Local fun for families

Pittsburgh is truly a great city for families and kids. Our cover story this month is on Staycations – Mj Calloway has searched out some fun family excursions within a two-hour radius of Pittsburgh. For those of you who are looking for free summer activities in your own backyard, I have a few more ideas.

Coming up in June, the Three Rivers Arts Festival is a ten-day free music festival held in Point State Park in each year from noon to 8pm. Downtown Pittsburgh hosts various musical groups, artists and food stands for a full day of fun. And because Point State Park is a PA state park, there is no alcohol permitted, making this a truly family-friendly event. Admission and concerts are free, so families can walk around and listen to music while having a great time together.

Each year the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Executive Director designates two Fish for Free Days. Fish legally on these two days even if you don't have a license. All public Pennsylvania lakes, rivers, creeks, streams and other waterways are open for fishing on these dates. Visit PA Fish + Boat Commission Website

Check out the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series in South Park, Hartwood Acres, the County Courthouse Courtyard (downtown), Boyce Park and North Park. To tune into these free outdoor concerts and performances at parks and other locations throughout the county, call 
 or visit the Allegheny County Website for details.

Dollar Bank Cinema in the Park runs June-August.
 Watch cinema under the stars with popular family-friendly movies at seven Pittsburgh area parks. Movies are shown seven days a week (at a different park each night). Movies generally start around 9pm. Bring your own food, drinks and snacks. Glass bottles or alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Call 412.937.3039
 or visit the City of Pittsburgh Website

Try KidsPlay @ Market Square
 – Tuesdays June 10 – August 26 from 
10:00 – 11:30 a.m. Enliven and enrich your child’s summer with KidsPlay at Market Square. Beginning Tuesday, June 10, children and their families/caregivers can enjoy fun and educational programs and activities complete with crafts and special guests. Children can plant their own tree one week, see how cartoons come to life the next, and even touch a real fire truck, all in Downtown’s historic Market Square. The free program series produced by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP), introduces children to a new and exciting learning experience in one of Downtown's most popular destinations. *Programs are geared toward pre-school aged children and welcome families, caregivers, schools, day cares and camps.

Did you know you can get around for free in Pittsburgh? 
Go underground in the subway, called the "T," which you can ride for free within the Golden Triangle. Downtown stops include Wood Street Station, US Steel Tower, First Avenue and Gateway.

Plan a downtown walking tours. See skyscrapers. Soak up stories. Scarf down a sandwich. Download a one-hour walking tour of downtown Pittsburgh to hear surprising tales from the past, see the best classic and modern skyscrapers, and sit down for a legendary lunch. These tours were created and recorded by Robert Morris University students and are available in ten languages!

Have you checked out the view from Mt. Washington lately? 
Drive up McArdle Roadway to Mt. Washington any evening to see why USA Weekend called this vantage point "one of the Top 10 most beautiful views in the country." Daytime views are great too, and sightseeing can be paired with a visit to the Emerald View Park, a 280-acre green space.

Add another dimension to this trip. The Duquesne Incline has been climbing the slopes of Mt. Washington for 137 years. The beautifully restored cable cars have been used by commuters since 1877. Enjoy a panoramic view of Pittsburgh. Watch the hoisting equipment from the viewing platform. It's FUN-icular!

Visit the Allegheny Observatory on Thursday nights, May through August from 8-10pm.
 Riverview Park, North Side 
Call 412.321.2400 for reservations between 1 and 5pm, Monday through Friday. Turn your attention to the sky during a free tour at the historic observatory. Enjoy a short slide or film presentation followed by a walking tour of the building, which ends at the Fitz-Clark refractor. On clear nights, view celestial objects within the telescope's range. Reservations required.

The Fort Pitt Block House is located in Point State Park. Built in 1764, it is the only surviving structure of the original Fort Pitt and is the oldest building in Pittsburgh. It tells the story of western Pennsylvania's role during the French & Indian War and the American Revolution. Musket balls and rifle locks are two of the featured artifacts on display.

The Old Allegheny County Jail, as seen in the film "Mrs. Soffel," was completed in 1886 to the designs of Boston architect H. H. Richardson and in use until July 27, 1995. A portion of one of the cell blocks has been preserved as the "Old Allegheny County Jail Museum." Enter the facility through the main Ross Street entrance (between 5th and Forbes avenues behind the Courthouse) or through the courtyard arch on Fifth Avenue. At either entrance, you will have to go through security. Self-guided tours Mondays (except on government holidays), Feb-Oct, 11:30am-1pm – 412-471-5808.

Believe it or not, there are even more things for you and your family to take advantage of in Pittsburgh. Jump on the web for fun summer experiences. Visit our calendar at Pittsburghparent.com.