We love spending time in Pittsburgh, PA because it has great family friendly attractions. On our most recent visit we enjoyed a perfect Pittsburgh weekend visiting all of our favorite Pittsburgh destinations.
We were given complimentary admission to enjoy attractions in Pittsburgh. As always my opinions are honest and my own. You can read more on my disclosure page.
As a surprise for my sons birthday, we decided to plan a Pittsburgh weekend getaway. Pittsburgh is a great city for families. There are so many family friendly attractions in Pittsburgh and we visit different attractions every time we visit. We arrived in Pittsburgh late on a Thursday and stayed 4 nights.
Pittsburgh Weekend Itinerary
- Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium
- Phipps Conservatory
- Carnegie Museum of Natural History
- Carnegie Museum of Art
- Pirates Baseball Game
- Duquesne Incline
Day 1: Road Trip to Pittsburgh
We started our Pittsburgh weekend on Thursday after school. The drive from Rochester to Pittsburgh is 4.5 hours and even though we would arrive late we wanted to have an early start on Friday.
As soon as everyone got home from school we got in the car and were ready for our road trip. Read more about everything you need for a family road trip. The drive was easy with a little traffic as we drove through Buffalo. For the most part it was traffic free and we arrived in Pittsburgh around 9:30pm. We checked into the Springhill Suites Southside Works and everyone quickly fell asleep.
Springhill Suites at Southside Works is a great location to visit many of the family friendly destination in the city. We were within walking distance to restaurants and they had breakfast every morning.
We enjoyed the good size pool as well as the spacious suites. The rooms were clean and comfortable. My only concern is the proximity to the train tracks. A few times at night I could hear the train whistle. I suggest asking for a room on a higher floor to minimize this issue.
Day 2: Pittsburgh Zoo & Phipps Conservatory
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
I was so excited that our first stop was the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. This zoo is awesome because it is a zoo and aquarium in one! Both areas are really great and make a day here fun for the entire family.
They have two new exhibits opening this summer and I was hoping to see both of them. The Pittsburgh Zoo is a great size and their exhibits are awesome! There is a lot of walking and a lot of hills so be prepared and bring a stroller if you think your kids may tire out.
Our first stop was to see the Red Panda and the Komodo Dragon. The red panda was walking around and the kids loved it!! I love the flow of the zoo and the exhibits really help you see the animals habitat.
We continued through to see the flamingos, rhino and gorillas. The rhino recently had a baby but it was very difficult to see the day we visited. We were able to see them from above. There is an area across from the Beer Den that offers an overlook view.
Next we stopped for lunch at the Jambo Grill. I love this area of the zoo because you can eat while watching the giraffes! So cool!! The day we visited was a little cold so we opted to eat indoors but this area is a really great place for lunch. You can also bring your own to enjoy. There is an opportunity to feed the giraffes for an added fee. We have experienced this at other zoos and it is really fun.
After Jambo grill is the Island and the newest exhibit Jungle Odyssey. I was really impressed with the theme of the Island. It is really fun!! Jungle Odyssey was not open until later in the afternoon and we were unable to visit it. We may have to plan a visit back because it sounds incredible with the addition of hippos, capybaras, and more.
Next we checked out the PPG Aquarium. The highlight of this area is the penguins! They are so playful and you can see them swimming underwater. After the aquarium you can try your luck at the underwater polar bear viewing area. We were not lucky on this visit but I have seen them swimming and it is really cool!
It was a rainy and cold day at the zoo and it stopped us from spending as much time at the kids section of the zoo. There are two playground areas. We didn’t get to enjoy the playground very long because it was wet and cold but on a dry day you could spend hours enjoying it.
There are also two walk through areas to check out at the Pittsburgh Zoo. They have a trail that gets up close to deer as well as a kangaroo area. There is also a petting zoo area, reptile room, and sea lions.
Our final stop was the new exhibit Dinosaurs at the Pittsburgh Zoo. This requires a separate admission ticket. If you have a dinosaur fan in your family I would add this to your must see list. The dinosaurs line a trail and they roar and move. Watch out for a few that surprise you and shoot water!
We didn’t let the rain spoil our morning at the zoo. If the weather was a little nicer we would have spent more time enjoying the playgrounds and outdoor hands-on exhibits but the animals were very active and we had an enjoyable time.
Read More: 15 Best Things to do in Pittsburgh for Kids
The weather was still cloudy and cool so it was a perfect choice to spend the rest of our afternoon at Phipps Conservatory. Phipps is gorgeous. With themed rooms it is a great place to spend the day with your family. They also have a glass art exhibit called SUPER. NATURAL. Glass Art by Jason Gamrath. So talented!!
We always start by going to the right and weave in and out of the rooms. There is so much to see when visiting you could spend an entire day taking it all in. The Children’s Discovery Garden is a family favorite because it gives the kids a chance to explore and move around. There are buttons to press and fairy houses to discover. I love that Phipps incorporates fun activities to help kids enjoy the gardens.
Our next stop is one of my favorite rooms the Tropical Forest Conservatory. Start at the top and walk the path down to the bottom of the room. Along the path you will find waterfalls and a fish pond. It is so pretty!!
Every garden has its own charm and special attention to details. Make a wish at the wishing well at the Broderie Room. Let your kids “shop for produce” in the sunken garden room. These details make it a great family friendly destination that keeps us coming back.
After a long and busy day we went back to the hotel. Springhill Suites is within walking distance to a few restaurants including The Cheesecake factory and Hofbrauhaus. We ended up at Hofbrauhaus because of the live music and pretzels with beer cheese. The cheese sauce is my favorite!! They also sang happy birthday to my son and we had a great time.
My kids always want to go in the pool at the hotel. After dinner we had a little time to spend at the pool before ending the night. I feel like some of the best moments when we travel are the unplanned ones. Time in the pool allows everyone to relax and unwind.
Day 3: Museums & Baseball
Carnegie Museum of Natural History & Carnegie Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Carnegie Museum of Art are two museums that are connected. They are also included in one admission ticket. Two for the price of one is a great deal! The museums have a lot of rooms to explore and get lost in. We often found ourselves trying to find our way and had to ask an employee. Everyone was very helpful in directing us in the right direction.
We arrived about 15 minutes before opening and a line had started at the entrance. Today was the opening of the new exhibit: The Power of Poison in the Natural World, and there was a membership preview in the morning. Overall the crowds at the museum were not too bad. The Poison exhibit was very busy but the other areas had lower crowds.
As you walk in the museum go to your left, after purchasing admission tickets, and start your day at the Natural History Museum. Walk up the ramp, enter through the gift shop and you will start you day at the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems. Walk through this impressive collection of Minerals and Gems. If you are like my family and enjoy Steven Universe, have fun finding the crystal gems! We were able to find all of them!
After the minerals and gems, move on to the Dinosaurs in Their Time exhibit. I have always been impressed with the museum’s collection of dinosaur artifacts. The layout and the way this exhibit is presented is perfect for kids. They have touch screens in front of different dinosaurs that let you know what are actual fossils, casts, and molds. It is a fun way to learn about being a paleontologist and discovering new things about dinosaurs.
There are a few hands-on exhibits for kids through out the museum. We liked the Bonehunters Quarry and Discovery Basecamp. They can dig up fossils and look at different objects under microscopes.
After we viewed these areas we walked around the rest of the natural history museum. My son was excited for the Mummy exhibits but when we actually walked around it they all got a little creeped out! We also really enjoyed the Alco Foundation Hall of American Indians where we sat and watched a projected star show that taught us about the history of the stars and American Indians.
Another Post You May Like: Best of Pittsburgh for Families
Our final stop at the Natural History museum was The Power of Poison in the Natural World exhibit. The membership preview ended and we walked right in. This exhibit requires a separate admission added to your general admission ticket.
The exhibit featured the history of poison and how it is used to help and hurt. I really liked the area about poison in fairy tales. It included Snow White and Alice in Wonderland as well as a mention of Harry Potter. (We are really loving Harry Potter lately and this was a fun surprise for the kids!)
At this point we were hungry for lunch. Our plan was to walk down and pick something up outside the museum but we decided to eat at Fossil Fuels Café. It offers typical pizza, chicken fingers, and hot dogs. As well as coffee and fruit cups. If we had more planning time I would have packed a lunch for the day. My husband got a turkey and swiss cheese sandwich that he liked from the build your own sandwich station.
Our next stop was the Hall of Architecture and Sculptures. This is part of the Art museum and is one of my favorite areas of the museum. It feels like you have entered another world. After this we toured the art museum. There are less hands-on exhibits for the kids but they did enjoy a few of the pieces. We spent about 4 hours at the museums and returned to the hotel to relax and get ready for the baseball game.
Check out Our Video from the Carnegie Museum
PNC Park: Pirates Game
PNC park is home to the Pittsburgh Pirates and it is one of the best baseball fields ever. The views and the food alone make it a great park to visit. I love seeing the city from the park and enjoying the game. We like to sign our kids up for the kids club because they often have discount tickets for kids and special coupons.
Day 4: Kennywood Amusement Park
Our entire family was really excited for our visit to Kennywood. We love visiting amusement parks and Kennywood has been on my list of places to take the kids for years. My husband and I visited over 10 years ago and were excited to share our favorite attractions with the kids.
Day 5: Duquesne Incline & Home
This was our last day in Pittsburgh and we had to make a quick stop at the Duquesne Incline. The views from the top are incredible and I suggest you add this to your visit. It is a short ride to the top and you will not be disappointed. I do suggest arriving early or visiting during low crowds. The lines on the weekend during the day were taking hours. Once you get to the top you have to take the incline back down…and wait in line again. I overheard someone saying it took them 4 hours, so plan accordingly.
Our long weekend to Pittsburgh was a well needed weekend away. We loved visiting all the family friendly attractions and look forward to our next visit.