Eat, Do, Shop, Play and Learn

A restaurant that specializes in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Dance classes for toddlers and parents. A lending library for educational toys. Storytime at a nearly 90-year-old bookshop. A civic institution sailing the three rivers. In and around Pittsburgh, the offerings for families looking for food, fun and more go so much deeper than the expected family outings. From places to outfit and entertain to natural wonders and city treasures, here are some of our favorites.

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photos by chuck beard


Expand some minds! Schedule your own field trip to places that won’t merely give kids some new information — they’ll open up new worlds. ––LD

Alphabet Trail and Tales
Each year, Citiparks invites families to Frick Park’s Blue Slide Playground for a free elementary-aged literacy event (held Sept. 9 this year). The trail includes 26 stops of music, art, games and activities.
Frick Park, Squirrel Hill

Enroll your kids in one of the Assemble Arts + Technology Summer Camps to experience science camp, technology camp, engineering camp, art camp and math camp all rolled into one. After-school, day camps and Saturday programs also offered.
4824 Penn Ave., Garfield

Carrie Blast Furnaces 
Take a guided tour (recommended for ages 8 and up) from May through October at the Carrie Blast Furnaces (pictured above), once the center of U.S. Steel’s Homestead Works. Also operated by the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area are the Bost Building and Historic Pump House, where you can learn about the Homestead Lockout and Strike and the Battle of Homestead in 1892.
Carrie Furnace Boulevard, Rankin
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Sign up online for the annual Summer Reading Program: you read books and get prizes throughout the summer based on your progress. Younger children log the number of minutes they read and older kids log the number of books they get through, making it an easy “challenge” for all ages.
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
There’s always something to learn at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (see page 28), especially if you visit the Studio. Kids can paint, make a free-form clay sculpture or create a screen print.
10 Children’s Way, North Side

Fort Pitt Museum
Learn what life was like in 18th-century Pittsburgh through the Fort Pitt Museum’s living history demonstrations on select weekends. Witness colonial re-enactors firing muskets, using a blacksmith’s forge and playing music with a drum and fife. 
601 Commonwealth Place, Point State Park

Gaynor’s School of Cooking
Kids’ bread-baking classes, sushi-making classes, and so much more. Also offers family fun nights, mommy (or daddy) and me classes for kids ages 3-5, birthday parties, a teen cooking program and Kids “R” Cooks summer camps for ages 6-10 or 11-14.
309 E. Carson St., South Side
Gemini Children’s Theater
The nonprofit children’s theater offers summer camps and a wide range of acting classes for kids ages 4-17.
420 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks

The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination 
Catch up on anything from acro-yoga to sewing at weekly summer camps at the arts and green-energy community center.
5006 Penn Ave., Garfield
Johnstown Flood Museum
Learn all there is to know about a piece (albeit a devastating one) of local history. The museum features artifacts, photos and a multimedia relief map from the 1889 disaster.
304 Washington St., Johnstown
Little Lake Theatre Company
Offers theater summer camps for children and teens as well as an apprenticeship program for teens.
500 Lakeside Drive South, North Strabane Township

photo courtesy of mattress factory

Mattress Factory
On the first and third Saturday of every month, ArtLab brings the museum exhibits to younger audiences with hands-on activities for all ages. Kiddos ages 3-5 can also visit the “Mini-Factory” for storytime and a hands-on project every second and fourth Saturday of the month. After-school programs offered Wednesdays and Thursdays.
500 Sampsonia Way, North Side
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Little ones can indulge the budding dancer inside with Grown Up and Me classes beginning at just 18 months. More classes, including those just for young male dancers, are offered. Scholarships available.
2900 Liberty Ave., Strip District
Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
Programs offered in animation, web design, drawing, ceramics and more. For ages 2 and up, Family Open Studios is scheduled on Friday mornings.
Pittsburgh Center for the Arts School, 1047 Shady Ave., Shadyside

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra offers an annual sensory-friendly concert as well as Fiddlesticks Family Concerts designed for children 3-8 three times a year. Before the Fiddlesticks concerts, don’t miss Discovery Time Adventures, where children can explore music through activities throughout Heinz Hall. 
600 Penn Ave., Downtown

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Zoo Camp offered for children ages 2-13. Each one-week camp explores a new theme using animal visits, activities and games. 
7340 Butler St., Highland Park

Roving Art Cart
The Roving Art Cart offers multi-media projects best for children ages 5-12 throughout the summer. The cart visits a neighborhood park or playground Tuesday through Friday.
Schramm Farms & Orchards
Little Sprouts science and nature summer courses for children ages 3-8. In this year’s eight-week series, kids learned how to plant a garden, the importance of bees and butterflies and more.
1002 Blank Road, Penn Township
Learn with LEGOs (and lots of other fun tools). Classes are offered at various sites around the region on topics from Star Wars to Pokemon, or kids can simply play and learn in the Discovery Center in Bethel Park.

Touchstone Center for Crafts
Youth programming offered in summer 2017 included an art sampler with drawing, design, painting, printmaking and sculpture, a mining-and-refining-clay session and monster gardens, which included work with maps and puzzles.
1049 Wharton Furnace Road, Farmington

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A Guide to Pittsburgh

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Eat, Do, Shop, Play and Learn

In and around Pittsburgh, the offerings for families looking for food, fun and more go so much deeper than the expected family outings. From places to outfit and entertain to natural wonders and city treasures, here are some of our favorites.
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