9 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from deep-space travel to holiday happenings

As the weather cools down, things are heating up for Pittsburgh families looking for excitement. Dynamic new exhibits beckon adventurous kids. Holiday happenings are beginning to build excitement. And culture finds its way into homes with virtual programming. This week’s fun things to do with kids will be hard to resist!

1. Explore galaxies far, far away (in person)

Families who take part in the Space Out! Astronomy Weekend at Carnegie Science Center will be among the first to experience the newly renovated Buhl Planetarium. The multi-million-dollar upgrade makes the Buhl one of the most technologically advanced planetariums in the country. Vivid clarity and 3-D graphics rocket viewers into deep-space adventures. This weekend, Nov. 21-22, expect to find Space Out! activities on every floor. Planetarium astronomy shows are free with Science Center admission. Reserve spots in advance with timed tickets.

2. Get tough with art (at home)

The annual Tough Art installations at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh normally challenge artists to design interactive exhibits that can withstand daily use and abuse by little hands. This year’s class of resident artists created a collection of DIY Tough Art @ Home activities. Each project comes with a list of supplies and instructions. Build a pop-up shadow theater, tell a story through painting light, or build an industrial-inspired sculpture. Instructions include video advice, too, for the best outcome.

3. Visit Pittsburgh’s Christmas past (in person)

The Heinz History Center revisits “A Very Merry Pittsburgh” for a holiday season full of nostalgic memories. Take Grandma and Pap Pap along to get the complete story behind the displays of Kaufmann’s Department Store windows and the original Santaland throne. The exhibit includes Pittsburgh memories of celebrating Chanukah and Kwanzaa, too. Watch for Santa from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays (and Nov. 27) for socially distanced photo ops. The exhibit opens Friday, Nov. 20, and is included in museum admission. You can buy timed tickets or take your chance at the door. Kids are free through December.

4. Glide into ice skating season (in person)

The Rink at PPG Place welcomes holiday season revelers for its 19th year on Nov. 20. Lace-up your skates or rent them for a session around the giant Christmas tree. It’s a magical experience with lights reflected against the mirrored architectural beauty of PPG Place. Expect safety protocols, including timed tickets. Watch for discounted specials, like Family Nights on Tuesdays and Student Nights on Wednesdays. Other events, like a Princess Skate, Superhero Skate and Valentine’s Day sessions, are in the works.

5. Join the Girls on the Run 5K (at home)

Girls on the Run takes its fall race in a virtual “5K Your Way” direction. Participants have until Sunday, Nov. 22, to complete their run wherever and however they like. The goal of the race is to take girls to their “happy pace” and help them embrace their power. Register for free and get access to downloadable race bibs and completion certificates. For a $25 registration, participants also receive a race swag bag, long-sleeve race shirt and a finisher’s medal. Accept the challenge here and support Girls on the Run’s mission.

6. Wander through a winter wonderland (in person)

Phipps Conservatory’s Winter Flower Show: Home for the Holidays keeps the fun inside this year to help comply with safety precautions. But some of those outdoor fan-favorite glowing orbs and cones will be among the glasshouse displays dripping with lights and color. In the middle of it all, kids can spend time admiring the Garden Railroad and interact with the hands-free stations that operate a carousel and cruise a pontoon boat across a lake. The Winter Flower Show opens Friday, Nov. 20. Timed tickets are required.

7. Catch up with graphic novelist Jerry Craft (at home)

Bestselling graphic novelist Jerry Craft visits his young Pittsburgh fans virtually on Sunday, Nov. 22, through Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures’ Words & Pictures series. Craft will introduce the sequel to his “New Kid” novel. In “Class Act,” eighth-grader Drew tries to find his way as one of the few kids of color in a prestigious private school. Craft’s laugh-out-loud humor, empathy and powerful message deliver this powerful story. The YouTube event is free, but you’ll need to register ahead of time.

8. Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment (in person)

For this year’s Miniature Railroad & Village, the model-making wizards at Carnegie Science Center recognize the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. The newest building on the 83-foot-by-30-foot platform is the Hill District home of Daisy Lampkin, a Black woman who worked tirelessly in the suffragette movement and continued to work as a civil rights advocate throughout her life. Learn more about this amazing woman and her place in history here. You’ll see a tiny Daisy Lampkin figure in front of her Webster Avenue house.

9. Prepare for a snowstorm and good deeds (in person)

Kids and their grownups can sign up to volunteer in The City of Pittsburgh Snow Angels program. Snow Angels are matched with older neighbors and those with disabilities to clear steps and sidewalks when snow and ice storms fill the forecast. It’s a wonderful family project to help forge community relationships and develop a good-deed attitude in kids. Snow Angels are assigned to a neighbor within a 10-minute walk. Sign up here.