The endless grey days of winter can send adult humans (like me) into a lull. We can become lethargic, wanting nothing more than to wrap ourselves up in a big, fluffy blanket, read a book, binge Netflix, or take long, luxurious naps.
Unfortunately, most of our kids aren’t into that. If your kids are anything like my son, they’re ready – despite the weather – to take their six-D battery, supercharged energy and run to the moon.
Luckily, there’s a ton to do in Pittsburgh indoors in the winter, especially if you’re willing to explore new avenues. While the Carnegie Science Center, the Children’s Museum, the Natural History Museum, and your local library are great options, doing the same activities over and over again can become tiresome for little ones.
These lesser-known places can help drain the energy out of your kids for less money than you may think.
Assemble identifies as a “community space for arts and technology education located in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood,” and offers several programs for school-aged kids during the winter months. Their STEAM-based afterschool program (for kids in first through ninth grade) runs Monday through Thursday from 4-6 p.m., where kids can create, test their ideas, and build together. On Saturdays, kids can enjoy “Crafternoons” for free. These two-hour drop-in programs encourage kiddos ages 5-11 to get artsy in a group setting.
On top of these free programs, Assemble offers day camps, art shows, and several parties throughout the year. You can register your kids for free directly on the Assemble website.
Switch and Signal Skate Park
Whether your child prefers roller skates, roller blades, or a skateboard, there's plenty of space and plenty of challenging ramps for your young ones to romp and roll at this cool skate park in Swissvale. Kids-only skate sessions are offered on Saturday mornings, but most of Switch and Signal’s open skates are slotted for all ages. Each session is two and a half hours and can be booked online. Kids will need to bring a helmet and pads for safety, however, Switch and Signal sells equipment on-site if you need it.
The fee for each session is $12, and session times are listed on Switch and Signal’s website.
With a book cave carved out just for children to hide, snuggle up, and enjoy a good book, Riverstone is an ideal place for bookish kids to get out of the house and enjoy the written word.
Riverstone in McCandless is a perfect place to take toddlers for interactive story times that include movement, yoga, and special guests. Previous in-person events included performers from Pittsburgh Ballet Theater as well as live music from local performers. An event calendar is available on their website which includes events for both the McCandless and Squirrel Hill locations.
ASCEND Climbing Gym
If the long days of winter make your kids want to climb the walls, there are two ASCEND locations in Pittsburgh – Southside and Point Breeze – where your kids can literally climb the walls.
Kids ages five and under can get in for only five dollars plus the cost of rental equipment. If you’ve ever had the urge to strap your child into a harness, they can try the slackline, where climbing stones are grouped a bit closer together for little ones. Plus, kids in the apparatus can climb high without worrying about falling. In the free climb areas, rocks are designated easiest to hardest by color. Bigger kids can challenge themselves to climb on top of the boulders in the center of the gym or hang from the archway.
ASCEND also offers adaptive climbing classes for persons of all ages and skill levels and for persons with disabilities.
When outdoor playgrounds are covered in snow, why not try an indoor playground? Playground World in Wexford has a massive backyard playground showroom for kids to explore, climb, bounce, slide, swing, and even shoot hoops.
The cost is eight dollars per kid for two hours of play (cash only) and the showroom is open to kids of all ages. Playground World even has a baby swing and toddler play area. For little climbers, there are ladders, incline climbs, and chain lattice to keep them busy. And Playground World also offers parties and events that you can book ahead. Pay-to-play times are listed on Playground World’s Facebook Page.