2014 Halloween in Pittsburgh Family Guide

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It’s finally almost October! My family is comfortably settled into the school year routine, the weather’s getting colder, the leaves are changing….and my kids have officially become obsessed with Halloween. Halloween costumes. Halloween candy. Spooky Halloween creatures. Pumpkins. They’re both excited…and, to tell you the truth, so am I! Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Its spooky/magical quality brings me back to my own childhood and how much I loved this next month.

I have put together this 2014 Halloween in Pittsburgh Family Guide to help your family plan their Halloween activities this October. I have included special Halloween-themed events at museums, parks, concert venues, libraries and more. In case you have bigger kids, I have also included a section on haunted houses and other scarier events. Finally, I have included a list of alternative trick-or-treat options at the bottom. If you are looking for information on Fall activities (hayrides, pumpkin patches, fall festivals, etc) please check out my recent 2014 Fall in Pittsburgh Family Guide.

 

I begin this guide with Halloween events at some of the more well-known special venues in the city (organized by date). Costumes are encouraged at ALL of these events:

Eat N’Park Zoo Boo at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium-October 18-19, October 25-26

Each year, the Pittsburgh hosts their well-loved Zoo Boo Halloween event where children can trick-or-treat through the zoo, participate in a costume parade and contest, visit the mildly scary Docent Haunted House and Gymkhana’s Haunted Hideaway and many more activities. All festivities are included in the price of admission.

 

Owl-O-Ween at the National Aviary-October 18 and October 25th

The National Aviary celebrates Halloween at their annual Owl-O-Ween event, where kids can visit with nocturnal birds, learn about creepy-crawly insects, trick or treat, and more. All activities are included in the price of admission.

 

Spooky Science Sleepover at the Carnegie Science Center-October 24

The Carnegie Science Center hosts a spooky overnight sleepover each October. Highlights include live spooky science demos, a family Halloween laser show, an Omnimax show, a late night snack and a continental breakfast. Advance registration required and the event costs $35/person.

 

Halloween Happenings at Phipps Conservatory-October 24

Phipps Conservatory celebrates Halloween at their annual “Halloween Happenings” event, where kids can trick-or-treat through the Conservatory and collect healthy snacks. Also, there will be a variety of kid-friendly activities throughout. Also, Halloween Happenings is a fantastic time to explore the very short Fall Flower Show at Phipps, which only goes until the beginning of November. All activities are included in the price of admission.

 

Annual Member’s Spooktacular at the Children’s Museum-October 24

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh celebrates Halloween at its annual Member’s Spooktacular, where museum members are invited to trick-or-treat through the museum while participating in a costume parade, Halloween-themed activities and art projects, etc. Admission is free for members. Guests of members are welcome to attend at $12/person. Please register by October 22.

 

All Things Creepy at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History-October 25-26

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History celebrates Halloween at its “All Things Creepy” event. Kids can go trick-or-treating through the exhibit with their complimentary treat bags. Also, if they come dressed in costume, you will get $1 off kids’ admissions. All activities included in the price of admission.

 

Halloween Mayhem at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater-October 25

The Kelly Strayhorn Theater celebrates Halloween at its annual pay-what-you-can Halloween Mayhem event featuring zombies, a costume parade, a puppet show, crafts, games and more.

 

Monster Party on the Gateway Clipper Fleet-October 25

The Gateway Clipper Fleet celebrates Halloween at its annual Monster Cruise, featuring a costume party with their crew of monsters, prizes and sweet treats. Adults tickets are $25 and children’s tickets are $12.

 

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts Halloween Party-October 26

The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts celebrates Halloween at its annual crafty party, offering a variety of hands-on Halloween-themed art-making activities, a scavenger hunt and music for the entire family! Admission is $5/member family and $10/nonmember family.

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There are also some mildly spooky outdoor adventures that would be appropriate for littler kids:

Unspooky Night Hike at the Outdoor Classroom-October 3

The Outdoor Classroom celebrates Halloween at its annual Unspooky Night Hike for the general public. Families are invited to take a guided nighttime hike under the light of the moon! Adult tickets are $6 and child tickets are $8.

 

Bump in the Night at Frick Park-October 10-11, 17-18

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy celebrates Halloween at their annual Bump in the Night event in Lower Frick Park. Families will take a guided nighttime hike to see and learn about nighttime animals, carve a pumpkin, participate in a sing-along and enjoy refreshments. Event costs $11 for adults and $9 for children. Advance registration requested.

 

Haunted Guyasuta-October 18

Camp Guyasuta in O’Hara offers its annual Halloween event, featuring a hayride, nature hikes, climbing wall, pumpkin patch, bonfire and zip line (for those over 11). Trail will be non-scary from 3-6pm and scary from 6-9pm.

 

Creatures of the Night at Beechwood Farms and Nature Reserve-October 24-25

Beechwood Farms in Fox Chapel celebrates Halloween at its annual “Creatures of the Night” event, where a costumed firefly leads families on a guided night-time hike through the nature reserve. Along the way, kids will find larger-then-life costumed creatures that read stories, do tricks, etc. Snacks and crafts are included. Tickets are $6 for Audubon Society members and 10$ for nonmembers. Register in advance.

 

Venture Outdoors Tyke Hike Halloween Party-October 30

Venture Outdoors celebrates Halloween at its final kid-friendly Tyke Hike for the season. Families will take a hike through Schenley Park and then participate in Halloween-themed crafts and trick-or-treats!  Hike costs $10 and advance registration is encouraged.

Painting in costume at the Children's Museum

Painting in costume at the Children’s Museum

There are also some family-friendly indoor Halloween concerts and other performances:

Ghost Stories with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust-October 11

Hear renowned storyteller, Alison K Babusci, share her popular kid-friendly ghost stories program at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Education Center. Intended for children 5 and older.

 

Fall Festival Fiddlesticks Concert-October 18

The kid-friendly Fiddlesticks concert series by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is back with a Halloween and Fall-inspired concert featuring the music of Harry Potter, Fantasia and more. Preceded by kid-friendly, music and Fall-related educational activities that are just great! Tickets start at $12.

 

Also, if you have older kids (or you think your littler kids can handle it), the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is also putting on a Halloween Pops: Memorable Music from the Stage and Screen at the Scottish Rite Cathedral.

 

Hillman Halloween Spooktacular-October 18

The Hillman Performing Arts Center at Shadyside Academy is hosting its Halloween Spooktacular, featuring “Clockwork Mysteries” by Canadian Ted and Marion Outerbridge. This magic show has been called the most “successful magic show in Canada” by critics. The event is preceded by Harvestfest, a family-friendly fall celebration with bounce houses, carnival games, kettle corn, etc.

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And some Halloween events at cool venues a little further from the city:

Pumpkin Trolley at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum-Fridays through Sundays in October

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA hosts its annual Pumpkin Trolley this month, featuring trolley rides to their pumpkin patch and fall activities.

 

October Night at the Zoo at Living Treasures Animal Park-Thursdays through Saturdays in October

Moraine’s Living Treasures Animal Park celebrates Halloween at its “October Night at the Zoo” event–with only torches to light the walkways as you visit with many unusual nocturnal animals! Adult tickets are $10.99, kids are $7.99 and if you bring a carved pumpkin, kids get in for free!

 

Hallowboo at Idlewild Park-Saturdays and Sundays, October 4-26

Enjoy Halloween and Fall-themed fun at Idlewild Amusement Park.  There’s trick-or-treating, costumed characters, Halloween entertainment PLUS many of the regular season rides are open too!

 

Depreciation Lands Museum Family Lantern Tours-October 18 and 25

Take a family friendly guided tour of the Museum and cemetery by lantern light with tales of superstitions and customs from the past, a visit from “The Deacon,” the Museum’s resident ghost, and enjoy cookies and hot cider! Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children.

 

Finally, there are free Halloween-themed events at most of the local libraries:

Walk Like a Zombie at Carnegie Library Main-October 11

Halloween Extravaganza at the Shaler North Hills Library-October 11

Monster Bash at the Cooper-Siegel Library-October 12

Creepy Crawly Cafe at Baldwin Public Library-October 17

Monster Mash Costume Party at Carnegie Library of West End-October 18

Halloween Party for Children at Coraopolis Library-October 18

Bunnicula’s Bunny Halloween Party at Carnegie Library Hill District-October 21

Glow in the Dark Halloween Special at Allegheny Carnegie Library-October 21

Fright Night at the Mt. Lebanon Public Library-October 24

Halloween Storywalk at the Baldwin Public Library-October 24

Family Halloween Party at Crafton Public Library-October 24

Spooky Celebration at Carnegie Library Hazelwood-October 25

Costume Party at Carnegie Library Mt. Washington-October 25

Annual Halloween Parade and Party at the Carnegie Library of McKeesport-October 25

Halloween Happenings at the Bethel Park Library-October 25

Creepy Treats at the Western Allegheny Community Library-October 25

Magician TJ Hill presents a Family Halloween at Lawrenceville Carnegie Library-October 27

Costume Parade at the Oakmont Carnegie Library-October 27

Pumpkin Carving at the Pleasant Hills Library-October 27

Family Halloween Party at Whitehall Public Library-October 27

Halloween Costume Party at Carnegie Library Main-October 28

Halloween Special at Carnegie Library Downtown-October 28

Costume Party at Carnegie Library Woods Run-October 28

Trick-or-Treat at the Carnegie Library East Liberty-October 28

Halloween Party at the Wilkinsburg Public Library-October 28

Halloween Storytime and Costume Party at the Community Library of Castle Shannon-October 28

Halloween Party at North Versailles Public Library-October 28

Costume Party at the Carnegie Library Squirrel Hill-October 29

Spooky Stories at the Cooper-Siegel Library-October 29

Boos and Howls Storytime at Carnegie Library Homewood-October 29

Costume Party at Carnegie Library Allegheny-October 30

Library Trick-or-Treat at the Western Allegheny Community Library-October 30

Halloween Party at Northern Tier Regional Library-October 30

Trick-or-Treat at the West End Library-October 31

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Haunted Attractions Appropriate for Older Kids

There are also a variety of scarier, haunted attractions for the bigger kids. Note: many of these facilities recommend that children be at least 13 years of age or older to participate.  Also, many of these facilities offer more expensive VIP passes to allow patrons to cut past the long general admission lines.

Terror Town-Strip District

Terror Town is an underground haunted attraction. Located in the Strip District.

 

The Scarehouse-Etna

One of Pittsburgh’s most popular haunted houses. Now with shuttle service from the Pittsburgh Zoo.

 

Phantom Fright Nights at Kennywood Park-West Mifflin

Enjoy Kennywood Amusement Park with a variety of haunted features and scary rides.

 

Haunted Hills Hayride and the Valley of Darkness Haunted Walking Trail-North Versailles

Enjoy two haunted experiences–a haunted hayride and a walking trail. Benefits the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Spectrum Charter School.

 

Hundred Acres Manor-South Park

A very popular haunted house located in South Park with six attractions, including a plummeting elevator, maze, torture chamber, fall-out shelter and even a zombie paintball experience for the truly brave. Benefits the Animal Friends and Homeless Children’s Education Fund.

 

West Deer Nightmare Haunted House-West Deer

Tour the possessed home of Noah Hobbs, criminal mastermind.

 

Finally, if you are interested in taking a historical ghost tour of Pittsburgh, check out these ideas:

Haunted Pittsburgh Tours

The Haunted Pittsburgh tour guides take visitors on many different ghost tours throughout the city, including some at local cemeteries.

 

Pittsburgh Terror Trolley

Molly’s Trolley hosts “Terror Trolley” tours during the month of October, which takes visitors throughout the city on a ghost tour.

 

Pedal Power Ghost Tours

Offering pedal-powered trolley ghost tours.

 

Bushy Run Battlefield’s Haunted History Tour

The Bushy Run Battlefield historic site offers its annual haunted history tour, exploring the history of the Pontiac War through scary stories and a haunted hayride.

 

And, if you love Zombies, don’t miss Zombie Fest 2014, coming to Pittsburgh on October 11th.

 

Finally, a few ways to get even MORE candy at these additional trick-or treating options:

Annual Halloween Walk at Robinson Town Center-October 25

Mt Nebo Pointe Trunk or Treat-October 25

Mall-O-Ween at the Century III Mall-October 29

Trick or Treat at the Pittsburgh Mills-October 30

Kidgits Trick or Treat at the Ross Park Mall-October 30

 

Hope you find this family guide useful over the next month! Also, please let me know if I’ve missed anything at pittsburghmommyblog@gmail.com. Have a safe and happy Halloween season!

What’s Going on in Pittsburgh this Weekend: September 26-28, 2014

Here’s my weekly listing of family-friendly events in the Pittsburgh region for the weekend of September 26-28, 2014. Highlights include Fall Festivals at many local farms, Hay Day 2014 at Hartwood Acres and the last weekend of both the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival and Penn’s Colony Festival. Enjoy!

 

Friday Night, September 26

WYEP Final Fridays at Schenley Plaza

WYEP presents its last family-friendly Final Fridays of the season in Schenley Plaza this weekend with live musical performances by the Nox Boys and Saintseneca.

Times: Concert starts at 7pm

Cost: Free

Location: Schenley Plaza, Oakland

 

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s 10th Annual Gallery Crawl

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s 10th Annual Gallery Crawl features over 30 + stops, including the Cultural Trust Education Center where kids can play an interactive, life-sized game known as “Build the Burgh” run by the American Institute of Architects. The game is all about learning architectural concepts through an activity where participants build a model Pittsburgh.

Times: 5:30-10pm

Cost: Free

Location: Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Education Center, 805-807 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Saturday and Sunday, September 27-28

Fall Festival at Simmons Farm

Simmons Farm is holding its daily Fall Festivals this weekend, featuring pick-your-own apples, hayrides, pumpkin picking, a corn maze, a barnyard petting zoo and more.

Times: 9-5:45pm

Cost: $10.50/person

Location: Simmons Farm, 170 Simmons Rd, McMurray PA 15317

 

Fall Festival at Trax Farm

Trax Farm is holding its weekly Fall Festival this weekend, featuring hayrides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, petting zoo, bounce house, rainbow express train and tons more.

Times: 10-5pm

Cost: Free to attend. Most activities cost extra

Location: Trax Farm, 528 Trax Rd, Finleyville, PA 15332

 

Fall Festival at Triple B Farms

Triple B Farms hosts a “Pumpkin Festival” starting the last weekend of September and running every Wednesday-Friday from 4-7pm and weekend days. Triple B Farms offers pick-your-own apples as well as other favorite Fall activities, including Storybook Pumpkinland (where more than 300 pumpkin-headed characters live), hayrides to the pick-your-own pumpkin patch, the Big Blue Boo Barn, a corn maze and more. Also, this weekend features a $20 Make-Your-Own Scarecrow activity. All proceeds benefit Autism Speaks.

Times: 10-6pm

Cost: Children $12, Adults $8

Location: Triple B Farms, 823 Berry Lane, Monongahela, PA

 

Cecil Township Fall Festival

Cecil Township celebrates its 27th Annual Fall Festival with live music, children’s activities, petting zoo, pony rides, bounce house and more!

Times: Saturday 10-7:30pm, Sunday 10-6pm

Cost: Free

Location: 3599 Millers Run Rd, Cecil PA 15321

 

American Indian Heritage Weekend at Meadowcroft

Visitors are invited to explore Meadowcroft’s recreated American Indian Village during this special weekend. Highlights: reenactors demonstrating daily activities of American Indian life, a tour of a wigwam and more.

Times: 10-5pm

Cost: Adults $12, Children $6, Less than 5 yo free

Location: Meadowcroft Historical Village and Rockshelter, 401 Meadowcroft Rd, Avella PA 15312

 

Fall Festival at Soergel Orchards

Soergel Orchards is holding its weekly Fall Festivals kick this weekend, featuring hayrides to the pumpkin patch, a cornstalk maze, pony rides, a bounce house, face-painting and tons more! 

Times: 11-5pm

Cost: Free to attend. Most activities cost extra

Location: Soergel Orchards, 2573 Brandt School Road, Wexford, PA 15090

 

Hayrides at Shenot Farm

Shenot Farm is also located in Wexford, but offers a smaller and less commercialized Fall Festival with free hayrides to the pumpkin patch and a huge cornstalk maze.

Times: 11-5pm

Cost: Free

Location: Shenot Farms, 3754 Wexford Run Rd, Wexford PA 15090

 

Wholey’s 102nd Anniversary Celebration

Wholey’s in the Strip District celebrates its 102nd Anniversary with food demos, a magician, petting zoo, cake, car cruise and live music.

Times: Saturday 11-4:30pm, Sunday 12-2pm

Cost: Free

Location: 1711 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15215

 

Other farm Fall Festivals starting this weekend: Schramm’s Farm to the east and Hozak Farms to the west. Also Clarion’s Autumn Leaf Festival throughout the weekend and Rural Valley Pumpkin Festival on Saturday.

 

Party with the Penguins at the National Aviary

The National Aviary celebrates their penguins this weekend! Visitors can launch rubber ducks into penguin pool for them to play with. Also, kids that are dressed in black and white clothes may be invited to join the penguins as they parade through the National Aviary. Other highlights include crafts and story times.

Times: 11-3pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: National Aviary, 700 Arch Street, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

McConnell’s Mills 2014 Heritage Festival

McConnell’s Mills will be holding its annual Heritage Festival, celebrating the operational period of the historic gristmill. Festivals includes period reenactors, bluegrass music, free tours of the mill, a civil war encampment, and children’s activities.

Times: 11-6pm

Cost: Free

Location: McConnell’s Mills State Park

 

Penn’s Colony Festival

Penn’s Colony Festival is an annual festival held in Saxonburg commemorating our region’s role in the French & Indian War and recreating the atmosphere of the “Publick Tymes” fairs in colonial America. There will be historic music, food, magic shows, children’s activities, battle reenactments and more.

Cost: Adult $7, Children 8 and over $5

Location: 365 Saxonburg Blvd, Saxonburg, PA 16056

 

Last weekend of the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival

It’s the last weekend of the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival! A very unique cultural experience, the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival features a Royal Court, jousts, vendors, music, children’s activities and more.

Times: 10:30-6:30pm

Cost: Adult $15.95 online and $17.95 at the gate, Child $7 in advance and $8 at the gate. Children under 5 are free

Location: 112 Renaissance Lane, West Newton PA 15089

 

Peter Pan at the Gemini Children’s Theater

The Gemini Children’s Theater presents their original, interactive version of Peter Pan!

Times: 1 and 3:30pm

Cost: $12

Location: Gemini Children’s Theater, Factory Building, 7501 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15208

 

Saturday, September 27

Special note: Today is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Get those old prescription drugs out of your house and away from your kids at this event from 10-2pm at many locations near you, including most of the public libraries.

 

Seesaw Center Grand Opening

The Seesaw Center is a South Hills area indoor play space open only in the cold weather months. They are holding their Grand Opening celebration this Saturday, featuring food, games, crafts, face-painting, a visit from Merida and a special $5 off on purchase of your season membership to the Center.

Times: 9:30-12:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: The Seesaw Center, 935 Pine Avenue, Castle Shannon PA

 

Build a Firetruck at Lowe’s Build and Grow Workshop

Kids are invited to a free workshop at Lowe’s where they will learn to build their own fire truck! All materials and instruction provided. Kids get an apron, goggles, certificate and can bring their projects home. Advance registration requested.

Time: 10am

Cost: Free

Location: Participating Lowe’s locations

 

Hay Days 2014 at Hartwood Acres

Allegheny County Parks Department hosts the first of its two FREE Fall Festivals this weekend. Activities include hayrides, a pumpkin patch, a hay maze, face-painting, a trackless train, pumpkin decorating and so much more. Also, paired with the Allegheny Green and Innovation Festival, which will teach every member of your family how to live more sustainably through many interactive activities and demonstrations.

Times: 11-4pm

Cost: FREE!

Location: Hartwood Acres

 

Celebrate Fall and Version 1 of Covey!

Celebrate with the Covey Moms as they release their first version of the Covey App, a new mobile app designed to help moms find each other, connect and build supportive relationships. The event will have fall-themed refreshments, pumpkin decorating, scarecrow building and lots of other fall-themed activities. Plus, you can download the app and ask questions. Looking for more info on the Covey App? Check out my blog post from Thursday.

Times: 2-5pm

Cost: Free

Location: Maple Grove Picnic Area, adjacent to the Super Playground in Highland Park

 

Sunday, September 28

Special note: The Carnegie Science Center is closed on Sunday for a Steelers home game.

 

Cafe Con Leche Chilean Brunch

Celebrate Chilean Independence Day with Cafe Con Leche at a family-friendly party, featuring traditional Chilean fare, music, dance performances and dance lessons.

Times: 11-2pm

Cost: Free

Location: Cafe Con Leche Pop Up, 5430 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Paint Monkey Cranberry 1 Year Anniversary

Paint Monkey in Cranberry is celebrating its 1 year anniversary and they are holding a family-friendly party, featuring free painting for kids under 12, a balloon artist, sweet treats and hot dogs.

Times: 11-2pm

Cost: Free

Location: Paint Monkey Cranberry, 1301 Freedom Rd, Cranberry Township, PA 16066

 

Falstaff’s Fellows Presents “As You Like It” for Kids

Falstaff’s Fellows, a troupe of young actors, joins Pittsburgh’s annual Shakespeare in the Parks for a kid-friendly version of “As You Like It” preceding the adult show.

Times: 1pm

Cost: Free

Location: Frick Park

 

Movie Matinee of Cinderella at the Cooper-Siegel Library

Fox Chapel’s Cooper-Siegel Library will present a special matinee of Cinderella.

Times: 2-3:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: Cooper-Siegel Library, 403 Fox Chapel Road, Pittsburgh PA 15238

 

Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon hosts Ugandan Kids Choir

The Ugandan Kids Choir will present traditional Ugandan music and dance in traditional costume at the Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon this Sunday.

Times: 4pm

Cost: Free

Location: Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon, 7501 Church Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15202

 

Have a great weekend!

Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy: Paige Beauchemin and the Covey App

In my “Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy” series, I feature Pittsburgh mothers who have started unique grassroots-type projects within the city. These projects directly benefit the greater good of Pittsburgh and improve the lives of our children, families, and/or other mothers.  The series is my humble effort to create a positive, supportive environment among Pittsburgh mothers.  I hope that it will a) help make these projects a success b) motivate other mothers to help support these projects and c) inspire other mothers to make their own dreams a reality.  An introduction to the series can be found here.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending NEXTpittsburgh‘s event, “What’s Next for Tech” held at AlphaLab Gear in East Liberty. The event highlighted five Pittsburgh-based startups that are changing our world through technology. Among several all-star companies was my favorite–the Covey App, a new mobile app designed to help mothers find each other and connect in the real world. “Like Tinder or Grindr for moms,” say the founders. After learning more about the Covey App, I was thoroughly impressed. I knew I needed to feature it here.

I present to you, Paige Beauchemin, my next Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy. She is a fellow Pittsburgh mother, an Ob Nurse at the Midwife Center and a member of the mommy group that blossomed into the revolutionary Covey App. I recently had the chance to interview Paige about the app and the story behind it.

Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy, Paige Beauchemin

Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy, Paige Beauchemin

What is general idea behind the Covey App?

The Covey App is a way for moms to connect easily with each other in the real world. The app uses your smart phone’s GPS location to match you with other mothers based on geography, the age and gender of your children and your personal interests. You can then mutually choose to arrange a get-together with that mother.

How can I get the Covey App?

The completely FREE Covey App will be available starting this Saturday, September 27th for Android phones. You just need to go to your phone’s app store, search for “Covey App” and download it from there. Although it is not currently available on IPhone, we are working hard to bring that capability to you soon, too.

After I download the app, what happens next?

After you download the app, you will then create an account linked to your Facebook profile. Basically, you will be asked to provide your name, as well as the ages, names and genders of your children. Based on your Facebook privacy settings, it may also pull in some photos from your Facebook account.

At this point, you are ready to start using the app. You can scroll through the profiles of different moms who have a) signed up for Covey and b) are geographically close to you. You can choose to either “hide” their profiles or “extend a branch,” meaning that you are interested in connecting with them. If they also decide to extend a branch to you, the app will give you the option of “chatting” with that mom to figure out if you would like to get together.

The app version that is coming out this weekend is only the first iteration–so it is not nearly as sophisticated as we hope Covey will become. We have lots of ideas on how to make the process of moms finding each other even easier. For example, you could choose to find moms who share your particular parenting style, or who have kids with special needs, or who have a lingering case of the “baby blues.” We are working hard to create an app that will help you find the exact kind of mom that you are looking to meet.

Is it safe?

The privacy and safety of our moms has been on the forefront of our minds from the beginning. Although the app uses GPS location to determine the proximity of mothers to each other, it never discloses specific locations. For example, you might see that a mom is one mile away from you; however, it could be in any direction. Also, we do not store tracking information about the GPS locations of the moms using the apps. Finally, we have systems in place to critically examine each new user to ensure that they actually are who they say they are.

Can all mothers use the Covey App?

Yes! All moms will be able to use Covey from day one. We currently tend to attract pregnant and new moms because the need for connecting is so critical at that time. However, again, Covey is for all moms–and we are constantly coming up with new ideas that will cater to the needs of those with older children. Dads and other caregivers will have to wait a little longer, but the app will be available to them soon as well.

When can I start using the Covey App?

You can start using the app as soon as it is available for download on September 27th. If you’d like to celebrate its launch with us, we will be holding a “Connect with Covey” event on Saturday, September 27 from 2-5pm in Highland Park at the Maple Grove, adjacent to the Super Playground. It will be a fall-themed family event with games and activities for kids and adults, fall refreshments, prizes and fall-themed photo opps. Most importantly, moms will have the opportunity to download the app and ask any questions that may come up.

The five cofounders of the Covey App

The five cofounders of the Covey App

Next, we talked about the story behind the Covey App:

How did you connect with the other cofounders of Covey?

Before the app, we were a mom group. When I was pregnant with my son, Gus, I knew that I really wanted to connect with other moms. Through a series of extremely lucky circumstances, I was fortunate enough to meet 4 other pregnant mamas, Vanessa Jameson, Jessica Ghilani, Sarah Aerni and Julie Butcher Pezzino. Our babies were all born within 1 month of each other and we began meeting early in the post-partum period. We took turns hosting–just sitting together for hours at a time, talking, nursing, laughing, putting our babies down for naps. We were truly there for each other.

After a few months, many of us went back to work. However, we continued to get together whenever possible. “Daytime mom group” eventually turned into a  “Mom’s Night Out.”

How was the idea for Covey App born?

This past November, we were together at a “Mom’s Night Out.” We started talking about how much our mom’s group had meant to us and how much we wanted other moms to have that same experience. Somebody brought up the idea of creating a dating website for moms. After realizing that most mothers have tablets or smart phones, the idea of creating an app made more sense. We got really excited and started developing ideas over emails and monthly meetings. Every time we talked about it, our excitement grew. Finally we reached a point where we needed to stop talking about it and start making it happen. We felt we had the perfect combination of talent to move forward, and we really wanted to see other moms connecting the way we had. So we took the leap.

What happened next?

Once we started thinking seriously about the project, Vanessa (our engineer) began researching ways we could move forward. She heard about an opportunity to apply for a 20-week mentoring program with the start-up accelerator, AlphaLab. She rallied the team to get our application in within less than 2 days. Once we got accepted into AlphaLab, she quit her job at Google and the clock started.

We only really began working on the project in June, and since then we have formed our company, developed a business plan, interviewed many moms about their needs, grew a rich and varied presence in social media, met with many community birth professionals and created the app itself.

Paige and her family

Paige, her husband and her son, Gus

Finally, we discussed how Paige’s personal experiences have influenced her involvement with Covey:

How did being an OB Nurse affect your involvement in Covey?

As an OB Nurse at the Midwife Center, I understand the importance of the post-partum period. I have talked to many moms who feel tremendously isolated following the births of their babies. In all of the classes I teach, I stress how important it is to reach out socially. I try to give resources for facilitating this connection, but options are definitely limited. I really wanted to make it easier for moms to form positive relationships because I believe it can drastically improve health outcomes for them, their babies, and their families.

How about being a mom?

During the year before I had my son, four of my closest friends moved out of state. So there I was, almost a mom, with very little social support. Finding my mom’s group honestly felt like a miracle to me. With Covey, moms will not have to rely so much on chance or determination. Finding other moms will be easy and convenient.

What do you hope Covey will become?

I dream of Covey bringing moms together and helping them find what I have in my mommy group. We talk a lot about this idea of “missing the village.” I truly believe that in our modern society we have become so independent that a sacred part of birthing and mothering has been lost. That sense of matriarchal community has not yet been replaced. It is something that we are missing, and, unfortunately, most women don’t even know they deserve it. We were meant to be surrounded by a community, to be supported by a community, to be taught by a community. I believe Covey is truly a way to start recreating that “village.”

covey10

Meeting with Paige

When I heard Paige’s dream of what Covey could be, I honestly got the chills. I remembered my own first post-partum period. The distance from my own mom. The insecurity of trying to nurse. The caregiver concerns. The complete exhaustion. I remember so much joy, mixed up with so much confusion. I really could have used a mom group. I really could have used Covey.

I think we all feel the loss of the “village” to some extent. We try to replace it with weirdly intimate online relationships or awkward meet-up groups with other moms. But, let’s face it–there’s a superficiality to it all that sometimes leaves me feeling heartbroken. Where’s the mom friend who will drop everything and be there when I need them? Where’s the mom friend who will share in the beauty of moments like this one:

The Covey Babies, early on

The Covey Babies, early on

I want–no–I need the support that used to come so easily when the “village” walked us through this madness. The sometimes frustrating, usually confusing and always gratifying experience of being a mom. I believe that Covey will help us find it. And quite possibly revolutionize mommyhood everywhere, too. And, to think, it all started right here–with Pittsburgh moms!

Thank you to Paige and the rest of the Covey team for so generously dedicating yourself to this idea. You didn’t have to. After all, you had already found your “village.” Nevertheless you took the brave and brilliant leap. In the process, you demonstrate to us all the enormous potential of moms working together on behalf of each other. THANK YOU!

Want to connect with the Covey App? Follow their BlogFacebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

What’s Going on in Pittsburgh this Weekend: September 19-21, 2014

Here’s my weekly listing of family-friendly events in the Pittsburgh region for the weekend of September 19-21, 2014. It’s an exciting weekend in the ‘Burgh with the kick off of the fall festival season, a Tropical India Festival at Phipps and the opening production of this season’s Gemini Children’s Theater! Plus, we will be holding our second Free Store 15104 Donation Drive at the Bloomfield Saturday Market from 9-1pm. Please bring your gently used children’s items and donate them to be redistributed for FREE to our neighbors in need!

 

All Weekend, September 19-21

Pennsylvania Bavarian Oktoberfest in Canonsburg

Canonsburg hosts a very well-known Oktoberfest each year with traditional German foods, music, and a kid’s carnival.

Times: Friday 4-11pm, Saturday 11-11pm, Sunday 12-6pm

Location: E. Pike Street and N. Central Avenue, Canonsburg

 

Saturday and Sunday, September 20-21

Fall Festival Kickoff Weekend at Soergel Orchards

Soergel Orchard’s weekend Fall Festivals kick off this weekend, featuring hayrides to the pumpkin patch, a cornstalk maze, pony rides, a bounce house, face-painting and tons more! 

Times: 11-5pm

Cost: Free to attend. Most activities cost extra

Location: Soergel Orchards, 2573 Brandt School Road, Wexford, PA 15090

 

Fall Festival Kickoff Weekend at Simmons Farm

Simmons Farm’s daily Fall Festivals kick-off this weekend, featuring pick-your-own apples, hayrides, pumpkin picking, a corn maze, a barnyard petting zoo and more.

Times: 9-5:45pm

Cost: $10.50/person

Location: Simmons Farm, 170 Simmons Rd, McMurray PA 15317

 

Fall Festival Kick-off Weekend at Trax Farm

Trax Farm’s weekend Fall Festivals begin this weekend, featuring hayrides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, petting zoo, bounce house, rainbow express train and tons more.

Times: 10-5pm

Cost: Free to attend. Most activities cost extra

Location: Trax Farm, 528 Trax Rd, Finleyville, PA 15332

 

44th Annual Covered Bridge Festival

Washington and Greene Counties are hosting their 44th Annual Covered Bridge Festival this weekend. Each of the 10 festival locations offer homestyle foods, historic re-enactments, live entertainment and children’s activities. See website for more information.

 

Festifall at Friendship Hill National Historic Site

Festifall is the annual celebration of the life of Albert Gallatin, the original owner of Friendship Hill. The free festival includes demonstrations of historic trades and crafts, live period music, eighteenth century foods, and opportunities for kids to play with historic toys. 

Times: 9-5pm

Cost: Free

Location: Friendship Hill National Historic Site, Gallatin House Visitor Center, 223 New Geneva Rd, Point Marion, PA 15474

 

Autumn Festival at Old Economy Village

Old Economy Village hosts its annual Autumn Festival this year. The Festival will feature historic cooking demonstrations, craft vendors, children’s activities, musical entertainment, and more.

Times: Saturday 10-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm

Cost: Adults $10, Child 3 and over $6

Location: Old Economy Village, Ambridge PA 15003

 

Penn’s Colony Festival

Penn’s Colony Festival is an annual festival held in Saxonburg commemorating our region’s role in the French & Indian War and recreating the atmosphere of the “Publick Tymes” fairs in colonial America. There will be historic music, food, magic shows, children’s activities, battle reenactments and more.

Cost: Adult $7, Children 8 and over $5

Location: 365 Saxonburg Blvd, Saxonburg, PA 16056

 

Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival

A very unique cultural experience, the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival features a Royal Court, jousts, vendors, music, children’s activities and more.

Times: 10:30-6:30pm

Cost: Adult $15.95 online and $17.95 at the gate, Child $7 in advance and $8 at the gate. Children under 5 are free

Location: 112 Renaissance Lane, West Newton PA 15089

 

One Last Summer Blowout at Kennywood

Kennywood hosts its last summer weekend featuring many of the regular season rides and 50% off admission! See website for more details.

 

Meet Olaf at the Learning Express of Mt. Lebanon 

Olaf will be at the Learning Express of Mt. Lebanon as the store celebrates its birthday!

Times: Saturday starting at 11am, Sunday starting at noon.

Cost: Free

Location: Learning Express of Mt. Lebanon, 1500 Washington Rd, Pittsburgh PA 15228

 

Opening Weekend of Peter Pan at the Gemini Children’s Theater

It’s opening weekend for this year’s Gemini Children’s Theater and they’re presenting their original, interactive version of Peter Pan!

Times: 1 and 3:30pm

Cost: $12

Location: Gemini Children’s Theater, Factory Building, 7501 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15208

 

Revolutionary War Encampment at the Oliver-Miller Homestead in South Park

Meet the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment as they set up camp and reenact the day-to-day life of Revolutionary War soldiers at the Oliver Miller Homestead.

Times: 1:30-4:40pm

Cost: $2

Location: Oliver-Miller Homestead, South Park

 

Saturday, September 20

Braddock Day at the Bloomfield Saturday Market

Bloomfield celebrates Braddock at their first Braddock Day! Representatives of local businesses will be on hand for demonstrations. Also, we will be holding our second Free Store 15104 Donation Drive, collecting gently used children’s items to be redistributed for FREE to our neighbors in need!

Times: 9-1pm

Cost: Free

Location: Bloomfield Saturday Market, 5050 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Ligonier Highland Games

Idlewild hosts the 56th Annual Ligonier Highland Games this year complete with highland dancing, piping, drumming, Scottish dog exhibits, athletic competitions and traditional Scottish food. Please note: amusement rides will NOT be open at Idlewild on this day.

Times: Gates open at 8am

Cost: Adults $20, Children 13 and over $10

Location: Idlewild, 2574 U.S. 30, Ligonier PA 15658

 

Screening of Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels is a new series beginning soon on the Disney Channel. AMC Lowe’s in the Waterfront is holding a special screening event with children’s activities beginning at 9:30am (photo ops, craft activities, a costume contest, etc.) and then the screening begins at 10:45am.

Cost: Free, please follow link above to register for tickets.

Location: Pittsburgh AMC, Lowe’s Waterfront

 

Worldwide Day of Play at the Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum celebrates Nickelodeon’s annual Worldwide Day of Play with a variety of fun activities, including special art projects and recreational opportunities. Also, get one free child admission for every adult admission purchased with the Museum’s Social September discounts.

Times: 10-5pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: 10 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

The Tortoise and the Hare at Chatham Baroque’s Peanut Butter and Jam Sessions

It’s opening day of this season’s “Peanut Butter and Jam Sessions” by the Chatham Baroque. Designed to cultivate an age-appropriate appreciation of baroque music, PB&J Sessions use music, movement and interactive activities to captivate preschool-aged audiences. This month’s theme is “The Tortoise and the Hare,” where performers will use this classic story to illustrate the idea of a musical piece’s tempo. Also include a healthy snack and drink.

Times: 10am and 11:15am

Cost: $8 for adults, $5 for kids

Location: McClintick Hall, Calvary Episcopal Church, 315 Shady Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

American Girl Doll Breakfast Picnic

The Mt. Lebanon Public Library is hosting an American Girl Doll Breakfast Picnic, featuring breakfast treats, American Girl stories and doll-sized craft creation. Advance registration requested.

Times: 10-11am

Cost: Free

Location: Mt. Lebanon Public Library, 16 Castle Shannon Blvd, Pittsburgh PA 15228

 

36th Annual Butler Fall Festival

Butler holds its 36th Annual Fall Festival with live entertainment, a craft fair, food and children’s activities.

Times: 11-6pm

Cost: Free

Location: Main Street, Downtown Butler, PA

 

Castle Shannon Fall Festival

Castle Shannon holds an annual Fall Festival, featuring live entertainment, a Chinese auction, food and children’s activities.

Times: 11-3pm

Cost: Free

 

The Waterfront’s Fall Fest

The Waterfront is holding its annual Fall Fest, featuring live music, the I Made It! Market, a farmer’s market, children’s activities and the 5th Annual Running of the Wieners!

Times: 1-5pm

Cost: Free

Location: The Waterfront, Town Center, Homestead PA

 

Clarion’s Autumn Leaf Festival

Clarion holds its 61st Annual Autumn Leaf Festival starting on September 20th and continuing for 9 days. The event features carnival rides and games, a Power Wheels derby, food, music and more! See website for more info.

 

Art Lab: Destroy This! at the Mattress Factory

The Mattress Factory hosts its bimonthly children’s workshop this weekend. Children can explore the concept of “destroying,” by cutting, scratching, sanding, etc on different surfaces and materials.

Times: 1-4pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: The Mattress Factory, 500 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Fern Hollow Nature Center’s Fall Music Festival

Sewickley’s Fern Hollow Nature Center hosts its annual family-friendly Fall Music Festival with a great lineup of musical acts, food trucks and tons of children’s activities, including a climbing wall, scavenger hunt, face-painting and more.

Time: 3pm

Cost: Adults $35, Children 7-17 $20, discounts available for members if purchased by 9/19.

Location: Fern Hollow Nature Center, 1901 Glen Mitchell Rd, Sewickley PA 15143

 

Sabado Gigante with Cafe Con Leche

Cafe Con Leche’s Pop-up Grand Opening Party will feature a family-friendly dance party full of Caribbean beats, Latin food and folkloric dances from all over Latin America. Appropriate for all ages.

Times: 6-9pm

Cost: Free

Location: 5430 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15206

 

Sunday, September 21

Tropical Forest India Celebration at Phipps Conservatory

Phipps celebrates its Tropical Forest India (closing in January 2015) at this one-day festival, featuring ethnic food tastings, a henna artist, live dance and sitar performances and hands-on children’s activities.

Time: 11-4pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Phipps Conservatory, 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Junior Great Race

The Dollar Bank Junior Great Race is being held at Point State Park, with a Family Fun Run, a Tot Trot, a Diaper Dash and refreshments. See website for more info and to register.

 

Kid’s Day at PNC Park

The Pirates are playing the Brewers this Sunday and it’s a Kid’s Day at PNC Park. There’s a family-friendly carnival preceding the game on Federal Street, all kids get a special gift at the gate and they also can run the bases after the games concludes.

Time: Carnival starts at 11am, Game starts at 1:35pm

Location: PNC Park, 115 Federal Street, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Penguin Painting at the National Aviary

The National Aviary’s penguins will be painting for YOU one Sunday per month until December. Guests can purchase different-sized canvasses and choose paint colors. Then the penguins will use their feet to create a unique work of art to take home. Preregistration required. See website for more details.

 

Have a great weekend!

2014 Indoor Play Spaces in Pittsburgh Family Guide

littlehousebigart1

Little House Big Art

There’s no denying it. The cold, wet weather is rapidly approaching. With it, will come a whole new set of challenges–ear infections, leaking in my basement and, of course, antsy children. Being cooped up indoors stinks for my kids…and their mom, too! This Fall and Winter, I’m hoping to keep my kids active by visiting the huge array of indoor play spaces in Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities.

To help guide your own adventures over the cold weather months, here’s my 2014 Indoor Play Spaces in Pittsburgh Family Guide. This guide has been updated from my 2013 version to include many new play spaces, as well as some spots designed for older kids including bowling alleys, roller rinks, ice skating rinks, laser tag arenas, batting cages and much more! I have included stand-alone play spaces, as well as play spaces within local museums, libraries and shopping venues.

The Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library

The Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library

Stand-alone Play Spaces (organized by location):

Pittsburgh City

Pittsburgh has many unique stand alone play spaces for children within its city limits. First, there’s always our perennial favorite:

The Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library (PTLL)

This volunteer-run facility on Centre Avenue in Shadyside has toys geared to children up to kindergarten, including a specific enclosed area for babies. There is also an arts and crafts area, a kitchen, child-sized seating and highchairs, and lots more. Plus, they have an extensive collection of toys to borrow and bring home (must be a member for this service). Your first visit to the PTLL is free, subsequent visits are $5/child up to $10/family and membership is available.

Another option:

Wilkins School Community Center Play Space

There is also another similar indoor play space in Regent Square called the Wilkins School Community Center playspace. This space is also a cooperative run by volunteers. In contrast to the PTLL, drop-in visits are not available. Instead, you are required to buy a $40 membership to visit. Membership also entails volunteering two hours per month.

This year, I’ve also found other play spaces within the city limits that are probably better for the slightly older child.

The Wheel Mill

The Wheel Mill is Pittsburgh’s first and only indoor bike and skate park located in Homewood. The Wheel Mill is open to all ages, although typically children start visiting around age 3. Besides the mountain bike and BMX terrain on the first floor, the Wheel Mill also offers a 2nd floor “Fundamental Skills Area,” which is flatter and more family-friendly. The Wheel Mill rents balance bikes, youth bikes and adult bikes at very reasonable rates. Alternatively, you are welcome (and encouraged) to bring your own bikes. The Wheel Mill also hosts family-friendly events throughout the winter.

The Climbing Wall

Located in the Factory Building in Point Breeze, the Climbing Wall offers several options for children ages 6 and older, including a) a Kids Climb program, where children up to age 12 can practice fundamental rock-climbing skills in their top-roping area with experienced staff. The program runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5-7pm and costs $15 for first visit and $12 for subsequent classes b) a Bouldering area where children over age 6 can climb anytime during open hours c) a top-roping area where children over age 6 can climb anytime during open hours as long as they are supervised by someone who is belay certified. Finally, the Climbing Wall offers a homeschool program, as well as birthday parties.

REI

REI in the Southside Works has an indoor climbing wall called the “Pinnacle.” The store offers a “Kinderclimb” from 1-2:30pm on Fridays, where children (aged 5 or over 40 pounds) can top-rope with a professionally-trained instructor. The wall is also open for open climb for all (including children) on Fridays from 3-8pm, Saturdays 11-8pm and Sundays 12-5pm. Please note: your family must purchase an REI membership ($20 for your lifetime) to climb the Pinnacle.

Mellon Park Tennis Center

Mellon Park hosts an indoor family-friendly tennis court for children 4 and older. On Friday nights they offer open tennis play for kids over 5 years old from 7-10pm. On Saturdays, the center has children’s classes for kids as young as 4 years old throughout the morning. In addition, courts can be reserved in advance by families if you give the center a call.

Arsenal Bowling Lanes

Arsenal Bowling Lanes is a family-friendly standard 10-pin bowling alley located in Lawrenceville. According to the staff, the best time to bring kids is probably weekend afternoons when they offer a) an All-You-Can-Bowl special for $7 on Saturdays from 12-3pm and b) on Sundays from 1-4pm, there’s a $6 entry fee and then 50 cents for shoe rentals, games, hot dogs and soda. After 9pm, the facility is 21yo and older.

Other city bowling alley options include Forward Lanes in Squirrel Hill, Millvale Lanes in Millvale and Swissvale Arcade Lanes in Swissvale.

There are also several indoor play spaces to nurture the crafty child within the city:

Little House Big Art

Little House Big Art is located in the Spring Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. This hidden gem is a haven of creativity for children. It has supplies for many, many creative projects including pottery, sewing, beading, knitting, terrarium-building, painting, watercolors and so much more!

Color Me Mine

Squirrel Hill’s Color Me Mine is a walk-in paint-your-own ceramics studio located on the corner of Forbes and Shady Avenues.

Kiln N Time

Lawrenceville’s Kiln N Time is an upscale paint-your-own pottery studio offering handcrafted pottery that can then be decorated using underglaze colors, stencils, stamps and more. Children are welcome.

Mosaic K Art Studio

Aspinwall hosts kid-friendly Mosaic K Art Studio offering painting, wood crafts, knitting and more.

Also, if you’re interested in taking your children swimming in the colder months, check out the indoor pools at the Kingsley Association and the Oliver Bath House. Daily visitor’s passes are available at these spots. You can also consider getting a membership at one of the many YMCA’s of Greater Pittsburgh or the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill or the South Hills if you would like to use their pool and other facilities.

Finally, there are many community recreation centers in the city’s neighborhoods. Many of them offer indoor gymnasiums with basketball courts, table tennis, game rooms and more. To find a community recreation center near you, check out this list.

Climb North in Wildwood

Climb North in Wildwood, Photo Courtesy of Climb North

Pittsburgh North

Here are some indoor playspace options in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh:

Jump!Zone

A family-owned indoor play space in Allison Park filled with giant inflatables available for Open Play. Bring socks!

Wildwood Highlands

Wildwood Highlands is a massive entertainment complex in Hampton Township that includes both outdoor and indoor play opportunities for both little and big kids.  Kiddie City, a 4-level indoor jungle gym with slides, ball pits, and soft mats is specifically geared towards young children.  Bring socks!

Fun Fest Entertainment Center

Fun Fest Entertainment Center is located in Harmar and includes cosmic bowling, arcade games, laser tag, pool, food and more.

Fun Fore All

A large entertainment complex in Cranberry Township with outdoor and indoor activities. Includes a large indoor play space for all ages called Ballocity. Also a separate area for toddlers.

Bounce U of Warrendale

A play space filled with giant inflatables. Offers several different Open Bounce opportunities, including a Preschool Playdate option for children younger than 6.

Fun Slides Carpet Skatepark

“Fun Slides” were invented in the early 2000’s and are basically smooth plastic “skates” that strap under athletic shoes and allow kids to skate on carpets. Although I haven’t visited this Perry Highway facility, I’ve heard many families say it’s a blast! This location includes a flatter area for beginners and more advanced areas for the experienced skater.

Laser Storm

Laser Storm is an indoor family entertainment complex on McKnight Road featuring laser tag, arcade games and a climbing wall simulator.

Climb North

A family-friendly climbing facility, Climb North is located in Wildwood. It has both bouldering and top roping for children 6 and up. They also offer a beginner 8-week class geared toward 6-11 year olds on Mondays from 5-6:30 for $100.

Chuck E. Cheese

Of course, there’s always always Chuck E. Cheese’s off McKnight Road.

Looking for bowling alleys in the north? Check out Pines Plaza Lanes and Perry Park Lanes. If you would like to burn some energy off at an indoor ice skating rink, check out Blade Runners Harmarville and Warrendale Ice Complex and the Ice Connection of Pittsburgh. If you would like to visit an indoor roller rink, check out Romp N Roll in Glenshaw or Skate Castle in Butler. If you would like to play indoor mini golf, check out GlowGolf at the Ross Park Mall.

Finally, if you want to nurture your crafty kid in the North Hills, check out Katie’s Clay Studio, Clayful Pottery, Christine’s Painting Place and The Art Place Studio Wexford.

Snapology in the South Hills

Snapology in Bethel Park

Pittsburgh South

Now, on to the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh!

The Seesaw Center

An indoor play space geared toward children up to age kindergarten similar to the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library, but only open in the colder weather months. The Seesaw Center opens with limited hours on September 15th and then will have a grand opening celebration on September 27th.

Gymsport Athletic Center

Bridgeville’s Gymsport offers Preschool Playtime for children who are preschool-aged or younger.  Children can burn off energy on their large Jungle Gym and other age-appropriate equipment.

Lilliput Towne Center

An indoor play space in McMurray hosted by Lilliput Play Homes, makers of some of the cutest kid-sized buildings that I have ever seen. Lilliput Towne Center is a pretend miniature town with a grocery store, doctor’s office, fire station, post office and tons more.

Snapology

A great Bethel Park spot for children to practice their fine motor skills. Features tons of Lego’s for all ages, an imagination playground, preschool play area, IPads with Lego games, remote slot car racing, and tons more. We visited Snapology last year and thought it was wonderful.

Flight Trampoline Park

Bridgeville’s Flight Trampoline Park is an indoor playspace featuring over 50 connected trampolines, a foam pit, dodgeball, bounceballs and more.

Upper St. Clair Recreation Center’s Aquatic Center

The Upper St. Clair Recreation Center hosts an indoor water park complete with a recreational pool with zero-depth entry, underwater benches, lazy river, slides,  interactive water structure, and tiny tots area, as well as a lap pool and a whirlpool. A day pass is available for $12 for 2 year or older. For more info, check out Pgh Momtourage’s recent blog post about it.

Planet Bounce

This Canonsburg indoor play space is located southwest of the city. It features inflatables, slides, jumps, obstacle courses and more.

Legacy Lanes

Legacy Lanes in the South Hills offers bowling, laser tag and arcade games.

Chuck E. Cheese’s Bridgeville

Chuck E. Cheese’s also has a location in Bridgeville.

Looking for other options in the south? There’s bowling at AMF Mt. Lebanon Lanes. There’s indoor ice skating at the Ice Castle Arena, Iceoplex at Southpointe and Blade Runners Bethel Park Ice Complex. Finally, there’s crafty activities at Color Me Mine South Hills, That Pottery Place, Fired Up Pottery Studio and Silvi’s Art Studio for Kids.

Monster Mini Golf in Monroeville, Photo courtesy of Monster Mini Golf

Monster Mini Golf in Monroeville, Photo courtesy of Monster Mini Golf

Pittsburgh East

After publishing last year’s post, I had a number of people ask me about indoor play spaces in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. Here’s what I found:

Dave and Buster’s

Dave and Buster’s is a large entertainment complex located at the Waterfront in Homestead. It has hundreds of arcade games, billiards, shuffleboard, bowling, food and more.

Murrysville Sports Zone

Murrysville Sports Zone is a recreational facility in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. It hosts public roller and in-line skating hours, open stick-time on the ice rink and a Party Zone indoor playspace with tunnels, ropes, slides and more.

Seabase Family Fun Center

A Greensburg family favorite–has 2 large indoor play gyms with tubes, mazes, and slides as well as a specific toddler play area.

Fun Slides Carpet Skatepark

Pittsburgh’s second Fun Slides location is located in Greensburg and I’ve heard many families say it’s a blast! This location includes a flatter area for beginners and more advanced areas for the experienced skater.

Monster Mini Golf

Monroeville hosts the very unique Monster Mini Golf. This indoor mini golf course is monster-themed with black lights and spooky props.

All American Baseball Center East

Trafford’s All American Baseball Center East offers indoor manual fast pitching machines in its batting cages. Open to the public from 3-9pm on weekdays and 9-9pm on weekends. Available in 30 minute blocks for $30 or 1 hour blocks for $45.

Chuck E. Cheese’s Monroeville and Greensburg

Also, Chuck E. Cheese’s has two eastern locations in Monroeville and Greensburg.

Looking for more options? The eastern suburbs have Brunswick Playmor Lanes for bowling, Eden Park Roller Rink for roller-skating and Center Ice Arena for ice-skating. They also have indoor swimming at the Carnegie of Homestead Athletic Club and an indoor skatepark called Pipes Skatepark.

Sky Zone Leetsdale

Sky Zone Leetsdale

Pittsburgh West

Finally, here are some of the indoor playspace options for the western suburbs of Pittsburgh:

Latitude 360

Robinson’s Latitude 360 is billed as an “upscale” entertainment complex. It has over 70 interactive video games, bowling, movies and several dining options. Also, can become a member (starting at $25/month) to get unlimited movie screenings for up to 6 people/day, 2 comedy tickets/month, $25 game card/month, 1 free hour of bowling/month, and points.

Sky Zone Leetsdale

This northwestern play space is an indoor trampoline park offering open jump, a Foam Zone, 3-D Dodgeball, and a basketball court.  All ages are welcome.

Island Sports Center

This premier indoor recreational facility on Neville Island has ice skating, hockey, and an indoor driving range with kid-friendly golf lessons.

Xtreme Laser Storm Robinson

Xtreme Laser Storm in Robinson features an extensive indoor laser tag arena, arcade games and a snack shop.

Greentree SportsPlex

An indoor batting cage located in Greentree. They have coin-operated slow pitch softball and slow, medium and fast pitch baseball on Mondays-Friday 4-9pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11-4pm. $10 for All-You-Can-Hit.

Looking for more options in the west? For bowling, there’s AMF Noble Bowling Lanes and Crafton Ingram Bowling Lanes. For roller skating, there’s Neville Roller Drome and for ice-skating, there’s Airport Ice Arena. And for the crafty kid, there’s Clay Cafe in Sewickley.

E2 Toys 2 Try

E2 Toys 2 Try

Shopping Venue Play Spaces 

I have also included a category for shopping venue play spaces.  At some of these places, parents can actually drop their children off while they do their shopping.  At others, parents must be present.

Malls

Most of the local malls have free play areas where parents must stay with their kids.  I have frequented some of these with my kids and found most of them to be pretty traditional in design.  However, there are a few really creative play spaces, such as the Monroeville Mall’s Play Area modeled after Mister Roger’s Neighborhood of Make Believe. Also, Station Square‘s Freight House Shops has a (very) small train-themed play area with the Station Square Express, a trackless train that winds throughout the building. Finally, I’ve heard that the Ross Park Mall play area is pretty fun, too.

Giggles and Smiles

The Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills and the Monroeville Mall also have a play space called Giggles and Smiles.  This is a supervised play area where you can drop your child (aged 3-10) off for up to 3 hours while you explore the mall (or even leave if you want).  If your child is younger than age 3 then you must stay in the play area with them.

Other Shopping Venue Play Spaces

Eagle’s Nest Child Care at Giant Eagle

Select Giant Eagle locations offer the Eagle’s Nest Child Care option for parents to use while doing their grocery shopping.  You can check your 3+ yo child into these facilities and they can play with a variety of imaginative play items, computers, arts supplies, etc. You MUST remain in the store!

IKEA Smaland Play Area at IKEA Pittsburgh

IKEA Pittsburgh also has a free supervised play area in the entrance lobby for children between the heights of 37″-54″ who are potty-trained.  Kids can play for up to an hour while you shop!  Also, the children’s department in the store has lots of toys available for the kids to play with. We’ve spent lots of time there recently :)

E2 Toys 2 Try

A unique toy store in Bridgeville focusing on eco-friendly toys that promote creativity and imagination.  Has a special indoor play area where children can test the toys while you shop!

Fun Buy the Pound

A unique toy store in Sewickley, where children can play and build with the toys.  Then, you can pay for their creations by the pound!

Playthings, Etc.

Located in Butler, this massive toy store is built to resemble a stealth bomber with a space age atmosphere inside! They have over 3000 toys to choose from and children are encouraged to try many of them out.

Discovery Basecamp at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Discovery Basecamp at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Museums

Here’s my listing of Pittsburgh’s museums with information about their play spaces geared toward children.

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

The Children’s Museum is an obvious choice for an indoor-type day.  The entire facility is geared toward kids and there are plenty of play spaces for children of all ages and with all sorts of interests.  To give you some examples: my 4 year old enjoys the Studio and the MAKESHOP.  My 2 year old son loves splashing around in the Waterplay exhibit (bring an extra set of clothes).

Phipps Conservatory

Phipps Conservatory is one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh and a go-to destination with my kids. They love exploring the entire facility, but in particular they enjoy their indoor play space, the Phipps Public Market. It is a pretend Farmer’s Market where the kids can put food into grocery carts and then pretend to check out at a cash register.

Carnegie Science Center

We have only been to this museum a few times so far, but my kids really enjoyed exploring it.  They especially liked the children’s play area called Exploration Station Jr where they played with the water table, practiced some building, played with balls, and lots more!  In addition, the Miniature Railroad and Village was unbelievable. Finally, the Highmark Sportworks Complex offers over 30 interactive exhibits where kids can learn about living a healthy, active lifestyle and try their hand at a variety of sports.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

We recently revisited the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and had a blast. Both my kids enjoyed the kid-friendly Discovery Basecamp, where they got to explore artifacts, bones, try out a microscope and tons more. They also enjoyed seeing dinosaur fossils, mummies, natural habitat dioramas and more. The attached Carnegie Museum of Art does not have a specific area for children, but does offer various educational activities geared toward children in its galleries.

The National Aviary

Although the National Aviary does not have its own young child-specific play area, it is a still a great place to wander through with the little ones.  It is a nice alternative to the Pittsburgh Zoo on a wet, chilly day.

PPG Aquarium

Although the PPG Aquarium does not have its own specific play space for little ones, my kids still love exploring it.  Unfortunately, it does not have its own separate entrance and is located far from the entry gates of the Pittsburgh Zoo at the top of a very large hill.  For this reason, we rarely visit it during the colder, wet months.

Heinz History Center

The Heinz History Center has two exhibit spaces specifically geared towards children. Kidsburgh is an interactive two-tier playspace that features a pretend ice cream counter, a build-your-own cityscape with foam blocks, and a Liberty Tunnel slide. Discovery Place features a train table, a “Steel Mill” where kids can wear construction helmets and climb through a make-believe mill, plus a range of hands-on activities (sewing, penmanship, model car racing, pickle jar packing, and hairdressing). Also, at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum kids can try out golf, throw a football, design a medal, see how high they can jump, and pose with sports figures from Pittsburgh history.

Finally, the Mattress Factory of Contemporary Art is a North Side gem featuring room-sized installation art. Although, the Museum does not have a specific area for children, we still enjoy exploring it. The Museum also hosts many child-friendly educational activities.

Although it is currently closed for construction, the Frick Art & Historical Center has a Car and Carriage Museum with a variety of antique vehicles to explore. Please note: it can be tough for the little ones since they are not allowed to climb inside of them.

Other Pittsburgh museums that might be of interest to families include the Toonseum and Bicycle Heaven.

The Shaler North Hills Library

The Shaler North Hills Library

Libraries

I have spent the last 4+ years exploring many of Allegheny County’s libraries with my kids. Most, if not all, have wonderful children’s departments. Some even have great play spaces for the kids to romp around in. My personal favorite: the Shaler North Hills Library and its wonderful indoor play space and children’s programming. I also enjoy visiting the Carnegie libraries in Squirrel Hill, Oakland and Oakmont and the Mt Lebanon Public Library.

Although I have not personally visited the Northland Public Library or Bethel Park Public Library, I have also heard great things about their children’s play areas.

So, there you go! Enjoy the 2014 indoor play season in Pittsburgh and its neighboring suburbs :).

Also, if I have missed anywhere (and I know I must have), please send me an email at pittsburghmommyblog@gmail.com and I will add it to the list.

Have fun!

What’s Going on in Pittsburgh this Weekend: September 12-14, 2014

Here’s my weekly listing of family-friendly events in the Pittsburgh region for the weekend of September 12-14, 2014. Highlights of  this weekend include the Strip District World Festival, Alphabet Trail and Tales and Family Fun Day at the Frick. Have a great weekend!

 

All Weekend, September 12-14

Strip District World Festival

Celebrate the melting pot of Pittsburgh at the Strip District’s World Festival, featuring global entertainment, ethnic food booths, sidewalk sales and children’s activities and games.

Times: Friday night 6-9pm, Saturday 12-9pm, Sunday 12-7pm

Cost: Free entertainment, other activities and food may cost

Location: Strip District

 

Saturday and Sunday, September 13-14

Pick-your-own apples at Simmons Farm

Simmons Farm’s pick-your-own apples are ready! They currently have Gala apples available.

Times: 9-4pm

Location: Simmons Farm, 170 Simmons Rd, McMurray PA

 

Pick-your-own apples at Triple B Farms

Triple B Farms is ready for pick-your-own apples! First varieties to ripen are typically Gala and Honeycrisps.

Times: 9-5pm

Location: Triple B Farms, 823 Berry Lane, Monongahela PA

 

Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival

A very unique cultural experience, the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival features a Royal Court, jousts, vendors, music, children’s activities and more.

Times: 10:30-6:30pm

Cost: Adult $15.95 online and $17.95 at the gate, Child $7 in advance and $8 at the gate. Children under 5 are free

Location: 112 Renaissance Lane, West Newton PA 15089

 

National Aviary Down Under

The National Aviary is hosting an Australian adventure for its visitors this weekend. Highlights: special keeper talks, Outback Bingo, outback-inspired crafts, storytimes and more.

Times: 11-3pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: National Aviary, 700 Arch Street, Pittsburgh PA

 

Idlewild’s Oktoberfest Weekend

Idlewild offers its annual family-friendly Oktoberfest with German-style music, food, a craft fair–plus rides! Please note: SoakZone is not open on this day. Please see website for more info.

 

Smicksburg Apple Festival

Located in rural Indiana County, Smicksburg is a small borough situated northeast of Pittsburgh and inhabited by many Old Order Amish people. Each year, the town hosts an Apple Fest with apple butter and cider-making demonstrations, locally-grown apples for sale, food, and entertainment.

Times: Saturday 10-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm

Cost: Free

Location: Smicksburg PA

 

Stahlstown Flax Scutching Festival

The Flax Scutching Festival offers demonstrations of the historic process of making linen from the flax plant. The festival also includes homemade foods, crafts, antique farm equipment, live music, a civil war encampment, a covered wagon train encampment and a staged American Indian raid. The Festival is located in Stahlstown south of the city in Westmoreland County.

Times: Saturday 9-6pm, Sunday 9-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: 1703 Route 711, Stahlstown PA 15687

 

Saturday, September 13

Alphabet Trail and Tales

Join Citiparks at their 15th annual Alphabet Trail and Tales in Frick Park. You will be guided along the trail by huge letters. Along the way, you will find handpainted story sets and book readings by children’s authors, crafts, games, pony rides, face-painting and more!

Times: 10-1pm

Cost: Free

Location: Frick Blue Slide Park, Squirrel Hill

 

UPMC Health Plan Let’s Move Family Fun Fun Day at the Frick

The Frick is holding their annual Let’s Move celebration on the grounds of the museum this weekend. They will have the equipment for badminton, croquet, sack races, ring toss, hoop rolling, hopscotch boards, and obstacle course and more.

Times: 10-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: Frick Art and Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds Street, Pittsburgh

 

Lowe’s Build and Grow Binocular Workshop

Lowe’s is hosting its bimonthly Build and Grow Workshop this weekend. Children will be constructing binoculars that they can take home. All instruction and materials provided. Children get an apron, goggles and certificate of achievement. Advance registration required.

Time: 10am

Cost: Free

Location: Participating Lowe’s locations

 

Art Together Workshop with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Join the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust at their Art Together Workshop for children 4-6 years old and caregivers. Explore favorite storybooks through the creation of multi-media masterpieces. Advance registration requested.

Times: 11-12:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: Trust Arts Education Center, 805-807 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Morningside Community Day

Morningside hosts its annual Community Day with food, music and activities for kids!

Times: 11-2pm

Cost: Free to attend

 

Robinson Township’s 12th Annual Autumn Festival

Robinson Township celebrates the beginning of autumn with music, food, games and activities for kids.

Times: 12-10pm

Cost: Free to attend

Location: Burkett Sports & Recreation Complex, 5476 Steubenville Pike

 

Specimen Identification Day at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is hosting an opportunity for you to bring rocks, shells, insects and artifacts to be inspected and identified by their professionals.

Times: 12-4pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Penny Arcade at the Arcade Comedy Theatre

The Arcade Comedy Theatre hosts a monthly kid-friendly improv comedy show. Children participate in interactive exercises before the show in order to develop a storyline that is then acted out before their eyes!

Times: 1pm

Cost: $10

Location: Arcade Comedy Theater, 811 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15222

 

Children’s Fall Festival at the Carpenter Log House in Boyce Park

Enjoy a Fall Festival at the Carpenter Log House in Boyce Park, featuring children’s games, activities and a visit from Abe Lincoln!

Times: 1-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: Carpenter Log House, Boyce Park

 

Sunday, September 14

Requin Tech Tour

Delve deeper into the science of submarines that the Carnegie Science Center’s submarine, the USS Requin. Visitors will be able to visit parts of it that aren’t usually open to the public and receive an in-depth tour. Register by calling 412-237-1637.

Time: 9am

Cost: Members $15, Nonmembers $25

Location: Carnegie Science Center, 1 Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Macy’s Elephant Day at the Pittsburgh Zoo

Celebrate the Pittsburgh Zoo’s herd of elephants with face-painting, crafts, games, birthday cake and a Radio Disney dance party.

Times: 11-3pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Pittsburgh Zoo, One Wild Place, Pittsburgh PA

 

Lawrenceville Turns 200 Week at Row House Cinema

The Row House Cinema hosts a “Kids will be Kids” show at noon, featuring Despicable Me.

Time: 12 noon

Cost: $6

Location: Row House Cinema, 4115 Butler Street, Pittsburgh PA 15201

 

Kid’s Day at PNC Park

This weekend the Pirates play the Chicago Cubs and Sunday is a Kid’s Day, featuring a carnival-like experience on Federal Street starting at 11am, a special kid’s gift at the gate, and the opportunity to run the bases post-game.

Times: Game starts at 1:35pm

Location: PNC Park, 115 Federal Street, Pittsburgh PA

 

Me, Mommy and Dolly Tea at the Mansion at Hartwood Acres

Don a fancy dress, hat and gloves and bring your little ladies to Hartwood Acres Mansion with their favorite dolly. They will be offering a high tea with activities. Advance registrations required.

Times: 11am

Cost: Resident $20/child, Nonresident $25/child

Location: Hartwood Acres Mansion, Hartwood Acres

 

2nd Annual Latino Day at Kennywood

Celebrate Latino culture at this family-friendly event at Kennywood, featuring live music, ethnic food, giveaways and family activities. Plus, all the wonderful rides at Kennywood.

Times: 12:30-7pm

Cost: $27 Adult, Kids under 2 are free. Use promo code Latino2014 to buy your tickets online. Ticket sales benefit Braddock Redux, El Sistema and Casa San Jose.

Location: Kennywood, 4800 Kennywood Boulevard, West Mifflin, PA

 

Babypalooza 2014 at the Monroeville Convention Center

The entire family is invited to Babypalooza at the Monroeville Convention Center, featuring a “Pre-Natal to Preschool” showcase with seminars, free product samples, prizes and children’s activities.

Time: 12-4pm

Cost: Adult $12 in advance, $15 at door, children under 10 are free

Location: Monroeville Convention Center, South Hall

Join us at the Second Free Store 15104 Donation Drive!

Our First Free Store Donation Drive

Our First Free Store 15104 Donation Drive

As some of you may remember, I hosted the first Free Store 15104 Donation Drive earlier this summer at the Waterfront‘s Summer Music and Marketplace. The turnout was just wonderful–we managed to fill up an entire U-Haul in just a few hours! The items we collected were then redistributed for FREE to needy residents of Braddock and the rest of Allegheny County at Free Store 15104.

Now, I am excited to announce that I’m teaming up yet again with the Free Store to host another donation drive on September 20th at the Bloomfield Saturday Market during the first annual Braddock Day. Not only will we be collecting gently used children’s clothing, toys and baby gear on this day. We will also be celebrating all of the creativity and progress emerging from the Braddock community with:

We will be collecting all of the items mentioned above in a U-Haul parked near the Gross Street gate from 9-1pm. Please park your car in the reserved spots on Gross Street adjacent to the U-Haul to unload. We will have tax receipts on hand if you would like them. We will also have chalk and bubbles. Plus, the wonderful and talented Genevieve of the AP Collection will be doing free face-painting again!

Please join us on September 20th as we celebrate this season’s harvest at one of the city’s most family-friendly Farmer’s Markets. Plus, join the effort to support a community that has already come so far, but still needs our help! If you would like to RSVP, please visit our Facebook event page.

Many thanks to the Bloomfield Saturday Market and the Bloomfield Development Corporation for supporting Braddock and hosting our Drive. Show them some love at their own Harvest for the Hungry Produce Drive to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.