Blog Archives

A Road Trip to Pittsburgh is a Must for D.C. Families!

zoo

My family recently went on a road trip to Pittsburgh and found out exactly why Pittsburgh is kidsBURGH – the ultimate destination for family fun! We had never visited before so naturally we were excited to explore some place new. It was a fairly quick drive from D.C.; we made it in a little under 4 hours which included 2 stops. It felt like an easier trip than driving to the beach since traffic was not an issue. Once we arrived in the city, it was non-stop fun and so easy to keep the kids happy and entertained. The team at Visit Pittsburgh put together an amazing itinerary for us. Read on to see why you should start planning your family’s next summer getaway to Pittsburgh!

Day 1

We left D.C. at 7:30am and arrived at our hotel by 11:30am. After we checked in and unpacked we headed off to lunch at Primanti Bros. – a Pittsburgh classic. Founded in 1933, the chain is known for its signature sandwiches of grilled meat, an Italian dressing-based coleslaw, tomato slices, and French fries between two pieces of Italian bread. It was delicious and definitely a must! We visited the original location in the historic Strip District neighborhood.

Primantis

After lunch we went to the Carnegie Science Center and experienced the world’s largest exhibition of LEGO art. The Art of the Brick exhibit showcases the incredible artworks by artist Nathan Sawaya.

Lego1Lego2

After touring the awe-inspiring exhibit, kids get to discover their inner architect in the free-play and hands-on activity area, Science of the Brick!

Lego3

There are so many other areas in the museum to explore too. We could have easily spent most of the day here but we only had 2 hours so we just scratched the surface. After the LEGO exhibit, my girls choose to tour the USS Requin Submarine and also check out the fantastic H2Oh! Why Our Rivers Matter exhibit.

We ended the first day of our tour with a Pittsburgh Pirates game at PNC Park. It is located along the shore of the Allegheny River and from the park you can enjoy amazing views of the downtown skyline and riverfront. Inside the park there is a playground area where you can take your little ones if they get restless in their seats.

PiratesGame

Day 2

We started Day 2 with Breakfast at Kelly O’s in the Strip District. This diner has been featured on the Food Network and is known as a one-of-a-kind greasy spoon that is a classic Pittsburgh spot for breakfast. Everyone in my family loved the food! My girls devoured their pancakes and bacon, my husband enjoyed his breakfast sandwich on Italian bread, and I had excellent eggs and home fries. We also tried their famous grilled cinnamon roll and that was incredible! You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here – it was all delicious!

KellyO

After breakfast we headed to Pittsburgh’s North Side and visited the Children’s Museum. This is one of the best that we have been to and I can definitely see why it was named one of the nation’s top 15 children’s museums by Parents magazine in 2015. There are three floors of innovative experiences where kids can play and inspire joy, creativity, and curiosity. Also, this summer there are two other fantastic exhibits on view: Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails and The Pigeon Comes to Pittsburgh: A Mo Willems Exhibit.

ChildrensMuseumChildrensMuseum2

The day just kept getting better! After the Children’s Museum we were off to Kennywood – known as America’s finest traditional amusement park. This was the stop on the tour that my girls were most excited about. Rides and games, plus fried food and sugary jumbo treats is a dream come true for them! Kennywood opened in 1898 and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987. It has a mix of the old-school favorites and the new thrill rides like Black Widow.

Kennywood1Kennywood2

Kennywood was so much fun, it was really hard to leave but we needed to head back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner at Hofbrauhaus in the South Side neighborhood. The restaurant is modeled after the legendary 400+ year-old Hofbräuhaus in Munich and it really felt like we were in Germany. When we walked into the bier hall there was a musician playing the accordion and it had such a unique ambiance. The food was delicious and the kids menu offered up plenty of the popular dishes like cheese pizza, hot dogs, and chicken tenders. The restaurant is located on the bank of the river so after dinner we walked along the South Side Riverfront Trail and took in the amazing city views during sunset.

Hofbrauhaus

After dinner we stopped at The Milk Shake Factory for treats. At this premier dessert destination you can create your own milkshake from the extensive list of flavors or choose one of the classic or signature milkshakes on the menu. This was a sweet ending to fun-filled day!

Day 3

We started the day with a delicious breakfast at Waffles Incaffeinated in the South Side. My girls were super excited to build their own waffles from the large list of signature ingredients. We all left happy with full bellies!

Our next stop was Mount Washington where we took in the panoramic skyline views of the city. USA Today named the view from Mt. Washington one of the 10 most beautiful views in America. And we agree – it’s simply stunning!

MtWashington1

MtWashington

The original plan for the next destination was a visit to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium but with rain in the forecast we played it safe and instead went with an indoor option – the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. This is a great museum for kids with an incredible dinosaur exhibit including T.rex and other towering fossils. Our time here was short but we also made sure to see the Hall of African Wildlife, Hall of North Amerian Wildlife and the Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt where my girls were fascinated with the mummies!

CarnegieNH

Our last stop on the tour was brunch at The Porch at Schenley Plaza. The menu features local and fresh ingredients used in new recipes as well as the classics with a twist. The food was amazing and the location was perfect too! After dining you can take your kiddos over to the nearby PNC Carousel for a spin or enjoy the beautiful green space.

schenleyplaza

My family had the best time in Pittsburgh and didn’t even get to see everything on our first visit. We will most definitely make a return trip to spend more time at the places we loved and also check out the places we didn’t have time for like the zoo, the National Aviary, and the Duquesne Incline. We were pleasantly surprised with all the family friendly and affordable attractions Pittsburgh has to offer!

Disclosure: My family was hosted by Visit Pittsburgh for the purposes of this post. All opinions are my own. 



ZooLights at the National Zoo

Smithsonian’s National Zoo
3001 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008
http://nationalzoo.si.edu/default.cfm
 

While the grandparents were visiting us over the Christmas holiday we decided it would be fun to go check out ZooLights at the National Zoo. We went on the Friday after Christmas. It was a warmer than usual December day, so we thought it would be a nice evening to spend outdoors.

One thing we learned as we arrived at the zoo is that the entrances are blocked off until just before 5pm, so don’t try to arrive much before then. We were stuck on Connecticut Avenue for about 15 minutes before they let us through the zoo entrance to go to the parking lot.

At 5pm, the zoo was already packed full of people so we decided to take the girls straight to the carousel since that is one of their favorite things to do at the zoo. The line was already fairly long; we had to wait about 10 minutes before getting on to ride.

zoocarousel

We continued to walk around looking at all the lights. Most of the animal exhibits are closed except for the Small Mammal House, Reptile Discovery Center, Great Ape House, Think Tank, and Kids’ Farm. The indoor exhibits were very crowded so we opted to mostly walk around outside but we did go visit the farm animals in the barn.

zoolights                zoobarn

The train is located just in front of the Kids’ Farm. It’s one of those small wheeled trains that they have in shopping malls. The line for this was extensive so we decided to skip it.

The highlight of our experience at ZooLights was the tubing down lion/tiger hill. Clara is my little thrill seeker, so this was right up her alley! She asked to go again after the first time we went down the hill but at that point the line was getting pretty long, so we went on to explore other areas of the zoo.

Zootubing

Across from the Mane Grill is a cool light display that is synchronized with music. The girls enjoyed watching this for several minutes.

zoolightdisplay

There were vendor carts along the paths selling cotton candy, popcorn, hot chocolate, glow sticks and other zoo fare. The gift shop and restaurants were also open. Overall, we had a fun time! We spent about 2 hours there before the girls started to get tired and cold (make sure to bundle up your little ones!). It is definitely a festive holiday event that children will love.

Additional Info:

•Admission is free.
•The train, tubing, and carousel require tickets; $3 per ride.
•Parking is $10 for FONZ members and $20 for non-members.
•Closest Metro stops are Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan and Cleveland Park on the red line.