Pittsburgh : A Quick and Easy Family Getaway Guide


Schools out and the long-awaited summer is finally here! Now that the weather is warm and society is starting to open back up, are you looking for a quick and easy family getaway? Consider making new family memories in Pittsburgh!

If your kids are like mine, long car rides become boring quickly and it only takes about an hour or so for the question: “Are we there yet?” So, when we were looking for a drivable getaway that had options for entertaining our kids when we arrived, we were surprised that Pittsburgh became our top choice to visit!

After a three-hour drive from Columbus and a few stops along the way, we arrived at our hotel easily. We decided to stay two nights in downtown Pittsburgh in a hotel that overlooked the meeting point of the Three Rivers. The view from our hotel was full of water, boats and green space on one side and the other side offered city views that highlighted the urban landscape. The kids were thrilled to explore our hotel lobby and check out the indoor pool.

After we checked into our room, we quickly discovered that Pittsburgh was walkable and we didn’t need our car to get around. That was a huge relief, not having to get the kids in and out of the car several times a day. The subway station was just a block from our hotel, making even more of the city’s offerings easily accessible. There were many local restaurants, bakeries and coffee places to check out. We also noticed Pittsburgh was culturally diverse and had a lot to offer in terms of aesthetics and unique features that the kids enjoyed experiencing.

Here are some of my recommendations if you are interested in visiting Pittsburgh with your family:

  • The Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh is an affordable hotel with one of the only indoor pools available in the heart of the city. The location is also unbeatable with many walkable options for entertainment and eating.
  • Point State Park is located where the Three Rivers meet and it has an amazing water feature at the tip. It was fun for our kids to watch the boats and jet skis as we walked around the oversized fountain.
  • Market Square has blocked off its streets to allow for more outdoor seating and the square has fun games for the kids to play, like cornhole and Connect Four. There were daily chess games being played at the community tables. There are many local restaurants and coffee shops to check out here too. The famous Primanti Bros restaurant is located here and I highly recommend checking out their unique sandwiches.
  • The Plaza at PPG Place has a mesmerizing, synchronized water fountain with lights that is displayed all day and into the evening. There are also tables and chairs to enjoy a snack while watching the water show.
  • The Milkshake Factory became a quick favorite for the kids. There are many options for a locally sourced handspun specialty milkshake. The store also sells homemade chocolates and candies.
  • The Duquesne Incline was a cool way to experience a piece of local history. The incline trolly opened in 1877 and is still operating today. We rode the trolly up and enjoyed the observation deck before heading back down.
  • The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium was a ten-minute drive from our hotel and was totally worth getting in the car for. The animals were active and the zoo had many options for the kids to be hands on.

Here are a few other things we didn’t check out on this trip, but are worth experiencing:

  • Carnegie Science Center is downtown and has a lot to offer. There’s a building that has science related items and another huge building (Highmark SportsWorks) that has interactive sport activities as a way to learn about science.
    • (If you have a COSI membership, you can get FREE admission for up to 2 adults and 4 children by utilizing the ASTC Travel Pass. Be sure to double check any restrictions before visiting!)
  • Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is geared towards younger children. They currently have limited hours on Thursdays-Sundays.
    • (If you have a COSI membership, you can get FREE admission for up to 2 adults and 4 children by utilizing the ASTC Travel Pass. Be sure to double check any restrictions before visiting!)
  • Senator John Heinz History Center is a museum that both adults and children will enjoy. There are many floors to explore that give a glimpse of Western Pennsylvania history. Some exhibits to mention are the Heinz Exhibit and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and the Kidsburgh section equipped with a slide. Family-friendly museum in Pittsburgh
  • Carnegie Museum of Natural History is a must for dinosaur lovers. With 20 exhibits in the museum, you will learn a lot while you are here.
    • This museum is on Forbes Avenue which is on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The 42-story building you will see across the street is called the Cathedral of Learning. It’s a beautiful building inside and out.
  • Squirrel Hill is a popular Pittsburgh neighborhood to visit. Check out this guide for what to see and do in this eclectic area: A Shopping and Eating Guide to Squirrel Hill

For our family, we enjoyed the easiness and the variety of things to do in Pittsburgh, making it one of our memorable getaways to date! When we were leaving our hotel to return home my son said, “That was so much fun.” And that is what family vacations are all about.

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Shaina Uehlin
Shaina is a stay at home mom of two active littles, aged four and two. She is a Columbus native, OSU alumni and lives on the east side with her husband of six years. You can catch Shaina running around town wearing yoga pants. You may think she is on her way to a beloved yoga class, or glistening with sweat on her way home, but she’s most likely running errands with her kids in tow. Shaina enjoys fantasizing about tasting wine and cheese at local wineries. Mostly, Shaina spends her time cleaning up around the house, grocery shopping, meal prepping, searching for serenity, watching bingeworthy shows with her husband and counting her blessings.