9 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from Clowntown to Kenny Kangaroo

Photo courtesy of Sphere Clown Company.

Families looking for outdoor adventures or indoor activities will find cool things to do this week. Enjoy nature-based experiences as well as local history. You won’t want to miss this week’s top picks for kid-focused escapades.

1. Countdown to Clowntown (at home)

Musical clowns Patty and Giggles bring the silly to “Countdown to Clowntown,” a family offering of the Pittsburgh Virtual Fringe Festival. Kids will get a contagious case of the giggles from silly magic and original songs that will have them on their feet dancing and singing along. Toronto-based Sphere Clown Band has delighted audiences at Fringe Festivals from Edinburgh to Melbourne. The performance is available on demand for $10 from May 6-9.

Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

2. Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day (in person)

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy pays tribute to World Migratory Bird Day on May 8 with a lineup of hikes and activities like making craft binoculars. May is a terrific time of year to discover how birds travel from as far as Central and South America to settle for the summer in Pittsburgh parks and backyards. Kids will learn to identify various birds they see throughout Frick Park’s woodlands and will explore how we humans can help protect these beautiful flying visitors. Registration is free for all events.

Image courtesy of Heinz History Center.

3. Get the scoop on ice cream history (at home)

We can all agree that this important Pittsburgh invention adds a little sweetness to all of our lives. The next session of the Hop into History series hosted by the Heinz History Center takes a look at Alfred Cralle, a Black Pittsburgh inventor who designed and patented an ice cream scoop. The online program, intended for early learners ages 3-5, is free but registration is required.

Photo courtesy of Venture Outdoors.

4. Go fish! (in person)

Venture Outdoors’ free TriAnglers lunchtime fishing sessions are back for the season. Every Wednesday, kids can borrow a rod and reel to cast lines into the Allegheny River from the North Shore. Instructors are on hand to guide kids on how to bait a hook and reel in their catches, from creepy-looking catfish to smallmouth bass. TriAnglers is free for all ages. Registration is not required. Just stop by between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Photo by Sally Quinn.

5. Tour the Carrie Blast Furnaces (in person)

Now a National Historic Landmark, the Carrie Blast Furnaces will wow kids with the might and power of this industrial site. There is nowhere else in the country where visitors can get this close to a blast furnace. Under the leadership of Rivers of Steel, the two-hour Industrial Tour engages former steelworkers as guides. Their commentary ranges from manufacturing aspects to workers’ personal information to give an in-depth look into Pittsburgh’s steel heritage. Kids can easily imagine the exertion required for working with this man-made volcano that produced 3,000-degree liquid metal. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tours operate Fridays-Sundays.

Photo courtesy of Kennywood Park.

6. Visit Kenny Kangaroo (in person)

It’s so nice to shout, “Kennywood’s open!” and not imply a wardrobe malfunction. Little ones will cheer for a return to Kiddieland while kids taller than Kenny Kangaroo will head off to more exciting thrills. Opening May 8, Kennywood Park will operate a reservation system to keep the crowds down to 75% capacity. Masks will be required, along with other safety protocols. The schedule through May runs Fridays-Sundays before expanding to a five-day week. Bring a picnic basket of eats or relish food faves like Potato Patch Fries, cotton candy and deep-fried Oreos. Buy tickets and passes here. Kids ages 3 and younger are free!

Photo courtesy of Venture Outdoors.

7. Take Mom on a Mother’s Day hike (in person)

Moms and their kiddos can enjoy a fresh air outing on Mother’s Day. Venture Outdoors hosts the 2- to 3-mile stroll along the trails at North Park. The terrain and pace promise to be easy peasy for all ages. At the hike’s end, everyone will be rewarded with cookies, plus tea for mom and hot cocoa for kids. Registration is $8.

Movie poster courtesy of Universal Pictures.

8. Cruise to a free drive-in movie (in person)

Baseball fans will love this week’s movie spotlight from Allegheny County Parks and Recreation. “Field of Dreams” (PG) will be screened on May 7 at Boyce Park and on May 8 at Settlers Cabin Park. Parking spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with movies beginning at dusk. Ekernally Yours will be on hand at both locations with popcorn, candy and other movie treats. Place your order online and receive a text when your munchies are ready to be picked up.

Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

9. Play chess with a cop (in person)

Are your kids proud of their chess chops? They can challenge Pittsburgh police officers to a game from noon to 1 p.m. every Tuesday, weather permitting, in Market Square. Beginner players who want to learn to play chess are welcome, too. Chess sets and boards will be provided for all ages to participate. No registration is required for the free drop-in games that are planned to continue throughout the summer.

Bonus events: Check out all that’s happening during the EQT Children’s Theater Festival and Remake Learning Days.