One Tank Treasure: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Driving Stats from Indianapolis: Approximately 360 miles each way. Drive time without stopping is about 5 1/2 hours. We drove a Chrysler Town and Country minivan with three children, stopped on our way 4 times, we did not drive at all once we reached our destination, coasted in on empty, fueled up on our way out of town and stopped four times on our way home. This was a one tank EACH WAY trip.
There are many reasons that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a treasure for families but something that will likely bring us back to the area is the Carnegie Science Center. Inside the museum, everyone in your family can explore one of the world’s largest robotic exhibits, and by explore, I mean they can touch them, control them, interact with them and learn about them in a hands on way! In addition to their live shows, the planetarium and Omnimax theater, families can tour a two story replica of the space station AND walk outdoors to the USS Requin, a real submarine that you can walk through and explore!
Children ages 3-6 will love the fun and learning at the Exploration Station Junior and older children SHOULD NOT MISS Sportsworks, “where science and sports unite”. Sportsworks was like a gym class dream come true; rock climbing, sprinting, pitching, skateboarding, jumping, high cycling, spinning, human yo-yo-ing, the science of the body — the organs, the cells.
Two things are for certain: there wasn’t a single bored person in the entire building and our family WILL be back!
The Pittsburgh Zoo (and Aquarium) is another family treasure. Ranked one of the top children’s zoos in the country, families can explore the different habitats by following the loop through the zoo from start to finish. Don’t forget to stop by Kids Kingdom where kids get to learn about animals by doing the things they do, like crawling through tunnels, pet animals in the petting zoo, check out the reptiles and play on the playground.
Take a scenic ride on the Duquesne Incline, an original wooden cable car from 1877 that takes you from the lower station to the upper station (or the other way around) where you’ll take in beautiful views of downtown Pittsburgh. Kids (and adults) love the ride and will enjoy learning the history of one of the few mountain inclines that remain in the US. Visitors have the opportunity to watch the inside of the machinery inside of the incline as it makes runs up and down the mountain. Ages 6-11 $2.50 round trip, 12 and up $5 roundtrip, 5 and under FREE! Tips: Cash only. Arrive early to avoid long lines! At 9am there were no lines but by about 10am there were a lot of visitors! Don’t forget to bring two quarters and a penny for each child to make a keepsake pressed penny.
Take a cruise on three rivers (Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio Rivers) aboard one of the Gateway Clipper Fleet boats. A one hour cruise runs through October and other cruises embark throughout the year for special holiday events and parties. What better way to see the city and take in the fall foliage? During the warmer months there are special cruises every weekend with entertainment for the kids; pirate parties, princess parties and ice cream socials! Tickets are $10 and up for kids, $15 and up for adults. Tip: Book your seats in advance to ensure availability and arrive early to get a great seat! Kids ride for $1 on select holiday weekends.
Splurge for a great game! Grab your sweatshirts and head indoors to cheer on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh’s professional ice hockey team. Tickets start at $67 per person. TIP: Follow the Penguins on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for their newsletter for special promotional offers on tickets!
The Pittsburgh Children’s Museum has a water play area that rivals outdoor splash parks, an outdoor “backyard” for playing in sand and splashing around, a spectacular “garage” exhibit that puts kids in charge of flying, launching, rolling and building, a makeshop and so many other exhibits that likely make Pittsburgh the most “touch friendly” children’s museum.
Photo credit for CONSOL Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins: David Aschkenas. Used with written permission.
The above thoughts and opinions and stories are my own and are true to the best of my knowledge. I was not paid to share these with you but my family was hosted at the Carnegie Science Center, the Children’s Museum, the Gateway Clipper, the Zoo and the Incline for the purpose of writing this article.