9 things to do with kids in Pittsburgh this week, from a baby sea lion to a water park

Ready for a road trip that lands your family safe at home by the end of the day? Head to Ligonier and the delights of Idlewild Park and Splash Lagoon, motor down to Washington County for immersive lessons in history or tour around town on a Segway. Homebodies can find their fun with virtual races, a dance-and-draw session or the chance to develop a novel. Here are our picks for 9 things to do this week with kids in Pittsburgh:

1. Spin and splash

Perfectly timed to hot summer days, Idlewild Park and Soak Zone delivers cool breezes from amusement rides and refreshing splashes in moving water. The Ligonier park opens to the public on Saturday, July 11, with some safety restrictions. It’s a perfect spot for little kids who get as much excitement from meeting Daniel Tiger as they do on the Dino Soars and spinning Tea Party. Older kids will get their thrills from the Howler and Pipeline Plunge. Moms and dads appreciate the lazy relaxation of Float Away Bay.

2. Time travel to a pre-Columbian era

The oldest site of human habitation in North America is here in southwest Pennsylvania. Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Washington County dates to a time 19,000 years back. Kids can visit this active archeological site and watch scientists carry on the study of our ancient neighbors. More than 2 million artifacts and ecofacts have been recovered so far from this National Historic Landmark. Meadowcroft, open for its 52nd season, includes more recent history, too, with a pre-historic Indian village, an 18th-century frontier trading post and a 19th-century town. Best of all, kids 17 and younger receive free admission throughout July.

3. Meet Smiley, the baby sea lion

Smiley, the baby sea lion at the Pittsburgh Zoo, is almost 1 month old and has just started swimming lessons with mom, Keililah. Most Smiley Cookie-loving kids can guess that Eat’N Park helped name the pup. Smiley is on exhibit in the Kids Kingdom, where visitors can watch Smiley’s growth and development. Timed tickets, face masks and other restrictions are required for your visit.

4. Dance and draw with Attack Theatre

The Children’s Museum teams up with Attack Theatre for a fun morning of movement and creativity. Kids in grades K-5 will bring drawings to life through dance. Register for this collaborative workshop that’s scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, July 11. Be prepared with paper, crayons or markers and plenty of room to move your body. The session is free, but donations are appreciated.

5. Glide the Golden Triangle

Families with kids ages 14 and older can jump on a Segway for a different way to discover Pittsburgh. Depending on the tour of choice, you’ll spin around the fountain at Point Park, zip over a bridge and glide along the riverfront. Tour guides point out attractions along the way.

6. Lace up and run #TOGETHERAPARTPGH

Five community races – Brookline Breeze, Greenfield Glide, Historic Hill 5K, Regent Square Run Around the Square and Riverview Park 5K – have teamed up for a new virtual venture. Families can register now for their choice of race that can be run between July 15 and Aug. 15. All racers will receive a souvenir shirt to wear with pride. Proceeds benefit the race communities.

Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers in ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.’ Photo by Lacey Terrell

7. Spend ‘A Beautiful Day the Neighborhood’

Saturday, July 11, will be a beautiful night to spend “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” The Pittsburgh-filmed, Tom Hanks-as-Fred Rogers flick will be presented free as part of the Dollar Bank Drive-in Movie series. The location will be announced Thursday when you can make a reservation for your parking spot. Warning: These hot tickets sell out fast.

8. Work on a novel

The brains and talent behind the teen-centered Bookish in the Burgh are keeping kids ages 13-18 focused on writing skills this summer. Novelist Kelsey Ford will lead the free Virtual Novel Writing Group for kids interested in writing a novel in their choice of genre. Participants will help set the meeting agenda, enjoy resource sharing and build relationships with other writers. The eight meetings will be held over Zoom beginning Monday, July 13, through Sept. 1. Find more information and register here.

9. Sharpen dek hockey skills

Allegheny County Parks begins a six-week summer dek hockey series on Saturday, July 11, for kids ages 4-14. Clinics and camps take place in North Park, South Park and Settlers Cabin Park. Register in advance for the free sessions. There will be a limited amount of sanitized equipment, so bring your own sticks, gloves and pads if you have them. Masks are required.