Pittsburgh with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

Pittsburgh with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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Planning a vacation day with tweens (kids ages 8-12) can be challenging. Fortunately, Pittsburgh is filled with a number of attractions that will appeal to tweens. Even better, many include something for everyone in the family. Rich with culture, history and die-hard sports fans, "Da Burgh" is a family-friendly city with many affordable options.


Breakfast at the Eat 'n Park is a great way to start your day. This chain of restaurants began half a century ago as the first Pittsburgh-area drive-in restaurant with car hops. Though the carhops are long gone and the structures themselves have been updated, there is still a hometown feel with great customer service and very affordable prices generally between $4 and $10. Kids 10-and-under eat half price from the breakfast buffet, which offers hot, cold and healthy options such as fresh fruit and oatmeal. Check the website for the location closest to where you will be staying.

Next up is the Carnegie Science Center (One Allegheny Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15212 412-237-3400), one of the four Carnegie Museums in the Pittsburgh area. Between the four floors of interactive activities in the Science Center and the nearly 30 interactive exhibits at the neighboring Highmark SportsWorks (reopening in December in a new facility), you could easily spend an entire day there alone. And that's before you watch a show in Buhl Digital Planetarium or climb aboard the USS Requin submarine. The Science Center also boasts the Rangos Omnimax Theater. The Carnegie Science Center is open from 10AM-5PM Sunday-Friday and 10AM-7PM on Saturday. The museum is closed some days in the fall and winter so check the website. Admission is $17.95 for adults and $9.95 for kids 3-12, with tickets to the Omnimax theater an additional $5.

Animal lovers will go wild for the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium (7340 Butler St., Pittsburgh, PA 15206 412-665-3640). The zoo is home to thousands of animals representing hundreds of species, many of which are threatened or endangered. The zoo's Kid's Kingdom includes animals native to Pennsylvania and a petting zoo. The Pittsburgh Zoo is open 9AM-5PM and until 4PM from January 2-March 31. The zoo is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission for adults is $13 and $11 for children 2-13. During the winter season, from December 1-March 31, adults pay $9 and kids' admission is $8.


Now head to the Station Square dock on the Monongahela River in downtown Pittsburgh. There the Gateway Clipper Fleet offers a number of dining and sightseeing cruises families can enjoy. These include the One Hour Sightseeing Tour, in which the captain points out sights and tells interesting tales from the past and present. There's also a Saturday Family Picnic Cruise, which has offerings such as corn on the cob, a fried chicken breast sandwich and a baked potato bar. The offerings and menu are subject to change, so check with Gateway Clipper Fleet before planning your trip. Prices start at $12.50 for adults for a one hour tour and $8.50 for children 3-12. Picnic Cruise prices are $23.95 for adults and $8.95 for children 3-12.

If your tweens are thrill seekers, they will flip for the Kennywood Amusement Park (4800 Kennywood Blvd., West Mifflin, PA 15122 412-461-0500) . Kennywood is an amusement destination for coaster lovers from all over, having been rated the "Favorite Traditional Park" by the National Amusement Park Historical Association every year but one since 1992. The newly opened Sky Rocket goes from zero to 50 mph in three seconds, before climbing 95 feet vertically, and then dropping. It's not for the faint of heart. There are, however, less intimidating rides, plus water rides, a merry-go-round and bumper cars. There are also more than 30 refreshment stands, snack carts and a cafe. Kennywood is also a junk-food lover's paradise, known for its dipped cones, funnel cakes, homemade fudge and Potato Patch fries. Admission is $35.99 for adults and $22.99 for kids under 46" tall.


In the evening, you can catch a great view of the city if you venture over to the Monongahela Incline, one of the last remaining inclines in the country. The ride takes you up to the Mt. Washington observation deck, which offers a bird's eye view of the city and landmarks such as PNC Park, Heinz Field and the Point. This view is best enjoyed at night, when the lights come on seemingly just for you. Round-trip fares are $2.50; $1.25 for children 6-11.

Before you turn in, make sure to catch the dancing fountain show in Bessemer Court Fountain in Station Square. Hundreds of multicolored water jets dance to music from ABBA to Pittsburgh-native Christina Aguilera. The shows operate every 20 minutes, daily 9AM to midnight from late April through early November.

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