things to do this weekend

7 awesome things to do this weekend in Pittsburgh with kids, from Light Up Night to hiking with hot cocoa

Photo above courtesy of the Carnegie Science Center.

The holidays aren’t quite here yet. But there are so many cool things to do this weekend in Pittsburgh, and nearly all are holiday-related. Check out these seven fun options:

Opening Thursday, Nov. 18, and on view through the holidays: Miniature Railroad & Village Reopening at Carnegie Science Center
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Science Center’s ever-popular Miniature Railroad & Village is back again this year for its grand reopening. This incredible train display lets kids and grownups explore Pittsburgh from a giant’s viewpoint. Check out replicas of popular landmarks like Primanti Bros., Forbes Field and Kaufmann’s, plus this year’s new addition: Gus & YiaYia’s ice ball cart! Buy tickets here and stay tuned for Kidsburgh’s guide (coming next week!) to all the cool miniature railroads on display around Pittsburgh this holiday season.

Photo of Phipps Light Garden by Paul g. Wiegman.

Friday, Nov. 19: Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden at Phipps
9:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
Last year, COVID kept Pittsburghers from enjoying the Winter Light Garden. This year, Phipps is bringing it back better than ever. Check out new indoor exhibits and eye-popping outdoor displays, and show your little ones the giant ornaments, 8-foot rotating tree and chiming music box. You’ll also find topiary reindeer and floating holiday trees. Buy tickets here. (Can’t make it this weekend? This exhibit runs through Jan. 9.)

Friday, Nov. 19 and Saturday, Nov. 20: Light Up Night in Downtown Pittsburgh
6 p.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 12-9:30 p.m. Saturday 
Light Up Night returns to celebrate its 60th year of launching the city’s holiday season. This year it happens on Saturday instead of Friday, but there is bonus fun planned for the night before. Light Up Night includes the opening of the Peoples Gas Holiday Market and the debut of the Merry Karaoke Team Tournament. Almost every building in Pittsburgh’s skyline will be illuminated, providing a dramatic backdrop for tree lightings, live music, yummy foods and family activities. Make sure you stick around for the Zambelli fireworks!

things to do
Light Up Night fireworks photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

Saturday, Nov. 20: Holiday Programming at Carnegie Museum of Art
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Carnegie Museum of Art kicks off a series of art-filled holiday events with the Friends & Family Photo Studio. Pose in front of a festive museum background and have your holiday portrait taken by a local photographer. Treasured annual exhibitions are returning earlier than usual — like The Presepio and Carnegie Trees — to kickstart your holiday fun. Upcoming holiday events include a Gift-Making Workshop, Out of Office Party and Sounds for the Season musical performances. View and schedule and book a portrait.

Friends & Family Photo Studio at CMOA. Photo by Bryan Conley.

Saturday, Nov. 20: Family Volunteer Days at Global Links
10 a.m.
Global Links invites families to help neighbors in need by collecting items and assembling personal care kits. You can build kits at home as part of a live Zoom event with Global Links staff on Saturday, or build kits at home any time. (They’ll give you easy, virtual instructions.) An in-person Family Volunteer Day, open to fully vaccinated teens ages 12-18 and adults, is happening on Dec. 11 at Global Links headquarters in Green Tree. Once you register for one of these events, you’ll get an email with a list of items to buy (things like soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, etc.) and a Zoom link or assembly instructions. Global Links will distribute the kits to local partner organizations, including South Hills Interfaith Movement, POWER, North Hills Community Outreach, Propel Northside Community Wellness, Jewish Family and Community Services, Human Services Center, and several groups serving local immigrant, refugee and homeless neighbors. (Want to find other ways your kids can lend a hand? Check out our guide to volunteering as a family.)

Photo by Heather Schur courtesy of Kennywood.

Saturday, Nov. 20: Holiday Lights at Kennywood
5 p.m.-10 p.m.
Your holiday fun at Kennywood includes Pennsylvania’s tallest Christmas tree (100 feet tall!), seasonal snacks, plus all your favorite rides and attractions. You’ll also find light shows around the Lagoon, visits from Santa and live entertainment, plus a massive model train display, petting zoo, North Pole letter writing activities, and a traditional Christmas dinner. If the weather holds, the Jack Rabbit will open to become the first Kennywood coaster to operate in winter. Buy tickets.

Sunday, Nov. 21: Hot Cocoa Hike, Schenley Park
1 p.m.-3 p.m.
Take a hike through Schenley Park with guides from Venture Outdoors. The 2- to 3-mile walk, paced for all ages, will make the most of a brisk fall afternoon. At the hike’s end, participants will be rewarded with hot cocoa and cookies. Registration is $5 for kids and $8 for their grownups.