Pittsburgh sits picturesquely at the meeting point of the Monongahela River and Allegheny River, where the Ohio River begins. Whether your crew is into museums, animals, or oddities, there are many unique things to do in Pittsburgh with Kids.
In this article, we dive into the best things to do with kids while exploring the Steel City. We unearth fun activities for younger kids and older kids by including a few bizarre places that as lesser-known. This post contains affiliate links.
Where Is Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is a city in Pennsylvania located in the south-eastern portion of the state. Pittsburgh is known as “the Steel City” for its more than 300 steel-related businesses and as the “City of Bridges” for its 446 bridges. It is a city rich with industrial history.
The Pittsburgh area makes a perfect place for a family vacation. With plenty of kids activities, museums, parks, and a thriving foodie scene, it is time that you plan your next visit to the Steel City.
How To Get To Pittsburgh
A road trip from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Pittsburgh, is roughly 4 hours and 15 minutes. If you are planning on hitting the open road to visit Pittsburgh be sure to check out our list of fun road trip games to play!
Pittsburgh is home to Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), offering a wide variety of carriers.
Other ways to get to Pittsburgh include riding the train via Amtrak or hopping aboard a Megabus. Where To Stay In Pittsburgh, PA
The Best Time To Visit Pittsburgh
While Pittsburgh is an incredible city to visit year-round, the best time to visit is the summer months and early fall. The weather is more pleasant, allowing visitors to take part in all the outdoor activities and attractions Pittsburgh has to offer.
Late spring can also be a pleasant time to visit as the weather starts to warm up and the flowers are blooming. However, June tends to see alot of rain so pack accordingly.
Keep in mind the Pittsburgh area weather can vary significantly from warm days late in November to significant snowfall in April. Winter’s are typically cold with lots of gray clouds and an occasional snowfall.
The Top Ten Places To Visit In Pittsburgh With Kids
NOTE: CHECK THE PROTOCOLS AND RULES FOR EACH BUSINESS AS THE PANDEMIC IS EVER CHANGING. MANY PLACES MAY HAVE CHANGING HOURS, REQUIRE TIMED ADMISSION OR MASKS.
1. Carnegie Science Center
With four floors of interactive exhibits, the Carnegie Science Center is a great place to bring kids of all ages. The smallest scientist can enjoy the Little Learners Clubhouse while older kids can get hands-on in the roboworld and Bodyworks! Bodyworks is an exhibit that explores all different parts of the body through interactive exhibits, live shows and demonstrations.
Don’t miss out on the popular Bricksburgh Exhibit. The exhibit features building challenges, interactives, plus free-play and demonstration areas, designed to encourage visitors of all ages to explore the power of creativity with familiar toy building bricks.
The Planetarium puts on an out-of-this-world show that transports you straight into the galaxy. Most shows are included in general admission costs and are free for members.
The Science Center does offer special programs, shows, and events, be sure to check the calendar before arriving.
Tip: The Carnegie Science Center is currently closed on Tuesdays.
2. Pittsburgh Zoo &
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
One of the best places to bring the family is the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. As you explore this great place, you’ll see more than is home to more than 8,000 animals representing over 600 different species. There is a wide variety of educational programs and an interactive play zone.
With your admission visitors can also experience the PPG Aquarium, where visitors can take in the playful sea otters then get up close with the stringrays.
Grab a picture of the polar bears, take a spin on the carousel before venturing on a journey through the African Savannah. The Pittsburgh Zoo even offers a festive light display over the holidays.
There is a reason the Pittsburgh zoo is always at the top of the list of things to do in Pittsburgh with kids.
3. Highland Park
The story of how Highland Park came to be is a fascinating one. In 1879 a reservoir was built in Pittsburgh that provided drinking water. The land around the reservoir was a popular destination, so the city established it as a park.
Highland Park is gorgeous gardens, a fountain with a reflecting pool along with a bike path, volleyball courts, and a swimming pool. The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium are also found in Highland Park.
4. Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Dinosaur enthusiasts will admire the Dinosaurs in Their Time exhibit that features a variety of real dinosaur fossils. Marvel at the towering skeletal remains of these prehistoric giants, then venture to the Paleolab to observe real paleontologists hard at work unearthing ancient artifacts.
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History features a variety of exhibits, including a vast array of animal dioramas, a look into botany, gems, and minerals, and so much more.
Tip: The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is closed on Tuesdays.
5. National Aviary
The National Aviary is America’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated to birds. The National Aviary is home to more than 500 birds representing more than 150 species worldwide, many of them threatened or endangered in the wild.
Many species found at the National Aviary are rarely found in zoos anywhere else in the world. Walk through the different habitats to experience up-close interactions with free-flying birds. Visitors will even have the opportunity to hand-feed a few of the resident birds.
The National Aviary is one unique thing in Pittsburgh that is fun and educational for the whole family.
6. Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens
Get outdoors to enjoy a beautiful stroll through the Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens. Beautiful seasonal gardens are a treat for the eyes, while the kids will enjoy exploring the Garden of the Five Senses. This garden consists of five zones, each focusing on a different sense; whether smelling herbs or playing the flower drum, kids of all ages will enjoy this stimulating environment.
The gardens are a beautiful place to push a stroller, explore the woodlands while learning about conservation, gardening, and the incredible species of plants that call the gardens home.
Tip: The Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens are closed on Mondays.
7. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
In downtown Pittsburgh, The Children’s Museum Of Pittsburgh is one of the top things to do in Pittsburgh with kids. The Museumlab offers kids ages ten and up with one-of-a-kind experiences such as metalworking, weaving on a loom, and a chance to explore the Gymlacium. A unique art structure constructed of rope that kids can slide, climb, explore and hang out in.
A popular exhibit at the children’s museum is the Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Grr-ific Exhibit, in which you and your child will step foot in the whimsical world of Daniel Tiger and friends. Visit the clock factory, sort mail at the post office, and visit Daniel.
Younger kids will also enjoy the different exhibits such as the pigeon Comes To Your City, The Makeshop, The Garage, a water table, and a great play structure at the children’s museum.
Tip: The museum has many protocols in place. Be sure to check out their website for updated information.
8. Phillips Conservatory And Botanical Gardens
A beautiful oasis in Pittsburgh’s vibrant Oakland neighborhood, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has provided a world-class garden experience to its visitors since 1893. Known for its dazzling flower shows and exhibits, the Phillips Conservatory is a spot to have on your radar.
The historical greenhouse is worth visiting alone; add in the 14 rooms of brilliantly designed gardens, it is an absolute delight to explore. The conservatory offers a variety of educational programs and seasonal activities, such as the Holiday Magic Winter Flower Show.
9. Kennywood Amusement Park
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, Kennywood Amuseument Park is one of the oldest amusement parks in Pennslyvania. Kennywood Park is located just outside of the city, providing a retreat from the hustle and bustle of downtown living.
Kennywood has a comprehensive collection of rides for all ages, including Kiddieland. The Kiddieland offers many popular bigger attractions in the “big park” in smaller kid-size. Another great spot for younger children is Thomas Town. Hop aboard a train ride on Thomas, meet popular characters, and enjoy a Thomas-themed show!
From the thrilling roller coasters to classic family rides, Kennywood is one of the top things to do in Pittsburgh with kids.
10. Catch A Pittsburgh Pirates Game
For an all-American experience, grab tickets to a Pittsburgh Pirates game. The United States has a deep love of baseball, with each city deeply devoted to its hometown team. Whether you are visiting to cheer on the Pirates or your hometeam catching a baseball game at PNC Park is a great thing to do if the Pirates are in town.
Many sports fans will journey to visit PNC Park alone on their quest to see all the baseball stadiums throughout the United States.
Ten Unique Things To Do In Pittsburgh With Kids
1. Visit the Poetry Houses
Located on Sampsonia Way (almost an alley); these houses are adorned with poems painted by poets seeking asylum in Pittsburgh after being exiled from their own countries. There are four houses along the way, each with unique meanings and poems.
After a visit to the poerty houses, pay a visit to nearby Randyland.
Randyland is likely the most colorful house you will have experience. It is an art museum that is a feast for the eyes and quite possibly America’s most colorful public art landmarks.
The address 501 Arch Street in the North Side and is open almost daily and is free to visit. There is a donation jar outside to leave something to support this ongoing and ever-evolving Art Museum.
Randyland is in Pittsburgh’s historic north side, which has five historic districts. The districts consist of Allegheny Commons Park, Allegheny West, Deutschtown, Manchester and the Mexican War Streets.
3. Ride the Duquesne Incline
One of my favorite things to do in Pittsburgh with kids is ride the Duquesne Incline. The incline takes guests to the top of the hill, offering them sweeping views of the city.
TIP: BRING CASH AND SOME QUARTERS. They do not take credit cards and do have a change machine.
At the top of the hill, you can take the perfect Pittsburgh portrait, a fun selfie, try to figure out which of the million bridges you crossed, and pinpoint specific locations through the city. For a tiny fee, you can do the incline’s behind-the-scenes tour.
The behind the scenes takes you into the operations room to learn how the incline works. It is phenomenal and a unique place to visit in Pittsburgh. Especially for those curious how the incline has operated all these years.
4. Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning
I’ve not been one to visit college campuses on vacation, but I am so glad I visited the University of Pittsburgh. The Nationality Rooms are an excellent place to put on your bucket list, especially for older kids. The architecture is quite honestly breathtaking, and when you step into the Cathedral of learning, you feel like you stepped into Hogwarts.
Hidden throughout the halls of this Gothic monument, you will find 32 classrooms that were designed to represent the culture of various ethnic groups that settled in the region. The cost for a tour is minimal.
To begin your tour, you will need to acquire keys and the map from a ground floor room labeled Nationality Rooms. I would allocate at least one to two hours to see everything, especially with the audio guide. This was one of my favorite places to visit in Pittsburgh, and I highly recommend it.
Bonus: Venture to the neighboring Carnegie University and check out some of the unique public art and museums located around this campus.
5. Take a road trip out to relive The Night of Living Dead
About a 25-minute drive outside Pittsburgh, you will find the cemetery and town where The Night of the Living Dead was filmed. Any zombie fanatic would love this pilgrimage to where it all began. I would recommend pulling up the film’s beginning and watching it on Youtube while in the cemetery.
Evans City Cemetery, Evans City, Pennsylvania 16033 once you arrive at the cemetery, take a left on the first street by the little chapel, literally the first left. Drive little ways down the road, and the notorious tombstones will be on your right.
Bonus: While you visit Evans City, swing by the slightly tacky but informative Night of the Living Dead Museum. It is tiny, cheap, and borderline sketchy but has an Americana charm that the zombie-obsessed will like.
6. Grab a pastry at La Gourmandine
Need a quick breakfast, snack, lunch, or second lunch? Even if you aren’t hungry, go to La Gourmadine and treat yourself to a pastry. The almond bear claw will leave you questioning how you lived a life before enjoying this excellent, flaky, sweet manna from the gods.
Warning: You will want to come back multiple times during your trip. Please note there is no photo because I was too busy double-fisting bear claws.
7. Visit Union Station
Located at 1100 Liberty Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15222 is a historic train station still in active use. Don’t get this confused with the Grand Concourse; a train station turned restaurant.
Suppose you are not in the mood for a pricey dinner in their elaborate dining room, belly up to the bar. We visited both, and the Grand Concourse is worth a visit as well. The bar has tons of art deco features that offer great happy hours specials, and you can still peek inside the famous dining room for a glimpse of the gorgeous interior.
8. Stroll the Strip District
Strolling down Penn Avenue in the Strip district is a great way to mingle with locals and get a taste of Pittsburgh culture. Gazing upon an endless sea of black and yellow, packed with locals saying things like “yinz” and “yunz” makes you ponder if you need to get to a Pittsburgh Steelers game during your visit.
The Strip District is home to some of the cities best restaurants, lots of shops, and boutiques. Include a visit to Gaucho Parilla Argentina in your visit at some point. Skip the line and get carryout or stay and order; the line moves faster than it looks. The divine aromas that fill the air will immediately have you drooling.
Other popular spots in the strip district include the famous Primanti Brothers, The Pennsylvania Market, and ice cream at Klavon’s.
9. The Senator John Heinz History Center
Pop into the Heinz History Center for a great activity near the Strip District and learn about Pittsburgh industry, culture, and sports through the years. The museum is home to the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, which highlights Pittsburgh’s fascinating sport’s history.
The History Center is also home to the Mister Rogers’ neighborhood Gallery, A Heinz exhibit, and the Fort Pitt Museum. The Fort Pitt Museum takes guests back to the days of early settlers and the events that led to creating Pittsburgh the city it is today.
10. Go Up The Steepest Street In America
Go up the 33.3% gradient hill on Canton St for a terrifying, adrenaline-filled car ride. You could also get out and test your physical strength by climbing the massive hill.
Address: Canton Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15216
11. Bonus- Trundle Manor – A Truly Unique Place To Visit In Pittsburgh
While we did not get the opportunity to visit this little house of oddities, it comes highly recommended as one of the best unique places to visit in Pittsburgh. Vast collections of obscure and bizarre treasures fill this otherwise typical home. Tours are by appointment only, so be sure you book yours for your next visit.
10 Free Things To Do In Pittsburgh With Kids
- Point State Park- The park at the tip of the Golden Triangle where all three rivers meet.
- Explore Schenley Park.
- Get a photo at the Grandview overlook at the top of Mount Washington.
- Go on a Mural Scavenger Hunt.
- McDonald’s Big Mac Museum Restaurant .
- The Allegheny Observatory.
- Visit the Farmer’s Market.
- Downtown Walking Tours.
- Travel in the Free Fare T Zone on downtown Pittsburgh Lightrail
- Go for a walk at Riverview Park.
More Fun Things To Do With Kids in Pittsburgh
Are you looking for more things to do in Pittsburgh with kids? We have a few more great ideas to share with you.
- Visit the Andy Warhol Museum- The largest museum dedicated to a single artist can be found on the North Shore of Pittsburgh!
- Stroll the Carnegie Museum of Art
- Cool off at Sand Castle Water Park
- Catch a Pittsburgh Steelers Game at Heinz Field
- Try Topgolf
Where To Stay In Pittsburgh, PA
Bask in rooftop views from a dreamy boutique hotel in downtown Pittsburgh or enjoy the solitude of renting an entire house on Airbnb. Lodging options in Pittsburgh are endless. Since indoor pools are always a popular request, here are a few of the best hotel options in Pittsburgh with an indoor pool.
One of the best hotel options with kids is the Drury Inn in downtown Pittsburgh. In addition to having an indoor pool, they offer an excellent continental breakfast and their signature 5:30 pm Kickback, which features free dinnertime snacks and drinks!
The DoubleTree in downtown Pittsburgh is another excellent option. Who doesn’t love warm chocolate chip cookies when they check-in?
If you are looking for luxury with kids, explore the Wyndham Grand in Pittsburgh.
If having an indoor pool is not on your checklist, we recommend staying at the historic Omni William Penn Hotel. The gorgeous lobby, luxurious accommodations are ideal for a memorable retreat.