Category: Family Guides

2015 Christmas in Pittsburgh Family Guide

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

2015 Christmas inPittsburgh Family Guide

Although it’s hard to believe, the Christmas season is just about to begin in Pittsburgh. Starting after the city’s Light Up Night celebration this Friday, many local communities, museums and performance venues will begin hosting special holiday-themed events and concerts. In addition, many favorite Christmas attractions will reopen by the end of this month. I have created this 2015 Christmas in Pittsburgh Family Guide to help your family navigate through one of the most exciting times of the year to be in this city!

I have included events and special attractions both within the city and in the surrounding suburbs. At the end, I have also included a special section on Christmas-themed concerts and dance performances. Please note: I will be regularly updating this blog post as more information becomes available, so please check back.

 

Pittsburgh City

I will start this guide with special holiday events and attractions within the city:

55th Annual Light Up Night in Downtown Pittsburgh: The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership hosts the official kickoff to the holiday season at the free Light Up Night on Friday November 20th. The evening features various tree lightings, Santa and reindeer sightings, free horse-drawn carriage rides, the unveiling of the window displays, ice skating, music, food, fireworks and lots more!

 

There are also a number of alternatives to the city’s official Light Up Night celebration on November 20th:

  • Winter Wonderland at Station Square: Station Square is hosting a Light Up Night Celebration with live musical performances, character meet and greets, visits with Santa and live reindeers, ice carving, face-painting and more.
  • Winter Wonderland at the Overlook: The Elliot Community Group hosts Winter Wonderland at the West End Overlook, an alternative to Downtown’s “Light up Night” celebration. Santa will arrive on a fire engine and there will also be games, food and hot cocoa for sale and live music.  Plus, you will be able to see the main fireworks display over the city.
  • Poinsettas and Pointe Shoes at Phipps Conservatory: Another “Light Up Night” alternative: enjoy a unique opportunity to explore Phipps during the evening and see vignettes from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s rendition of The Nutcracker. Tickets cost $26 for adults and $13 for children. Plus, ticket purchase includes a discount on tickets for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s full-length performance of The Nutcracker at the Benedum Center. Advance registration required.
Santa Around the World Exhibit at the Wintergarden
Spirit of Giving Around the World Exhibit at the Wintergarden

Light up Night marks the beginning of a number of regular holiday-themed happenings throughout Downtown Pittsburgh. Added bonus: The Pittsburgh Parking Authority garages offer free parking on Saturdays (plus Black Friday) during the holidays.

PPG Place has a number of attractions:

  • The MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place: Starting at Light Up Night, The Plaza at PPG Place will house the newly updated and 25% larger MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink seven days/week with $4 skate rental, $8 adult entry and $7 children < 13 entry. The Rink will hold a special Mascot Skate on November 21st and Santa Skates from 2-4pm on Saturday, December 5, 12 and 19th.
  • The Wintergarden at PPG Place: The Wintergarden at PPG Place opens on November 20th and is open seven days per week until January 7th. This free exhibit features a display of life-sized Santas and original paintings from various countries around the world, a 32 foot tree, gingerbread houses, and a unique train display.

Market Square houses the Peoples Gas Holiday Market open seven days/week starting on Light Up Night. The Holiday Market is inspired by the original Christkindlemarkt created in 1545 in Nuremberg and features European-style wooden chalets decorated for the holidays and selling high-quality gifts and ornaments. The Holiday Market also has its own Santa for kids to visit and is adjacent to the BNY Mellon Season of Lights, which illuminates Market Square every half an hour.

Finally, the US Steel Tower Plaza on Grant Street houses The Pittsburgh Creche from November 20th to January 7th. The Pittsburgh Creche is the world’s only authorized replica of the Nativity Creche that stands outside Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

There are several other fun activities in Downtown Pittsburgh starting after Light Up Night, including:

  •  Free Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides in Downtown Pittsburgh: Highwoods offers complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides starting on Fourth Avenue next to the Plaza at PPG Place on Saturdays from 11-3pm and 4 to 8pm from November 21st to December 19th.
  • Fifth Avenue Place: Fifth Avenue Place is running its Free Holly Trolley again this year. Run by “Santa’s little helpers,” this trolley circles downtown on Saturdays and Sundays (and Friday, November 27th) from 11-5pm from November 21st to December 20th. Fifth Avenue Place is also offering free holiday activities on Saturdays with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh starting on November 28 from 11 to 2 p.m.
  • Saturdays at the Centre: One Oxford Centre offers special holiday-themed activities, visits with Santa and Santa Land (previously at Macy’s) from 11-3pm on Saturdays until December 19.
  • Holiday KidsPlay: A relatively new holiday tradition in the 800 block of Liberty Avenue, Holiday Kidsplay offers kid-friendly activities on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5pm. Includes activities at the Arcade Comedy Theater, Harris Theater and the Trust Arts Education Center.

And, of course, the annual Holiday Parade in Downtown Pittsburgh on the Saturday after Thanksgiving:

35th Annual WPXI Holiday ParadeWPXI is holding this favorite annual parade on November 28th. It starts at 9 a.m. on the 22nd block of Liberty Avenue and features marching bands, colorful floats, local celebrities and the arrival of Santa!

Winter Light Garden at Phipps
Winter Light Garden at Phipps

Oakland is another hub of holiday-themed activities throughout the season with:

  • The Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning: Beginning on November 7th, the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning will be decorated in traditional holiday styles and open for special tours. The Nationality Rooms will also hold  a very special Open House on December 6th from 12-4pm with guides dressed in ethnic costumes, free ethnic dance performances and special ethnic food selections.
  • Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden Winter Flower Show: The Winter Flower Show at Phipps begins on November 27th with a ““Deck the Halls” theme. The Conservatory will be open for extended hours from 9:30am-11pm daily for its Candlelit Evenings and its outdoor Winter Light Garden (from 5-11pm). This year, Phipps will also be offering visits with Santa on Saturdays and Sundays from Nov 28-Dec 20, plus November 27 and November 30. Also, the Sugar Plum Fairy will be visiting Phipps on November 21 and December 5 for a free with admission 30-minute creative movement dance class and story time with a dancer in costume.
  • Holidays at the Carnegie Museums: Starting November 27th, The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History will house the Neopolitan Presipio, a handcrafted nativity scene featuring lifelike figures and colorful details that recreate the Nativity within a panorama of 18th-century Italian village life. Beginning on December 3rd, the Hall of Architecture will also hold the Museum’s six decorated 20-foot spruce trees. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History will also host a special Holidays Around the World event on December 12-13th, featuring holiday-themed stations showcasing the traditions of other cultures through crafts, food and artifacts.

If you would like to take a guided tour of some of these Oakland attractions, check out this option:

Oakland Yuletide Tour: Enjoy a holiday tour of some of Oakland’s most beautiful buildings on December 12th. Begins with a continental breakfast at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, followed by a guided tour through the Nationality Classrooms at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning. Finally, a tour of Heinz Memorial Chapel and an organ recital of Christmas music.  Participants will receive coupons to Oakland shops, restaurants and attractions. Tickets are $30.

 

A number of other museums and other special venues offer holiday-themed events within the city over the next month:

  • Carnegie Science Center: The Carnegie Science Center’s Miniature Railroad and Village will reopen in holiday style on November 24th. Also, the Carnegie Science Center will be showing The Polar Express: An Imax Experience from November 27th to January 3rd for $10 for adults and $8 for children.
  • Photos with Santa at the National Aviary: On Saturdays from November 28-December 19th, the National Aviary invites children to visit with Santa and his penguin helpers from 11-1 pm. Kids can also take home a penguin pinecone ornament.
  • Holiday I Made It! Market: This year’s holiday I Made It! Market will be held on November 27-28th at Nova Place on the Northside. The market will feature 100 regional artists, live entertainment, DIY art-making for children, food and more.
  • “The Joy of Cookies Cookie Tour” by the Lawrenceville Corporation: From December 3-6th, Lawrenceville hosts its “Joy of Cookies Cookie Tour,” featuring free cookies and shopping at over 40 stops in Lawrenceville.
  • Members Holiday Event at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is hosting a “Members Holiday Event” on December 4th from 6-8pm, featuring visits with wintry friends like penguins from the National Aviary and a reindeer from Living Treasures Animal Park, live entertainment, holiday crafts and gift-making in the Studio. Member admission is free. Guests are welcome at $12 each. Please RSVP by emailing members@pittsburghkids.org.
  • Handmade Arcade: Pittsburgh’s largest independent craft fair comes to the David L Lawrence Convention Center on December 5th and includes an art-making area where children can make handmade holiday gifts.
  • Breakfast/Lunch with Santa at the Pittsburgh Zoo: On Saturdays and Sundays from December 5-2oth, the Pittsburgh Zoo hosts a breakfast or lunch with Santa, featuring food, holiday crafts, decorating sugar cookies and visits with the animals. Two seatings at 9:30am and noon. Cost is $17 per Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium member; $20 per non-Zoo member; $7 per child under the age of 2 years. Advance registration is required.
  • Santa Family Fun Cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet: The Gateway Clipper Fleet is offering a special Santa Family Fun Cruise on Saturdays and Sundays (plus Friday November 27 and December 7-8) from November 28 through December 20th with a DJ dance party and special gifts for all boys and girls. Tickets are $26.25 for adults and $12.60 for children. On December 5th, 12th and 19th the Gateway Clipper Fleet also offers a special Breakfast with Santa with a breakfast buffet and visits with Santa. Breakfast service begins at 9 am and cruise runs from 9:30-11:30.
  • Cool Yule Free Family Fun Day at the Frick: On Saturday, December 12th the Frick offers its annual family celebration for the season, featuring stories, family-friendly tours of the Clayton (adult admission rates apply) and holiday art-making. The Frick will also offer a number of other holiday-themed family workshops during December. See website for more info.
  • Holiday Themed Let’s Move Family Dance Party at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater: The Kelly Strayhorn Theater is hosting a holiday-themed Let’s Move Family Dance Party on December 19th at 11 a.m. featuring a DJ dance party, holiday craft activities and more.

Know of any other city celebrations? Let me know at pittsburghmommyblog@gmail.com and I’ll add it to the list.

The Western PA Model Railroad Museum
The Western PA Model Railroad Museum in Gibsonia

Pittsburgh North

The northern suburbs of Pittsburgh hold a couple special holiday attractions:

  • Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland: Butler County welcomes a new Christmas attraction this year, Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland, a musical Christmas light show that also hosts an indoor Santa’s village, running from November 20-January 3rd at a cost of $25 per car.
  • The Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum’s Holiday Train Display: Located in Gibsonia, this model railroad museum is only open to the public during the holiday season when it holds its annual Holiday Train Display. This year’s show starts on November 14th and runs into mid-January. The Museum’s bottom floor has a special interactive area for kids with wooden train tables and a Lionel toy train display. The second floor holds its 4000-sf layout called “A Railroad Journey in Miniature. The Museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11-5pm and Fridays from 6-9pm for its special “Steam at Twilight” exhibit.
  • Hartwood Acres Mansion: Hartwood Acres Mansion is decorated in full holiday splendor starting November 15th. The Mansion offers daily guided tours with advance registration. Also, the Mansion hosts special candlelight tours on select days and a Tea with Santa on November 29th.

 

Also, a number of the northern communities offer special holiday-themed events:

  • Santa’s First Stop in Cranberry Township: Cranberry Township holds its annual Santa’s First Stop event on November 20th at its Municipal Building with activities and crafts starting at 6pm, Santa’s arrival at 7pm, a chance to visit with Santa, Mrs Claus and their reindeers, the giant Lego train display and a stroll through the annual Cranberry Tree Gallery.
  • Light up Kittanning Night: Kittanning hosts its annual light up event on November 20th from 5:30-9pm, featuring Santa’s arrival with Frosty the Snowman, live entertainment, free cookies and hot chocolate, pony rides, dog sled rides and tons more.
  • Brackrenridge-Tarentum Christmas Parade: Brackrenridge and Tarentum hold their annual Christmas Parade on November 21st at 1pm.
  • “Light Up the Wall” in Aspinwall: On November 21st, Aspinwall will host its annual “Light Up the Wall” event with food, music, free Christmas cookies and visits with Santa from 4 to 6:30 pm with fireworks starting at 6:45 pm.
  • Annual Shaler “Lite” Up Night: Shaler Township holds it annual “Lite Up Night” on November 21st at 7pm in front of the Shaler North Hills Library and Shaler Middle School, featuring visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, fireworks, craft tables and refreshments.
  • Etna Light the Night: Etna is hosting its Light the Night celebration on November 27th on Butler and Walnut Streets with a parade at 6:30 pm and fireworks at 9pm.
  • Holiday Parade in Saxonburg: Saxonburg holds its annual Holiday Parade and Celebration at 7pm on November 27th.
  • Light-Up Night in Butler: Butler County Parks and Recreation is hosting its large Light Up Night celebration on November 28th in Diamond Park with a parade, tree lighting, visits with Santa and more!
  • Blawnox Christmas Night of the Lights: Blawnox is hosting its annual Christmas Night of the Lights on December 3rd.
  • Holiday Season Greeting Celebration in Hampton: Hampton Township celebrates its annual Holiday Season Greeting Celebration on December 3rd at 7pm at the Community Center, featuring free cookies, hot chocolate, live music and visits with Santa.
  • Millvale Yuletide Tour and Light Up Night: Millvale is hosting a Yuletide Tour and Light up Night on December 4th with a holiday tree lighting at McCarthy Park at 5:30 pm and a Holiday Carnival from 6 to 8 pm at the Boys & Girls Club with Santa.
  • LaRoche College Festival of Lights: LaRoche College celebrates its annual Festival of Lights on December 4th with crafts, games, Santa, music performances, carriage rides, a live nativity, fireworks and more.
  • St. Paul’s Preschool Santa Express: Located in Allison Park, St. Paul’s Preschool is holding its annual Polar-Express themed fundraiser on December 5th with indoor train rides, hot cocoa bar and cookies, train bounce house, a balloon artist, Polar Express crafts and games, a miniature railroad display, a strolling magician, and face painting. Tickets are $10.
  • Avalon Brighten the Season: Avalon Now presents the 2015 Brighten the Season event on December 12 from 12-4 p.m. featuring visits with Santa, refreshments, crafts, a tree-lighting ceremony and more.
  • Snowflake Festival at Soergel’s Orchard: Soergel’s Orchard is holding its annual Snowflake Festival on December 12th, featuring a Snowflake Express, hot chocolate and other treats, ice carving demonstrations and horsedrawn carriage ride around the grounds.
  • Breakfast with Santa in Pine Township: Families are invited to a special buffet breakfast with Santa in Pine Township on December 12th beginning at 9 a.m. Also features games, crafts and face-painting.
  • Pine Santa Express: Santa will be visiting each neighborhood in Pine on board a fire truck on December 12 from 12 to 5 p.m.
  • Little Cup of Hope: The second annual “Little Cup of Hope” fundraiser will be held at the Pine Community Center in Wexford on December 13th at 2pm, featuring Christmas crafts, treats, stories and a visit from Santa. All proceeds benefit the Pittsburgh Chapter of Flashes of Hope – which takes portraits of children fighting cancer at Children’s Hospital.

 

Pittsburgh South

The southern suburbs of the city hold a special holiday attraction:

Santa Trolley at the Pennyslvania Trolley Museum: The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum offers its annual Santa Trolley on weekends from November 27-December 13th, featuring a caroling-filled trolley ride, holiday craft, a Lionel toy train display and wooden train tables.

 

Many southern communities offer special holiday-themed events:

  • Lebo Light Up Night: Mt. Lebanon hosts its annual Light Up Night event on November 19th from 6-9pm, featuring horse-drawn carriage rides, live entertainment, Southminster Bell Ringers, a model train exhibit, tree lightings and visits with Santa.
  • Santa Claus is Shopping in Monongahela: Monongahela hosts its annual “Santa Claus is Shopping” event on November 20th at 5:30pm, featuring a Christmas tree display, live entertainment, visits with Santa, face-painting and children’s activities.
  • Brentwood Light Up Night: Brentwood is hosting its annual Light Up Night celebration on November 21st at 4pm at Brentwood Towne Square.
  • Holidays at the House: The Woodville Plantation in Bridgeville is hosting a special Holidays at the House event where families can learn about 18th-century holiday customs. Tours are being held from noon to 8pm and cost is $5 with children under six free.
  • A Night with St. Nick at Trax Farm: Celebrate the holiday season at Trax Farm in Finleyville on November 28th!  Visit with Santa, watch the Christmas tree lighting, participate in Christmas crafts, a coloring contest, a reindeer scavenger hunt game and try samples for holiday entertaining. Refreshments and treats available for purchase. You can also attend a special Breakfast or Lunch with Santa on Saturdays and Sundays at Trax Farm throughout December. Cost is $8. Advance registration required.
  • Baldwin Township Holiday Light Up Night: The Baldwin Township Business & Professional Association is hosting a Holiday Light Up Night on November 29th at 6pm, featuring Santa’s arrival by fire truck at the ALDI parking lot the corner of McNeilly Road and Sussex Avenue.
  • Holiday Celebration in Jefferson Hills: Jefferson Hills is hosting its 13th annual Holiday Celebration on November 30 from 6-8pm at the Municipal Center, featuring visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, Christmas trees, refreshments, crafts and a holiday toy drive.
  • Baldwin Holiday Festival: Baldwin hosts its annual Holiday Festival on December 2nd from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Baldwin Borough Building with caroling, tree lighting, refreshements, vendor crafts, a kids craft center, a log cabin and Santa. Please bring a non-perishable food item or monetary donation for the Baldwin Food Pantry.
  • Tree Lighting in Bethel Park: Bethel Park hosts its annual Tree Lighting event on December 2nd at the Community Center featuring entertainment, refreshments and visits with Santa.
  • Scott Township Tree Lighting: Scott Township will host its tree lighting on December 3.
  • Cookies with Santa in Dormont: Dormont is hosting a Cookies with Santa event at the Recreation Center on December 5th from 3-5 pm.
  • Bridgeville Festival of Trees: Bridgeville is hosting its annual Festival of Trees on December 5-6th.
  • Holidays at the Upper St. Clair Community and Recreation Center: The Upper St. Clair Community and Recreation Center holds its annual holiday event on December 5th at 11am, featuring live music, children’s activities, refreshments and visits with Santa.
  • Santa Luncheon in Canonsburg: The Canonsburg Chamber of Commerce holds its annual Santa Luncheon on December 5th at Canonsburg Senior Center, featuring lunch, treat bags, balloon artists, music and visits with Santa.
  • South Park Brunch with Santa: South Park is hosting a Brunch with Santa for children age 7 and below on December 5th at noon. Advance registration required.
  • South Park Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony: South Park Township hosts its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 7th at 6:30 pm in the library courtyard.
  • Cookies with Santa at Round Hill Park: The Allegheny County Parks Department is hosting a Cookies with Santa event at Round Hill Park on December 12th at 10 to noon, featuring cookies, hot chocolate, holiday movies and visits with Santa.
Window Display at Oakmont's Hometown Christmas
Window Display at Oakmont’s Hometown Christmas

Pittsburgh East

The Eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh hold a couple special holiday attractions:

  • Overly’s Country Christmas: Located in Greensburg, Overly’s Country Christmas is a nonprofit old-fashioned Christmas Village open from November 20th-January 1st, featuring lots of lights and holiday decorations, Christmas carols around the bonfire, a model train display, horse drawn wagon/sleigh rides, shopping, food and Santa. Cost is $12/car Monday-Thursday and $15/car Friday-Sunday.
  • Kennywood’s Holiday Lights: Starting on November 27th, Kennywood will transform into a winter wonderland of spectacular lights, family friendly rides, activities and seasonal food favorites from 5-9pm on Fridays-Sundays.

 

A number of eastern communities also have special holiday-themed events:

  • Oakmont’s Hometown Christmas and Parade: On November 21st, The Oakmont business district hosts a night of Christmas festivities, including a Christmas Parade with Santa, marching bands, floats, horses, and lots more.  Other activities that evening: a Nutcracker performance by Western PA Youth Ballet, musical performances, Christmas tree lighting, horse and buggy rides, free Christmas cookies, pictures with Santa, and lots of children’s activities!
  • Greensburg Holiday Parade: Greensburg hosts its annual Holiday Parade on November 21st at noon beginning on North Main Street near the Middle School and ending at City Hall.
  • Season of Lights in White Oak: White Oak hosts its annual “Season of Lights” event on November 21st.
  • The Waterfront Light Up Night: The Waterfront in Homestead is hosting a Light Up Night from 4 to 7 pm on November 22nd with a tree lighting, Christmas music, traditional carolers, visits with Santa and the Snow Queen and more!
  • Monroeville Tree Lighting: Monroeville holds its annual Tree Lighting on November 24th from 7-7:30pm at Old Stone Church on Monroeville Blvd. Kids can bring homemade decorations, hang them on the tree, listen to caroling and visit with Santa.
  • Penn Hills Holiday Light Up: Penn Hills hosts its annual Light Up Night on December 3rd from 7-9pm at the Municipal Building on Frankstown Rd, featuring Santa and his reindeers, tree lighting, clowns, treats, refreshments and train display.
  • Greenfield’s Holiday Parade: Greenfield is hosting its annual Holiday Parade on December 4th at 7pm.
  • Light Up Edgewood Night: Edgewood is hosting a Light Up Night on December 4th at 7pm in Memorial Park, followed by refreshments and visits with Santa in the Edgewood Club.
  • West Homestead Holiday Event: West Homestead’s Annual Holiday Event will be held on December 4th at 7:15pm.
  • Munhall Light Up Night: Munhall hosts its annual Light Up Night event on December 5th at 6pm at the Borough Building, featuring refreshments, carolers and Santa.
  • North Versailles Family Christmas Party: North Versailles is hosting a family Christmas party on December 5th at 5:30 pm at the Community Center.
  • Dravosburg Holly Jolly Christmas Celebration: Dravosburg is hosting its sixth annual Christmas Celebration on December 5th at 6 pm, featuring a tree lighting, visits with Santa, a magic show and lots more.
  • The Historic Steel Valley Christmas Parade: The annual Steel Valley Christmas Parade is happening on December 5th on Eighth Avenue in Homestead.
  • Wilkins Township Breakfast with Santa: Wilkins Township is holding a Breakfast with Santa event on December 5th at 10am at the Wilkins Township Community Center. Reservations by November 20.
  • East McKeesport Children’s Christmas Party: East McKeesport is holding a Children’s Christmas Party on December 19th. Call borough to make reservations.
  • Cookies with Santa at Boyce Park: The Allegheny County Parks Department is hosting a Cookies with Santa event at Boyce Park on December 19th from 10 to noon, featuring cookies, hot chocolate, holiday movies and visits with Santa.
oglebay
New 100 ft. interactive LED display at Oglebay Resorts. Photo courtesy of Oglebay’s.

Pittsburgh West

Finally, the west of Pittsburgh holds a couple special holiday attraction:

  • Christmas Light Up Celebration in Clinton PA: Clinton PA holds its annual light display from November 19-January 3rd, featuring over a mile of lights and displays in a woodland setting. On November 19-20th, there is a special walk-through experience. There are also hayrides and carolers during this celebration. $10 per car donation requested.
  • The Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay Resort: West Virginia’s Oglebay Resort holds its nationally-renowned 300-acre holiday light display on Thursdays-Sundays starting on November 13th. A per car donation is requested and is valid for the entire festival season.
  • Yuletide in Sewickley: Sewickley hosts a variety of Christmas-themed events, including free carriage rides and entertainment on Saturdays and Sundays in December, visits with Santa (Saturdays from 11-1pm) and his reindeer (Sundays from 1-3 pm) in Wolcott Park. There are also several character-themed breakfasts for kids, Polar Express-themed pajama party and a Santa Parade. See link above for more information. Also, see section below on Sewickley’s Light Up Night.

 

Also, several western communities offer special holiday-themed events:

  • Oakdale Light Up Celebration: Oakdale is hosting a Light Up celebration on November 28 at 7pm.
  • Ohio Township Holiday Tree Lighting: Ohio Township is hosting its annual Holiday Tree Lighting on December 1st at 6:30 pm.
  • Sewickley Light Up Night: Sewickley hosts its annual Light Up Night on December 4th from 5-9pm with entertainment, food from local restaurants and vendor carts, shopping, and the Lighting of the Village followed by a fireworks show. Finally, check out Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley for holiday-themed craft activities throughout the season.
  • Robinson Township Tree Lighting: Held in Clever Park, Robinson Township’s annual Tree Lighting on December 4th from 6:30-7:30pm, features Christmas lights, refereshments, caroling and Santa.
  • Christmas Tree Lighting in North Fayette: North Fayette is hosting its annual Christmas Tree Lighting on December 4th starting at 6:30 pm.
  • Holiday Festivities in Carnegie: Carnegie is holding its annual Light Up Night at 6 p.m. at the PNC Parking Lot on December 4th and then Santa and carolers will be coming to town on Saturday December 5th.
  • Heidelberg Light Up Night: Heidelberg is hosting a Light Up Night celebration on December 5th.
  • A Visit with Belsnickel at Old Economy Village: Old Economy Village is hosting a visit with Belsnickel, the German helper of St. Nicholas, on December 5th. Event is appropriate for ages 3-8, simple refreshments will be served and there will be a craft activity. Plus, there will be regular historic tours of the village decorated for Christmas.
  • Kennedy Township Breakfast with Santa: Kennedy Township is holding a Breakfast with Santa on December 6th from 9 to 1pm at the Kennedy Township Fire Hall.
  • “Christmas at the Village” at Old Economy Village: A unique opportunity to explore this historic village! Travel back in time to visit a 19th-century Christmas Village. Walk along a candlelit cobblestone streets, window shop in the various stores, listen to music by local choirs, participate in children’s crafts and activities, see Santa, and eat! Held on December 12-13th.
  • Brunch with Santa in Moon Township: Moon Township hosts its annual “Brunch with Santa” event on December 12th at the Doubletree Moon on University Blvd. 10:30 and 11:30 am seatings are available and cost is $10/person, which includes a boxed brunch, visits with Santa and craft activities.
  • Father Ryan Arts Center Holiday Children’s Extravaganza: Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks is hosting a Holiday Children’s Extravaganza on December 12th, featuring a buffet, games, activities and visits with your favorite Disney and Marvel comic characters.
  • South Fayette Polar Express Pajama Party: South Fayette is hosting a Polar Express Pajama Party on December 13th at 5:30 pm at the South Fayette Community Room at the Senior Center.
nutcrackerpmb
The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s the Nutcracker. Photo courtesy of the PBT

Finally, there a number of Christmas-themed concerts and shows throughout the city.  Many of these have a huge variety of show times and ticket prices, so I have not included that information for these events. Visit the performance’s website for more detailed information.

Other Christmas concerts: Celtic Woman Christmas on December 7th, the Pittsburgh Camerata’s Celtic Christmas Carol on December 11, 13 and 19th, BE Taylor Christmas Concert on December 12 and 14, Holiday Doo Wop on December 16th and Mark Milovats in Concert: Christmas in the City on November 29

*****

It is my sincere hope that this family guide will help make this holiday season your most magical yet :). Enjoy!

xmas

 

2015 Halloween in Pittsburgh Family Guide

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

My family is comfortably settled into the school year routine, the weather’s getting colder, the leaves are changing….and I just impulse-bought a stuffed scarecrow for my yard from Target. AKA–it must be Halloween time in the ‘Burgh!

I have put together this 2015 Halloween in Pittsburgh Family Guide to help your family plan your 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. If you are looking for information on Fall activities (hayrides, pumpkin patches, fall festivals, etc) please check out my recent 2015 Fall Activities in Pittsburgh Family Guide.

Pittsburgh Mommy Blog

I begin this guide with indoor 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:

Ghost Stories with the Pittsburgh Cultural TrustOctober 10

Hear renowned storyteller, Alison K. Babusci, share her popular kid-friendly ghost stories program at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Education Center from 12-1 p.m. Intended for children 5 and older with a caregiver. Event is free, but advance registration is requested here.

 

Ghouldilocks and the Three Scares by the Gemini Children’s TheaterOctober 10, 17 and 24

The Gemini Children’s Theater presents its original production of Ghouldilocks and the Three Scares for children ages 2-8. Tickets are $8 and the show takes place at Latitude 360 in Robinson at both 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each day.

 

Vegan Trick-or-TreatOctober 10

As part of this year’s Pittsburgh Vegan Festival, there will be vegan trick-or-treating from 3 to 4 p.m. Children should bring their own treat bags. Advance registration requested here. Adults must pay festival admission ($5) but admission and trick-or-treating is free for kids 16 and under.

 

Owl-O-Ween at the National AviaryOctober 17, 24 and 31

The National Aviary celebrates Halloween at its annual free (with admission) Owl-O-Ween event, where kids can visit with nocturnal birds, learn about creepy-crawly insects and trick or treat from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Also, a new offering this year is an all-ages Owl Pellet class following Owl-O-Ween each day for $5. Advanced registration for Owl Pellet class is requested by calling 412-258-9445.

 

Disney in Concert: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before ChristmasOctober 21

One of Tim Burton’s most celebrated films, The Nightmare Before Christmas will be projected on the big screen with dialogue and effects–accompanied by Danny Elfman’s score played by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. According to the website “Audiences will follow Jack Skellington, Halloween Town’s resident Pumpkin King, through his adventure to Christmas Town, where residents are preparing for the upcoming, cheerful Christmas holiday.” Tickets start at about $25.

 

Spooky Science Sleepover at the Carnegie Science CenterOctober 23

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 by calling 412-237-1637 and the event costs $35/person.

 

Family Halloween Laser Shows at the Carnegie Science CenterOctober 9-31

The Carnegie Science Center is offering its annual Family Halloween Laser Show with spooky music, scary guests and dancing. Cost is $2 for members and $8 for nonmembers. No advance registration required.

 

Annual Member’s Spooktacular at the Children’s MuseumOctober 23

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. Reservations are required. Please click here to RSVP or e-mail members@pittsburghkids.org.

 

Halloween Mayhem at the Kelly Strayhorn TheaterOctober 24

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, live performances, seasonal refreshments and more. Event takes place from 12 to 4 p.m. and reservations can be made here.

 

Kid City Rockers Halloween Dance PartyOctober 24

DJ Kelly Mom will spin two sets of your favorite goth music at this family-friendly indie dance party. There will be a full bar and food menu. A limited number of tickets are on sale now at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2315899

Times: 3-6 p.m.

Cost: Adults $5, Kids Free

Location: The Allegheny Elks Lodge # 339, 400 Cedar Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15212

 

Halloween Fun Cruise on the Gateway Clipper FleetOctober 24

The Gateway Clipper Fleet celebrates Halloween at its Halloween Fun Cruise featuring a costume party with a crew of monsters, prizes, dancing and sweet treats. Adults tickets are $25 and children’s tickets are $12. Cruise times are 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

 

Creepy Crawly Carnegie Days at the Carnegie Museum of Natural HistoryOctober 24-25

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History celebrates Halloween at its Creepy Crawly Carnegie Days event from noon to 4 p.m. Kids can go trick-or-treating through the exhibits, hear spooky tales from around the world and learn about creepy creatures. Also, if they come dressed in costume, they will receive a small prize. All activities included in the price of admission. No masks or backpacks.

 

Monster Mash at La Tavola ItalianaOctober 25

Mt. Washington’s La Tavola Italiana is hosting a family-friendly Monster Mash with dinner, dessert, treat bags, crafts, costume contest and a dance party. Tickets are $30 for adults and kids are free. Purchase tickets here.

 

Boo To You Too! at the Children’s MuseumOctober 30

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is hosting a sensory-friendly Halloween party featuring trick-or-treating through the museum, Halloween crafts, DIY face-painting and more. Advance reservations required. Ticket price is $9.

 

Halloween Happenings at Phipps ConservatoryOctober 30

Phipps Conservatory celebrates Halloween at its annual Halloween Happenings event, where kids can trick-or-treat through the Conservatory, collect healthy snacks and participate in kid-friendly activities throughout. Also, Halloween Happenings is a fantastic time to explore the very short Fall Flower Show at Phipps. Activities take place from 4 to 8 p.m. and are included in the price of admission.

 

Freaky Friday at the Upper St. Clair Recreation and Community CenterOctober 30

The Upper St. Clair Recreation and Community Center is hosting a Freaky Friday event. From 10 to 11 a.m. there will be a free costume parade with trick-or-treating and from 6 to 8 p.m. there will be a Scary Swim and Crafts Event, which costs $5 for non-members.

 

Library Events

Also, the Carnegie libraries will host a number of free Halloween events this month:

The West End branch of the Carnegie library is hosting a hands-on science exploration of the life cycle of a pumpkin on the evening of October 21.

The Lawrenceville branch of the Carnegie Library is holding a Halloween party on the evening of October 27 with crafts and activities starting at 6:30pm and a magic show starting at 7pm.

For the full list of Halloween events at the Carnegie libraries, click here.

The Allegheny County libraries also offer a TON of free Halloween-themed events. Here’s the link to find more info about them.

Ghost stories with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Ghost stories with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

There are a number of opportunities to have crafty, creative Halloween fun in Pittsburgh this year:

Haunted Birdhouses at Lowe’s Build and Grow WorkshopOctober 10

Kids can build a haunted birdhouse at Lowe’s hands-on workshops for children. All materials and instructions provided.

 

Youth Make Monstrous Mash-Ups at the Children’s MuseumOctober 16

The Children’s Museum will be hosting an evening maker party for ages 10-15, where youth will combine different materials and processes to create unusual monsters. Price is $10 for nonmembers and $8 for members and parents are not required to attend. Advance registration required.

 

Halloween Make-It-Now Evening at the Pittsburgh Glass CenterOctober 23

Families can stop in to the Pittsburgh Glass Center to make fused pumpkins or pendants.

 

Family Canvas at Kiln N TimeOctober 24

Kiln N Time in Lawrenceville will be hosting a Halloween-themed family-friendly canvas event.

 

Open Studio at Pittsburgh Center For the ArtsOctober 31

The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts will be holding a special Halloween edition of its Children’s Open Studio Program from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Kids ages 5-10 can be dropped off at any point during that time frame to create Halloween-themed art. Cost is $10 per hour.

 

Gander MountainOctober 31

Participating Gander Mountain locations are offering a free kids Halloween workshop with crafts, activities and more from 10-2pm.

 

Paint Monkeythroughout October

Paint Monkey is offering several all-ages Halloween-themed events in October at its Lawrenceville location. Dates are October 4, 10, 25 and 31st.

 

Painting with a Twistthroughout October

Painting with a Twist’s Pittsburgh franchises are offering a variety of all-ages Halloween-themed events in October. Dates are: South Side-October 11Wexford-October 11, 17 and 24; Mt. Lebanon-October 10, 22, 24 and 25; Robinson-October 3, 12, 18, 25 and 31.

 

Fired Up Pottery Studiothroughout October

Fired Up Pottery Studio in McMurray is hosting several kid-friendly Halloween-themed events in October including a Mommy-and Me vampire plate class on October 6, haunted house canvas-painting class for kids on October 8 and a mummy fused glass plate class for kids on October 18.

 

Michael’s Craft Storesthroughout October

Participating Michael’s craft stories will be offering some Halloween-themed creative activities, including a pumpkin-making family craft class on October 3 and several other Halloween-themed Saturday crafting classes throughout the month of October. More information at link above.

 

Snapologythroughout October

The South Hills Snapology location is holding a Lego-based, Halloween-themed special program for children ages 5-12 on Friday evenings throughout October. The Monroeville location is also offering a Halloween-themed program on October 24.

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

Bump in the Night at Frick ParkOctober 16-17, 23-24

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy celebrates Halloween at its 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 $15 for adults and $12 for children. Advance registration requested. Intended for children ages 3-9 years old with caregivers.

 

Eat N’Park Zoo Boo at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG AquariumOctober 17-18, October 24-25

Each year, the Pittsburgh Zoo hosts its 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.

 

Campfire Ghost Stories with the Allegheny County Parks Departmentvarious dates

The Allegheny County Parks Department is holding a free outdoor Campfire Ghost Stories program at several of the county parks. Families can watch a park ranger build a campfire, listen to scary stories and get a surprise. Dates are: Hartwood Acres-October 16, Settlers Cabin Park-October 17, Harrison Hills-October 23, White Oak Park-October 24, Boyce Park-October 30.

 

Pumpkin Decorating Walk with Venture OutdoorsOctober 18

Families can take a guided hike through the pumpkin patch at North Park, followed by snacks and pumpkin decorating. Great for children ages 0 to 8. Members pay $15, nonmember adults are $20 and kids are $10. Each attendee gets a pumpkin.

 

Creatures of the Night at Beechwood Farms and Nature ReserveOctober 23-24

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.

 

Ghost Stories and Campfire Hike with Venture OutdoorsOctober 24

Families can take a guided two-mile hike through Moon Park, then roast marshmallows over a bonfire and listen to family-friendly ghost stories. Cost is $10 for adults ($6 for members) and $5 for kids. Advance registration required.

 

Unspooky Night Hike at the Outdoor ClassroomOctober 24

The Outdoor Classroom celebrates Halloween at its annual Unspooky Night Hike where families can take a guided nighttime hike under the light of the moon! Adult tickets are $6 and child tickets are $8.

 

Haunted GuyasutaOctober 24

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

 

Venture Outdoors Tombstone Geocaching at Homewood CemeteryOctober 31

Families can collect tombstone rubbings along this spooky geocaching course in Homewood Cemetery near Frick Park. Adults are $12 and children are $5, with discounts available for members.

 

Venture Outdoors Tyke Hike Halloween PartyOctober 31

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 $5 and advance registration is encouraged.

 

Color Crawl: Halloween Edition at Upper St. Clair Community and Recreation CenterOctober 31

The Upper St. Clair Community and Recreation Center is hosting its 1st annual Color Crawl, where families can run or walk two miles while being doused with color! Pre-register at the Community & Recreation Center, or register on the day of the event.

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

Pumpkin Trolley at the Pennsylvania Trolley MuseumOctober 9-11, 16-18, 23-25

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

 

October Night at the Zoo at Living Treasures Animal ParkThursdays through Saturdays in October

Both the Moraine and Laurel Highlands locations of Living Treasures Animal Park celebrate Halloween at the October Night at the Zoo event–with only torches to light the walkways as you visit with many unusual nocturnal animals.

 

Hallowboo at Idlewild Park-Saturdays and Sundays, October 3-25

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 ToursOctober 17 and 24

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.

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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.

 

And 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, there are a few ways to get even MORE candy at these additional trick-or treating options at local malls and shopping centers:

 

Finally, if you’re looking to unload some of your child’s candy after Halloween, check out Bakery Square and Robinson‘s Learning Express Candy Buy Back program from November 1-7.

 

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!

Guest Post: Great Family-Friendly Hikes in Pittsburgh by Caitlin Venczel

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi
George&Guy2
Emerald View Park, Photo by Caitlin Venczel

Caitlin Venczel is the founder of Hike It Baby Pittsburgh, a local baby- and kid-friendly free hiking group that treks all over the city throughout the week. Since I love hiking in the Fall, I asked Caitlin to share her five favorite hiking trails in the city for families. 

By Caitlin Venczel

Looking for family-friendly hiking trails? You’re in luck because I’ve got some great advice – grab your family, go to a trail and start walking – bam! Family-friendly hiking trail. :) In all seriousness, most trails ARE family-friendly.

Don’t be intimidated by super long trails. Get .5 mile in. Do more another day! Maybe a hike has some technical footing? Throw (well, place) your child in a child carrier (some go up to 50lbs!), grab a hiking pole and go hiking! Maybe you feel like because you can’t get a “good” hike in, it’s not worth going at all. Yes, it takes time to get your kiddos ready and get out the door. But getting outdoors, even for a small walk in your local park, can make everyone happier. And the more you do it, the more you’ll love it and the easier it’ll be.

Here are five of my favorite hiking spots to get you started. Interested in finding more? Join me over at Hike it Baby Pittsburgh – a free group dedicated to getting families outside.

Fall hiking at Beechwood Farms, Photo by Nadine Champsi
Fall hiking at Beechwood Farms, Photo by Nadine Champsi

Beechwood Farms in Fox Chapel

This gem of a place offers a unique, natural play area, a pond filled with schools of goldfish and wonderfully maintained trails. The trail around the pond is less than a mile and great for little walkers. Strollers can manage as well but there are some roots to watch out for. There are many other trail options in Beechwood Farms. Grab a map in the visitor center and hike around their five miles of trails!

Fairy Houses, Photo by Nadine Champsi
Fairy Houses, Photo by Nadine Champsi

Tranquil Trail in Frick Park

A favorite of HIB Pittsburgh, this trail is exactly as its name suggests – tranquil. Relatively flat, and with a wide packed gravel & dirt path, this trail is excellent for walkers and strollers alike (though something with shocks is recommended). Expect to find fairy houses in the roots of some of the trees, and have fun tossing fallen sticks and leaves into the creek that follows part of the trail. For more info on the Tranquil Trail and other wonderful trails in Frick Park, check here.

Fred Rogers statue along the North Shore, Photo by Nadine Champsi
Fred Rogers statue along the North Shore, Photo by Nadine Champsi

Three Rivers Heritage Trail

Explore Pittsburgh’s riverfronts! The 24 miles of trails that make up the Three Rivers Heritage Trail are usually paved or hard-packed gravel/dirt paths. You’ll see lots of bikes on this trail – that’s one way to know a trail works for strollers too! There are tons of different segments of this trail and each one offers different views of Pittsburgh.

A favorite of mine is along the North Shore – it passes the Science Center, Heinz Field, the Water Steps, and PNC Park and offers a spectacular view of Downtown. This would be a fun trail to treat as a project. Print a map and mark off the different segments of the trail as you hike them with your family. Once you get them all done, it’s time to celebrate! For more info on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail system, check this out.

George & Guy Trail, Photo by Caitlin Venczel
George & Guy Trail, Photo by Caitlin Venczel

Emerald View Park

Looking for a hike that’ll also be a great workout? Have older children that want a destination to hike to? Hike the George & Guy Trail in Emerald View Park. Offering one of the best (maybe THE best) views in the city, the hike along Mt. Washington is absolutely worth it. Though the trail is wide, there are some portions that get a little steep so this hike is best for children out of the darting phase. Also, this trail is not necessarily stroller-friendly, so may be best for older kids or babies in carriers. You can always use a child carrier to contain some of that energy as well ;). This hike offers both an urban and secluded feel – it’s a very special park.

Fall Run Park, Photo by Caitlin Venczel
Fall Run Park, Photo by Caitlin Venczel

Fall Run

The trail along Fall Run travels up a valley bottom crossing several bridges and passing by several waterfalls. One large waterfall waits for you about ¾ of a mile up the trail. This is a great hike for kiddos that might need some extra motivation on the trail because they can count the waterfalls and bridges along the way. If you can time the hike with warm weather, the stream is great for splashing and playing in as it is fairly shallow, with flat rocky sections. There’s also a playground at the trail head in case your little ones still have energy after the hike. Please note: this trail may not be the best for strollers!

Enjoy the trails! And as always, happy hiking!

2015 Fall Activities in Pittsburgh Family Guide

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

2015-2

The heat and humidity slipped away this week with a tremendous downpour that almost washed us away from the bus stop. But we survived! And I’m glad, because the change in temperature means that one of my favorite times of year is upon us!

Fall is a most wonderful time to get outside and explore the city and its surrounding countryside. Many of the local farms welcome families 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 2015 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.

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Apple Picking at Simmons Farm

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, 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 seems 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 19th. 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 Pop’s Farmyard program every weekend from June through September. For $6, 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. See below for more information about the Triple B Farms Fall Festival.

Soergel Orchards

I also heard from Soergel Orchards in Wexford that they will be offering limited pick-your-own apples this year. Apple picking will only be available during their weekend fall festivals in October. Though they did not describe their trees as “dwarf” size, they did note that they would be “gnarled” enough for small children to reach some branches.

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 trees starting by the beginning of September and continuing until end of October. We went last year and liked its off-the-beaten path vibe, though some of the trees were so tall that we had to use ladders. 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.

Apple picking at Norman's Orchards
Apple picking at Norman’s Orchards

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 12-13

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 2-4

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 2-4 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 3-4

Mt. Pleasant Township’s Volunteer Fire Company will be hosting its annual Hickory Apple Festival on October 3-4th. 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 3-4

Featuring over 150 arts and crafts vendors and 30 food vendors, the Delmont Apple N’Arts Festival is a Westmoreland County family-friendly festival where you can find handmade items from local crafters, delicious food, hot apple cider, and home-made apple treats.

Mars Applefest-October 3

Mars is holding its annual Applefest this October. This event includes food, games, crafts and entertainment geared toward families.

Exploring the pumpkin patch at Shenot Farm
Exploring the pumpkin patch during Shenot Farm’s Fall Festival

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 2015. These two fall festivals are organized by Allegheny County at Hartwood Acres on September 26th and South Park on October 17th. 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. Families can enjoy hay rides, a hay maze, a pumpkin patch trip, a barnyard petting zoo and more.

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 19th and continuing until October 25th. 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.

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 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” on weekends starting September 26th 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 FarmsFor All Family FarmsFreedom 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 September 26th and running every Saturday through Sunday from 10 to 6pm. 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 19th and running 7 days per week. For $14 a head, you can get a hayride to the pumpkin patch, any-sized pumpkin, entry to the corn maze, a petting zoo, a play area, an apple and more. Simmons also offers pick-your-own apples and fall birthday parties.

Trax Farm

Trax Farm in the South Hills will be holding its 46th annual Fall Festival this year beginning on September 19th and running weekend days from 10am-5pm until October 25th. 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 $4 starting at 4pm on weekdays and earlier 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 19th, 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.

Other Fall Festivals

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

Fall of the Leaf Weekend at Idlewild with food, classic cars, special character meet & greets and crafts: September 12-13 and 19-20

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

Sewickley’s Harvest Festival-September 12

Scottdale Fall Festival-September 18-20

Annual Covered Bridge Festival-September 19-20

Fall Music Festival at Fern Hollow Nature Center-September 19

Annual Butler Fall Festival-September 19

Castle Shannon Fall Festival-September 19

Green Tree Octoberfest-September 19-20

Clarion’s Autumn Leaf Festival-September 26 to October 4

The Waterfront’s Fall Fest-September 26

Fall in the Wall Festival-September 26

Cecil Township Fall Festival-September 26-27

Bedford Fall Foliage Festival-October 3-4 and 10-11

Northside Pumpkinfest-October 10

Zelionople/Harmony Country Fall Festival-October 10-11

Great Pumpkin Festival in Cranberry-October 16

Hamilton Harvest Festival-October 17

Bounty at Boyce Mayview Park Fall Fest-November 7

 

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.

The Pittsburgh Irish Festival, Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Irish Festival
The Pittsburgh Irish Festival, Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Irish Festival

Cultural Festivals

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

Church Brew Works Oktoberfest-September 10-October 4

Church Brew Works celebrates German culture at its annual Oktoberfest with traditional food items, drinks and entertainment.

Britsburgh-September 8-14

British American Connections Pittsburgh is holding its first Britsburgh festival, featuring tea times, British food and beer, music, a sports extravaganza and more.

Pittsburgh Irish Festival-September 11-13

The Pittsburgh Irish Festival is a three-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.

Edinboro Highland Games and Scottish Festival-September 10-13

Edinboro University will be holding its annual Highland Games and Scottish Festival, where 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.

Pittsburgh Lebanese Festival-September 11-13

The annual Pittsburgh Lebanese Festival features authentic Lebanese food, music and dance performances.

The Strip District World Festival-September 11-13

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.

Ukrainian Food Festival-September 11-12

Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church celebrates its annual Ukrainian Food Festival in Carnegie with yummy food, live performances and a craft fair.

Canonsburg’s Pennsylvania Bavarian Oktoberfest-September 18-20

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

Hofbrauhaus Oktoberfest Celebration-September 18-19, 25-26

Hofbrauhaus celebrates its annual Oktoberfest on two weekends in September with traditional German food and drink, live entertainment and children’s activities.

Also, Penn Brewery will be offering its annual Oktoberfest with great German food and drink and live entertainment on September 18-20 and the 25-27th.

Pittsburgh Chinese Cultural Festival-September 19

The Pittsburgh Chinese Cultural Festival will take place at the University of Pittsburgh and will include authentic Chinese food and beverages, live music, dance performances and children’s activities.

India in Focus-Activities begin September 25

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust celebrates Indian culture with a variety of visual and performing arts shows, workshops, lectures, etc. Kicks off on September 25th at the quarterly Gallery Crawl with a lively bhangra dance party on the streets!

Ligonier Highland Games-September 26

Idlewild hosts its annual Ligonier Highland Games 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.

Heidelberg Oktoberfest-September 26

The borough of Heidelberg celebrates its annual Oktoberfest with traditional German food, beer, polka, children’s activities and fireworks.

American Indian Heritage Weekend at Meadowcroft-September 26-27

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.

Annual Pow Wow-September 26-27

The annual Pow Wow will be hosted by the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center and will include singing, drumming, dancing, crafts, food and children’s activities.

 The Hydref-October 3

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.

African American Heritage Day Parade-October 3

This annual parade and celebration of African American heritage will start at 11:00am at the corner of Liberty Avenue and 11th Street.

And there’s always the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival, which continues until the end of September and celebrates medieval and fantasy cultures!

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

Heritage Festivals

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

Mountain Craft Days-September 11-13

The Somerset Historical Society will host its annual Mountain Craft Days on September 11-13th. 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.

North Appalachian Folk Festival-September 11-12

The North Appalachian Folk Festival in Indiana PA celebrates the heritage of the region through demonstrations and sales of art, concerts, how-to workshops for sustainable living, handcrafts, nature and a Kid’s Alley!

Pioneer Day at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden-September 19

The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden celebrates its first Pioneer Day. Visitors can explore the newly restored 1780s log house and experience what life was like for pioneers through hands-on activities, demonstrations and tours.

Stahlstown Flax Scutching Festival-September 19-20

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.

Autumn Festival at Old Economy Village-September 19-20

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 19-20 and September 26-27

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 26-27

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 9-11

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! Enjoy your many adventures this Fall in Pittsburgh! And please send me an email at pittsburghmommyblog@gmail.com if I’ve missed anything. I’m trying to make this guide more comprehensive each year, which would not be possible without YOUR help!

2015 Summer in Pittsburgh Family Guide

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

1

I was recently lying in my hammock looking toward a beautiful blue sky when I felt it. The energy. The unmistakable, free-spirited energy of summer. And I got to thinking, “Is there anything more satisfying than the anticipation of a summer ahead with my kids?” Outdoor music, festivals, swimming, hiking, camping, biking. Staying up late. Sleeping in. Savoring this most wonderful season that seems to slip through my fingers faster and faster each year.

I want to share my own excitement about Summer and what it will hold for the city’s families. There’s a lot to look forward to!

Learning stuff outside

Summer is the perfect opportunity to take your family’s learning outdoors into nature. Pittsburgh is home to many museums, nature reserves and public parks that offer outdoor educational opportunities during the summer. (Please note: these are NOT summer camps. If you are looking for summer camps, check here).

Tyke Hike in Mellon Park with Venture Outdoors
Tyke Hike with Venture Outdoors
  • Storytime at Phipps Conservatory: During the warm months, Phipps Conservatory brings its weekly, free-with-admission story time outside into the Children’s Discovery Garden. Kids can listen to stories with nature themes, make a craft and explore the beautiful garden with interactive elements just for them. Plus, if you attend six sessions you can choose a free children’s book from the gift store. Story time is held at 10:30 am or 1 pm on Wednesdays and last from 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Tot Hikes at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: During the warm months, the Children’s Museum offers Tot Hikes, a chance to explore the museum’s Outdoor Classroom. Led by early childhood educators including the fantastic Miss Yvonne, children can explore the vegetable garden, water flowers, sing, dance and listen to nature stories. Recommended for children 5 years old and younger. Tot Hikes are held from 11-noon on Thursdays and are free with admission. 
  • Youth Grow at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh also offers a monthly, hands-on seasonal gardening workshop for children ages 10 and older. Sessions are held on select Saturdays from 10:30-noon and parents do not need to be present. Cost is $10 for nonmembers and $8 for members and advance registration is required. 
  • KidsPlay in Market Square: The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership hosts the free KidsPlay in Downtown Pittsburgh’s Market Square on Tuesday mornings. Each week has different educational programs, activities and special guests. This year’s highlights include visits with Santa, Mister McFeely, children’s yoga, penguins from the National Aviary and more. See here for the complete lineup. Also, following KidsPlay the mobile Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Reading Room will be set up, where kids can choose a new book for only $1 or $2. Programs are geared toward preschool-aged children and caregivers and take place Tuesday mornings from 10-11:30am. 
  • Citiparks Roving Art Cart: Citiparks will once again host its free Roving Art Cart program this summer. The Roving Art Cart visits a neighborhood park and/or playground every Tuesday through Friday and offers creative activities for children. Activities are best suited for kids ages 5-12. The Roving Art Cart runs Tuesday-Friday 10am to 1pm from June 16 to August 7. See here for the complete schedule.
  • Tyke Hikes with Venture Outdoors: Venture Outdoors offers guided nature hikes for children 0-8 with caregivers at a variety of local parks. Each Tyke Hike has a nature-based theme and incorporates nature exploration, a craft and a healthy snack. Tyke Hikes are held on select Tuesday mornings from 10-11:30am and cost is $5 per child (adults are free). Though walkups are allowed, advance registration is strongly requested. 
  • Beechwood Farms and Nature Reserve: Offered once per month, Beechwood Farms in Fox Chapel hosts Preschool Fledglings (3-5yo) and Babes in the Woods (baby-2 yo). While Babes in the Woods is basically a guided nature hike, Preschool Fledglings also incorporates stories, a walk and interactive activities to introduce nature themes to preschoolers. Parents and caregivers must be present and cost is $4 for Audubon Society members and $6 for nonmembers. 
  • Fern Hollow Nature Center: Fern Hollow Nature Center in Sewickley is holding a couple regular educational programs for young children this summer. Nature Play Dates will be held on Wednesday mornings from 11-1pm and include parent-led time in the Natural Outdoor Classroom where families can explore, build and engage in creative play. There will also be a small craft each week. Fern Hollow will also offer a new program this year called Storytime Yoga on select Wednesdays from 1-1:30pm with a nature-themed story time and basic yoga instruction. Cost is $10 per person per class and pre-registration is required.
  • Talk N’Walks at The Outdoor Classroom: The Outdoor Classroom at Boyce-Mayview Park will offer a new monthly Talk N’Walk program on select Sundays from 2-4pm. Program incorporates a presentation on different nature themes (for example, bees in July) and a hike. Cost is $10 for adults and $4 for children.
  • Forest Stories at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden: The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is once again holding its Forest Stories series where families can take a guided hike to the Highmark Gazebo for a story time and activity. Following the story time, kids can visit the chickens in the Historic Farmstead as they enjoy a special treat. Forest Stories are held every Friday from June 5-August 21 from 10-11am. The program is free with admission and adult attendance is required. Designed for children ages 3-5 years old.
  • Children’s Storytime at Powdermill Nature Reserve: If you want to travel a bit further (55 miles east of Pittsburgh), the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Powdermill Nature Reserve offers a children’s story time on the third Sunday of the month at 1 p.m. Children ages 4-9 with caregiver can participate in a story time, themed arts and crafts projects and a short hike through the forest.
  • Bloomfield Saturday Market: Back for its second year, the outdoor Bloomfield Saturday Market runs Saturdays from 9-1pm. Though not offered every week, the Market sometimes holds free educational activities for children. Looking for other local Farmers Markets? Check out this listing on NEXTpittsburgh.

Getting wet

A hot summer’s day calls for a dip in some cool water. Pittsburgh offers a number of options for families looking to get wet.

FSCN2054

  • Citiparks Outdoor Swimming Pools: Citiparks has 18 outdoor swimming pools opening this year on June 9th. Hours are 1-7:45pm on weekdays and 1-5:45 pm on weekends and holidays. For a full listing of locations see here. Citiparks also offers very affordable swimming classes for children 18 months-15 years old. For the first time, Citiparks is offering free pool tags to children 15 and under with free membership to one of its recreation centers. Otherwise, pool tags are $60 for a resident family of four or $45 per person for nonresident families. Or you can buy a daily admission ticket for $3 for children ages 3 – 15 and $4 for individuals 16 and older. Several of the Citiparks pools have kiddie pools including Highland Park, Brighton Heights and Banksville.
  • Citiparks Spray Parks: Citiparks also has six spray parks in Beechview, Shadyside, Troy Hill, East Hills, Hazelwood and Warrington. Spray parks are open from 9-8pm and are free to visit.

Also, if you’re looking for a spray park-like experience, there are a few fountains in Pittsburgh that are particularly fun to visit: the Water Steps at the North Shore Riverfront Park, the Cloud Arbor at Buhl Community Park near the Children’s Museum and the Water Feature at PPG Place (though the Water Feature is being renovated and is closed until at least the end of July).

  • Allegheny County Pools: The Allegheny County Parks Department has a number of pools in suburban parks including wave pools at Boyce Park, Settler’s Cabin Park and South Park; a dive pool at Settler’s Cabin Park and a swimming pool (with water slide) at North Park. These pools are open June 6 through Labor Day from 11:30am to 7:30pm. Pricing is very affordable, but complicated so see here for more information.
  • Allegheny County Spray Parks: The Allegheny County Parks Department also has two spray parks in Round Hill Park and Deer Lakes Park. Spray parks are open starting May 30 from 10-8pm and are free to visit.
  • Sandcastle Water Park: Sandcastle in Homestead is another option for families looking to get wet. The park includes water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river and dedicated children’s area. I know several families that buy a season pass and visit Sandcastle throughout the summer.

There are also several other community outdoor pools/or spray parks that I’ve heard mentioned as really great including the Pool at Clever Park in Robinson, the Dormont PoolMt. Lebanon Swim Center, Crawford Swimming Pool in Shaler, Hampton Community Pool, the Aquatics Center at the Upper St. Clair Community and Recreation Center and the Cranberry Water Park.

Finally, if you’re looking for a beach, you’re in the wrong place. Just kidding. There’s a 500-foot sand/turf beach at nearby Raccoon Creek State Park with a concession stand.

Being healthy outdoors

Besides swimming, there are a variety of Pittsburgh-based organizations that can help you adopt other healthy and active outdoor hobbies.

Biking along the South Side Riverfront Trail
Biking along the South Side Riverfront Trail
  • Venture OutdoorsIn addition to Tyke Hikes mentioned above, Venture Outdoors also offers a variety of other structured opportunities to hike, geocache, fish and rock climb. Though not all programs are appropriate for young children, some may be. Check out the activities calendar for more information.
  • Hike It Baby Pittsburgh: Hike It Baby Pittsburgh is a new family-friendly hiking group started by a local mother. The group holds hikes throughout the week in both urban and suburban locations. For more information, see the Hike It Baby Pittsburgh calendar and my recent article about the group.
  • Kayak Pittsburgh: Kayak Pittsburgh offers both structured family paddles and kayak rentals at both its North Shore and North Park locations. North Park also offers rentals of rowboats, canoes, pedal boats and stand up paddle boards. Finally, both locations offer bike rentals.
  • SUP Three Rivers: SUP Three Rivers offers stand-up paddle boarding lessons and rentals.

Looking for other ways to get out on the Three Rivers? Boat Pittsburgh offers pontoon boat rentals, the Gateway Clipper Fleet has a variety of family-friendly cruises and Just Ducky Tours offers tours on its fleet of duck boats.

  • Bike Pittsburgh: Bike Pittsburgh has an events calendar that compiles a variety of organized bike rides in the city here.
  • Golden Triangle Bike Rentals: Located in Downtown Pittsburgh, Golden Triangle Bike Rentals offers guided bike tours and rentals of mountain and road bikes, children’s bikes, tandem bikes, tag-along’s and trailers.

Listening to outdoor music

Summer is the season for outdoor music in Pittsburgh. With many free options, an outdoor concert can be an affordable and enjoyable way to spend some time with your family. Here’s my roundup of outdoor concert series in the city:

Bach, Beethoven and Brunch
Bach, Beethoven and Brunch
  • Bach, Beethoven and Brunch: Running June 21-August 16 at Mellon Park, Citiparks’ free Bach, Beethoven and Brunch classical musical series is a leisurely way to spend a Sunday morning (10:30-noon). Bagel Factory vendors are on site and Rodef Shalom Temple generally offers free children’s activities.
  • Stars at Riverview Jazz Series: Citiparks also holds a free outdoor jazz series on Saturday evenings from 7-8:30pm at Riverview Park. Can’t get enough of jazz? The free Reservoir of Jazz series runs in Highland Park in August.
  • Mellon Square Summer Concert Series: Citiparks also holds the free Mellon Square Summer Concert Series in Downtown’s Mellon Square from 12-1pm on Thursday afternoons starting June 4.
  • First Fridays at the Frick: The Frick Art and Historical Center in Point Breeze holds a free outdoor music series on the first Friday of the summer months.
  • Allegheny County Summer Concert Series: The Allegheny County Parks Department holds two favorite free outdoor concert series in the summer: one at South Park Amphitheater on Friday evenings and one at Hartwood Acres on Sunday nights. There will also be the Allegheny County Music Festival on September 6th.
  • Weather Permitting: Held at the Shadyside Nursery, Weather Permitting is an outdoor, family-friendly, backyard BBQ-style summer concert series held on Sunday evenings from 5-9pm. Admission is $10 per adult and kids are free. There are food trucks, beer available for a donation and children’s activities.
  • Notes from the Playground Free Outdoor Concert Series: This year Shady Side Academy is debuting a free outdoor concert series at its Junior School campus in Point Breeze.
  • Jam on Walnut: Held one Saturday evening per month, Shadyside’s Walnut Street hosts Jam on Walnut to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation with concerts from 7-11pm.
  • Waterfront Summer Block Parties: The Waterfront in Homestead is hosting a free all-ages Summer Block Party series on the last Saturday of the month with live music, games, prizes, activities and an under-the-bridge cookout and beer.
  • SouthSide Works Summer Entertainment Series: The SouthSide Works is hosting a free outdoor summer concert series each Saturday and Sunday night in its Town Square.
  • On Stage Summer Concert Series at Eden Hall Campus: Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus is hosting a free summer concert series on select Friday and Saturday nights.

Watching movies outside

Summer is also a great time to take cinematic magic outdoors!

Cinema in the Park in our hammock in Schenley Park
Cinema in the Park in our hammock in Schenley Park

Dollar Bank Cinema in the Park: Citiparks holds its free Cinema in the Park at several locations in the city including West End’s Overlook Park on Tuesday nights; Schenley Park’s Flagstaff Hill on Wednesday and Sunday nights; Brookline’s Memorial Park on Thursday evenings; Lawrenceville’s Arsenal Park on Friday nights; Mt. Washington’s Grandview Park and Observatory Hill’s Riverview Park on Saturday nights plus a few showings at Highland Park throughout the summer.

Allegheny County Movies in the Parks: The Allegheny County Parks Department also offers free family-friendly Movies in the Park throughout the summer at different county parks. For full schedule, see here.

There are also a number of drive-in movie theaters that might be fun to visit during the summer:

Visiting Farms

Connecting with food–and especially picking fruits at local farms–is a favorite summertime activity for many Pittsburgh families (including mine). In Western PA the fruit season kicks off with strawberries around the first week of June, raspberries later in June, blueberries in early-to-mid July, peaches in late July and apples around Labor Day. For pumpkins, you’ll have to wait until my Fall guide :).

The following farms offer fruit picking. Unfortunately, I know of no pick-your-own organic berry farms :(.

Berry picking at Soergel Orchards
Berry picking at Soergel Orchards

Also, some of these farms have regular organized activities for children including:

  • Storytime at Soergel Orchards: Soergel Orchards in Wexford hosts a free weekly story time at the farm on Mondays at 10:30am. Weather permitting, some activities are held outside.
  • Pop’s Farmyard at Triple B Farms: For $5 from 11-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays, Triple B Farms offers Pop’s Farmyard, with a tunnel slide, rope maze, farmyard playground and “education acre”–a hands-on learning area for children.

Finally, many of these farms have live animals for the kids to play with. Looking for more farm animals? Check out the Exhibit Farm at Round Hill Park, South Park Game Preserve and the Historic Homestead at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.

Attending fairs and festivals

Summer is abuzz with festivals and fairs of many different varieties in Pittsburgh. From food to fruit, yoga to music here are some of my favorite outdoor summer festivals in the city:

Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival
Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival

Looking for more smaller community festivals? Check out this great website by Citiparks.

Hitting the road

Finally, here are some ideas if you’d like to take a short trip:

Entrance to Storybook Forest at Idlewild
Entrance to Storybook Forest at Idlewild
  • Kennywood: Located in West Mifflin, Kennywood Amusement Park is quite close to the city and a great way to spend a summer day with your family. There are season passes available and discounted tickets at Giant Eagle.
  • Living Treasures Animal Park: Living Treasures Animal Park is a large interactive zoo with two locations: one north of the city in Moraine and one southeast of the city in the Laurel Highlands.
  • Idlewild/Soak Zone: Idlewild Amusement Park with its attached Soak Zone waterpark is located in the Laurel Highlands and is one of my favorite day trips from the city. The parks are perfect for young children with lots of age-appropriate rides, a Storybook Forest and a new Daniel Tiger exhibit opening this year!
  • Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village: Affiliated with the Heinz History Center, Meadowcroft is a historical village where you can see the oldest known site of human habitation in North America and visit a prehistoric Indian village, a 17th century frontier trading post and a 19th century rural village.

And here are some PA State Parks within easy driving distance of the city:

Raccoon Creek State Park
Raccoon Creek State Park
  • Cook Forest State Forest (2 hours northwest) with boat and tube rentals, fishing, hiking, biking, horseback-riding and camping.
  • Keystone State Park (1 hour east) with a sand beach for swimming, boating (with rentals), fishing, hiking, biking and camping.
  • Kooser State Park (1 and a half hours southeast) with hiking, fishing and camping.
  • Laurel Hill State Park (1 hour southeast) with a sand beach for swimming, boating (with rentals), hiking, fishing, biking and camping.
  • McConnell’s Mills Sate Park (1 hour north) with whitewater rafting, rock-climbing, fishing and hiking.
  • Moraine State Park (1 hour north) with two sand beaches for swimming, boating (with rentals), fishing, hiking, biking (with rentals), horse-back riding, disc golfing and backpack camping.
  • Ohiopyle State Park (1 and a half hour southeast) with whitewater boating, fishing, rock-climbing, hiking, biking, horseback riding and camping.
  • Presque Isle State Park (2 hours north) with beautiful beaches, boating (with rentals), waterskiing, scuba diving, fishing, hiking and biking (with rentals).
  • Pymatuning State Park (1 and a half hours north) with three sandy beaches, boating (with rentals), fishing, disc golfing, hiking and camping.
  • Raccoon Creek State Park (1 hour west) with a sand beach, boating (with rentals), fishing, hiking, camping and horseback riding.
  • Yellow Creek State Park (1 and a half hours east) with a sand beach, boating (with rentals), fishing and hiking.

Cheers to a wonderful summer in Pittsburgh this year!

2015 Guide to Family-Friendly Pittsburgh Neighborhoods

Family-Friendly Neighborhoods in-2
Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

Family-Friendly Neighborhoods in-2More and more frequently I open up my inbox to find emails from random moms reading: “I’m moving to Pittsburgh. Can you help me????” I do my best, but I don’t necessarily feel qualified to answer their questions. Universally they all want to know, “Which neighborhood should I move to?” and I just don’t know the answer to that question. As a resident of O’Hara Township on the border of Aspinwall, I certainly love my own little corner of Pittsburgh. But there are many different factors that impact an ideal neighborhood or suburb for each family. In order to more thoroughly answer this question, I present this 2015 Guide to Family-Friendly Pittsburgh Neighborhoods intended for families looking to relocate to (or within) our city.

But first, a word about my methods. I used several sources for the information presented in this article. 1) In order to identify qualifying neighborhoods, I conducted an informal poll on the Pittsburgh Mommy Page on Facebook. “What are the most family-friendly neighborhoods/suburbs of Pittsburgh? Why?” was the question. I received many, many responses, conducted email interviews to follow up with specific folks and summarized parental input in this article. 2) To understand the demographics of each neighborhood, I used PGHSNAP (for neighborhoods) and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s website (for suburbs) 3) For the purposes of comparison between schools, I used the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s PA School Performance Profiles based largely on test scores. However, I fully acknowledge that test scores do not give a full picture of a school and encourage you to check out A+ Schools to get a more complete understanding of the unique challenges and strengths of our various schools.

 

Choosing a Neighborhood

When I think of Pittsburgh’s geography, I generally break it down into Pittsburgh City Proper and the suburbs in the surrounding directions (Pittsburgh East, West, South and North). Depending on where you work, you might choose to look for a new home in any of these regions. If you’re a visual person, check here for a great map of the City of Pittsburgh and here for the entire Allegheny County. In the following sections, I give you profiles of specific neighborhoods/suburbs deemed “family-friendly” by other Pittsburgh parents.

 

City of Pittsburgh

I know a number of families who could never imagine moving outside the city’s limits. They enjoy the proximity to culture and commerce, the walkability, the access to public transportation, the diversity, etc. If you are one of these parents, you might need some help narrowing down the decision to one of our 90 different neighborhoods.

If you plan to stay within the city, you will also probably want to know about schools. The City of Pittsburgh has several types of schools including traditional neighborhood schools, magnet and partial magnet schools, charter schools and private schools. There are also parents who choose to homeschool or cyber school their kids. While children can automatically attend their assigned neighborhood schools, they also have the option of entering a lottery system for placement at the city’s free magnet schools. An increasing number of parents are electing to take their chances with this lottery. Also, there are a number of charter schools–particularly the Environmental Charter School–that are considered desirable.

The state Department of Education recently released its first academic performance scores for districts (contained in this article by Eleanor Chute at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and reflecting 2012-2013 data). The usefulness of these scores certainly has limitations (discussed further in the article linked above), but I believe they may still provide some perspective. In this study, the Pittsburgh Public Schools District ranked 35 out of the 43 school districts in Allegheny County. In the following sections, I will provide more detailed information about individual neighborhood schools. Also, please see this site for a listing of the city’s free magnet options.

After polling Pittsburgh parents, these 13 neighborhoods emerged as the most family-friendly.

East End

The PPG Aquarium in Highland Park
The PPG Aquarium in Highland Park

Highland Park: Highland Park received the most number of votes (by far) for most family-friendly neighborhood in the city. The neighborhood has some obvious perks including wide, tree-lined streets; gorgeous architecture; the Bryant Street Business District with several great restaurants (Smiling Banana Leaf for Thai, Park Bruges for poutine and E2 for brunch); a neighborhood coffee shop; Highland Park with the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, a community pool with a large baby pool, the impressive Super Playground and a number of great wooded trails. Community members also noted neighborliness, pet-friendliness, the family events hosted by the Highland Park Community Council, the Highland Park list-serve and Facebook group, walkability, bikeability and accessibility to shopping at Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other East Liberty destinations.

According to PGHSNAP, Highland Park has some unique features (when compared to the city of Pittsburgh as a whole) including higher median income, higher level of education, greater percentage of young children and a higher per capita park space. Also, a greater percentage of residents use public transportation or bike to work. Finally, the housing values have risen to a greater degree with a median home value of $167,400 in 2010.

In terms of schools, Highland Park children go to Fulton PreK-5 (a neighborhood school with French emphasis with an academic performance score of 65.1) and Pittsburgh Westinghouse 6-12 (academic performance score of 46.2) in Homewood for middle and high school. The neighborhood also houses Dilworth PreK-5, a traditional magnet school with an emphasis on arts integration and humanities for all subject areas.

Morningside: Located adjacent to Highland Park, Morningside was also repeatedly mentioned as a family-friendly neighborhood most frequently for its affordability and location. With its quiet, flat, sidewalk-lined streets, Morningside certainly feels like a community where families could be comfortable.  The neighborhood also boasts a small business district, a couple parks, a community council that plans family events and the same proximity to shopping in East Liberty. Community members also note that houses are not unreasonably large and it’s accessible to Oakland and Downtown via public transportation.

According to PGHSNAP, Morningside is a very different neighborhood than Highland Park with lower education levels, an income level closer to the average for Pittsburgh, less diversity and lower housing prices (median home value was $89,700 in 2010). Similarly to Highland Park, Morningside has a larger percentage of young children.

In terms of schools, Morningside children go to the Stanton Heights’ neighborhood school Sunnyside PreK-8 (academic performance score of 75.1 and was recently awarded STAR status for its significant improvement in recent years) for elementary and middle schools and Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12 (48.8 academic performance scale) in the Hill District for high school. St. Raphael’s Catholic school is another neighborhood option for K-8.

Located close to Morningside, Friendship was also mentioned a couple times as a family-friendly neighborhood. Considered by some as “up-and-coming” Friendship boasts walkability to shopping, access to public transportation and large, glorious homes (median home value was $167,300). Friendship’s neighborhood elementary school is Pittsburgh Woolslair PreK-5 (61.7 academic performance score) in Lawrenceville for elementary school, Pittsburgh Arsenal 6-8 in Lawrenceville for middle school and Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12 (48.8 academic performance score) in the Hill District for high school. Another neighborhood option is the magnet Pittsburgh Montessori preK-5 with its lottery system for entrance.

Also, Bloomfield (a historically Italian neighborhood) was mentioned once as a family-friendly neighborhood for its walkability, fantastic business district, family-friendly events, the Bloomfield Saturday Market, access to public transportation and location. Next year it will also house a partial STEAM magnet at its neighborhood Woolslair Elementary (61.7 academic performance score). Students go on to Pittsburgh Arsenal 6-8 in Lawrenceville for middle school and Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12 (48.8 academic performance score) in the Hill District for high school. Another neighborhood option is St. Maria Goretti Catholic school for grades preK-8.

Blue Slide Park in Squirrel Hill
Blue Slide Park in Squirrel Hill

Squirrel Hill: As a former resident of Squirrel Hill, I can personally vouch for the family-friendliness of this East End neighborhood. Squirrel Hill, the city’s most populous neighborhood, has some great perks for families who enjoy urban environments including walkability to the thriving business district, a community center, a Carnegie library, the Blue Slide Park in Frick Park and proximity to Schenley Park. Squirrel Hill is also conveniently located for trips throughout the city, but especially to Oakland with its universities and museums. Community members also noted the large Jewish community in the neighborhood with several synagogues. Finally, community members mentioned the range of school options available including public, private and religious ones. Several particularly noted that Squirrel Hill has some of the best public schools in the city.

PGHSNAP divides Squirrel Hill into two sections: Squirrel Hill North and Squirrel Hill South. Residents of both these neighborhoods are more educated with higher incomes than average in Pittsburgh. There is also greater diversity (thought significantly less African Americans) in these neighborhoods. Median home values range from $344,900 in North Squirrel Hill (closer to Shadyside) to $201,400 in South Squirrel Hill.

In terms of public neighborhood schools, Squirrel Hill children attend either Pittsburgh Colfax K-8 (79.7 academic performance score) or Pittsburgh Minadeo PreK-5 (66.4 academic performance score) for elementary school, Pittsburgh Sterrett 6-8 (82.5 academic performance score) for middle school (if they don’t stay at Colfax) and Pittsburgh Allderdice HS (69.2 academic performance score) for high school.

Close to Squirrel Hill, Greenfield was also mentioned once as a family-friendly neighborhood for its affordability. This neighborhood has relatively lower property values (median home value was $90,900 in 2010). Most Greenfield children go to Pittsburgh Greenfield preK-8 (academic performance score of 70.5) for elementary and middle schools and Allderdice for high school. In the Eastern regions, children go to Minadeo, Sterrett and Allderdice.

Point Breeze was also mentioned once for its walkability with easy access to Mellon Park and its spray park, Frick Art and Historical Center and shopping in East Liberty. Community members also noted the good private schools (EllisShady Side Academy Junior SchoolShady Lane Preschool), the Environmental Charter School and the neighborliness of residents. Of note, the median home value in 2010 was $240,300. Point Breeze children go to Minadeo or Colfax for elementary school, Pittsburgh Sterrett 6-8 for middle school and Allderdice for high school. Point Breeze is also the home of Pittsburgh Linden K-5, a Mandarin Chinese or German magnet school.

Playroom at the Wilkins School Community Center
Playroom at the Wilkins School Community Center

Regent Square: Regent Square received quite a number of votes for family-friendliness. This eastern neighborhood contains a great business district, the Wilkins School Community Center, walkability to Frick Park with a playground and easy access to the Parkway. Though still urban, Regent Square feels quieter than Squirrel Hill and community members note, “the neighbors all know each other and look out for one another’s kids.” Of note, portions of Regent Square are in Pittsburgh City Proper, Edgewood, Swissvale and Wilkinsburg. This becomes an important factor when considering schools. Here’s a map to help you figure out which parts of Regent Square fall where.

According to PGHSNAP, the Pittsburgh city portion of Regent Square is more educated with higher incomes than the city as a whole with a median home value of $196,300 in 2010.

Children in the Pgh City portion of Regent Square go to Minadeo, Sterrett and Allderdice. Northeastern Regent Square goes to Wilkinsburg School District (rated last of all 43 school districts in the county) and southeastern Regent Square goes to Woodland Hills School District (rated 38 out of 43 school districts in the county).

Finally, nearby Swisshelm Park was noted as a quieter alternative to Regent Square or Squirrel Hill.

The Northside

Tot activities at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
Tot activities at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

The Northside of Pittsburgh was also mentioned as a nice place to live for families. As the home of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the National Aviary, the Carnegie Science Center, PNC Park, the Deutschtown Business District, lots of park space and a quick trip over a bridge to Downtown and its Cultural District, families enjoy the walkability and location of the Northside. However, the “Northside” is actually composed of several varied neighborhoods with very different characteristics, including some that are far more residential and some that have larger commercial districts. Families mentioned one Northside neighborhood in particular: Brighton Heights.

Brighton Heights is a hilltop community located in Upper Northside mentioned for its affordability and location (close to Parkways North and West and Route 65). Unlike some other parts of Pittsburgh, the housing values (as of 2010) were decreasing with a median home value of $81,433. Brighton Heights children go to Pittsburgh Morrow PreK-8 (academic performance scale of 65.4) located in Brighton Heights for elementary and middle schools and Pittsburgh Perry High School (academic performance score of 45.1) in Perry North.

South Pittsburgh

View from Mount Washington
View from Mount Washington

Finally, moving South, Brookline was frequently mentioned as a nice place to raise a family. This southern neighborhood is strategically situated between the city and suburbs like Dormont and Mt. Lebanon that were also mentioned as family-friendly. With a thriving business district, several parks and access to public transportation, Brookline was noted to have the amenities of both an urban and more suburban location. Community members emphasized the friendliness of the neighborhood with lots of welcoming businesses and the Brookline Park Recreation Center.

According to PGHSNAP, Brookline’s median home value in 2010 was $82,150 with a slightly declining property value. There are tons of young children in this neighborhood.

Brookline children attend Pittsburgh West Liberty K-5 (academic performance score of 63.3) in Brookline for elementary school, Pittsburgh South Brooks 6-8 (academic performance score of 79.7) in Brookline for middle school and Pittsburgh Carrick HS (academic performance score of 51.7) in Carrick for high school. Brookline is also the home of the science, technology and writing magnet Pittsburgh Carmalt PreK-8.

The nearby Mount Washington was also mentioned once as a family-friendly neighborhood because of the “nice businesses,” two preschools and good elementary school. Mt. Washington children attend Pittsburgh Whittier K-5 (academic performance score of 62.8) in Mt. Washington for elementary school, Pittsburgh South Hills 6-8 (academic performance score of 72) in Beechview for middle school and Pittsburgh Brashear High school (academic performance score of 53.8) in Beechview for high school. Also, nearby Beechview was noted to be family-friendly because of its parks, neighborhood school, access to T, spray park and closeness to city pools and bath house. Beechview children attend Pittsburgh Beechwood PreK-5 (academic performance score of 66.8) in Beechview for elementary school, South Hills for middle school and Brashear for high school.

Since one reader asked me to create a visual, I put together the following table for easy comparisons:

pghneighborhoodsPittsburgh Suburbs

Many families prefer to live in the surrounding suburbs of Pittsburgh for a variety of reasons. Some enjoy the larger yards with more room for kids to romp around. Some enjoy the small town feel. Others look at the academic performance scores for the county and see higher numbers in many suburban school districts.

Northern Suburbs

There were three northern suburbs of Pittsburgh that received the most votes: Aspinwall, McCandless and Cranberry.

Aspinwall Riverfront Park
Aspinwall Riverfront Park

Aspinwall: As a resident of O’Hara Township on the border of Aspinwall, I can also vouch for the family-friendliness of this neighborhood. Located just over the Highland Park Bridge, it has wide, tree-lined streets, a walkable business district, parks (including the new Aspinwall Riverfront Park scheduled to have its grand opening this fall), lots of families and great community holiday events. Community members also noted proximity to the city (especially the Zoo) and Waterworks shopping center with its brand new Market District, a movie theater, TJ Maxx and Marshalls as perks. The area also has a relatively new library and will also have a new community center soon.

According to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Aspinwall has almost a 50/50 split between renter- and owner-occupied houses, but the median value of owner-occupied houses was $208,000 and its median family income was $94,000.

Aspinwall children attend the Fox Chapel Area School District which is ranked 17/43 school districts in the region. With a few exceptions, Aspinwall children attend O’Hara Elementary School (academic performance score of 81.8) in O’Hara Township, Dorseyville Middle School (academic performance score of 90.2) and Fox Chapel Area High School (academic performance score of 93.2).

Also mentioned in the Fox Chapel Area School District was O’Hara Township with its more suburban feel and slightly more expensive homes, Fox Chapel which is also suburban but with much higher housing prices (with a median home value of $524,000!) and Sharpsburg with more affordable homes (but more renters than owners), a walkable business district and nice community events.

McCandless (about 13 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh) was hugely popular in my recent survey with frequent mention of its school district, closeness to North Park, suburban feel and easy access to shopping, places of worship and farms. It was also noted that the Northland Public Library is wonderful with lots of family-friendly programming.

According to the Southwestern PA Commission, McCandless is more educated than Allegheny County in general with a median household income of about $104,000 and a median value of owner-occupied houses of $204,000.

Shenot Farms in Wexford
Shenot Farms in Wexford

McCandless children go to the North Allegheny School District which is rated first out of the 43 school districts in Allegheny County. Bradford Woods, Franklin Park and Marshall Township areas also attend this school district. (I also discovered that much of this area is collectively known as “Wexford”). Of the elementary schools in the borough, Peebles has the highest academic performance score and McKnight has the lowest. Students then go on to Carson (academic performance score of 96.5) for middle school and North Allegheny Intermediate High School for grades 9-10 and North Allegheny Senior High School (academic performance score of 97.2) for the rest of high school. Check out this website to find which elementary school services which area.

Also mentioned were nearby Franklin Park with its Blueberry Park, which is also in the North Allegheny School District, but slightly more expensive. Other suburbs that were mentioned include Hampton (Hampton Township School District is 9/43) with its community center, pool and accessibility to North Park and Hartwood Acres; Ross with its own community center and closeness to McKnight Road shopping (North Hills School District is 15/43 in county) and Shaler with its award-winning Shaler North Hills Library, parks and Kiwanis/Crawford Pool (Shaler Area School District is 22/43).

Though located in Butler County, Cranberry was also repeatedly mentioned as a fabulous place to live. Located about 20 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh, the commute from Cranberry to the city is longer; however some residents choose the tradeoff for the suburb’s perks. Community members noted the wonderful library, the YMCA with its aquatics center, the relatively new Kids Castle playground, Graham Park, walking trails plus lots of businesses. Cranberry also could be considered more affordable with a median home value of $89,000.

Cranberry children attend the Seneca Valley School District which is repeatedly ranked highly (when compared to Allegheny County School districts it would probably rank within the top 15).

Here’s a table of the northern suburbs (excluding Cranberry since it’s not in Allegheny County).

northernsuburbs

Southern Suburbs

In the southern suburbs, the undeniable winner for family-friendliness was Mount Lebanon. Community members noted the excellent schools, walkable business district, great community events, the Mt. Lebanon Public Library and the parks as perks.

According to Southwestern PA Commission, Mt. Lebanon has high education levels, a median family income level of $108,000 and a median house value of $211,000.

Mt. Lebanon children go to the Mt. Lebanon School District which is ranked 2/43 districts in the county. There are seven elementary schools in Mt. Lebanon (see here for a map of zones). Of these, Howe Elementary School has the highest academic performance score of 95.4 and Lincoln has the lowest with 85.5. Of the two middle schools, Mellon has a higher academic performance score of 92.2 vs. 86.4 and Mt. Lebanon High School has an academic performance score of 99.3.

Snapology in Bethel Park
Snapology in Bethel Park

In the so-called South Hills, parents also mentioned Upper St. Clair, which also has an excellent school district and is comparable in terms of home prices. Community members also noted its fantastic community centerBethel Park (school district is 14/43), South Park (school district is 19/43) and Scott Township (school district is 13/43) were noted as being more affordable options in the same general vicinity. 

If you’re looking for a more urban feel, Dormont was also noted as a nice place to raise a family. Dormont is a quick T ride to the city and is close to the shopping in Mt. Lebanon but with cheaper housing prices. Of note, Dormont children attend the Keystone Oaks School District, which is 27/43. Also Baldwin was noted to be a family-friendly neighborhood for its affordability, down-to-earth people, schools and the Baldwin Borough Public Library. Baldwin students attend the Baldwin-Whitehall School District ranked 18/43 school districts in the county.

southernsuburbsEastern Suburbs

I received a huge amount of response in support of Swissvale, a community bordering on the city neighborhood of Regent Square. While many residents noted they had been “skeptical” when they first moved to Swissvale, they were extremely satisfied with their choice now. “It’s a great community with a small town feel,” said one parent. Swissvale’s perks included affordability, closeness to the Waterfront, neighborhood block parties, access to public transportation and the Swissvale Moms Group on Facebook.

According to the Southwestern PA Commission, Swissvale real estate is almost a 50/50 split between owner and renter-occupied housing. Of owner-occupied housing, the median home value was $73,000. The median family income was $39,000 which falls below the County’s average.

Swissvale children attend the Woodland Hills School District which is 38/43 for county districts.

oakmont
Riverside Park in Oakmont

The next runner-up in the eastern suburbs was Oakmont (about 13 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh) with its small-town feel, large walkable business district, community events, the Riverside Park, the library and its easy access to Boyce Park with skiing and tubing in the winter and hiking in the summer.

Oakmont is a relatively affluent borough with a median family income of $55,000 and a median home value of $170,000. Oakmont children go to Riverview School District which is 21/43 in the county. Of the borough’s two elementary schools, Tenth Street Elementary School has a better academic performance score than Verner.

Plum, a nearby suburb and about 20 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh, was also mentioned for its more suburban (even rural) feel. Plum’s median income is $66,000 and median home value is $136,000. Its children go to Plum Borough School District which is 10/43. Out of five elementary schools, Pivik has the highest academic performance score and Holiday Park has the lowest.

West Mifflin (about 11 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh) was noted to be family-friendly for its small town traditions and community park. West Mifflin’s median income was $47,500 and median home value was $85,500. The West Mifflin Area School District ranks 28/43. Finally, Braddock was mentioned once as an increasingly family-friendly place because of the energy of Mayor Fetterman and the variety of community events for children.

easternsuburbsWestern Suburbs

In the West, there was no clear winner however the following four communities were mentioned:

Robinson (about 10 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh) was noted for its extensive shopping at Robinson Town Centre (especially Ikea!), Settler’s Ridge and family fun at Latitude 360. The median household income was $75,000 and the median home value was $168,000. Robinson children go to Montour School District which is 6/43 in the county.

Nearby Moon (about 17 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh) has received a couple awards for its livability and was noted by community members for its school district, convenience to the airport and its proximity to Robert Morris University. Its median family income is $89,600 and its median home value is $178,200. Moon Township also has a highly-ranked school district at 4/43.

Sewickley (about 13 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh) was noted to have a nice downtown area, great community events and lots of families, but is more expensive with a median home value of $261,400. Its school district is Quaker Valley which is 5/43. A private school option is Sewickley Academy.

Finally Green Tree (southeast of Pittsburgh) was mentioned for its closeness to Downtown, its elementary school, library, public pool and nature center. Its median family income was $84,000 and median home value was $151,600. Green Tree children attend Keystone Oaks School District (27/43).

Post publication of this article, I received an email in support of Crafton located about 7 miles west of Downtown Pittsburgh. The email came from a Crafton mom, who praised the borough’s neighborliness, its walkability, its library, the newly renovated playground and the new community garden at Crafton Park.

westernsuburbs

Choosing a Neighborhood Part 2

I realize that this guide is very data-heavy. My goal was to consolidate a lot of information and links in one place so you can make an informed choice for your family based on your own personal preferences. But again, I want to emphasize that NUMBERS don’t say everything about a neighborhood, a suburb, its schools or its people. There are many “intangibles” that I could never hope to capture in this type of guide. Nevertheless, I hope it at least serves as a starting point for your further research. Please feel free to email me at pittsburghmommyblog@gmail.com with any questions or corrections. Also, I’m happy to add any communities that you think should be here!

Interested in learning more about city neighborhoods? Check out NEXTpittsburgh‘s neighborhood guides.

2015 Easter in Pittsburgh Family Guide

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

 

Work that-3This week brought a happy new development to Pittsburgh: WARM WEATHER! As the snow starts to melt, the birds begin to chirp and the breezes become warmer I am reassured that Spring is indeed ON ITS WAY! Like many others, my family ushers in this much-loved season by celebrating the Bunny and his curious habit of laying eggs filled with chocolate. To help your family plan your own Easter festivities, I have created this 2015 Easter in Pittsburgh Family Guide filled with information about egg hunts, bunny breakfasts and other fun adventures:

 

The Easter season in Pittsburgh always begins with this event held at the Pittsburgh Zoo:

ZooHop to Spring at the Pittsburgh ZooMarch 21

The Pittsburgh Zoo will be holding its annual ZooHop to Spring on March 21 from 11-3pm. Free with admission, this event invites families to celebrate the first day of spring while hopping along the “bunny trail,” collecting stamps for your passport along the way. Kids can learn about animals, make crafts and meet Zoo animals. Then can also enjoy live entertainment, raffles, etc. in Kids Kingdom.

 

Over the next two weekends there will be a variety of Easter-themed events at various venues within the city before Easter on April 5:

Breakfast or Lunch with the Easter Bunny at the Pittsburgh ZooMarch 28-29, April 4

The Pittsburgh Zoo is hosting its annual breakfast/lunch with the Easter Bunny. Will also include an Easter craft, meeting some zoo animals and an egg hunt. Breakfast is from 9:30-11am and lunch is from 12-1:30pm. Cost is $17 for members and $20 for nonmembers and children under 2 are $7. Advance registration required.

 

Members-only Bunny Breakfast at the National Aviary-March 28

The National Aviary is hosting a free members-only breakfast of pastries with bunny crafts and Easter Bunny photos before the museum opens.

 

Eggstravaganza at the National Aviary-March 28-29, April 3-5

The National Aviary will be hosting its annual Eggstravaganza from 11-3pm where children can participate in a unique egg hunt, where they search for bird eggs and then match them up with the birds. There will also be several craft and activity stations, an Easter Parade and visits with the Easter Bunny. All activities are free with admission. Also, the first Brunch of the season starts on April 5 (see below) so might be a good opportunity to do both!

 

Regent Square Civic Association’s Annual Egg Hunt-March 28

Regent Square is holding its annual egg hunt at 10am at the parklet at the corner of Richmond Street and Sanders Avenue. For children ages 8 and younger. Following the egg hunt, there will be spring-themed activities. Bags are provided, so please leave larger baskets at home.

 

Great Millvale Egg Hunt-March 28

The Borough of Millvale will be hosting its huge annual free Easter Egg Hunt at the Millvale Riverfront Pavilion on River Front Drive starting at 10 a.m.

 

Morningside Area Community Council’s (MACC) Easter Egg HuntMarch 29

The MACC is hosting its annual Easter Egg Hunt in St. Raphael’s Gallagher Hall with crafts, face-painting and other games and goodies at 12:30pm. Open to residents of Morningside and surrounding neighborhoods. Advance Registration requested. Please email Melinda at macceaster@gmail.com for information.

 

9th Annual Eggs-cellent Egg Hunt at the Carnegie Museum of Natural HistoryApril 4

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History will host a classic Easter Egg Hunt throughout the exhibits from 12-4pm (or the first 600 children). Activities are free with admission.

 

The Big Hunt in Arsenal Park-April 4

Encounter Church in partnership with Lawrenceville United and Friends of Arsenal Park are sponsoring the 3rd annual free The Big Hunt in Arsenal Park from 11-1pm with 15,000 eggs, tons of candy, food, a bounce house, the Easter Bunny, a new EC Kidzone and more.

 

Bunny Fun Cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet-April 4

The Gateway Clipper Fleet is hosting its annual “Bunny Fun” Cruise where children can enjoy a DJ dance party and a visit with the Easter Bunny! Board times are 10:30am and 1:15pm. Cost is $25 for adults and $12 for children. Advance registration recommended.

 

Easter Luncheon Cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet-April 5

The Gateway Clipper Fleet will host its annual “Easter Luncheon Cruise” with a large buffet. Board times are 10am and 3pm. Tickets are $45 for adults and $20 for children.

 

Bunny Trail Tyke Hike-April 11

Venture Outdoors will be kicking off its yearly Tyke Hike program with an Easter-themed hike. Volunteer trail leaders will take children on an Easter Egg Hunt through Schenley Park, followed by snacks and Easter crafts. Starts at 10 am and cost is $5 for children and free for members.

 

The northern suburbs of Pittsburgh also have a variety of Easter events this year:

Photos with the Easter Bunny at the Ross Park Mall-March 6-April 4

Children can visit with the Easter Bunny at the Ross Park Mall and get their photo taken with him!

 

Photos with the Easter Bunny at the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills-March 18-April 4

Children can visit with the Easter Bunny and take a photo with him at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall from 11-8pm on Monday-Saturday and 11-6pm on Sundays.

 

Jump!Zone’s 5th Annual Easter Egg HuntMarch 20

Jump!Zone in Allison Park will be holding two Easter Egg Hunts this year. The first Easter Egg Hunt will be at 9:30am for children ages 1-6 years old. Kids can hunt for eggs and then stay for our open!play session from 10am-1pm. The second Easter Egg Hunt will be at 3:30pm for all ages. Kids can hunt for eggs and then stay for our night open!play session from 4pm-8pm. Admission covers the cost of the Easter Egg Hunt.

 

Marshall Twp Annual Easter Egg Hunt-March 21

Marshall Twp hosts an annual Easter Egg Hunt and visit with the Easter Bunny for children up to age 10 at Country Castle Playground in Knob Hill Park starting at 11am. Cost is free.

 

Ross Township Egg-normous Easter Egg Hunt-March 21

Ross Township will be holding the Egg-normous Easter Egg Hunt from 11-2pm at the Ross Township Community Center. There will be games, crafts, visits with the Easter Bunny and an egg hunt. Event is free, but advance registration is required.

 

Egg Hunt Extravaganza at the Shaler North Hills LibraryMarch 27

Shaler North Hills Library will be hosting its annual egg hunt where hidden eggs are found and turned in for a prize. There will also be spring crafts, bunny games and face painting. Starts at 7pm and is free.

 

Volunteer Princesses’s Egg-stravaganza-March 28

The Volunteer Princesses are holding an Easter event at North Park from 12-4pm with performers, princesses, an Easter egg hunt and lots of other activities. Event also includes Pittsburgh magician AL Mazing, Debo the Clown and Pittsburgh Magician and Balloon Artist Weird Eric. All proceeds benefit the Children’s Institute.

 

Franklin Park Lunch with the Easter Bunny and Easter Egg Hunt-March 28

Families can enjoy lunch, take pictures with the Easter Bunny, play games, do crafts and participate in an Easter Egg Hunt at Blueberry Hill Park. Lunch starts at 11:30. Cost is $6 for residents, $8 for nonresidents. Advance registration required.

 

7th Annual Streets of Cranberry Easter Egg Hunt-March 28

Children can visit with the Easter Bunny, pet baby animals in the petting zoo, and participate in an Easter Egg Hunt (4-10yo) from 12-2pm. Event is free.

 

Hampton Twp Easter Egg Hunt-March 28

The Hampton Community Association is hosting the second Annual Easter Egg Hunt from 1-3pm at the Hampton Community Center. The event is free to all Hampton residents.  There will be an egg hunt, face painting, photos with the Easter Bunny, crafts, and balloons.  The egg hunt will take place outdoors if the weather is nice or indoors if there is inclement weather.  Registration is necessary to make sure there are enough eggs for all of the children.  The egg hunt is for children ages 12 years and younger.

 

Wildwood Highlands Annual Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast Buffet-March 28

Wildwood Highlands will be holding its annual Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast Buffet starting at 9am. Tickets are $9.62 for adults and $12.62 for kids. Advance registration required.

 

Discovery Christian Church’s Easter Egg’stravaganza-March 28

This Easter event is an INDOOR, carnival style event including visits with the Easter Bunny, carnival games, inflatables, face painting, food, and an Easter Egg Hunt! Bring your own basket. Times are 2-4 pm, cost is free and the event is held at Mars Area High School.

 

Easter Egg Hunt in Bunnyland at Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm-March 28-29, April 3-4

Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm will be hosting its annual Easter Egg Hunt in Bunnyland from 10-1pm. Kids will get a hayride to Bunny Land where they can hunt for Easter eggs and meet the Easter Bunny.  Back at the market, they can play in balloon typhoon, have their face painted, participate in a coloring contest and visit with animals. Cost is $7.50/child participating in the Easter Egg Hunt. Adults and older children (not participating in the hunt) will be charged $3.50 for the ride to Bunny Land.

 

Township of Pine Annual Easter Egg Hunt-March 28

The Township of Pine is hosting its Annual Easter Egg Hunt at the Pine Community Center from 10:30-12pm. Visit with the Easter Bunny, do some arts and crafts, and participate in an Easter Egg Hunt. No information available yet on pricing or registration.

 

West Deer Easter Egg Hunt-March 29

West Deer is holding its annual Easter Egg Hunt at 1pm at Bairdford Park. Registration begins at noon.

 

Hippity Hop Egg Hunt in Cranberry-March 29

Cranberry Township will be hosting an egg hunt for children ages 1-8 from 10:30-2pm at the Municipal Center. Cost is $12 for residents and $15 for nonresidents.

 

Township of Pine Teen Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt-April 3

The Township of Pine is hosting a Teen Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt from 7:30-9:30pm.

 

The Great Pittsburgh Eagle Egg Hunt at Beechwood Farms-April 4

The Audubon Society of Western PA will be hosting the “Great Pittsburgh Eagle Egg Hunt” at the beautiful Beechwood Farms and Nature Reserve on Dorseyville Road.  Children can make crafts, participate in games and activities, and then explore Beechwood Farms on an egg hunt.  Bring a reusable bag to collect your eggs.  Advance registration required, but event is free.

 

Aspinwall Riverfront Park Egg Hunt and Spring Planting-April 4

The new Aspinwall Riverfront Park will be hosting its first annual Easter egg hunt. Plus, families can help plant some new greenery in the park! Event is from 2-3:30pm.

 

Sharpsburg Family Worship Center Easter Egg Extravaganza-April 4

The Sharpsburg Family Worship Center is hosting a large Easter event at Kennedy Park at 10 a.m. Open to the general public and FREE, this event includes a kids stage show, puppets, face painting, petting zoo, games, inflatables, cotton candy, hot dogs and much more!

 

Easter Egg Geocaching with Venture Outdoors-April 4

Venture Outdoors will lead a 2-3 mile hike through North Park as children use GPS receivers to find the Easter Bunny’s treasures! Starts at 10:30-12:30pm. Cost is $18 for nonmembers and $12 for members.

 

Annual Bunny Festival at Soergel OrchardsApril 4

Soergel Orchards in Wexford will be holding its annual Bunny Festival from 11-4pm with an Easter egg hunt, visits with animals, craft activities and visits with the Easter Bunny!

 

Now, on to the South!

South Hills Village Photos with the Easter Bunny-March 6-April 4

Children can have their photo taken with the Easter Bunny in the Lower Level North Court of the South Hills Village.

 

South Park Easter Egg Hunt and Brunch with the Easter Bunny-March 14

The South Park Township Board of Supervisors and Recreation Board are sponsoring an easter egg hunt and brunch in the Community Center of the Municipal Complex. Egg hunt starts at 11:45am with brunch starting at noon. For children up to age 7. Reservations required.

 

South Hills Easter Egg Hunt-March 21

The Upper St. Clair High School INTERACT Club and the Bethel-St. Clair Rotary Club are hosting their annual free South Hills Easter Egg Hunt at the Rec Center on Mclaughlin Run Rd.  There will be crafts, games, a Grand Raffle, photos with the Easter Bunny, etc. starting at 10am. Easter Egg Hunt starts at 11am. Bring your own baskets to collect eggs!

 

Dormont Easter Egg Hunt-March 21

Dormont will be holding an Easter event at 10am at the Dormont Recreation Center with an egg hunt, crafts, refreshments and a chance to take a picture with the Easter Bunny. Photo cost $5 or a donation of canned goods for the Brookline Food Pantry.

 

Easter Egg Hunt at Simmons Farm-March 28-April 4

Simmons Farm will be holding its 2015 Easter Egg Hunt with craft activities, an easter egg hunt and a visit to the petting zoo. Price is $11.

 

Bunny Trolley at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum-March 27-29, April 3-4

Visitors to this Washington PA museum can take a ride on a restored antique trolley to see the Easter Bunny. There will also be an easter egg hunt and egg decorating.

 

Breakfast with the Bunny at Trax Farm-March 28-29, April 3-4

Enjoy a morning of Easter fun at Trax Farm starting at 9:30am.  Children will have a healthy breakfast, enjoy an outdoor train ride, petting zoo, egg hunt, and a craft!  Refreshments are available for purchase for adults. Advance reservations required and cost is $8.

 

Egg Hunts with the Bunny at Trax FarmMarch 28-29, April 3-4

Another option at Trax Farm (without the breakfast). Participate in an egg hunt in 3 age-appropriate egg patches.  Hunts leave every 30 minutes from 10:30-1:30pm. Advance reservations recommended and cost is $7.

 

Mt. Lebanon Easter Egg Hunt-March 28

Mt. Lebanon Recreation Department is hosting its annual free easter egg hunt/visit with the Easter Bunny for children <7 starting at 11 am at the Mt. Lebanon Park.  Bring your Easter basket!

 

Peters Township Public Library Easter Egg Hunt-March 28 at 11am or April 1 at 6:30pm

The Peters Township Public Library is hosting a free Easter Egg Hunt for children of all ages. Children will also participate in a story time and craft.  Advance Registration required.

 

South Baldwin Volunteer Fire Company Easter Egg Hunt-March 29

The South Baldwin Volunteer Fire Company is holding its 2nd annual Easter Breakfast/Easter Egg Hunt from 9-1pm at the South Baldwin Social Hall. There will be breakfast, an egg hunt, rides on the fire truck and other “surprises.” No cost, but donations are appreciated. To reserve your seat or for additional information please message us here or email us at info@sbvfc.com.

 

Scott Township Easter Egg Hunt-March 29

Scott Township is holding its annual Easter Egg Hunt on March 29 at Scott Park. Time not set yet.

 

Bridgeville Easter Egg Hunt-April 4

Bridgeville will be holding its free annual easter egg hunt at 11 am at Chartier’s Park. Bring a container for Easter eggs.

 

Grace Community Church Easter Egg Hunt-April 4

Grace Community Church in Collier Township will be holding their free annual community Easter Egg Hunt from 1-3 pm. There will also be inflatables, a fire truck and mascots.

 

And the West!

Easter Bunny Bash at the Mall at Robinson-March 21

The Mall at Robinson will be hosting an Easter Bunny Bash starting at 10 am. Kids can participate in crafts and Meet-n-Greets with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Tweety. There will also be giveaways.

 

Pictures with the Easter Bunny at the Mall at Robinson-March 21-April 4

Children can visit with the Easter Bunny and have their photo taken with him from 11-9pm Monday-Friday, 10-9pm on Saturdays and 11-6pm on Sundays.

 

Kennedy Township Fire Department Pancake (and More) Breakfast-March 22

The Kennedy Volunteer Fire Department and Kennedy Parks and Recreation will be hosting a pancake breakfast with a visit from the Easter Bunny, face-painting, prizes and more. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for children less than 10 and the event runs from 9-1pm at the Kennedy Fire Hall.

 

Findlay Township Easter Egg Hunt-March 28

Findlay Twp will be holding its annual Easter Egg Hunt at 11 am in Rainbow’s End Playground in Clinton Park.  Findlay Twp residents with children aged preschool-grade 5 are welcome to attend. Preschool children will receive a goody bag from the Easter Bunny in lieu of doing the Easter Egg Hunt. Bring your own baskets.

 

Green Tree’s Spring Magic-March 28

The Green Tree Woman’s Civic Club is hosting their annual Green Tree Spring Magic event at 1pm at Green Tree Fire Hall. Children can enjoy an afternoon with the Easter Bunny, a magic show, crafts, snacks and more. Advance Registration required.

 

Macaroni Kid’s Bunny Bash at Latitude 360March 28

Latitude 360 and Macaroni Kid Pittsburgh are offering a Bunny Bash at its huge entertainment complex in Robinson Township from 9-11 a.m.  The event will feature a hot brunch, cookie decorating, crafts, an Easter egg hunt and pictures with the Easter Bunny. Each child will also get a $5 game card. Advance registration required and cost is $19.99 for children and $14.99 for adults.

 

Sewickley YMCA’s Easter Eggstravaganza-March 28

The Sewickley YMCA will be holding an all-ages Easter Egg Hunt from 12-2pm. The YMCA’s large pool will be filled with Easter eggs for kids to collect and exchange for fun prizes. Following the egg hunt there will be a holiday craft project and games from 1-2pm. All children under age 8 or non-swimmers must be accompanied by an adult in the pool. Cost is $5 for members and $6 for nonmembers.

 

Easter Egg Hunt at Old Economy Village-March 28

Old Economy Village in Ambridge is hosting its annual easter egg hunt in the village garden from 10-12pm.

 

Easter Egg Hunt at Pittsburgh Botanic Garden-April 4

The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden will be offering a full-day of Easter-themed activities for children of all ages including an old-fashioned egg hunt for children ages 2-8 from 10-10:45 am, an egg scavenger hunt for children ages 5-11 throughout the day and a geocaching activity for teens and adults beginning at noon.

 

Community Easter Egg Hunt at St. Stephen’s Church in Sewickley-April 4

St. Stephen’s Church in Sewickley will be holding a Community Easter Egg Hunt for children ages 0-10 years from 10-12pm.

 

Easter Egg Hunt at HealthSouth Sewickley-April 4

Children of all ages can participate in a free Easter Egg Hunt at HealthSouth Sewickley from 10-12pm. Advance registration requested.

 

Moon Township Bunny Trail-April 4

Moon Twp Parks and Recreation will be hosting its annual Bunny Trail Easter Egg Hunt at Moon Park from 11-1pm with a petting zoo, coloring murals, games, photos with the Easter Bunny and more.

 

Robinson Township’s Easter Egg Hunt-April 4

Robinson Township sponsors this free event at Clever Park from 1-3pm. The Easter Bunny arrives by fire truck and there will be refreshments, sack races, and an Easter Egg Hunt!

 

Ingram Egg Hunt-April 4

Ingram will be holding its annual egg hunt at 11am at Ingram Park.

 

Also, McKees Rocks will possibly be holding an Easter Egg Hunt although details have not been worked out. Check out www.mckeesrocks.com for more information.

 

Finally, here are some Easter events in the East of Pittsburgh!

The Easter Bunny at the Monroeville Mall-March 14-April 4

Kids can visit with the Easter Bunny and have their photos taken with him at the Monroeville Mall from 10-9pm Monday through Saturday and noon to 6pm on Sundays.

 

Century III Mall Photos with the Easter Bunny-March 21-April 4

The Easter Bunny arrives at Century III Mall on March 21 at 11am and is available for photos from 10-9pm on Monday-Saturday and Sundays 11-6pm. There is also an Easter train at the mall.

 

Murrysville’s Annual Spring Egg Hunt-March 27

Murrysville will be hosting a Flashlight Egg Hunt (and a Doggie Egg Hunt, too!) at 7pm at Murrysville Community Park. Following the hunt, there will be refreshments and visits with the Easter Bunny and Yellow Chick.

 

Monroeville Annual Easter Egg Hunt-March 28

The Monroeville Recreation Department will be sponsoring its free annual Easter Egg Hunt at the Monroeville Community Park for children ages 2-10 at 10 am.

 

Angora Gardens Annual Easter Egg Hunt-March 28

Angora Gardens in White Oak will be offering its annual free Easter celebration from 12-3pm with food, crafts, face-painting, live bunnies, pictures with the Easter Bunny and an egg hunt for children <10yo.

 

McKeesport Annual Easter Egg Hunt-March 28

McKeesport will be holding its annual Easter Egg hunt from 10-4pm at Jacob Woll Main Pavilion at Renziehausen Park.

 

Edgewood Easter Egg Hunt-March 28

Edgewood will be holding its annual easter egg hunt at noon at Koenig Field.

 

Duquesne Easter Egg Hunt-March 28

Duquesne will be holding its free annual Easter Egg Hunt at Polish Hill Playground for children ages 2-12. Registration start at 11:30am. Hunt starts at noon. For residents of Duquesne only.

 

Penn Hills Easter Egg Hunt-April 4

The Penn Hills Parks and Recreation Department will be holding a free Easter event from 12-2pm at Penn Hills Community Park. From 12-1pm there will be arts and crafts, games and visits with the Easter Bunny. Easter egg hunt begins at 1pm.

 

Swissvale 21st Annual Easter Egg Hunt-April 4

Swissvale will be hosting its free annual egg hunt at noon at Les Getz Memorial Park on Church Street. Children can hunt for eggs, get prizes and visit with the Easter Bunny. Refreshments will be served.

 

West Mifflin Easter Egg Hunt-April 4

West Mifflin will be holding its annual free Easter Egg Hunt from 10:30-12 at the high school.

 

Braddock’s Annual Easter Egg HuntApril 4

Braddock will be holding its annual Easter Egg Hunt from 11-12pm at the community playground on Braddock Avenue/Library Street.

 

Annual Easter Celebration at Penn Hills Lawn and Garden Center-April 4

Penn Hills Lawn and Garden Center will be holding their annual Easter celebration from 8-6pm with free treat bags for the kids,  raffles and lots of family fun all day long!

 

Have a Happy Easter and welcome to Spring!!

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