Three and a half days in Pittsburgh

As I mentioned in last week’s Friday Favorites, we recently took a family trip to Pittsburgh!  Traveling with kids can be challenging, but Grace is now at an age where family trips are starting to feel more like vacations.  Planning a few adventures specifically designed to entertain the kids might earn you at least one or two “less child-oriented” excursions on your trip.  We spent about 3 and 1/2 days in Pittsburgh, and while the majority of our time was spent entertaining Grace, I did manage to sneak in something specifically for me!

Three and a half days in Pittsburgh

We started out at The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.  This was a great little museum and it was of no cost to us!  Because we are members of Science Central here in Fort Wayne, we were able to use our reciprocal ASTC travel passport for free admission to the museum.

The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

I was immediately smitten with the museum’s Make Shop, which was a fabulous hands-on studio focusing on STEAM activities.  That’s science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, in case you were wondering.  Grace immediately headed to the circuit table.  She has some snap circuits at home that have been a huge hit, so she was completely drawn to all the different gadgets she could create at this table.  I think Doug had fun helping her, too!  There were other opportunities for sewing, building, and tinkering right there in the Make Shop.  They even have a grown-ups night out every few months.  Unfortunately, I don’t think Doug is willing to make the 5 hour drive there for a date night.

The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

The Children’s Museum also had a great water play area upstairs.  There was also a large interactive exhibit of optical illusions.  The museum’s Garage Workshopoffered a hands-on approach to making things go.  We were also lucky to find the Eric Carle exhibit, which is currently there for a limited time.  It isn’t a large museum, but it does everything really well, making it a great family destination!

After a great morning at the Children’s Museum, we went to the movies to watch Pixels.  Despite critical reviews, we all really liked this movie.  Doug and I both agreed that it was one of Adam Sandler’s better movies that he has made in recent years.  We also finished up some back to school clothes shopping for Grace at a nearby mall.

The next day, we went swimming at the hotel pool and then were off to visit the Carnegie Science Center.  Again, we used our reciprocal museum membership and paid nothing to visit!  We’ve visited numerous museums and have saved hundreds of dollars on admission this way.  I would encourage you to see if there are any of the 350 participating museums in your area!

The Carnegie Science Center was perhaps not one of our favorite science museums that we have visited, but we had a nice time and there were many hands-on activities to keep us busy for a few hours. I think my favorite part was the railroad and miniature display that depicted historical Pennsylvania and spanned the length of a very large room.  It was the most intricate and detailed train display that I have ever seen!

Carnegie Science Center train exhibit

Grace also had fun bouncing around the Sports Works facility that was also included in our admission.  It is in a separate building that is adjacent to the science center.

After the science museum, we took a tram up Mount Washington to take in the stunning aerial views of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh from Mount Washington

Worn Out Pages in Pittsburgh

The following morning, we took a long and winding trek through the Appalachian mountains to get to Frank Llloyd Wright’s Falling Water and Kentuck Knob.  This excursion was the “less child-oriented” part of the trip.  It was more of a “bucket list” activity for me.  We toured both houses and explored the grounds.  The views from Kentuck Knob were incredible!  I think it was a unique experience for all of us and I’m really glad we included it in our plans.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Kentuck Knob

Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water

After visiting the Frank Lloyd Wright homes, Doug was happy to drive out of the mountains!  Let’s just say that he’s not a big fan of curves and inclines.  We all survived the drive and headed back towards Pittsburgh.  We stopped for supper at Burgatory, which is a chain of burger restaurants throughout Pennsylvania.  It was probably one of our favorite meals of the trip!  To wrap up our day, we stopped by Dave & Busters after supper for some arcade fun!

On the last morning of our trip, we decided to hit off the National Aviary.   Of course, Pittsburgh has a nice zoo and aquarium, but we opted for something different and I’m glad we did!  As a bird lover, I was fascinated by the National Aviary, but it was also entertaining for the whole family.  The aviary has several exhibits that house many species of birds.  Most of the exhibits are designed to allow guests to get up close and personal with these graceful creatures.  Though we purchased general admission tickets, there were several add on options available for live bird shows and animal encounters.

The National Aviary in Pittsburgh

After leaving the Aviary, we decided to venture over just a few blocks to visit a RoadsideAmerica.com featured attraction before heading out of town.  Since I was inspired to wander Indiana, I was curious to see if we could find any roadside oddities around Pittsburgh.  To my surprise, there were many but we chose to visit the one and only Randyland!  Randyland has been dubbed Pittsburgh’s most colorful landmark and it is a feast for the eyes!

Randyland

Randyland is a public art display created by artist Randy Gilson.  We had the pleasure of speaking with Randy while we visited his bright and eccentric backyard gardens.  Randy explained to us how he transformed vacant lots into blooming gardens and the dilapidated buildings into pieces of art, sparking a neighborhood revival.  If you are fan of art and color, then I believe that Randyland is worth a drive-by at the very least.  If you have a few minutes, park your car and wander around the backyard garden to take in all of the vivid imagery that Randyland has to offer.

With the exception of hitting off a used bookstore, I think we checked off every box on our Pittsburgh t0-do list!  It was a great little family vacation and one that I would recommend if you are within driving distance.

2 thoughts on “Three and a half days in Pittsburgh

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