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Pittsburgh Staycation Ideas - Bring The Kids!

Family at Kennywood

Need a vacation, but don't know how to make it work? The tough realities of life often prevent us from the fun family outings we want to create. You might not have the time to commit to a lengthy trip between dance lessons, soccer practice and that presentation your boss wants on his desk 'by 9 a.m. tomorrow!' Familial responsibilities or a lack of funds to pay for travel, lodging and food on the go often scuttle the most delightful daydreams.

The good news is, planning a trip with your kids is still possible even if you can't go far away, and even if you can't go anywhere at all. Pittsburgh offers nearly limitless opportunities for fun family outings of all types. So if you can't take a vacation, try a staycation!

If you've been living under a rock for a while, a staycation is simply a vacation where you don't really go anywhere. You don't need to go to Orlando, Cabo or the Caribbean to have a good time. We've drummed up plenty of great staycation ideas here in the Pittsburgh area that your family will love!

We've separated our staycation ideas into a few different categories depending on the interests of your family. To expand your kids' horizons during the staycation, try picking one from each category!

The Quintessential Pittsburgh

Plan your fun family outings to show your kids what being a Pittsburgher is all about. These staycation ideas will build a sense of community in your children, and show them how lucky they are to call this area home.

  • Show them why Pittsburgh is called the Steel City with a visit to one of several Rivers of Steel heritage sites. The Carrie Blast Furnace in Braddock is one of the few remaining pieces of the Homestead Steel Works, once the world's largest steel-producing mill.
  • Then head across the Monongahela River to the former site of the Homestead Works, now home to The Waterfront shopping center and Sandcastle Waterpark.
  • About a mile up the road from The Waterfront, you'll find America's Finest Traditional Amusement Park, Kennywood, home to seven roller coasters, including three classic coasters that date back to the 1920s without feeling dated, a dedicated Kiddieland for younger children, and the world-famous Potato Patch fresh-cut fries.
  • Catch a baseball game at PNC Park, considered one of the best sports venues in America, or a Steelers game at Heinz Field. Whichever you choose, make sure to walk over to the statue of Fred Rogers, star of the classic PBS program, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and explain why every day is a beautiful day in this neighborhood.
  • Take the kids to the Strip District for shopping and great people watching. Kids love the talking animals at Wholey's and fish swimming in tanks. There's a smorgasboard of international food options including Italian, Middle Eastern and Asian. The smells and sights are amazing. And be sure to pick up flowers for mom from a number of local merchants.

The Adventurers

Does your family love the great outdoors? With three rivers, lush geography and forests galore, Pittsburgh has plenty of fun family outings to keep everyone active and enjoying nature.

  • Get on your bikes and ride the Great Allegheny Passage.
  • Hang on to a zipline for a flyin' good time. While plans to build a zipline connecting Mt. Washington to the Point haven't come to fruition yet, Laurel Highlands has numerous zip line courses through picturesque parts of our region.
  • Set up camp...anywhere! Camping is one of the best staycation ideas out there because of its flexibility. Require your time in nature to still include indoor plumbing? Plenty of campgrounds at places like Cook Forest State Park still allow you to enjoy modern amenities like showers, flush toilets and electric hookups. Don't have the time or money to go anywhere? Set up the camp out back, tell scary stories and roast marshmallows on your grill!
  • Experience Pittsburgh's Three Rivers from a whole new perspective - by boat. Kayak Pittsburgh promises novices can learn in 10-15 minutes. Or if this section's been strenuous enough, jump aboard the Gateway Clipper for a more relaxing voyage.

The Learners

Just because the kids are out of school doesn't mean learning time is over. You just have to make it fun, and there are plenty of family days to plan that will make your kids all the wiser.

  • There's much more than ketchup at the Senator John Heinz History Center. Sports lovers can visit the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum on the History Center's upper floors. With rotating exhibits, this attraction never gets old. Complete your Heinz History Center tour down at the Point when you visit the Fort Pitt Museum, which details the region's involvement in the French & Indian War.
  • After the history tour, take advantage of steel baron Andrew Carnegie's contributions to lifelong learning by planning fun family outings to the four Carnegie Museums. The Museums of Art & Natural History are housed in the same building, making for a convenient day trip. Then, head to Pittsburgh's North Shore to see the work of Andy Warhol, and learn what makes our world tick at the Carnegie Science Center.
  • Study the heavens at the Wagman Observatory at Deer Lakes Park, home to a century-old Brashear Telescope that was originally built to see Halley's Comet in 1910.
  • If your kids are too young for delicate telescopes, try planning a trip for kids to Pittsburgh's great Children's Museum. Recently named among 15 Best Children's Museuems to visit by Parents Magazine, the museum aims to allow kids to "play with real stuff."

As you can see, planning a fun family outing in Pittsburgh is possible without breaking the bank. You don't have to leave home to get away!

Kennywood is America's Finest Traditional Amusement Park! The Pittsburgh-area park offers a unique mix of modern thrills and classic rides, including seven roller coasters, a 14-ride Kiddieland, and several attractions that cannot be found anywhere else. Kennywood, founded in 1898, continues to provide unforgettable fun for all ages.

Sandcastle Waterpark has been providing summer fun for 28 seasons. Sandcastle offers funs for all ages with 15 infamous waterslides, the wild Mon-Tsunami Wave Pool, scenic Mushroom Pool, relaxing Lazy River, pint-sized Tad Pool, and Wet Willie's Waterworks.

Idlewild & SoakZone, founded in 1878 as a picnic ground along the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, is the longest-operating amusement park in Pennsylvania and third-oldest in America. It has been recognized as the world's best children's park by Amusement Today.