10 things to do this week with kids in Pittsburgh, from fireflies to fireworks

Photo by Scott Webb.

The long holiday weekend ups the ante for family entertainment. We’ve gathered a full schedule of cool activities to keep your kids happily busy and entertained.

1. Head to the Big Butler Fair

The Big Butler Fair roars back into action with nine days of festivities, running from July 2-10, including a fireworks night on July 4th. High octane events include the School Bus Demolition, Antique Tractor Pull and Bull Ride Mania. Carnival rides and games compete for attention on the midway. Farm animals are a big draw with sheep, draft horses, chickens and cows on display. Smaller kids will find more interest in the 4-H Club’s petting zoo and the Parakeet Encounter Aviary. Find the complete schedule here. Tickets start at $8, free for kids 6 and younger.

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Office of Special Events.

2. Cheer for more free movies in the parks

At last, the Dollar Bank Cinema in the Parks is making a comeback! The series begins on July 5 with a dusk screening of “Pokemon Detective Pikachu” (PG) at McBride Park in Lincoln Place. The complete season of movies and park locations will be announced soon. Check here for updates.

The Allegheny County Movies in the Parks continues with “Cars” on July 7 at Hartwood Acres and July 10 at South Park Amphitheater.

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

3. Dance, dance, dance

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy offers a free dance session every Thursday that’s fun for all ages, from littles to their grandparents. Dance and Be Fit with Roland Ford breaks down the steps for every skill level, so even the klutzes among us can follow along. The dance party, running from 7-8 p.m. under the Schenley Plaza tent, is a fun way to keep up with those summer fitness goals. Click here to register.

Photos courtesy of The Frick Pittsburgh.

4. Check out the history of women’s athletic wear

Fashion history always intrigues, adding a personal context to the mundane chronicle of events. A new exhibit opening July 3 at the Frick Pittsburgh, Sporting Fashion: Outdoor Girls 1800 to 1960, adds the element of women’s athletic wear from the turn of the 19th century to the mid-20th century. Active girls will be fascinated by 64 fully accessorized outfits, which beg the question: “How did they move in those things?” The exhibition includes outfits worn for activities from swimming and cycling to ice skating and tennis. Tickets are $8 for ages 6-16, $13 for students and seniors, $15 for adults, free for ages 5 and younger.

Photo courtesy of Allegheny County Parks.

5. Discover lightning bugs at the Park After Dark

Kids can learn all about our beloved state bug, the firefly, and what we can do to keep them safe for generations to come. Register for the free Park After Dark: Fascinating Fireflies with Park Rangers scheduled for July 2 and 4 at Harrison Hills Park, July 3 at Hartwood Acres, July 9 at North Park and July 23 at White Oak Park. Can’t make it to a live session? Watch the park ranger video here and beef up your lightning bug knowledge.

Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center.

6. Chill out at The Rangos Giant Cinema

Feeling hot, hot, hot? The Carnegie Science Center offers a perfect escape for you and the kiddos with the July 3 reopening of The Rangos Giant Cinema. Immerse yourself in “The Search for Snow,” a documentary about the impact of snow on people, wildlife and vegetation. Blasts of blizzards and frozen beauty take you from Iceland to the Swiss Alps to Lake Ontario. Projected in 4K on a really big screen, the largest in Pittsburgh, and surrounded by 45 speakers, the film fully engages viewers to the thrills of flying over a crystal glacier or racing down a mountain on skis. Timed tickets are $7, separate from Science Center admission. Watch the trailer here.

Photo courtesy of Oliver Miller Homestead.

7. Cheer on an old-school Independence Day

Observe the Fourth of July the old-fashioned way at Oliver Miller Homestead’s Celebrate Our Independence with bells, gunfire and firecrackers. Amid the celebration activities, the Declaration of Independence will be read at 2:30 p.m. Learn more about Oliver Miller’s sons, John and William, who fought in the Revolutionary War as part of Morgan’s Rangers, sharpshooters who used rifles instead of muskets. Say “Huzzah!” to $1 admission. The event takes place from 1:30-4:30 p.m., allowing plenty of time for evening barbecues and community fireworks.

Photo by Anna Louise.

8. Raise the flag and stay for fireworks

Head to Point State Park for a full day of patriotic revelry. Fort Pitt Museum offers a local take on Independence Day history from 1-5 p.m. with Fourth at the Fort. A flag-raising ceremony launches the day’s activities of living history. Costumed interpreters will reenact life from the era. And kids ages 12 and older can try their hand at the Tomahawk Toss for $5.

From 6-10 p.m., the City of Pittsburgh will hold a family-style picnic on the Point Park lawn. Bring blankets to spread out your picnic feast or nosh on goodies from on-site food vendors. Patriotic music will play to get everyone in the mood for the Pyrotecnico fireworks display at twilight. The evening promises to be a stellar return to the oohs and aahs we missed last summer.

Image courtesy of Kennywood Park.

9. Celebrate America at Kennywood

Kennywood Park’s annual Independence Day celebration extends to three days, July 2-4. Along with the usual amusement rides and games, the park scheduled music performances, magic acts and woodcarving demonstrations. The crowd-pleasing Wiener 100, a race of dashing dachshunds, is planned for July 3. Hot dog! Buy tickets here.

Photo courtesy of MuseumLab.

10. Come face-to-face with art

MuseumLab’s newly opened exhibit, Face Value, explores portraiture, giving kids multiple avenues into the art form. The walls are filled with 25 portraits in a variety of styles by Pittsburgh-area artists. Kids will find inspiration as they work through an assortment of drawing cues and activities. They can spot hidden clues in the Find the Missing Portraits Escape Room Challenge, snap selfie portraits against cool backdrops and look at themselves in a new way with the Split Face Mirror. It’s all part of the cutting-edge experience that MuseumLab offers kids 10 and older. Learn more here.