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HomeFunTravelSteel Yourself for a Family Day Trip to Pittsburgh

Steel Yourself for a Family Day Trip to Pittsburgh

An easy drive from Maryland, Pittsburgh makes a great family day trip. There are plenty of family-friendly activities in Pittsburgh, including museums for kids, as well as restaurants and shopping that make Pittsburgh a great family day trip.

If you think Pittsburgh is the gritty, smokestack city it used to be, think again. The fiery blast furnaces are gone, rivers are cleaned up, parks are showplaces and the museums rank with the nation’s finest. Families find here a vibrant, multi-ethnic new Pittsburgh of cutting-edge art centers, gatherings galore, famous sports teams and some of the best Polish food this side of Krakow.

On the highbrow side, much of the sightseeing is thanks to turn-of-the-century industrial giants, especially Andrew Carnegie who is best known for the more than 2,500 Carnegie libraries he endowed throughout the Americas. Of the $400 million Carnegie amassed in his lifetime at least $350 million went to philanthropic works including Carnegie Hall in New York and the magnificent complex in Pittsburgh that includes the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Left jobless in the mid-1800s when weaving machines replaced human-powered looms in Scotland, Andrew’s father borrowed money to bring the family to the New World. Because they had relatives in Pittsburgh they settled there. At age 13, Andrew found work in the mills as a bobbin boy,  earning $1.20 per week. A tireless worker and voracious reader, the bright lad grew up to found a steel industry that soon had Pittsburgh humming. By the time he retired in 1901 he was said to be the wealthiest man in the world.

pittsburg

A must-see during your visit is the Carnegie Museum of Art where kids can breeze through collections of classic art and sculpture, then create their own art works. Children are charmed by the hall of architecture with its large collection of plaster casts of famous structures. Don’t miss the gift shop, where the kids are will want one of the educational toys or games. Also in the Carnegie complex is the Museum of Natural History, where you’ll see dinosaurs,  bugs and 300 hands-on exhibits

Families also love the replica of the original Fort Pitt in Point Park, a fun place on the river front to picnic or just relax. Check ahead for special events held here often.  Pittsburgh’s outstanding Children’s Museum alone is worth the trip. Give it an entire day. Its sections, all with hands-on fun, include a garage, a special place for toddlers, a cartoon section, an art studio, a theater where you can take the stage and The Attic filled with surprises.

Take the kids for a ride on one of the city’s two surviving inclines, or cable cars, dating to 1877. You’ll ride to the top of towering bluffs that look down on the skyscrapers. From here you’re seeing   the confluence of three rivers that brought early settlers here in the first place. They are the Monongahela, Ohio and Allegheny.  The city’s nickname has been Three Rivers since the colonial era; the British built a fort here in 1757. ,

Depending on the season, take the family to a home game of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Steelers, Panthers or Penguins. The Shadyside neighborhood is the place  for trendy shops and restaurants. Visit the Strip District for funky flea markets and the original Primanti Brothers restaurant. It’s a rite of passage to have a Primanti, a monster two-fisted deli sandwich smothered in French fries.

Check out neighborhood restaurants for Polish, German, Serbian, Jewish and Italian food that goes back generations. A must  for a family breakfast is Pamela’s P&G Diner, where family photos adorn the walls, pancakes are the size of sofa pillows and the hash-and-eggs breakfast will keep you going through an action-packed day.

Pittsburgh is as passionate about its sports teams as it is about its arts, its green spaces and its magnificent old stone buildings from Carnegie’s time. Most of all, however, Pittsburgh loves families. Chances are, your family will love it back.

If You Go

For more information: 800- 359-0758, visitpittsburgh.com.  Listed here are sightseeing attractions, restaurants, hot dates and lodgings ranging from budget to luxury.  

Looking to stay closer to home? Check out our Maryland hikes that are great for families.

Or head south to Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown.

by Janet Groene

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