Summertime and the living is, well, a little more complicated this year. But safety precautions, timed tickets and restrictions can’t stop the excitement for kids. This week’s activity lineup includes visits to favorite, reopened spots like the National Aviary and Carnegie Science Center. Kids can test their athletic ability in a fun run or zipline adventure. And STEAM activities keep them on their virtual toes. Here are 11 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh:
1. Explore the brand-new exhibit of very old dinos
The world premiere exhibit, Dinosaur Armor, just opened at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. There’s no offense like a good defense, we’re told. Be one of the first to learn how the drive to survive triggered millions of years of evolution, creating dinosaurs with spiked tails and body armor, plus a 2-ton creature that resembles an armadillo. This fascinating display will grip dinosaur-loving kids.
2. Swing from the treetops
Go Ape! Treetop Adventure in North Park opens for the season on Saturday, July 4. Thrill-seekers, following restrictions, will scramble up rope ladders to a height of 40-feet and zip off on lines as long as 440 feet. The minimum age is 10 for this adrenaline-filled experience that builds confidence as kids realize their strength. Screams are included in the price of admission.
3. Check-in with Aviary penguins
The National Aviary opened its doors to bird lovers this week with timed tickets. We suspect the 20 African Penguins at Penguin Point have been missing their adoring audience, so be sure to stop by to say hi. Kids appreciate the immersive experience of the Tropical Rainforest where birds bathe and play in the 15-foot waterfall. The newly renovated Grasslands habitat is open, too. But if you prefer to birdwatch from home, check out the CyBird Learning virtual experiences.
4. Exercise brain power
Kids can fight summer slide with Citiparks’ take-home literacy and math camp. The six-week STEM/STEAM program keeps kids engaged with projects and games, plus giveaways and prizes. To-go kits are packed with everything kids need for hands-on activities with built-in math and literacy components. Find them at Citiparks Grab & Go spots or download and print materials from the Citiparks website. The weekly updates, geared for kids ages 12 and younger, run through July 26.
5. Pick-Your-Own Blueberries
It’s been an excellent season for berries so far. As the strawberry fields are depleted, fat blueberries are ready to harvest. Take the kids to Triple B Farms for a sweet farm experience. PYO is open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, with special times for seniors and those with health issues. Call ahead for questionable weather and field conditions.
6. Help name a cheetah
Six new cheetahs, including five female cubs, joined the Pittsburgh Zoo coalition (yep, that’s what a group of cheetahs is called). Kids can vote on themes for the cheetah cubs’ names. Choose from categories like Pittsburgh Pride, Girl Power and Africa. Voting ends on National Kitten Day, July 10. The zoo is open to visit these cool cats in person or click on the Cheetah WebCam to watch them virtually anytime.
7. Visit with mummies
If you missed your chance to see “Mummies of the World” before the pandemic shut things down, you have a second chance. The touring exhibit has extended its stay at Carnegie Science Center. This intriguing look at the science of mummification reaches well beyond Egyptian mummies. Kids will learn about mummies found in peat bogs and glaciers. Not sure if your kids are ready for the experience? Click on the family guide to get a better idea. Tickets are separate from Science Center admission.
8. Be a namedropper, Burgh-style
Heinz History Center opens its doors with a new exhibit, “Smithsonian’s Portraits of Pittsburgh: Works from the National Portrait Gallery.” Kids can learn the history behind more than 100 famous names with Pittsburgh connections, some more surprising than others. Wander among portraits of athletes (Roberto Clemente, Joe Namath, Josh Gibson), entertainers (Billy Strayhorn, Lena Horne, Gene Kelly), innovators (George Westinghouse, Fred Rogers, Jonas Salk), and writers (August Wilson, Jane Grey Swisshelm). Portraits are presented in a variety of mediums – original paintings, sketches and photographs – in the largest loan of art ever shared by the National Portrait Gallery.
9. Glow with Moon Virtual Run
Moon Township’s annual Glow Out and Run or Walk goes virtual this year, but still rewards participants with plenty of themed swag. Each runner or walker will receive a custom medal, long-sleeve neon T-shirt, glow sticks and other fun stuff. Sign up your family for the 5K or 10K, run it on your own and compete in the social media photo contest. Race bags can be picked up at the Moon Farmers Market on Wednesdays in July. Registration is currently offered at a discount.
10. Head to Rec2Tech Coding Camp
[email protected] Urban Adventures offers kids ages 18 and younger a new, Rec2Tech-based Virtual Coding Camp. Camps begin on July 7 and run Tuesdays and Thursdays for four weeks. The deadline to register is July 5 with placement on a first-come, first-served basis. The Rec2Tech goal is to close the digital divide throughout Pittsburgh’s most vulnerable communities.
11. Create Fourth of July Fireworks
Many local fireworks displays are canceled this year, but we dug into the Maker Monday archive for a couple of creative fireworks activities. Summer Fireworks uses a cardboard tube in a new way to paint bursting fireworks. Or give a blast of swirling color with the Underwater Fireworks experiment, which includes a STEM lesson. Little kids will find their giggles watching the moving colors swirl below the surface. Older kids might find the science lesson behind the experiment more interesting.