Pittsburgh Science Center

Pittsburgh, PA is one of the most kid-friendly, affordable cities in the US. Known as a sports city, Pittsburgh also offers some fabulous family-friendly attractions that both children and adults will definitely enjoy. Here are three of our favorites:

Carnegie Science Center & SportsWorks

The Carnegie Science Center and SportsWorks complex is located adjacent to Heinz Stadium and includes an Imax Theater, a planetarium, the Highmark SportsWorks building, and the USS Requin Submarine. It’s definitely a place that families could spend the day at – there’s even a cafeteria on the bottom floor.

During our visit, we spent most of our time on the second floor, where you’ll find the roboworld and miniature railroad exhibits. The highlight of the roboworld area is a large basketball court where a robot almost always makes a basket. There are also models of some famous robots in pop culture, including R2D2 and C3PO.

The Miniature Railroad & Village is definitely one of the more popular exhibits. It fills an entire room, and includes lots of different sections. My son and I enjoyed watching the amusement park section, although we definitely could have spent hours exploring the railroad.

After checking out the main Science Center building, head to the next building over – the Highmark SportsWorks. It features trampolines, motion simulator rides, and other sports exhibits, and is a great way to get kids’ energy out. If you have time, go outside to the USS Requim, a World War II era submarine that you can explore.

Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is another attraction that you could spend the day visiting (allocate at least a half day). Admission to both the zoo and aquarium are included in one ticket, and the aquarium is actually located right inside the zoo. The entire complex is a giant loop and it’s easiest to start at the beginning and walk straight through. During our visit, we tried to skip around and got lost.

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My son’s favorite exhibit was the penguins, tucked away in the second floor of the aquarium. But there are lots of other great things to see here too. In addition to the aquarium, the zoo features many other exhibits including the African Savanna, the Asian Forest, the Kids’ Kingdom, a Bear exhibit, the Tropical Forest, and Water’s Edge. The zoo also offers a food court located towards the back.

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

If you are traveling to Pittsburgh with young children, you can’t miss the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. It includes plenty of exhibits great for kids, including the MakeShop (best for kids aged 8 and up), the Attic (with some fun optical-illusion type exhibits), and the current visiting exhibit – Clifford the Big Red Dog (best for younger kids). Bring along an extra set of clothes if you think you’ll visit the Waterplay area, because your child will get soaked! Another fun spot is the Garage, a huge room with parachute, magnet, and ball exhibits. An active kid could easily spend all of their time in the that room.

However, since my son is more interested in art, we spent the majority of our time in the Studio, where friendly museum staff teaches kids how to complete several projects. My son enjoyed learning about how to screen print and I couldn’t get him out of the Studio once we got in there.

If you go:

Pittsburgh offers lots of family-friendly hotels, but budget-conscious families should look at the Hampton Inn Downtown, where WiFi, hot breakfast, and parking are all free.

Disclosure: Our trip to Pittsburgh was comped for purposes of review. All opinions are my own.

This is a guest post by Jodi Grundig of Family Travel Magazine. Photo is courtesy of Jodi Grundig.