun surprise at the end. What else? Oh, yes. And then there is this awesome photo op…

world in their hands

Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History. You know those places where you lose track of time? Well, for my family, this was it. We saw dinosaurs, insects, cool amateur photo exhibits, and the largest collection of plaster casts of architectural masterpieces in America as well as the marble Hall of Sculpture, a Parthenon replica. But one collection outshone the rest. If you were to ask my children today what they remembered from this visit they would quickly reply, almost breathlessly, “We saw several Monet paintings, including the big Water Lilies.” Then my daughter will tell you, “We also saw Van Gogh’s last painting before he died.” Visiting museums isn’t always free or inexpensive. That day we went spent roughly $60 for entry to the museum (forget souvenirs)  but watching our children’s eyes light up as the looked at these famous works of art…you guessed it…was priceless.


2 Responses to “Family Friendly Things to Do in Pittsburgh”

  1. 1
    Traci says:

    I was so pleasantly surprised with all the kid-friendly cultural attractions in Pittsburgh! RoboWorld was a HUGE hit with my 12-year old son…especially when he got to play air hockey against a robot!

    We also really enjoyed the National Aviary.

  2. 2

    Thanks for sharing this, We will defiantly check these attractions out when we visit Pittsburgh in the fall.

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