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.

 

 

Giveaway: Six Family Four Packs of Tickets to the VIP Opening of Cinemark North Hills

Pittsburgh’s North Hills will welcome a new Cinemark Theater on September 19th. This NextGen movie theater will have twelve auditoriums–all with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling screens. It will also feature one Cinemark XD:Extreme Digital Cinema auditorium. The new Cinemark Theater is located at 851 Providence Boulevard, very close to McKnight Road and UPMC Passavent.

New Cinemark North Hills. Photo courtesy of Cinemark

I have SIX family four packs of tickets to the VIP Grand Opening of the Theater on Thursday, September 18th. This event will feature 12 new or recent films, free popcorn and free fountain drinks. Although the final lineup of movies has not yet been chosen, films will cross all genres, including at least two family-friendly choices. Doors open at 6pm for a small opening ceremony. All shows start at 7pm and seating is on a first-come, first serve basis.

Enter to win one of these family-four packs below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will run until 5pm on Friday. Winners will be announced within 24 hours and tickets will be mailed directly to the address you provide.

Good luck!

What’s Going on in Pittsburgh this Weekend: September 5-7, 2014

Here’s my weekly listing of family-friendly events in the Pittsburgh region for the weekend of September 5-7, 2014. Highlights of this weekend include the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, A Fair in the Park, the Great American Water Balloon Fight, and the Lovelace Puppet Festival.

Also, for more ideas please check out my recent article in NEXTpittsburgh, Top Ten Family Adventures this September in Pittsburgh.

 

All Weekend, September 5-7

Pittsburgh Irish Festival

The 24th Annual Pittsburgh Irish Festival will be at the Riverplex at Sandcastle this weekend with Irish music, food, children’s activities, games, vendors, an Irish dog tent and TONS more!

Times: Friday 4-11pm, Saturday 11-11pm, Sunday 9-5pm

Cost: Adults $12 in advance and $14 at the gate, Children under 12 are free

Location: Riverplex at Sandcastle, 1000 Sandcastle Drive, Homestead PA

 

A Fair in the Park

The Craftsmen’s Guild of Pittsburgh presents their 70th annual “Fair in the Park” at Mellon Park, featuring contemporary fine art, fine crafts, live musical entertainment, food trucks and children’s activities.

Times: Friday 1-7pm, Saturday 10-7pm, Sunday 10-5pm

Cost: Free

Location: Mellon Park, Pittsburgh PA

 

Edinboro Highland Games and Scottish Festival

Edinboro University will be holdings its 21st annual Highland Games and Scottish Festival, where the campus will be filled with the traditions of Scotland, including music performances, highland dance and athletic competitions, clan gatherings, fiddle and harp competitions, kids’ crafts, games and food.

Times: Friday 3-8pm, Saturday 9:30-4:30, Sunday 11-1pm

Cost: Free, except for $10 parking donation appreciated

Location: Edinboro University, 219 Meadville Street, Edinboro PA

 

Mountain Craft Days

The Somerset Historical Society is hosting the 43rd Annual Mountain Craft Days, intended to preserve the historic crafts and trades of Somerset County. The event features a mix of historical demonstrations, music and food.

Times: 10-5pm

Cost: Adults $7, Children 6 and over are $4, Children 5 and under are free

Location: Somerset Historical Center, 10649 Somerset Pike, Somerset PA

 

Friday Night, September 5 

Unblurred

Unblurred is the monthly gallery crawl through the Garfield section of Penn Avenue and it’s surprisingly kid-friendly, especially if you go earlier in the night. A highlight is usually a visit to Assemble (a community space with activities and snacks for kids), the  Garfield Night Market and street musicians.

 

First Fridays at the Frick

This month’s First Fridays at the Frick outdoor concert series features Sean Jones, a world-renowned trumpeter.

Times: 7pm

Cost: Suggested donation $5, Children Free

Location: The Great Lawn, Frick Art and Historical Center,

 

Saturday and Sunday, September 6-7

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

Grandparent Appreciation Days at the Children’s Museum

Grandparents get $5 admission to the Children’s Museum this weekend. Just say “proud grandparent” when you purchase your tickets. Also, use the promo code PROUDGRANDPARENT if you purchase your tickets online.

Times: 10-5pm

Location: Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, 10 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Fall of the Leaf Weekend at Idlewild

Idlewild celebrates the beginning of autumn with music, classic cars, crafts, food and rides. See website for more details.

 

Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival

It’s “Wine Revelry!” Weekend at the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival. Participate in a grape stomping competition and sample local wines. Plus, see all the usual attractions at the Renaissance Festival including live jousts, the royal court, vendors, music, etc. See website for more details.

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

 

Saturday, September 6

Home Depot Free Kid’s Workshop

Join the Home Depot at a kid-friendly workshop where children can learn how to build a “Wizard of Oz TM Birdhouse.” All materials and instructions provided. Children get an apron, pin, certificate of achievement and get to bring their birdhouse home!

Times: 9-12pm

Cost: Free

Location: Participating Home Depot locations, including East Liberty branch

 

The Great American Water Balloon Fight

The 3rd Annual Great American Water Balloon Fight is coming to Schenley Plaza in Oakland. Doors open at 10am. There will be music and yoga and then the water balloon fight starts around 1pm. Proceeds benefit Team Tassy.

Times: 10am

Cost: $25

Location: Schenley Plaza, Oakland

 

Opening Day of the new Heinz Exhibit at the Heinz History Center

Experience 145 years of the Heinz Company in the new Heinz exhibit at the History Center. Learn how the company’s innovation and creativity helped it grow into one of the most well-known brands in the world. The first 57 visitors on opening day receive free museum admission. All visitors get a complimentary Heinz pickle pin.

Times: 10-5pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh PA

 

Whiteside Road Community Day in the Hill District

Join the Hill District community at Whiteside Road Community Day for food, vendors, door prizes, face-painting, balloon sculptures and more.

Times: 10-8pm

Cost: Free

Location: Gibson Field, 2217 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15219

 

Learn to Snowboard at the Carnegie Science Center

Seven Springs Resort will be bringing snowboards and boots to the Highmark Sportswords to provide snowboard instruction to children 3-8 and under 60 pounds.

Times: 11-3pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Carnegie Science Center, 1 Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

South Oakland Community Day

South Oakland presents its second annual Community Day with food, music, raffles, giveaways, sports, games and activities for all ages.

Times: 12-7pm

Cost: Free

Location: Dan Marino Field, Frazer Fieldhouse, corner of Dawson and Frazer streets

 

ArtLab: Fill this Space at the Mattress Factory

Come to the Mattress Factory and fill an entire room with bubbles, yarn, fabric, light, sound, shadows or a whole host of other materials, as children experiment with having a gallery space completely their own.

Times: 1-4pm

Cost: Free with admission

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

 

Movie Night at the Children’s Museum: The Dark Crystal

The Children’s Museum is hosting another classic movie night, featuring “The Dark Crystal.” Dinner and popcorn available in the cafe starting at 5pm, film-related educational activities presented by the Pittsburgh Filmmakers from 5-5:30. Feature presentation starts at 5:30pm.

Times: 5-8pm

Cost: Free if you visited the museum during the day, $2 in advance, $3 at door

Location: Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, 10 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Sunday, September 7

Important notes: Carnegie Science Center closed today due to a Steelers home game. Plus, it’s National Grandparents Day!!

 

National Grandparents Day at the Pittsburgh Zoo

The Pittsburgh Zoo celebrates National Grandparents Day by giving all grandparents (when accompanied by their grandkids) free admission, free tram rides, and one coffee/tea.

Times: 9-5pm

Location: Pittsburgh Zoo, One Wild Place, Pittsburgh PA

 

Grandparent Storytime at the Bethel Park Public Library

Enjoy a special grandparent/grandchild event at the Bethel Park Public Library complete with stories, crafts, games, songs and treats!

Times: 2pm

Cost: Free

Location: Bethel Park Public Library, 5100 West Liberty Avenue, Bethel Park PA

 

Lego Day at the Cooper Siegel Library

The Children’s Department is hosting a Lego Day at the Cooper-Siegel Library with blocks of all sizes and for all ages.

Time: 2pm

Cost: Free

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

 

Lovelace Puppet Festival

Weather Permitting is hosting the rescheduled Lovelace Puppet Festival to commemorate the legacy of Margo Lovelace, a well-known local puppeteer this weekend! Featuring music, puppets, food, beer and more.

Times: 5-9pm

Cost: Adults $10, Children Free

Location: Shadyside Nursery, 510 Maryland Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Have a great weekend!

2014 Fall Activities in Pittsburgh Family Guide

IMG_4561

I know that Fall doesn’t officially start until the end of September. Even so, after Labor Day weekend has passed and the kids are back in school, I can’t help but feel it’s already here. As I’ve grown older, Fall has certainly become my favorite season. The chill in the air, the sound of crunchy leaves on the ground, the smell of the apple cinnamon candle that I always buy–I just love it all!

Fall is also a wonderful time to get outside and explore the city and its surrounding countryside. Many of the local farms open their doors for apple-picking, hayrides and fall festivals. The region also comes alive with a variety of heritage celebrations where communities gather together to commemorate both their shared and unique traditions.

In this 2014 Fall Activities in Pittsburgh Family Guide, I have compiled information on fall activities including apple picking, apple festivals, fall festivals, living history celebrations and ethnic festivals. Please note: I will put together a separate guide for Halloween activities in the weeks to come.

Without further ado, here you go:

IMG_4304

Apple Picking

We usually kick off the fall season with a visit to a local orchard for apple-picking. Although many of the local farms have stopped offering pick-your-own-apples due to concerns about liability, there are still a few options in our region:

Simmons Farm is located south of the city in McMurray, PA. It is one of our favorite spots for apple-picking because a) it’s much less commercialized than some other farms in our region b) they have semi-dwarf trees in their orchard, meaning that it’s easy for little hands to reach the fruit c) they have a nice “petting zoo” area in their barnyard where kids can get close to the animals and d) they offer a fall festival seven days/week starting on September 20. Apple picking has already started at Simmons Farm and will continue until at least the end of October.

Triple B Farms is also located south of the city in Monongahela, PA. It’s another favorite apple-picking spot for many Pittsburgh families (on weekends only!) They also have dwarf trees in their orchards and have already started offering pick-your-own apples. Triple B Farms has a number of family-friendly components including a new Pop’s Farmyard program. For $5, you can buy a “Pasture Play” wristband that will give you access to a tunnel slide, a rope maze, a hay bale jump, a farm playground, a petting zoo, and “Education Acres,” a hands-on learning station about farming.

Norman’s Orchard is located north of the city in Frazer, close to the Pittsburgh Mills. This family-run business has been around for sixty years, started by the current owner’s father. They offer pick-your-own apples on standard and semi-dwarf trees starting by the beginning of September and continuing until end of October. A visit to Norman’s Orchard is reputed to be an authentic farm experience without all the hoopla. We look forward to checking it out this year. Please note: they only take CASH!

Half Crown Hill Orchard is located 18 miles southwest of Pittsburgh in McDonald, PA. They started their pick-your-own-apples during Labor Day weekend and will continue throughout the season. They are open on weekends, Tuesdays and Thursdays.  They also offer dwarf trees.

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Apple Festivals

The Western PA region also offers several apple festivals in September and October. With the exception of the Mars Apple Fest and the Hickory Apple Festival in Mt. Pleasant, these festivals are a bit of a drive; however, they offer a chance to explore the countryside, see some foliage and visit some of the beautiful and historic towns located in our region.

Smicksburg Apple Fest-September 13-14

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.

Franklin’s Applefest-October 3-5

The historic city of Franklin is also located northeast of Pittsburgh in Venango County. Each year they hold their Applefest in their beautiful Victorian Downtown area. This year’s Applefest will run from October 3-5 and will include over 300 arts and crafts vendors, an antique and classic car show, a 5K, a Kid’s Korner, a farmer’s market, free entertainment, and lots of FOOD!

Mount Pleasant’s Hickory Apple Festival-October 4-5

Mt. Pleasant Township’s Volunteer Fire Company will be hosting the 31st annual Hickory Apple Festival on October 4-5, 2014. Located about 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, the event will include homemade food, crafts, children’s activities and entertainment.

Delmont Apple N’Arts Festival-October 4-5

Featuring over 100 arts and crafts vendors and 30 food vendors, the Delmont Apple N’Arts Festival is a Westmoreland County family-friendly festival with handmade items from local crafters, delicious food, and yummy apple cider and apple treats.

Mars Applefest-October 4

Mars is offering its 30th Annual Apple Festival this October. This event includes food, games, crafts and entertainment geared toward families.

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Fall Festivals at Local Farms

The Fall Festival season begins at many local farms by the end of September and continues until Halloween. Most of these festivals offer farm-related activities for kids, hayrides and pumpkin patch trips. They also generally offer yummy farm food, cider, and sometimes even live entertainment.

First off, a mention of Hay Days 2014. These two fall festivals are organized by Allegheny County at Hartwood Acres on September 27th and South Park on October 18th. Why are they so special? Because they are completely FREE and offer many of the same well-loved fall activities that cost extra at other fall festivals such as hay rides, a hay maze, a pumpkin patch trip and a barnyard petting zoo. For more information on activities at Hay Days 2014, please click here.

Now, on to Fall Festivals at local farms. I have organized them by region to help you find one close to you:

Pittsburgh North

Soergel Orchards

Located in Wexford, Soergel Orchards offers a well-loved Fall Festival starting on September 20th. The festival runs on weekend days (11-5pm) and offers some free activities (a straw stack, a barnyard petting zoo, and a play area) as well as many other activities that cost a little extra, including a cornstalk maze, hayrides to the pumpkin patch, pony rides, a bounce house, face-painting and more. Soergel’s Fall Festivals are also themed each weekend. For example, the weekend of September 27th and 28th is known as its “Apple Cider Celebration,” where the farm will be demonstrating apple pressing and offering cider samples.

Shenot Farm

Shenot Farm is also located in Wexford, but offers a smaller and less commercialized Fall Festival. Beginning the last weekend of September from 11-5pm, Shenot offers free hayrides to its pumpkin patch and a huge cornstalk maze.

Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm

Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm is located in the Mount Nebo region of the North Hills. It offers a “Harvest Festival of Fun” each October weekend from 10-4pm. For $7 a head, you can get a hayride to the pumpkin patch, pony rides, a trip to the boo barn, face-painting, a cornstalk maze, a caramel apple and more.

If you’re further north in Butler County, check out Harvest Valley Farms, For All Family Farms, Freedom Farms and Cheeseman’s Farm for local fall festivals. Located more northeast in Armstrong County? Check out Renshaw Family Farm. Located more northwest in Lawrence County? Check out Iron Mills Farmstead.

Pittsburgh South

Triple B Farms

Triple B Farms is located south of the city in Monongahela. It 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 200 pumpkin-headed characters live), hayrides to the pick-your-own pumpkin patch, the Big Blue Boo Barn, a corn maze and more.

Simmons Farm

Simmons Farm is located in McMurray, PA and it offers a wonderful Fall Festival beginning September 20th and running 7 days per week. For $10.50 a head, you can get a hayride to the pumpkin patch, entry to the corn maze, a petting zoo, a play area, an apple and more. For only $3 extra you can also bring home any size pumpkin from the patch. Simmons also offers pick-your-own apples and fall birthday parties.

Trax Farm

Trax Farm in the South Hills will be holding its 45th annual Fall Festival this year beginning on September 20th and running weekend days from 10am-5pm until October 26th. Trax offers a hayride plus pumpkin picking plus a 4 acre corn maze for $8 for adults and $6 for children 3-12 yo. They will also have a free petting zoo and number of other activities that cost extra, including a bounce house, rainbow express train, rock wall, etc.

Located further south in Fayette County? Check out Duda Farms in Brownsville.

Pittsburgh East

Schramm’s Farm

Schramm’s Farm is located east of the city in Jeannette. It offers a Fall Festival beginning the last weekend of September and continuing 7 days per week until the end of October. They have pick-your-own pumpkins throughout the day and offer hayrides for $3 starting at 4pm on weekdays and 11am on weekends. They also have several mazes, barnyard animals and more.

Gearhard’s Farm

Gearhard’s is located east of the city in Murrysville. Starting on September 13th, it will offer its well known annual gigantic corn maze and hayrides.

Located further east? Check out Yarnick’s Farm in Indiana County.

Pittsburgh West

Hozak Farms

Hozak Farms is located west of the city in Clinton, PA. It offers a Fall Festival from 10-6pm beginning the last weekend of September and continuing through October with hayrides, pumpkins, musical entertainment and more. Also, another cool option: they offer free hayrides to the pumpkin patch on weekdays in October from 2-6pm. You can also wander through the maze, straw pile and decorate pumpkins on these weekday afternoons.

Janoski Farms

Janoski Farms is also located in Clinton, PA. It offers a “Pumpkinland” during October weekends from 10-5pm. For $6 per person, you can explore a haunted barn, a corn maze, a pumpkin patch and more. Plus, you can get some face-painting and decorate a pumpkin.

Located further west? Check out Springhouse Market and Farm in Washington County.

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Other Fall Festivals

There are also other Fall Festivals held in regional communities and special venues, including:

Fall of the Leaf Weekend at Idlewild-September 6-7

Robinson Township’s 12th Annual Autumn Festival-September 13

2014 Scottdale Fall Festival-September 19-21

44th Annual Covered Bridge Festival-September 20-21

36th Annual Butler Fall Festival-September 20

Castle Shannon Fall Festival-September 20

Clarion’s Autumn Leaf Festival-September 20-28

Cecil Township Fall Festival-September 27-28

Rural Valley Pumpkin Festival-September 27

Bedford Fall Foliage Festival-October 4-5th and 11-12th

Seven Springs Autumn Fest-weekends in October

Brightwood Pumpkin Fest-October 18

Know of other Fall Festivals in your community? Email me at pittsburghmommyblog@gmail.com and I’ll add it to the list.

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Fall is also a time where many local communities gather together to celebrate both their shared and individual traditions.

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The Pittsburgh Irish Festival, Photo by All Points Images and Jim Hambrick

Cultural Festivals

In this section, I have highlighted cultural celebrations dedicated to some of the different ethnic traditions in our region.

Pittsburgh Irish Festival-September 5-7

The Pittsburgh Irish Festival is a 3-day celebration of Celtic culture located at the Riverplex at Sandcastle. This “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day” event includes world-class Irish music performances, Irish step-dancing, authentic Irish food, activities for kids, and much more. Check out my recent article in NextPittsburgh for more information.

Edinboro Highland Games and Scottish Festival-September 5-7

Edinboro University will be holding its 21st annual Highland Games and Scottish Festival, when the campus will be filled with the traditions of Scotland, including musical performances, highland dance and athletic competitions, clan gatherings, fiddle and harp competitions, kids’ crafts, games and food.

The Strip District World Festival-September 12-14

This September the Strip District will host its “World Festival,” celebrating the many cultural traditions in the city. There will be free global music and other entertainment, ethnic food booths, children’s activities, sidewalk sales and more.

Idlewild’s Oktoberfest Weekend-September 13-14

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.

Canonsburg’s Oktoberfest-September 19-21

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

Ligonier Highland Games-September 20

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.

American Indian Heritage Weekend at Meadowcroft-September 27-28

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.

 The Hydref-October 4

Depreciation Lands Museum celebrates the Welsh tradition of some early settlers in the region at the Hydref, its biggest event of the year. Eat traditional Welsh foods, learn about traditional Welsh crafts, and more.

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The Penn’s Colony Festival, Photo courtesy of Penn’s Colony Festival

Heritage Festivals

Finally, I have highlighted festivals that celebrate our common heritage and traditions as Western Pennsylvanians:

Mountain Craft Days-September 5-7

The Somerset Historical Society will host the 43rd Annual Mountain Craft Days on September 5-7th. Intended to preserve the historic crafts and trades of Somerset County, the event offers a mix of historical demonstrations, music and food. Located southeast of the city in Somerset County.

Stahlstown Flax Scutching Festival-September 13-14

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.

Festifall at Friendship Hill National Historic Site-September 20-21

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

Autumn Festival at Old Economy Village-September 20-21

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

Penn’s Colony Festival-September 20-21 and September 27-28

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.

McConnell’s Mills Heritage Festival-September 27-28

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.

Fort Ligonier Days-October 10-12

Fort Ligonier Days is a festival commemorating the Battle of Fort Ligonier, a key engagement of the French and Indian War. The festival features a living history encampment showing frontier life, military tactics, drills, cannon firing, ceremonies, highlanders, redcoats, French troops, frontier men and women, Indians and music from 1758. There is also a re-enactment of the Battle of Fort Ligonier and a parade.  

That’s all! Please enjoy your many adventures this Fall in Pittsburgh!

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