9 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from ElfBurgh to Christmas with the Griswolds

We’re coming to you early this week so that your family can make the most of the long Thanksgiving weekend. You might miss traveling to visit relatives but imagine how fun it will be to Facetime them from ElfBurgh or Zoo Lights! You’ll find plenty of cool at-home activities to keep little hands and minds engaged, too. Here are our recommendations for the best things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh.

1. Travel to ElfBurgh (in person)

Hundred Acres Haunted Manor throws off its creepy persona to reveal its sweet side with ElfBurgh Christmas, running Nov. 27-Dec. 23.  This drive-thru holiday attraction sends families along Elf Lane, guided by a half-million lights, past vignettes of Santa’s helpers preparing for the big day. Then, head to Santa’s Castle through the Elf Forest of decorated Christmas trees. Kids can give Santa their wish lists without leaving the car. Timed tickets are $22 per car. Add a treat bag from Santa for an additional $5.

2. Go shopping and making (at home)

Grownups will love browsing through Handmade Arcade’s exquisite and clever, locally crafted products. This year, the outing happens on your laptop as a completely virtual experience from Nov. 28-Dec. 6. Among the hundreds of curated creations, there are plenty with kid-appeal. Check out the fluffy slippers from Waku Waku Baby, CuppaStitches crocheted creatures, and cool eco-friendly stuffed plushies from The Happy Groundhog Studio.

Kids will have more fun with free virtual classes that challenge their imaginations. They can reconfigure everyday objects into dragon tails and masks, make a mosaic Christmas ornament, or transform paper into an animal-themed centerpiece. Register early so you have time to gather supplies in advance.

3. Help the people in your neighborhood (in person)

Kids can emulate the spirit of Fred Rogers by donating new and gently worn sweaters to Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive. Over the past 20 years, the project collected more than 42,500 cozy sweaters to warm up kids and grownups. Drop off your sweater donations in the special bins outside the front door of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh through Dec. 17.

4. Discover the re-invented Children’s Festival (at home)

The EQT Children’s Theater Festival makes an unprecedented second appearance this year with an @ Home edition running through Dec. 31. Kids will love the cool hands-on projects and activities. School assembly faves Josh & Gab offer their rockin’ music video, “Anxiety! (Live from a Pandemic).” Follow along with a reading of “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes.” Or Build Your Own Miniature Town from recycled materials. That’s just the start. New content will be added to the lineup weekly for lots more festival fun.

5. Cruise through the Zoo Lights Drive-Thru (in person)

Thousands of LED lights turn the Pittsburgh Zoo into a winter wonderland of delight when Zoo Lights Drive-Thru opens for the season on Friday, Nov. 27. A guided audio tour sets the tone as you sing along with Christmas carols and check out the zoo, all decked up in holiday splendor. Timed tickets are $60 per vehicle running through Jan. 3. Warning: The zoo’s drive-thru fundraisers sold out quickly in the past. Book early to avoid disappointment.

6. Take a Christmas Vacation with the Griswolds (at home)

Fans of the ridiculously silly “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” won’t want to miss “A (Virtual) Christmas Vacation with the Griswolds” streaming on Nov. 28. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust presents this live salute to the holiday classic, hosted by Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. The movie’s stars will lead you through their favorite clips, memories and even answer viewers’ questions. Tickets are $25 per household for this all-ages show.

7. Learn how to be a maker (at home)

Tune in to Story Sunday at Carnegie Museum of Art on Sunday, Nov. 29. Alyssa Velazquez, curator of the museum’s “Locally Sourced” exhibit, will read from “Be a Maker” by Katey Howes. The story hour includes a maker activity for kids ages 12 and younger. Register for this pay-what-you-wish event and receive a Zoom link. If your kids would like their own copy of “Be a Maker,” buy it here from the museum shop.

Photo by Chris Whitaker.

8. Check out this one-man ‘Christmas Carol’ (at home)

What the Dickens?! Of all the many productions your family has seen of “A Christmas Carol,” they’ve never experienced one like this. Tony Award-winning actor Jefferson Mays stars as Ebenezer Scrooge – and all 49 other characters. The streaming performance is presented as a fundraiser by Pittsburgh Public Theater in partnership with theaters across the country. Bring the magic home for $50 per household, choosing a 24-hour period between Nov. 28 and Jan. 3. This “Christmas Carol” is recommended for ages 8 and older due to some extra spooky scenes. Get your tickets here.

9. Be dazzled under the dome (in person)

With the re-opening of the Buhl Planetarium at Carnegie Science Center comes the return of dazzling laser shows. Laser Holiday Magic begins its daily seasonal run on Friday, Nov. 27. The enchanting laser choreography is set to favorite put-you-in-the-mood tunes like “White Christmas,” “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “March” from “The Nutcracker.” Laser show timed tickets are $7. The Science Center is operating at 15 percent of capacity and limited seating to ensure visitors’ safety.

Bonus: Check out these 10 Pittsburgh light displays to brighten your holiday spirit.