With no school, no homework, and no worries, summer is the best time to get out in the sun and spend quality family time together. Plus, with days that seem to stretch on forever, and weather that’s always inviting everyone outdoors, it’s the season to get out and make memories. But in order to make the most of it, you’ll need to come up with a solid family plan that’s sure to keep everyone smiling. Not to mention, with kids of all ages (and especially with picky siblings!), you’ll need activities to help everyone feel excited and have fun. If you’re anywhere in the Northeast United States, there are always family activities in Pittsburgh, the biggest cultural hotspot right in your own backyard!
Your local treasure-trove of family fun is located at the junction of three rivers, with plenty of Gilded Age historical sites for everyone to explore. An early-20th-century industrial capital, it boasts many museums and gardens with attractions that will entertain all members of your family throughout the day. Plus, for anyone who’s a sports fan, some of the most exciting modern sports history can be found in local stadiums, hosting championship-winning teams. For anyone who prefers a quieter day outdoors, however, the city is home to a whopping 165 parks, giving kids plenty of places to play! If you’re looking for a breakdown of the best places to bring the kids by age, here are some incredible things to do in Pittsburgh.
Now, we all know a three-year-old and a 13-year-old won’t exactly want the same family plan when it comes to a day out and about. So, with the goal of giving you the best suggestions for your unique family, here are some fun things to do in Pittsburgh by age!
Families with younger kids: safety, education and excitement
In recent years, Pittsburgh has seen a popularity spike among college-age young adults with its wide offerings for best sports, restaurants, and even innovative technology. However, this thriving arts and culture scene can be attractive to families too, and even those with younger children, with options to learn and explore. One of the best ideas for a full day of fun is going to one of the many children’s museums downtown. With many educational yet interactive exhibits for them to enjoy, they’ll be able to play and burn off some energy while you relax. Also, with almost all museums having specialty areas for children included away from the main exhibits, you’ll have plenty of places to choose from!
Similar to museums, but even better for the smallest members of your family, are the multiple major animal and bird exhibits around town. Of all the family activities to do in Pittsburgh, we can’t recommend this one enough for younger kids! With a child’s sense of wonder, nothing could be more exciting than getting up close with the many creatures of our world. Or, to get even more up close and personal with local nature, taking a tour of those 165 parks of Pittsburgh is always an option. With dozens and dozens of options to choose from, you can find the one that best suits your family’s personal needs, so everyone is happy!
Families with teens: the cool options of a cool city
Now, if you’ve got a pouting teenager and you need some quick and hip things to do in Pittsburgh today, no worries, we’ve got you! Museums, gardens, and parks aren’t exactly exciting by teenage standards, so we recommend you go where the action is. Some of the best action in Pittsburgh is in its vibrant sports centers and stadiums, where you can catch today’s biggest names and games. Some of the best action in middle and high school is on the sports field, so there’s no better way to get young athletes excited. For any budding social media stars you may have, meanwhile, they’re gonna want something post-worthy for their feeds.
Two perfect ideas for photo ops and brag-worthy places are the local incline, and anywhere even remotely near the rivers. The incline will give your teen the chance they need to beef-up their selfie skills, or just snap some solid shots of the city. Plus, with it being a nice long ride to the top, it’ll give you the chance to talk their ear off while they do it. And, whether on a boat, kayak, or on one of the many local river walks, any teen will jump at the chance for cool waterside photography. But, there’s one place that’s sure to satisfy families with kids of all ages needing the perfect day, and that’s Sandcastle water park!
For the ultimate in family activities in Pittsburgh, and just what to do in Pennsylvania, Sandcastle makes the best kids water park. With plenty of attractions, restaurants, and stores, it’s the perfect place for children of every age. Read on to find out our top recommendations none of your kids will want to miss!
Families with younger children: water park firsts, and safety first!
Here at Sandcastle, kids aren’t just welcome, they’re the VIPs of not one, but two of their very own water playgrounds! The Tad Pool is just two-feet deep, with two slides where even the youngest kids can try their very first ride on a water slide. It’s also the perfect place for parents to help kids get used to water in general, showing them just how much splashing fun swimming is. For kids that are a few years older and ready to get out and have some epic water fun, Wet Willie’s Waterworks is perfect. They can control 20,000 gallons of splashing fun, and you can rest easy with the calming presence of lifeguards ready to help if needed.
Families with teens: thrills, chills, and water spills!
Teens and up, meanwhile, are usually looking for the coolest thrills in a hot summer, and here at Sandcastle we’ve got plenty! Lightning Express lets teens test their courage on not one, not two, but THREE of the biggest slides in the park. Plus, if you’re the kind of parent that would rather pass on the thrills, it gives them perfect slides to conquer with siblings or friends. If you’d rather some potential parent-child bonding, however, the Dragon’s Den is a perfect flight of fancy into the lair of a dragon. It’s plenty cool for them, especially if they’re fans of fantasy works, and yet chill enough that you can relax and enjoy the ride too!
Something for everyone: good food, good vibes, good times!
When it comes to the incredible food offerings at Sandcastle, we have one of the most fun things to do in Pittsburgh that’s world-famous! No matter how old your kids are, they’re sure to give rave reviews of our famous restaurant the Potato Patch®, a long famous Pittsburgh classic. With fresh-cut fries and a wide variety of toppings like melted cheddar cheese and fresh bacon, there’s the perfect fry for everyone here. Plus, one of Sandcastle’s most striking features is its Boardwalk set right along the Monongahela River, which is the ultimate place for a family picnic. From the most rambunctious child to the most pouty teen, everyone will smile and settle down to eat peacefully beside you and make memories here.
For an event the whole family can enjoy, Sandcastle hosts many local concerts on select Saturdays and Sundays right at the scenic Mushroom Pool. The Jammin July Weekends series just ended, but there’s always new entertainment to be had, so be sure to check back often!
For even more family activities to do in Pittsburgh, there’s a pair of other nearby parks that can triple your family fun! Kennywood is Pittsburgh’s crown jewel of amusement parks, and amusement parks in general, with over 120 years of history to explore. With a Kiddieland with a dozen attractions for your youngest, and thrill rides the whole family can enjoy all day, everyone will feel welcome here. Not to mention Pittsburgh’s other historic amusement park Idlewild and Soakzone, named “Best Children’s Park” by Amusement Today, as well as “Best Park For Families.” Better for families with younger children, but still with something for everyone, you can conquer a roller coaster and check out yet another water park!
The best part is with a Platinum Pass, you gain unlimited summer admission to all three parks, so you never have to rush your fun! Take the whole day to cool off at Sandcastle, or hop over to Kennywood for some hotter summer thrills; either way, you can’t go wrong. Or, you can just relax knowing time can be spent in whichever park your children want to go to that day, ensuring fun for all. Whether you try all three parks, or just stop here at Sandcastle, you’re sure to experience the very best fun things to do in Pittsburgh.