12 camps and things to do with kids during winter school break in Pittsburgh

Photo above by Kelly Sikkema used by permission via Unsplash.

We call it “winter break.” But the days that school is closed between Christmas and New Year’s don’t always provide a break for parents.

If you’ll be spending the holiday school break in Pittsburgh, you may be working outside the home and need childcare. Or perhaps you’ll be at home trying to entertain young kids during what may be some of the coldest days of the year. So we’ve rounded up some options to make winter break 2022 both fun and manageable.

Carnegie Science Center Day Camps, Northside

The Science Center is offering a series of single-day camps running Tuesday, Dec. 27 through Friday, Dec. 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. These camps are designed as full-day “science adventures” for kids ages 6–8 and 9–11. Some camps will dip into the Center’s newest exhibit, “Mars: The Next Giant Leap.” Daily registration is $65 for Science Center members and $75 for non-members.

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Northside

The Children’s Museum isn’t offering day camp options, but they are opening an hour early (at 9 a.m. rather than the usual 10 a.m.) each day from Dec 26 through Dec. 30. And MuseumLab will be open each of those days from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Check the Children’s Museum website for details on classes and workshops. Admission for non-members is $18 for adults and $16 for kids 2–18. But the Children’s Museum participates in Museums for All, which offers free or discounted admission for those who qualify.

WQED Education, online

WQED has a treat for families who have free time over the break. You can get creative with cartooning legend Joe Wos at his online Cartoon Academy. Check out the videos here.

Sen. John Heinz History Center, Smallman Street

Again this year the History Center is offering free admission for the entire month of December for anyone 17 and younger. So bring the family and spend a day exploring the permanent and visiting exhibits. 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 here.

Photo courtesy of Heinz History Center.


Carnegie Libraries and county libraries, Various locations

Across the city, dozens of libraries exist thanks to funds provided by Scottish millionaire and famous Pittsburgher Andrew Carnegie. In the suburbs, the Allegheny County Library Association operates more than 70 locations as well. Libraries are vibrant, active, engaging community hubs for children that are free to access thanks to tax dollars and generous donors. They have packed event calendars and plenty of quiet nooks to read on a cold day. For city libraries, check out the list here. And for elsewhere in Allegheny County, click here. At many libraries, families can come in and enjoy toys, games, crafts, storytime and more. You might even get a chance to grab a comfy chair and read a novel while the kids entertain themselves.

Beechwood Farm Nature Reserve: Audubon Society, Fox Chapel

While it’s cold this time of year, with the proper gear there is no reason to not get outside and explore all the natural elements of our city. Winter hiking is fabulous and accessible at Frick Park, Schenley Park, and Riverview Park within the city limits. Don’t miss Beechwood Farm, though. Their natural play area and easy trails are a great option to wear kids out for an easy bedtime. (If you need help with access to cold-weather gear, consider Project Bundle Up.) Details about Beechwood Farm here.

Photo courtesy of Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve.

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”) to give parents a hand. For kids ages 4-7, there are both morning and evening options at several locations around the region. These camps offer more than just soccer, such as crafts and fun daily themes. Learn more here or email pittadmin@soccershots.org or call 412-615-5003.

Fort Pitt Museum:

Though it’s part of the Smithsonian family along with the Heinz History Center, a lot of little ‘burghers haven’t toured this museum located on the Point.  Admission is free for kids 17 and under through Jan. 8, so this is a great time to go. It’s an interesting place for kids who can read or enjoy being read to — tons of mini models and neat visuals can be found. This museum also provides a great opportunity to talk about colonization of the Pittsburgh region and our complicated history. While you’re there, it’s a quick walk to Market Square for hot chocolate at Starbucks and to watch skaters around the tree in PPG plaza.

Fun Slides Carpet Skate Park: North Hills

Did you know that Pittsburgh is home to the world’s only indoor carpet skate park? (Have you ever even heard of a carpet skate park before now?) Your kids can slide, scoot, and run around for hours at some pretty affordable prices. Also included are a ninja warrior course, Nerf wars, bounce houses, dodgeball, and carpet hockey. Check out their 30-day pass, which is a physical card that would make a great stocking stuffer. Great spot for kids to run their energy off during the daytime on winter break, so they sleep soundly at night. Details here.

Kids at play at FunSlides Skate Park in the North Hills. Photo by permission of FunSlides Skate Park.

Snapology, Bridgeville and various locations across the city for workshops

Snapology is a national franchise of STEAM exploration centers founded right here in Pittsburgh by two local moms. Whether you want to take your kids for an hour or two to build creatively, or drop them off for full- or half-day camps over break, it’s a great option. Bonus: you don’t have to clean up the Legos (or step on them) at home. Check out their range of available events here.

Kids using building systems at Snapology in Bethel Park. Photo from Snapology.

Hunt Armory Ice Rink, Shadyside

An attempt by the Pittsburgh Penguins to make skating more accessible, the Hunt Armory in Shadyside has a goal of including more kids in hockey and skating. For $10 per participant (and $5 for skate rental, if you need them), it is a great option to fill an afternoon on break. In addition, many workshops or lessons are available. Shuttles from different locations around the city transport participants to skate, as well. Details here.

Neighborhood North Museum of Play, Beaver Falls

Opened last year, Beaver County’s children’s museum is designed to foster a love of music, science, art and more. You’ll find a variety of classes and workshops, as well as free play time. They offer a membership option or daily “play passes,” which are $5 each for kids and adults. The museum is open on Dec. 27 and on Dec. 29 and 30, and there is a special New Year’s @ Noon celebration on Dec. 31 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Details here.

Whether you need to drop your kids off or want to squeeze in some time with them while school’s out, this city never disappoints with a range of options at a variety of price points. In addition to what we’ve listed here, the region’s mall play areas are open again as a warm place to run around, and all Carnegie museums are operating.

Looking for more things to do with kids during winter school break in Pittsburgh? Check out our guide to indoor playspaces in the Pittsburgh area.