8 amazing sweet spots for Pittsburgh kids
All things in moderation, right? That means an occasional sweet treat is a perfectly acceptable addition to a healthy diet. Pittsburgh kids have a tremendous array of bakeries, ice cream shops, and candy stores from which to choose.
Here are eight of our favorites:
Bella Christie & Lil Z’s Sweet Boutique
The newest entry on Pittsburgh’s sweet scene is the Lawrenceville location of Bella Christie & Lil Z’s Sweet Boutique. The bakery and catering company is known for its offerings of Sugar Sweet Stations at parties where guests can indulge in s’mores, cotton candy, and fresh donuts. Now, kids can enjoy Sweet Station eats at the Butler Street shop. Three stations are up and running, with switch-outs planned seasonally.
Especially fun is the Dragon’s Breath, small bites of things like cheese puffs or marshmallows that are deep-frozen with liquid nitrogen. Pop one in and blow smoke from your mouth and nose like a dragon! Decadent Manic Milkshakes are built from a candy-coated tumbler with creative themes like a Unicorn, Cookie Monster, and Oreo. Gourmet waffles on a stick are fun, too, with add-on dips and toppings.
And bring along Rover for special puppy shakes and treats.
Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor
Take the way-back machine to the 1920s when Klavon’s was an apothecary shop and ice cream parlor. Mom and Dad will appreciate the setting that’s reminiscent of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Kids will love the selection of ice cream sundaes (like Cookie Monster or Peanut Butter and Jelly), ice cream floats (Orange Creamsicle, anyone?), and ice cream sodas (Just Peachy and Strawberry Fields sound luscious).
While kids might not care so much about the original marble counters and shiny steel fountain fixtures, they will get a thrill out of spinning on the counter stools in seats that resemble bottle caps. It takes a bit of imagination to picture the height of the 1926 St. Patrick’s Day flood. The marker near the wooden telephone booth shows the water line.
On the savory side, Klavon’s menu includes a range of paninis, from Cubans to Chicken Cacciatore, for a full lunch experience, plus kid-friendly eats.
Sixth Penn Kitchen
If you have kids you want to impress, stop in at Sixth Penn Kitchen during dinner service for this incredible dessert. All eyes in the restaurant will follow the server carrying the enormous platter called Sixth Penn Circus to your table.
Sixth Penn Circus is meant to be shared: A giant pink puff of cotton candy, Cracker Jack-style caramel popcorn, cream-filled whoopie pies, and cinnamon-dusted doughnuts are all made in-house.
It’s a great place to stop following a theater matinee performance for a complete Cultural District experience.
Sarris Candies and Ice Cream Parlour
Chocolate lovers can find Sarris Candies in shops around town, but a visit to the mothership is worth the drive to Canonsburg. The Sarris Chocolate Factory and Ice Cream Parlour cover the size of a football field with over 100 yards of chocolate, ice cream, penny candy, and novelties. The setting is a far cry from its beginnings in the basement of Frank Sarris’s home in 1960. A point of fascination is the handmade, 1,500-pound chocolate castle, complete with turrets and an intricate carousel.
Both chocolate and ice cream lovers will need to spend time browsing the seasonal and traditional selections before making their choices. Luckily, indecisive kids have the option of choosing ice cream as Twin Specialties (two different scoops) or Triple Threats (three scoops) with different toppings on each scoop. Oh yeah!
Another blast from the past – this time the ‘50s – Yetter’s has been around since 1950 and has used the same chocolate candy recipe since then. The second-generation family business in Millvale includes a lunch and soda fountain counter that could have made a great movie set for “Grease.”
House-made chocolate coats everything from potato chips to Twinkies to Oreos. A nice deli lunch menu will satisfy, followed by frozen treats. Classic sundaes, floats, and milkshakes make the list which includes the surprisingly modern touch of Hawaiian shaved ice.
Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop
A visit to the Strip District is not complete without little hands tugging you toward Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop. Talk about eye candy! A stroll through this candy land, one of three locations, overwhelms with brightly colored packaging and a fantastic variety of chewy, crunchy, syrupy sweets. Get lost scanning the wall of soda pop, one of the largest collections of brands and flavors around – 325 to be exact. Vintage candy includes Wax Lips, Satellite Wafers, and Turkish Taffy. The shop offers a whole lot of silly novelty items (Yodeling Bacon and an Inflatable Beard) that’s sure to incite giggles whether you buy them or not!
The long gleaming Oakmont Bakery counter filled with pastries, crisp cookies, and fat cupcakes is a dream experience for little kids with big eyes: Cheery sprinkles, bright icing twirls, mini pies, and puffy macarons. The gooey chewy selection changes with seasons and timely inspiration. Enjoy your sticky, powdered-sugared treat at the café along with a hot cocoa. We promise your first visit will not be your last.
The Milkshake Factory
With the ultra-modern design of the Milkshake Factory’s two Pittsburgh locations, you would never imagine the company began in 1914, over 100 years ago. Chocolates are melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
The ice cream indulgences will blow you away. Along with classic milkshake flavors, gourmet shakes are inspired with choices like Fried Ice Cream and Bananas Foster. There are gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free options too. Sundaes, ice cream sodas, and floats might top other wish lists.
Bonus: This might be the first happy hour your kids get to experience: Every Wednesday the South Side shop offers half-price milkshakes from 4-6 p.m.