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The college student's guide to summer fun in Pittsburgh

Summer is upon us, for many that means vacation, barbeques, and days spent lounging poolside. For the college-aged, it means coming home to live under your parents' roof again. With empty pockets, an underage ID, and three months to kill at home, summer can seem like forever. But, with a city full of student discounts and free events, summer can be a whole lot sweeter.

In the beautiful summer weather, what's better than being outside and listening to great music? Pittsburgh's diverse music scene offers a variety of free concerts in the summer. With shows being free of charge it affords the great opportunity of discovering new artist and sounds.

A great place to catch a show is the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series. Highlights of the series include the Hometown Music Festival at South Park Amphitheater (June 17) and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals at Hartwood Acres (August 7th). With the exception of the Blues Festival and the annual Allegheny County Music Festival, the series are free, and you can't beat that price.

WYEP also hosts their annual summer music festival at Schenley Plaza every June. Going on its fourteenth year, the festival is bigger than ever. Eli "Paperboy" Reed, Fitz and the Tantrums, Jukebox the Ghost, and Big Hurry are slated to perform. The festival is on June 24 and starts at 6 p.m. Bring a blanket and spend the evening listening to your favorite band, or maybe discovering a new one. 

Another staple of summer is the big budget blockbuster flick. While you spend an arm and a leg for admission into theaters, Dollar Bank offers free movies in the park all summer. Locations include: Schenley Park, Aresnal Park, Brookline Memorial Park, Grandview Park, Riverview Park, and West End/Elliott Overlook. 

Cinema in the Park kicks off its schedule June 8th and runs through August 31st. Films begin screening at dusk. While many of the movies are geared towards a younger set, they also include summer blockbusters from years past.  In addition to screening films, Flagstaff Hill will also be featuring a musical performer every Wednesday from 7-8PM before the movie is screened. 

For the cult film lover, the Hollywood Theater in Dormont has reopened this summer. The old-fashioned theater located on Potomac Avenue screens recent and classic films spanning from The Big Lebowski to recent release The Troll Hunter.

Every other Saturday, the Hollywood screens the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight. The theater has been a hotspot lately; The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been shooting scenes there. While not free, admission is only $7 for any show. If you're interested in seeing Rocky Horror, make sure you arrive early since most showings sell out.

Another classic summer activity is the drive-in theater.  Dependable Drive-In in Moon Township and Twin Hi-Way Drive-In in Robinson offer a different movie viewing experience. With $6.50 admission and a double feature on every screen, the drive-in is a bargain compared to the traditional theater. Make sure to get there early and snag a good parking spot.

For those inclined to physical activity, Kayak Pittsburgh offers a unique view of the city that was just ranked #6 in best cities in which to kayak. Located on the North Shore by PNC Park, Kayak Pittsburgh rents out both kayaks and bikes. Rentals start at $15 for kayaks and $8 for bikes. Season passes are also available. While the price is steep for the poor college student, the views of the city from the river are definitely worth it! Kayak Pittsburgh also offers group rates for tours of the city from the river. 

So while spending the summer living under your parent's roof again might sound terrifying, there are plenty of ways to get out and enjoy the city without spending too much cash.

Emma Diehl is a student at Lehigh University in Bethelehm, PA, who lives in Upper St. Clair.

Captions (from the top): Fire-eating at the Three Rivers Arts Festival; Dependable Drive-In; Kayak Pittsburgh; TRAF.

Photographs copyright Brian Cohen
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