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7 ways Pittsburgh kids can tour around town like a tourist

tourist
Michael Machosky
October30/ 2017

Sometimes, it’s fun to act like a tourist in your own town. Kids find it even more exciting when that means touring in style – on bikes, boats, Segways, or double-decker buses. These mobile tours all include history and landmarks, peppered with a bit of entertainment.

Here are seven of the many forms of transportation available for kids to explore Pittsburgh like a tourist:

Segway Pittsburgh

The Segway never changes the transportation industry the way its inventors promised. It did, however, completely change the guided-tour industry—it’s easier than learning to ride a bike and faster than walking.

For ages 14 and older, Segway Pittsburgh offers year-round tours of the Golden Triangle, exploring the city’s most iconic sights—Point Park’s fountain, PPG Place, and Market Square. Among the offerings are sunset tours, plus tours that include specific destinations, like the Fort Pitt Museum and the Senator John Heinz Regional History Center, with stops for snacking along the way.

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Tour the city on two wheels with Bike the Burgh.

Bike the Burgh

In the past 10 years, Pittsburgh has gone from one of the most unfriendly bike places—aided by its eccentric topography—to one of the best bike-commuting cities in America.

Bike the Burgh takes advantage of all those new bike paths and routes with tours that engage rides through most of the major inner-city neighborhoods: Downtown, the Strip District, North Side, South Side, Oakland, Shadyside, Friendship, and East Liberty.

Despite the hills, you can cover a lot of ground in three hours on a bike, and these tours can accommodate kids as young as 8. There are rental bikes available, or you can bring your own. Tours run daily through the end of November, then by request with 24-hour notice.

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The view from the top of a double-decker bus can’t be beat.

Double-Decker Bus Tours

There’s something thrilling about viewing a city from the top of a double-decker bus. The Pittsburgh Tour Company offers a range of tours, including a 21-stop, hop-on, hop-off ride for a complete day of staycation exploration. Guides point out highlights along the way. Combo tour tickets can include entry to places like the National Aviary, Carnegie Science Center, and a tour of Heinz Field. Or buy a pass for “just the tour” and settle in for a narrated tour of Pittsburgh history and landmarks brimming with personality and humor.

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Kids can go “Under the Sea” on a river cruise via The Gateway Clipper Fleet.

The Gateway Clipper Fleet

A riverboat tour is easily one of the most pleasant ways to see the city. Where there used to be railyards and the backs of factories, there are now lush, green riverfront parks, bike trails busy with families, and newly-built marinas packed with pleasure boats. The Gateway Clipper Fleet lets you take it all in at the languorous pace and comfort of a 19th-century riverboat.

Most of the sightseeing, lunch and dinner cruises on the Majestic, the Princess or the rest of the six-ship fleet are kid friendly. But there are a quite a few that are specifically for kids, like the 2-hour Princess Cruise, an Under the Sea Cruise, and a Star Wars-themed Galactic Battle Cruise, with its own Chewbacca and Darth Vader. Older kids might be more inclined to appreciate the daily 1-hour sightseeing cruises.

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They’re slow moving by roller coaster standards, but riding Pittsburgh inclines is still a thrill. Photo by Jeff Swensen.

The Inclines

Every football game, every TV show, and (almost) every movie set in Pittsburgh needs to have that shot—the Monongahela or Duquesne incline, preferably at sunrise or sunset.

Though the 100-year-old cable cars moving up and down the side of Mt. Washington may seem like the world’s slowest rollercoaster to kids raised on Kennywood Park, taking a ride on the incline is still a big deal. At the bottom, there’s Station Square and its dancing fountains, shops and restaurants. Then at the top, there’s a terrific ice cream shop (DeFiore’s Ice Cream Delite) and bakery (Grandview Bakery) with freshly made cookies, donuts, and pastries. In between is the best urban vista in America.

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Molly’s Trolleys offers tours in quaint-looking, 1920s-style trolleys.

Molly’s Trolleys

If you want to see Pittsburgh up close, this is a good way to do it. Molly’s Trolleys ferries families around in the 1920s, vintage-styled trolleys. The two-hour “All About The Burgh: The Culture to Ketchup Tour” hits all the hot spots, and the guides give a pretty good description of just what exactly you’re viewing. Kids love investigating new neighborhoods, and the behind-the-scenes peek at the workings of the historic Duquesne Incline adds to the thrill of the included ride.

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Just Ducky Tours entertains by land and by sea, er, river.

Just Ducky Tours

When these six-wheel amphibious trucks—DUKWs—were designed for storming the beaches at Normandy, the US military could never have imagined Just Ducky Tours quacking at pedestrians in Pittsburgh.

Kids love the quacking kazoos. And you have the best of both worlds by combining a river cruise (25 minutes) and a Downtown street tour (35 minutes). Kids even get to drive during the river portion of the tour. The drivers of South Side Sally and the other ducky boats try to keep it light, which is good because these things are supposed to float.

Just Ducky operates through the end of November, then start up again in April.

Michael Machosky

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