Pittsburgh is a wonderful city to explore with kids, and there is plenty of family fun to discover there that won’t cost you a dime. From public art to picnics in the park, free fun abounds in Downtown Pittsburgh and beyond. Check out our guide to the best free things to do in Pittsburgh with kids before you plan your next vacation to western Pennsylvania.
Free Things to do in Pittsburgh with Kids
Pittsburgh is a city of rivers, parks, hills and sweeping skyline views. In short, it’s a great place to spend time outdoors and explore. And, with plenty of hiking trails and downtown walking tours, you’re in luck! But, if you’d like to hop on the subway to rest your legs, Pittsburgh has got you covered there, too. Check out these favorite freebies:
Free Rides on the T
Kids love the adventure of taking public transit in a new city. So, hop aboard Pittsburgh’s light rail, called the “T,” which is free to ride within the city’s Golden Triangle. This fare-free T zone includes the following stations: First Avenue Station, Steel Plaza, Wood Street Station, Gateway Station, North Side Station and Allegheny Station. Go beyond those and you will have to pay.
Downtown Walking Tours
Pittsburgh Arts in Public Places offers five unique walking tours that lead you to murals, monuments, art installations and memorials. Pick an area of town you’d like to explore, download the free guide, and explore at your own pace. Neighborhoods and districts featured include the Cultural District Grant Street Corridor, Retail District and Firstside, Northshore, and Northside. Along each tour you’ll see public art, notable architecture, and cultural objects, complemented by views of Pittsburgh’s skyline, bridges, and topography. Each walk takes about an hour and a half to two hours. Possibly longer with little legs.
Mural Scavenger Hunt
If you just love to take family photos in front of local art, The Sprout Fund offers a guide of mural highlights by neighborhood, from Lawrenceville to Shadyside to South Side. Create your own walking tour, by tracking down a few of your favorites.
Rodef Shalom Biblical Botanical Garden
Visit a replica of ancient Israel featuring more than 100 temperate and tropical plants. Walk through the garden and imagine you are in the land of the Bible, on a journey from Lake Kineret to the Dead Sea. Admission is free, but the garden is only open in the summer and for limited hours, so plan accordingly.
Highland Park Super Playground
Highland Park is nestled in the neighborhood of the same name. Visitors can enjoy a Victorian-style entry garden, fountain, lake, walking trails, and—most importantly for parents on a budget—the Highland Park Super Playground. This large wooden play area boasts swings, slides, a tire swing, bridges and towers. Highland Park is also home to Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, which are not free, but would make a great addition to your park excursion.
Free Cinema in the Plaza
If you’re visiting during the summer, head to Schenley Plaza for a free Sunday night movie under the stars. Bring a blanket and snuggle in. The movies are family-friendly and start at sunset. Check the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy website for the schedule. The plaza is located next to Schenley Park, just west of Carnegie Mellon University.
Shop for fresh produce and goods from local vendors at one of Pittsburgh’s farmers markets. Here’s a day by day guide of the many seasonal markets you have to choose from. The Market Square Downtown Farmers Market is held on Thursdays. Be sure to stop by for free entertainment, which could include a performance by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra or the Pittsburgh Opera.
Tributes to Mister Rogers
Pittsburgh is the real Mr. Rogers neighborhood and you can find tributes to the television icon throughout the city, including a bronze memorial statue called “Tribute to Children” on the North Shore near Heinz Field, and a mural bearing Fred Rogers’ likeness above 3609 Forbes Avenue.
Free Tours of Allegheny Observatory
Allegheny Observatory in Riverview Park offers free tours on Thursday and Friday nights from April through October. Tours conclude at the 13″ Fitz-Clark refractor and, on clear nights, you will be able to see nearby celestial objects through the telescope. Plan ahead, as reservations are required, and dress warm, even on summer nights.
Take a drive up McArdle Roadway to Mount Washington for panoramic city views. Located on a hillside on Pittsburgh’s South Shore, Mount Washington’s Emerald View Park, a 280-acre green space, provides the perfect spot for sightseeing. Kids will love watching the inclines going up and down the hill, as well as the boats and barges that frequently travel across the three rivers below. Visit after sunset for an equally stunning view as the city’s bridges light up the night. And don’t forget to take a family photo with the city skyline as your backdrop!
If you don’t mind spending a few dollars, a ride up and down the Duquesne Incline is an experience your children will love. There’s a free museum at the top, a fenced-in viewing area with pay binoculars, and a tour that shows kids how the century-old cable cars travel safely up and down the hill.
The Strip District
The Strip is full of eclectic shops, amazing restaurants, and outdoor vendors. Window shop along Smallman Street and Penn Avenue, pop in and out of the shops, and get some exercise without needing to spend a cent.
Point State Park
Point State Park is a picturesque spot to enjoy a family picnic on a sunny day. Pack a lunch to eat by the giant fountain and see where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers converge to make the Ohio River. While there, check out Fort Pitt Block House, a remnant of the French and Indian War that still stands strong at 255 years old. And have a look in the small Fort Pitt museum, the only remaining part of the British fort built in 1764. Admission is free.
Free Indoor Things to do in Pittsburgh with Kids
Free Admission to Frick Art Museum
Looking for more indoor things to do in Pittsburgh? You may have noticed that there aren’t very many museums with free admission in Pittsburgh, but here’s one to try.
It is completely free to tour the The Frick Art Museum and its grounds. This includes the Car and Carriage Museum, gardens and greenhouse that are located on the property. June through August you can also enjoy a series of Summer Fridays at the Frick. These fun events offer free outdoor performances and family-friendly activities.
Cathedral of Learning
Finally, when in the Oakland neighborhood, don’t miss the Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus. The university holds classes in a skyscraper, which has 30 Nationality Rooms across two floors. The rooms—each representing a different heritage—were designed to “show the good things immigrants bring to America.” They are free to visit as long as there is no class being held at the time. If you would like to rent an audio device for a 90-minute self-guided tour, however, there is a small fee.