Ever thought of going on a Pittsburgh family vacation? It’s an awesome place to visit on the east coast offering year round fun and adventure for families to enjoy every season. From amusement parks to some of the best museums I have visited in the United States, there are so many things to do when you visit Pittsburgh with kids. It’s no wonder they call it KidsBURGH! (SCROLL DOWN TO ENTER TO WIN AN OVERNIGHT STAY FOR YOUR FAMILY IN PITTSBURGH!)
If you’re planning an east coast excursion with your family, there are so many things in Pittsburgh you won’t want to miss. We enjoyed an all expense paid family trip to Pittsburgh this summer courtesy of Visit Pittsburgh and we had such a fun time exploring the city for two full days of fun. If you’re within driving distance to Pittsburgh or planning to be in the city some time soon, be sure you head over to Facebook AND Instagram to enter to win our amazing Pittsburgh overnight adventure giveaway!*
Just read up on the fun things to do when you visit Pittsburgh with kids before you go—you won’t want to miss anything on this list of seriously cool things to do in Pittsburgh with kids.
KidsBurgh: 10 Must Do Things When You Visit Pittsburgh with Kids
I spent three days exploring Pittsburgh with two 11 year old Dudes. They were in charge of picking the activities we experienced and I think they did an awesome job with our itinerary. These are the must do’s according to the kids.
1. Ride the double decker bus.
I’ve always wanted to sit atop one of those big red city tour buses and experience a city and it’s the first thing I booked for us to do on our Pittsburgh family vacation. While a day on the Pittsburgh Tour Company bus is an adventure in itself, we opted for the hop on, hop off option so we could learn a little about the city on our way to some of the other destinations we wanted to visit. It’s a fun way to see Pittsburgh with kids and it’s more relaxing to get around the city without having to fight traffic or search for parking. I actually got to sight see a little myself instead of paying attention to my GPS the entire time.
Website: The Pittsburgh Tour Company
2. Get your science on at the Carnegie Science Center.
And don’t skip out on a visit to Highmark SportWorks while you’re there. This museum is four floors, jam packed with interactive exhibits kids of all ages will enjoy exploring. You could easily spend an entire day touching, testing, and filling up your brain with science in this space. You can learn about how the human body works in the BodyWorks exhibit, take a peek at the stars at the Buhl Planetarium, and even take a tour of a real life Cold War era submarine. My Dudes LOVED the robotics section thanks to a basketball shooting robot that rarely missed a shot and I spent tons of time admiring the intricacies of the miniature railroad village. They also had fun playing in the water and learning about river habitats at H2OH, doing an ultrasound of a “pregnant” belly in BodyWorks, and conquering the ropes course over at Highmark SportsWorks.
General Admission includes Highmark SportsWorks®, four floors of hands-on exhibits, live demonstration shows, planetarium shows, and the USS Requin (SS 481) so your $20 (or $12 for kids 3-12) ticket gets you plenty of excitement for a full day in the museum. You can upgrade and enjoy their special exhibit (it was Da Vinci the Exhibition when we visited) or a movie in the Rangos Giant Cinema which is a huge, technologically advanced movie theater where they show a host of educational films as well as special screenings of cool events and classic movies like Pulp Fiction (NOT FOR KIDS!) and The Goonies (totally for kids).
Website: Carnegie Science Center
3. See the dinosaurs at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
Every dino loving kid in the world will enjoy a visit to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. It is stocked full of some amazing dinosaur specimens unlike any you’ve seen anywhere else. Seventy-five percent of the dinosaur fossils displayed in the museum are real fossils, and most of the dinosaur skeletons are also real, not replicas. Younger kids (under 10) can get some hands on dig experience in the Bone Hunters’ Quarry, and all visitors can do a little touch and learn in Discovery Basecamp where kids can explore specimens, use microscopes, and more.
Don’t let the dinosaurs steal all of the lime light though. This museum is about so much more than prehistoric fossils and skeletons. The Dudes spent most of their time admiring the minerals, gems, and jewelry collection. For the little rock lovers in the family their collection is quite a sight to behold. Other don’t miss sections according to my kids include the Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt and the Bird Hall. Both had pretty cool artifacts and specimens to look at and learn about.
I recommend making this and the Carnegie Museum of Art a full day visit if you have time. Get there when they open, take a break and enjoy lunch in the café, and make a whole day of it because you’ll be sad if you miss anything.
Website: Carnegie Museum of Natural History
4. Get some culture at the Carnegie Museum of Art
Right in the same building as the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is the Carnegie Museum of Art. I wasn’t convinced that my dudes were down for that level of culture, but I have to say that they enjoyed the art museum exhibits almost as much as they loved checking out the dinosaurs and other natural wonders in the Natural History museum. They did get several laughs from the naked statues in the sculpture hall, but even they thought it was a cool place to hang out, soak up the sun, and try to interpret some of the more unique statues in residence. As one of the United States’ most dynamic major art instructions with over 30,000 objects in their collection, it’s no surprise that they have something for every level of art connoisseur. If you have school aged children, think about doing a free tour. They are SO informative and a great way to actually take valuable information away from your visit.
Bonus tip: The Dudes said the soft pretzels from the basement café were ah-mazing.
Website: Carnegie Museum of Art
5. Go up the side of a mountain on the Monongahela Incline
It’s the coolest way to commute I’ve ever seen! It’s a cheap way to get from Station Square, where you’ll find waterfront attractions and cool places to eat (Hard Rock Café is here) to the Mt. Washington neighborhood where you can see some pretty fascinating views of the entire city and grab a bite to eat at one of the eateries in the area.
6. Explore Fort Ligonier.
Technically located in what is called Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania I visited this destination on a previous trip sans kids. Let me just tell you, it was, hands down, the most awesome and informative museum/historical site visit I’ve been on in pretty much ever. I was part of a group so we got a tour with a historian, but even if you just visit with your family there is so much to learn about America’s history including some interesting tidbits about our first president, George Washington. If you plan your visit right you can take advantage of a special tour or event to make your visit even more educational and fun.
Website: Fort Ligonier
7. Check out a festival.
No matter what you’re into, I’d hazard a guess that Pittsburgh has a festival for it. Music, craft beer, Irish dance, wine, cars, sports, films, food, art, crafts, pickles—you can enjoy a festival for all of them while you’re in the city. We got to enjoy the annual and iconic Picklesburgh while we were in town. A celebration of all things pickles and more, it was an awesome way to enjoy the downtown area and sample some of Pittsburgh’s authentic food offerings. I had my very first perogies at the event and I fully consider myself a fan now.
Find Pittsburgh festivals here: Visit Pittsburgh
8. Get milkshakes at the Pittsburgh Milk Shake Factory.
I wanted to lay across the counter and have them pour cold, sweet, chocolate ice cream into my mouth for hours. I opted not to get arrested, however, and went with this beauty instead…
I consider it a total win.
Website: Milk Shake Factory
9. Go to a ball game.
Depending on when you visit, you can catch the Pirates playing baseball, the Steelers play football, or the Penguins play hockey.
Website: Pittsburgh Sports Teams
10. Visit the National Aviary.
If you think the National Aviary is one of a kind, that’s because it is! It is officially America’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated exclusively to birds. It’s home to more than 500 birds including many that are threatened or endangered in the wild. There are sections where the birds fly freely around you as you watch them interact with each other and their environment. Other birds, have more private homes, but are still a sight to behold. If you’ve never seen a bald eagle up close those things are massive and impressive to experience.
Website: National Aviary
The thing I love most about Pittsburgh is that there are things to do for every type of family. No matter what you like, no matter what your budget, there are things you and your crew can enjoy. Here are a few more options to check out before you head to the city.
Visit Pittsburgh for families with younger kids: Pittsburgh Children’s Museum
Visit Pittsburgh for families who like quirky art: The Troll Museum
Visit Pittsburgh for families who like a little adrenaline: Kennywood
Visit Pittsburgh for families who love animals: Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium
Visit Pittsburgh for families who want a little cool down: Idlewild & Soakzone
Where to Stay in Pittsburgh with Kids
We spent our three day visit at the Cambria Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown. It’s rare to find city hotels large enough to accommodate a family of five, but with the double queens and a pull-out couch, my entire clan would’ve fit if they’d all come along. It also had a microwave and a mini fridge for late night snacks. Other kids friendly features included an on-site restaurant that also kindly provided room service so they could get their late night French fry fix, an indoor pool, and a patio where they could lounge around and make a little kid noise without bothering other patrons.
Probably the most awesome amenity was the free shuttle service that would kindly drop off or pick up within a two mile radius of the hotel. That meant free travel to Picklesburgh and the Monogahela Incline that saved me from fighting traffic and finding parking downtown Pittsburgh. SCORE!
If you’re visiting Pittsburgh with kids and your pet, try the Kimpton Hotel Monaco. It’s a little on the pricier side, but they’re super pet friendly.
If you’re taking in a game, and love free breakfast (legit, EVERYONE loves free breakfast), check out Holiday Inn Express & Suites Pittsburgh North Shore. It’s right by PNC Park and they have a daily, complimentary breakfast buffet.
Where to Eat in Pittsburgh with Kids
As huge breakfast lovers, we made sure we went to Pie for Breakfast. We didn’t have room for pie after enjoying delicious omelets and pancakes, but they definitely had plenty to choose from. Be prepared, it’s a little on the pricey side, but it’s explained in the high level, well made ingredients they use.
We passed Double Wide Grill on our bus tour and heard awesome things about it, but didn’t have a chance to make it back. Other spots that should be on your short list include Everyday Noodles if you like Chinese fare, Burgatory for people who like burgers and LOVE milkshakes, and The Jerome Bettis’ Grill 36 for all you Steelers fans out there.
Want to take your family on a fun vacation to visit Pittsburgh?
We have two giveaway packages to giveaway to two lucky winners. GIVEAWAY ENDED!
Visit Pittsburgh with Kids: Package 1
*Four tickets to each of the following attractions:
Carnegie Museum of Arts & Natural History
PPG Zoo and Aquarium
Carnegie Science Center
*One hotel overnight
Cambria Hotel Pittsburgh-Downtown
Visit Pittsburgh with Kids: Package 2
*Four tickets to each of the following attractions:
Heinz History Center
Kennywood Amusement Park
*One hotel overnight
Holiday Inn Express & Suites North Shore
*Official Giveaway Rules: No purchase necessary to enter. Must be 18 years old or more and a resident of the United States to claim prize. This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram or Facebook. Entrants may enter a total of two times-one entry per platform. Giveaway entry period ends 8/21 at 11:59pm EST. One winner will be selected from Instagram and one winner will be selected from Facebook. Winners will be notified via direct message on the platform they won on. Entrants will have 48 hours to claim their prize and provide a US mailing address to send vouchers to. Unclaimed prizes will be redistributed in 48 hours. Vouchers for stay and attractions will be sent to the provided address by Visit Pittsburgh vi US mail.