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When you consider the fact that Pittsburgh has twice been named “America’s Most Livable City” by Rand McNally’s Places Rated Almanac, it’s no wonder the area is so rich in family-friendly activities. The city’s tourism board, in fact, once rebranded the town as “Kidsburgh” for an advertising campaign, and the moniker seems to have stuck. Here are the five best activities to experience with your littlest traveler:
1. Kennywood. It’s simply not possible to discuss Pittsburgh’s top kid-friendly attractions without mentioning the beloved Kennywood, a classic amusement park packed with attractions for thrill-seekers of all ages. Founded in 1898 and now a National Historic Landmark, Kennywood offers the perfect combination of modern-day mega-coasters and classic, old-style rides, like paddleboats and bumper cars. Don’t miss the vintage merry-go-round, and consider indulging the kids when it comes time to gorge on theme park junk food; fries at the Potato Patch, for instance, are nothing less than a local institution.
2. Carnegie Science Center. Budding young scientists won’t be able to get enough of the hands-on exhibits at the Carnegie Science Center, where kids can actually have fun while learning about the intricate mysteries of the world around them. Inside the Kitchen Theater, for instance, children and grown-ups alike look at science through the art of cooking. Other popular draws here include the four-story Rangos Omnimax Theater, and the seriously sophisticated Buhl Digital Planetarium.
3. Highmark SportsWorks. Affiliated with the Carnegie Science Center and located right next door, scientific knowledge of the human body comes about through physical activity and play at Highmark SportsWorks. Here, kids can race with a virtual Olympic sprinter, climb a rock wall, and interact with more than two-dozen other pulse-pounding exhibits.
4. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Following a recent expansion, the Children’s Museum has become of an educationally-driven youth village, where kids of all ages — including toddlers and infants — can become immersed in some of the nation’s most forward-thinking exhibits, including a replica of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Experimental play in real-world scenarios is the motto here, and kids can’t seem to get enough of the art studio, the garage or the many other interactive exhibits.
5. Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Any child fascinated by animals should spend a day visiting the thousands of creatures at the 77-acre Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, where the majority of critters exist in their natural habitats. Explore the African Savanna and the Asian Forest, and don’t miss Kids Kingdom, a playground with equipment build to replicate the motions of various animals. Aquatic species of every kind, meanwhile, including penguins and sharks, are on display at the state-of-the-art PPG Aquarium.