family-friendly destinations

11 ways to keep Pittsburgh kids busy over winter break: camps, activities and more

Photo above courtesy of the Heinz History Center.

Many families look forward to the quiet days between the Christmas and New Year holidays, when schools are closed. But for many others, especially working parents, filling those days can feel daunting. Below you’ll find a list of day camps and story times where kids can keep busy, as well as activities families can do together to break up the week and enjoy each other.

Carnegie Science Center Holiday Camps, North Side

This year, the Carnegie Science Center will run camps on Dec. 27, 28 and 29. The camp is designed for kids ages 6-11 and runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The cost is $75 per child per day, with a $10 discount for CSC members. While some sessions are already sold out, there are still spots available for a variety of the sessions. Find out what’s open and register right here.

Cut and Sew Winter Break Mini-Camp

Kids ages 6 and up who have a bit of sewing experience can enjoy learning during Cut and Sew’s camp on Dec. 27 and 28 from 9:30 a.m. to noon or from 1 p.m. to 3:30. With help from Ms. Elle, kids will learn to make a cozy animal-themed scarf. Beyond keeping kids busy, this camp makes a great holiday gift for a child curious about knitting and sewing. Details here.

J-Days Winter Break Camps at Jewish Community Center, Squirrel Hill

The JCC hosts great camps, events and athletics programs all year round, and winter break is no exception. J-Days this year run weekdays from Dec. 21 through Jan. 2, with the exception of Christmas Day. Camps run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $75 per day on field trip days and $65 per day on other days. Before-care and after-care are available as well. Find all the details right here.

summer camps
Photo courtesy of Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh

Soccer Shots camp: Various locations

While Soccer Shots is known for its year-round leagues and classes, they also offer a winter break camp (under the title “Fall 2.0 camps”) at SportsPlex in Greentree, North Park’s Parish Hill Barn in Allison Park and in Bethel Park to give parents a hand. For kids ages 4-7, there are morning and evening options. Along with soccer, these camps also offer crafts and fun daily themes. Learn more here or email or call 412-615-5003.

Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Library Association Events

Some of our local heroes — also known as librarians — continue to make magic throughout winter break. On the Carnegie Library events page, there are various story times, kids’ clubs and teen hangout events scheduled throughout late December. The Allegheny County Library Association also has a selection of story times and other events, which can be filtered by location here. The libraries can be a good choice if you’re a parent who needs to get remote work done over the holiday break while kids are busy at a story time or club.

Maker Monday projects 

Kidsburgh has dozens and dozens of easy, at-home maker projects that will keep kids busy creating art, learning about science and more. Explore all the possibilities right here. Projects are designed to be done with supplies you may already have at home or can get inexpensively at a dollar store. And though we always recommend supervision, it’s easy to find a project that bigger kids can do while adults are nearby but doing their own thing.

Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum, Gibsonia

Each November, the volunteers at this delightful train display open up for nearly two months of fun. Families can visit the display, located on the second floor of the museum, which is a model of the Pittsburgh region as seen from the Mon Valley to Downtown. You’ll find intricate detail and history woven into every scene. Visitors can get very close to each part of the display, then visit the lower floor of the museum for more hands-on activities, a gift shop and a snack bar. Admission is $5 for kids and $10 for adults. The museum is open now through Jan. 14 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding holidays. On Fridays evenings, they are open until 9 p.m. for a special twilight display of the railroad. In January, the museum is only open on weekends. Find all the details right here.

Photo courtesy of Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum.

The UPMC Rink at PPG Place

While it’s been open for several weeks, the rink at PPG Place that surrounds one of Pittsburgh’s iconic trees has extended skating hours over winter break. While packed weekend nights can be tricky at the rink for inexperienced skaters, weekdays are a lot calmer. So bring your kids and take a spin. The rink is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Dec. 15 through Jan. 7. Find all the ticketing info and full hours here.

Photo courtesy of UPMC Rink at PPG Place.

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, North Side

The Children’s Museum isn’t offering day camp options this year, but they are opening an hour early each day from Dec 26 through Dec. 29, and again on Jan. 2. That means they will be open at 9 a.m. rather than the usual 10 a.m., and MuseumLab will be open each of those days from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check their website for details on classes and workshops. Admission for non-members is $18 for adults and $16 for kids ages 2–18. Don’t forget the Children’s Museum participates in Museums for All, which offers free or discounted admission for those who qualify.

Sen. John Heinz History Center, Smallman Street

For several years in a row, the History Center has offered free admission for the entire month of December for anyone 17 and younger. That means winter break is a great time to bring the family and spend a day exploring. You’ll find a fantastic showcase of local history with plenty of interactive exhibits, a special area for kids to move and run, and an interactive model of the city in the lobby with a Liberty Tubes tunnel slide. (We love the name, by the way: “Kidsburgh.”) Details can be found here.

museum cafes
Dining at Heinz History Center.

The Fort Pitt Museum

Located adjacent to Point State Park, the Fort Pitt Museum is part of the Smithsonian family of local museums, along with the Heinz History Center. That means, like the History Center, it’s free throughout December for kids 17 and younger. Even young kids enjoy learning about the history of Pittsburgh at the small museum, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during break, excluding Christmas and New Year’s Day. Find all the details about visiting here.

Looking for more to do? Don’t miss our guide to drive-through lights, holiday season events, and Pittsburgh’s First Night celebration.