A few weeks ago, we took our kids to Pittsburgh for a weekend getaway. My husband’s family is originally from that area, and he went to school out there, so he had been wanting to visit for a while. PNC Park is known to be one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the country, and my boys are big baseball fans so we intentionally chose to go on a weekend when the Phillies were playing the Pirates. Unfortunately, it was also a weekend that was damp and humid, but we made the best of it.
Pittsburgh is a beautiful city with tons of things for families to do. It’s probably not a place that immediately comes to mind when you think of a vacation destination, but it’s definitely worth a visit if you live nearby or if you’re ever traveling through.
Here is a list of things you may want to do if you ever find yourself visiting the Pittsburgh area. We didn’t get to do everything on this list, but it was the bucket list we worked from.
Things To Do With Kids in Pittsburgh
1. Take a Duck Boat Tour. This is a great way to get the lay of the land, so to speak. The tour guides are entertaining, and they share a ton of information about the history of the city and modern day cultural attractions as you drive through the streets of Pittsburgh and eventually onto the river where you get a great view of the city skyline.
2. Ride one of the Inclines. This iconic Pittsburgh attraction is a DO NOT MISS, for sure. There are two working inclines, the Duquesne and the Monongahela. These 150-year-old cable-powered inclines were designed to transport people between the river valleys and the communities on top of the overlooking bluffs. The observation decks at the top of the inclines offer amazing views of downtown Pittsburgh and its three rivers.
Don’t forget to bring your camera!! The observation deck at the top of the Monongahela Incline is where we got this family picture that is sure to go down in our family history as one of my all time favorites. I just wish I’d thought to have the kids put their stuff down!
3. Go to a baseball game at PNC Park. This baseball park was built along the shore of the Allegheny River and adjacent to Federal Street so it has gorgeous views of the downtown skyline and riverfront. It has an intimate, neighborhood feel, much like Fenway in Boston, another one of our favorite ballparks. This was the view from our seats.
4. Visit the National Aviary. I sat in the car while my husband took the kids inside because I’m terrified of flying things, plus my injured foot needed a break. They all loved it, and it gets great reviews on Trip Advisor.
5. Explore The Strip District. This area of the city at the northeast corner of the Golden Triangle is home to shopping, art, dining, and all kinds of markets to buy produce, meat, and a variety of other foods. It sounds like a great place to wander around and explore.
6. Enjoy a latte at Coffee Tree Roasters. At the advice of a friend, I drove over to the Coffee Tree Roasters in Shadyside one morning to enjoy some time to myself over the most delicious latte I think I’ve ever had. And y’all, I’ve had A LOTTA LATTES. There are six locations in the Pittsburgh area, although I can only speak for the one that I visited in Shadyside. The atmosphere is cozy, although there is a lot of seating, so you can feel free to bring the family along. They serve an assortment of freshly baked pastries, but nothing gluten-free, unfortunately. Still, I enjoyed the atmosphere and my coffee, and I will definitely make a point to go again if I’m ever in the area.
7. Visit the Carnegie Science Center. We didn’t get a chance to do this, but it comes highly recommended, with four floors of interactive experiences, including the world’s largest permanent robotics exhibit, a zero-gravity simulator, the Miniature Railroad & Village, the Buhl Planetarium, and hundreds of hands-on exhibits.
8. Explore the Flight 93 National Memorial. Another attraction we didn’t get a chance to experience but wish we had, this memorial commemorates the forty passengers and crew of Flight 93 whose actions thwarted the September 11th hijackers’ plan to fly a plane to a target in Washington, DC, most likely the US Capitol. Outdoor exhibits, a cell phone tour, Park Rangers, and volunteers provide information to visitors. A Visitor Center and Learning Center at Flight 93 National Memorial are now under construction and will open in September 2015. This isn’t IN Pittsburgh, but it’s just a few miles outside the city. I definitely hope to make it back to this sometime.
9. Eat Breakfast at Pamela’s Diner. In an effort to save a few bucks, we took advantage of the complimentary breakfast at our hotel, but we heard so many great things about Pamela’s that I felt like it deserved a mention in this post. They’re known for their crêpe style pancakes, and they now have six locations in the Pittburgh area.
10. Visit Falling Water. This really isn’t in Pittsburgh. It’s about an hour outside of the city, and pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but it’s well worth the drive. We stopped by on our way home. One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s tributes to organic architecture, this second home to the Pittsburgh Kaufmann family is built over a waterfall using multiple cantilevers. It’s truly spectacular, although we would have enjoyed it a lot more if it hadn’t been pouring rain. You definitely need to reserve your tour ahead of time because they sell out. Our tour guide was excellent — very personable and patient with our group. It is about 45 minutes long, and even our kids found it interesting. We arrived about an hour ahead of our scheduled tour, so we took advantage of the cafe, which serves a nice variety of organic salads and sandwiches.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the brand spankin’ new Hyatt House in Shadyside, and we were thrilled with our accommodations. It is spacious, modern, and clean, and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such friendly staff members. The Hyatt House hotels are designed for extended stay guests, so many rooms have kitchens and sitting areas. We had a small suite, which was perfect for us. Read more about our stay at the Hyatt House Pittsburgh/Bloomfield/Shadyside.
If you’re planning to visit Pittsburgh in the near future, let me know if you have any other questions. I’ll do my best to answer them!
See all of my Things To Do With Kids posts, and check out my Travel Section for tons of reviews and travel advice for families.