Pittsburgh, PA, offers four-season fun, there’s no doubt. We’ve got outdoor water sports and events from spring through fall, and the gardens and parks to trek through when the weather is mild. But when the temps start falling, it’s time to begin thinking of indoor fun! From museums to give you and your family creative inspiration to places to get your jump on, here are the best indoor Pittsburgh activities with kids. Check them out to escape the cold – and have lots of fun.
Trust me when I say that Pittsburgh, PA, is beautiful any time of year. At this point, my family and I head into the city proper at least once a month to check out the fun. But there are days when we schedule a visit that we want to enjoy indoor fun. Warm fun. It’s those times we head to our favorite indoor Pittsburgh hot spots (get it?) for education and exercise. Here are my top recommendations for where to head when it’s cold in The ‘Burgh.
Carnegie Museum of Art
I’m lucky to be raising a teenage art lover. I’m also very lucky Carnegie Museum of Art is less than an hour away from our home. The museum offers both permanent and temporary exhibits; the ability to mosey around and spy paintings from Monet to Albert Joseph Moore makes us very happy.
Carnegie Science Center
There’s no such thing as a science geek at Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore. It’s THE Pittsburgh spot where science is super cool! Filled with four floors of science fun, our favorite spots are the Buhl Planetarium andHighmark SportsWorks. If the weather’s decent enough, you can always head to the Ohio River and check out the USS Requien, the U.S. Navy’s first Radar Picket submarine.
And if the weather’s frightful? Head to the Miniature Railroad & Village to check out minute details from Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
While these favorites are in no particular order, Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland is always on the top of our list as a Pittsburgh indoor activity. With four floors (counting the basement!) filled with educational fun, we never tire of it – and I’ve been visiting since elementary school myself. The most addition is an entire 1,900-square-foot Discovery Basecamp, a hands-on, interactive learning area (Seriously. We could touch it all without fearing a security guard’s glare or warning). Here, kids and adults learn about the world around them by no better means than learning through touch.
Classic permanent exhibits – including Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt, Botany Hall, and Wertz Gallery: Gems & Jewelry – always give us something to look forward to on each trip, while the temp exhibits make us keep visiting for the updates. The Dinosaurs in Their Time exhibit lets visitors learn all about the giants as well as their habitats and the beauty of the massive hall is so photo-worthy.
TravelingMOM Tip: A ticket to CMoNH will get you free admission to Carnegie Museum of Natural Art and vice versa!
We love heading to Phipps Conservatory in Oakland for its gorgeous botanical displays – and the temperature is always lovely and warm. Unique displays like Tropical Rain Forest and the Fern and Orchid Rooms will definitely keep away the chill, but if you want to get the best of both worlds, bundle up and head outdoors to explore its lovely walkable gardens.
For kiddos who love trains, head to the Garden Railroad in the South Conservatory to spy miniature trains chugging along tiny tracks. Here’s a fun tip: the Conservatory changes out the theme (this year it features Treasure Island!), so there’s always a new reason to visit – or re-visit.
Take a visit during the winter holidays and you’ll get to see some of the gardens decked out with holiday trimmings. You can expect tons of Christmas lights on fir trees & poinsettias as far as the eye can see. Candlelight Evenings make the Winter Flower Show even more magical.
Heinz History Center
Even if you live in or around Pittsburgh, there’s always a need to brush up on its fun history, right? Heinz History Center in The Strip District is the place to head to for just that! The Center features over 250 years of Pittsburgh innovations including the creation of the Big Mac, the making of standardized railroad time, and even life-sized hometown hero displays like Rosie the Riveter.
Children’s Museum Pittsburgh
Yep, I know Children’s Museum Pittsburgh on the North Shore caters to kids but, ding dang it, I can’t help but have fun there, too! When The Kid was younger, Waterplay was her go-to spot to get soaked and learn about the properties of water. Now that she’s older, she loves the Studio where she can paint, draw, and simply create.
My favorite spot? The areas dedicated to Mr. Rogers and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. There’s even the famous, heart-warming puppets from the Neighborhood of Make Believe that make me tear up every time I see them. Not kidding.
If you and the kids are going stir crazy already, a trip to Sky Zone in Monroeville may be just what the doctor ordered to get rid of all of that pent up energy. The Kid and I had a ball jumping from section to section and our favorite? The foam pit. There’s also a basketball section to practice slam dunking (the only way I could ever do it!) and a snack bar to replenish you after expending all of those calories.