Pittsburgh is one of those cities that keeps drawing us back. Sure, it doesn’t hurt that we’re only an hour away from the city proper, but even if we didn’t live so close we’d make the trip to check out all of its cool museums and educational spots. Whether you’re going solo, a parent with kids that have a lust for learning, or even looking for great date options, Pittsburgh is all about improving your mind. Here’s our top educational spots in Pittsburgh.
Carnegie Museums of Art and National History
Head to Oakland and you’ll get two museums for the price of one and an all-day activity if you mosey. Each of Carnegie Museum of Art‘s three floors is filled with hands-on activities, beautiful displays (Mr. Locke’s favorite is the pocket watch exhibit in the Birds Hall on the second floor), a renovated dino exhibit, Dinosaurs in Their Time, Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems (make sure your phone battery is charged;you’ll want to take a photo of EVERYTHING), and Bone Hunters Quarry where wee ones can dig for dinos.
Carnegie Museum of Art is on the opposite side of the massive building and has both permanent and temporary exhibits. Take your time and you’ll spy pieces from Monet, Albert Moore, and even local Pittsburgh artists ore on prominent display.
Both museums are open daily from 10am-5pm except for major holidays.
Carnegie Science Center
Another great two-for educational spot, Carnegie Science Center is five levels of hands-on fun. Buhl Planetarium (named after the Pittsburgh philanthropist) has shows that cater to wee ones as well as older children and adults. If you love movies on the big screen (and we’re talking big!), OMNIMAX shows educational, as well as popular, movies daily.
A must see when you visit, Miniature Railroad & Village®, has tiny Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania landmarks including the famous house in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fallingwater, and Forbes Field.
Carnegie Science Center is open daily from 10am-5pm except for major holidays.
Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium
Beautiful walking paths, giant aquariums, and of course, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!), Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is a fun family activity year round. There;s plenty of hands-on activities, several climbing and play areas including giant slides, a deer petting section, and lots of spots to rest and take a breather.
Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is open 362 days a year (save for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day) and hours vary depending on the season.
Fort Pitt Blockhouse and Museum
A quick, little tour when visiting Point State Park, the Fort Pitt Blockhouse is open year round and is a fun way to learn about Pittsburgh’s pivotal role in the French and Indian War. Seasonal hours are as follows and admission is free:
- April 1 – October 31, Wednesday through Sunday, 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM
- November 1 – March 31, Friday through Sunday, 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM
While you’re at the park, check out the Fort Pitt Museum. The museum features Western Pennsylvania history and gives a good educational lesson about Pittsburgh through the years. What we really love are Living History days. Recreations and characters dressed as artillerists give live history lessons and even fire the museum’s cannon!
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
When The Kid was younger Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh was her favorite spot in the city. The museum has an awesome MAKESHOP® filled with crafting and creating supplies, the two-story LIMB BENDER where kids can climb and crawl safely, and even artifacts from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood including his puppets from the Neighborhood of Make Believe and his own person sweater knitted by his mother.
The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm except for major holidays and maintenance days.
Never confuse smaller with lack of educational fun! National Aviary on Pittsburgh’s North Shore is well-loved by kids and adults alike. The zoo is filled with beautiful birds, fun shows, and even sloths. Yep, there are two mammals at National Aviary, Wookie the resident two toed sloth and Valentino, the latest sensation. Can’t get enough of those sweet sloth faces? National Aviary offers a Sloth Encounter with Valentino for an extra charge.
National Aviary is open daily from 10am-5pm except for major holidays.
Heinz History Center
Senator John Heinz History Center in The Strip District is another great museum to learn all about Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. Artifact collections and educational programs help solidify the city’s connection with the past, present, and future, and hands-on learning is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. Fun exhibits include a toy display, original set pieces from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and even Heinz innovations.
Heinz History Center is open daily from 10am-5pm except for major holidays.
Oakland is the spot to visit for Phipps Conservatory. Withing walking distance on temperate weather days of Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, the conservatory is filled with all things botanical, a miniature train display, and gorgeous outdoor walking gardens. Visit during the winter holidays and you’ll see how Phipps turns into a winter wonderland.
Phipps Conservatory is open daily from 9:30am-5pm except for major holidays.
Do you have a favorite educational spot in Pittsburgh? What makes it your favorite? Let me know in the comment section below!