8 things to do with kids in Pittsburgh this week, from BioBlitz to a re-imagined Three Rivers Arts Festival

As summer approaches, Pittsburgh moves to a less restricted phase during the pandemic. Many events continue in re-imagined virtual alternatives, while more options open for safe outdoor fun. Take a river cruise or sip an ice ball. Explore an historic mansion or learn more about the creatures in your backyard. Here are our selections of the best things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh.

1. Chill with an ice ball

This North Side food cart has been delighting kids since 1934. Gus & Yiayia’s hand-shaved ice balls are doused with intense flavors in one of our favorite summery treats. Sip and crunch under the shady trees of West Park and add a box of warm popcorn and peanuts for a bit of salt to complement the sweet.

2. Get Blitzed!

The show must go on at Phipps Conservatory’s 5th annual BioBlitz Family Fun Festival, but this year the events go online. The celebration of natural wonders will play host to scientists and naturalists for educational interactions. Kids will explore the region’s birds, plants, animals and all of those other creatures that live outside our homes. Activities, running from 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m., are free, but require registration. Find the schedule and registration links here.

3. Immerse yourself in art

The Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival returns June 5-14 with no fear of a rainout. The virtual event includes the family-focused features we look for every year. The Giant Eagle Creativity Zone includes hands-on activities and artist demonstrations that can be accessed online. Other art-making ideas will be offered from arts and community groups to keep kids busy throughout the 10-day festival. Parents will enjoy the concert lineup, film programming and vendor fair. Everyone will savor tantalizing festival foods that will travel to neighborhoods this year. Complete details will be announced at noon on June 5.

4. Cruise the three rivers

Three Rivers Sightseeing Cruises return to the Gateway Clipper Fleet schedule on June 5. The 1-hour narrated tour departs from the Station Square dock and follows COVID-19 practices for a safe outing. Learn about Pittsburgh history, fun trivia tidbits and river lore. Tours run Fridays through Sundays for the next two weeks, then operate daily beginning June 19.

5. Help develop strong girls

The multi-generational Strong Women Strong Girls has moved its mentorship program for girls in grades 3-5 online. The new remote curriculum includes delivering kits with supplies and at-home guides. Skill-building lessons and access to strong female role models are part of the initiative. The virtual programming, found here, includes lesson readings and step-by-step activities to do at home. Follow @SWSGpgh to learn more.

6. Peek through Open Doors

Doors Open Pittsburgh put together a series of virtual tours that explore different aspects of Pittsburgh history. This weekend, the tour uncovers the history of George Westinghouse’s Point Breeze mansion, called Solitude. Peek inside underground tunnels during this live-streamed event. Re-live the fiery explosion on the front lawn that led to one of Westinghouse’s greatest inventions. Any guesses what it is? Click here to register for the 10 a.m. June 6 tour and see if you’re right. The suggested donation is $5.

7. Make Aquafaba Meringue Cookies

Aquafaba is the liquid found in a can of garbanzo beans. Who knew? Rather than wash it down the drain, turn it into delicious egg-free meringue cookies. This kitchen science video lesson from Carnegie Science Center educator Amanda Iwaniec is part of the daily Something to Watch series. Click here for the video and complete recipe. Amanda promises the aroma of warm sugar will fill your kitchen.

8. Create an embroidered pillow

The June Lookbook on Creativebug includes this fun beginner embroidery project for kids. While making this personalized pillow, they’ll learn how to transfer their drawings to fabric and work with hooped fabric. Kid-friendly embroidery stitches include a simple backstitch and an impressive pinwheel stitch. Kids will learn to sew a running stitch, too. While using a blunt-end tapestry needle, there is no worry about finger pricks. Just sign into the free Creativebug subscription with your Carnegie Library card for this and tons of other cool projects.