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Top 10 Kid-Friendly Attractions in Pittsburgh

Trying to narrow the list to ten is nearly impossible, but here's a good start.

10.  The Water Feature at PPG Place

I love that this one is right in our neighborhood, not that I'm biased. This fountain in the plaza between the buildings of Downtown's "Glass Cathedral," spouts water flush from the ground to over 15 feet in the air. The water dances at varying heights, creating an element of surprise and excitement which delights kids every time – and it's a great way to stay cool in the summer. Be sure to check PPG Place: The Water Feature online for specific rules and operation times.

9.  The Blue Slide Playground at Frick Park

Named for its gigantic blue slide carved into the side of a hill (those in the know bring a sturdy piece of cardboard for sliding), this park is known for its super cool castle-themed playground equipment, toddler area, and swings. Put on your running shoes, because you'll be chasing your child all around the quarter cloverleaf… intrigued yet? You should be.

8.  The Water Steps at Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park, the large public waterfront park across from Downtown features an interactive water element. The Water Steps is a public fountain composed of broad, Butler quarried sandstone steps to the river walk below. This refreshing urban oasis draws kids and adults alike—even dogs. It's both fun to look at and play in. Plus, it's just "steps" from the ballparks and Downtown attractions.

7.  Schenley Plaza and PNC Carousel

Located between the Carnegie and Hillman Libraries in Oakland, Schenley Plaza is a large open green space perfect for a picnic, tossing a ball, or a game of tag. There are refreshment kiosks serving everything from Asian food and bubble tea, to pizza, coffee and bagels, plus a large tented area for shade, and most importantly, a beautiful toddler-approved carousel for the kids to ride. Bicyclists, runners, college students, business folks and families all converge on this inviting spot. Schenley Plaza hosts events all summer long.  Check out the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

6.  Carnegie Museum of Natural History

There are plenty of things to see and do at this world-class museum. The dino-loving set will bask in the presence of the one of the world's best fossil collections. Kids can excavate their own fossils at Bonehunters Quarry. Don't miss the dazzling minerals and gemstones, or North American wildlife, or the various other earth, life or anthropological sciences. Your child may never want to leave the hands-on Discovery Room. The gift shops offer quality toys, books and more. An added bonus: the fun and educational summer camps.

5. Carnegie Science Center

Experience an earthquake, catch a thrilling IMAX movie (the domed ceiling creates a lifelike "sensurround" experience), see the legendary Miniature Railroad and Village (featuring a replica of Mr. Rogers' house – how cool is that?), or learn hands-on at the Exploration Station. The water table is a favorite, perfect for preschoolers to learn and explore—and splash around in.

4.  Children's Museum and the National Aviary

Since a joint membership is offered between these two great places, I have given myself creative license to combine. At the Children's Museum, kids "play with real stuff." What child doesn't like that? Exhibits include activities for all age ranges, so the entire family can enjoy. Whether your child is into tinkering under the hood of a Mini-Cooper, painting a magnificent masterpiece, or playing with the giant Light Wall (think of an old school Lite-Brite board only much, much bigger), your whole family is covered. Don't forget to visit the award-winning Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood exhibit before you leave.

When you're finished, walk over a block to the National Aviary – the nation's premier bird park, featuring more than 600 birds from around the world. From the Blue-crowned Pigeon to the Keel-billed Toucan, you and your kids are sure to enjoy feathered friends you can't see anywhere else in town. There are programs for all ages, including Little Peepers for the toddler and preschool set, and the newly opened Penguin Point, where 11 African penguins enjoy deep pools visible to viewers. The highlight? The Kids ViewTube, where you can actually crawl under the exhibit, pop up, and be at one with the penguins in their own habitat.

3.  PNC Park

PNC Park is one of the most beautiful and family-friendly baseball parks in the country.  With breathtaking Downtown vistas, plenty of food options from classic hot dogs to sushi, a playground, and reasonably priced tickets, the home of the Pirates is always a family favorite.

2.  Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

The Pittsburgh Zoo is the perfect size to navigate with kids.  No wonder it's one of the nation's top three children's zoos.  It has all the animals you would expect to see at a zoo of its caliber, but what makes this one truly unique is Kids Kingdom.  This place is packed to the gills with hands-on animal experiences, play equipment, kiddie rides, and a whole lot more.  Where else can you touch a kangaroo in the 'Burgh?  Well, I guess there's one other place…

1.  Kennywood
The ultimate in fun for kids of all ages, Kennywood is Pittsburgh's very own classic amusement park. If you're into classic coasters, there's the nationally famous Thunderbolt.  Kiddieland has plenty of rides to entertain the toddler or preschooler.  Haunted house? Check.  Classic Carousel with brass ring?  Check.  Ferris Wheel?  Check.  Add in a funnel cake, the legendary fries and some lemonade in a quaint parklike setting and you've got it made.

Honorable Mentions-some of these could be on your Top 10 List:  the Highland Park's Super Playground, toddler story time at the Carnegie Libraries, the Toy Lending Library, Phipps Conservatory, Point State Park, Mellon Park, Station Square, The Heinz History Center and Contemporary Craft in the Strip.

Comments? Suggestions? Let us know what you think. Email us at info@popcitymedia.com

Photographs copyright Brian Cohen.

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