8 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from real-life kayaking to a virtual dance party

We love the color green! As Pittsburgh slowly opens up in the green phase, we’re excited by the recreational alternatives launching in new, safe ways. And we still have fun virtual events happening, too. Go kayaking, win prizes in a scavenger hunt or join in a virtual dance party. There are plenty of cool things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh.

1. Talk to the animals

The Pittsburgh Zoo opened its gates to visitors with a few modifications. Buy your timed tickets up to two weeks in advance to help limit crowds. Playground areas, the zipline and log ride remain closed, and the tram service is temporarily discontinued. You’ll also find plexiglass barriers and social distance guides throughout the zoo. But those are small sacrifices to allow us to watch tigers, elephants and polar bears.

2. Go kayaking

We’ve all found hikes and bikes to be wonderful ways to get out of the house safely over the past few months. Now, this option should float your boat! Kayak Pittsburgh opens its North Park location to the public on Friday, June 12. Other sites will launch as conditions progress. Kids ages 3-12 can hop onto tandem kayaks with a grownup. Make reservations in advance and adhere to social distancing protocols. We can’t wait to feel that cool breeze off the water.

 3. Watch a free drive-in movie

This summer, the Dollar Bank Cinema in the Parks is reinvented as a drive-in movie night. The season under the stars opens with “The Lorax” on Saturday, June 13, in the parking lot of the Pittsburgh Zoo. Reservations are required due to limited space. Other movies in the six-film lineup include “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (PG), “Men in Black: International” (PG-13) and “The Mighty Ducks” (PG). Don’t forget the popcorn and an extra-large box of Ike and Mike.

4. Flip for Phipps

Phipps Conservatory opens to the public on Saturday, June 13, with timed tickets, masks for ages 2 and older and social distancing throughout. Hands-on play areas are closed at this stage. But the whole family can enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the new exhibit, “Summer Flower Show: Back in Bloom.” Wander through the fragrant outdoor herb garden and immerse yourself in the lush Tropical Forest Cuba. Not ready to venture out just yet? Phipps has loads of virtual activities, too.

Photo by Beth Barbis.

5. Everybody, dance now!

Kelly Strayhorn Theater hosts Let’s Move! Family Dance Party via Zoom every other Saturday beginning June 13 and running through August. The 20-minute dance party delivers an exuberant, low-impact workout for the whole family with a pay-what-makes-you-happy registration. While you’re on the site, download the Kelly Strayhorn coloring book that illustrates past theater performances. New pages will be added weekly.

6. Check Inn with Jerome Bettis

The Jerome Bettis “Bus Stop Here” Foundation presents a virtual youth program for middle school kids called Check Inn. The STEAM schedule runs Mondays and Wednesdays through July 15. Enrichment activities will center around Tech & Innovation, Video & Film, Math and Spanish. Sessions will include a live DJ, prizes and certificates. Register kids ages 10-14 for the free program here.

7. Count on comedy

Penny Arcade is teaming with the US Census in a silly new show that’s all about people, geography and math. The “Kids Count” virtual fun involves improv games and videos. While you’re waiting for the show to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 13, email questions and download activity sheets to get started. The collaboration stations are awaiting your input!

8. Accept a challenge

On National Get Outdoors Day, June 13, Fern Hollow Nature Center invites families to the Get Outdoors Scavenger Challenge. The rules are simple: The list will post at 6 a.m. Saturday. Take a photo of each item as you find it and post to Fern Hollow social media or send via email. Winners will be selected at random throughout the day, so the more you find, the better your chances to win prizes. The best part is the scavenger hunt can take place in your backyard or neighborhood. Good luck!