Our trip (travel, lodging, food, activities) to Pittsburgh was covered by Visit Pittsburgh. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Until a couple of weeks ago, I had never been to Pittsburgh, PA. Let me tell you, going over the holidays was the perfect way to explore Pittsburgh for the first time!
We’re not big on pulling kids out of school, so we decided to leave Charlie at home with Dad. My mom hasn’t been on a trip with us before and a KidsBURGH® holiday adventure is a great way to spend some time together. Checking out Pittsburgh’s holiday activities is a great multi-generation trip.
WHERE TO STAY
When we travel as a family, I love being able to stay somewhere that feels like home. For our first visit to Pittsburgh, we stayed at Homewood Suites by Hilton Pittsburgh Downtown.
Located in the trendy Strip District neighborhood of downtown Pittsburgh, the Homewood Suites Pittsburgh Downtown Hilton hotel is convenient to plenty of dining, shopping, and entertainment.
Having a full kitchen and a separate living space is always a plus, especially when traveling with kids. The hotel offers a complimentary hot full breakfast each morning. In the lobby, you’ll also find a 24-hour suite shop (filled with snacks, drinks, and other necessities. There is also an indoor heated pool and a 24-hour fitness center.
WHAT TO DO
There are so many special holiday things to check out in Pittsburgh. In the three days we spent in the city, there’s no way would could see them all, but we did squeeze plenty of holiday fun into our trip!
See the Miniature Railroad & Village® – Located inside Carnegie Science Center, this Miniature Railroad & Village is packed with hundreds of realistic animated scenes showing that show how people lived, worked, and played in the Pittsburgh area over the years. Kids of all ages will enjoy watching the trains ride through the village while the exhibit turns from day to night and back again.
This year’s addition is a Primanti Brothers restaurant.
While it’s a huge hit for the holiday season, the exhibit is actually open year-round!
Explore the Winter Flower Show & Light Garden at Phipps Conservatory – I’m pretty much a sucker for Christmas lights. If you want to feel that warm and fuzzy feeling that the Christmas spirit brings, just wander around Phipps (inside and out) for a bit and experience the “Holiday Magic!” that the show is themed around this year.
Even the kids will appreciate the cool lights and displays throughout. Kids can get involved by participating in a small scavenger hunt that will have them searching for things like books, a clock, and presents.
The kids will have a chance to enjoy another railroad here with the new Garden Railroad. There’s a tropical island with a pirate that tells jokes and several interactive features. We all know kids love to push buttons!
Watch Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker – Confession time: I’m not a ballet person. I’m one of those girls that grew up playing sports and never took a dance class in my life. That said, I absolutely love The Nutcracker. It’s one of those stories you can follow and it’s really just beautiful to see it unfold on the stage.
I wasn’t sure how Owen (4) would sit through it, but that kid loves music and dancing and adored watching the whole thing!
The Nutcracker runs through December 27 at the beautiful Benedum Center.
Ride the Duquesne Incline – Okay, so maybe this isn’t really holiday related. But, this was our first time in Pittsburgh and our first time riding an incline. Everything seems a little more magical when you’re bundled up and it’s the holiday season, right?
The Duquesne Incline definitely offers some of the best views of Pittsburgh.
Skate at MassMutual Ice Rink at PPG Plaza – Even if it’s been awhile since your last trip around ice rink, do it! You can grab your skates and and circle around the giant Christmas tree. Seriously, this was probably one of my favorite things we did together. This was Owen’s first time ice skating and he did a fantastic job!
Be sure to bundle up and bring hats and gloves for the kids. There are locker rentals available where you pick up your skates.
On Saturdays, you can even skate with Santa!
Shop the Holiday Market – Just a quick walk from the ice rink is the Peoples Gas Holiday Market, inspired by the original German Christkindlmarkts (or “Christmas Market”). We came across so many neat finds that are perfect for holiday gifts throughout the little Alpine-style wooden chalets.
You can visit with Santa in the Santa House, enjoy delicious treats, sip on hot cocoa, and catch a show on the stage.
Drop in and browse the Holiday Market through Saturday, December 23rd.
Admire Gingerbread Houses – I don’t know about you, but we never have much luck with our gingerbread houses. If you want to see some ridiculously impressive gingerbread houses, be sure to head inside PPG Place to view them through January 6th.
This is a free event, but donations are being collected in the PPG Place Wintergarden for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Free Care Fund.
WHERE TO EAT
Waffles, INCaffeinated – If I haven’t mentioned it before (though I’m sure I have), we’re big on waffles. Owen will eat a peanut butter and jelly waffle at least once a day. A restaurant dedicated to waffles is just where we needed to be! We got two waffles and split them between my mom, Owen, and myself.
We tried the Megaberry Waffle and the Funky Monkey Waffle, but they all looked delicious coming out! They do offer half waffles of most of their specialty waffles and a kids menu, both would work great for the little ones.
Burgatory Bar -We were able to create our own burgers here: several options for your burger, bun, and toppings galore!
If you want a Helluva Burger + Heavenly Shakes, this is the place to eat! They offer a great kids menu, too!
Primanti Brothers – Prior to our Pittsburgh trip, I only knew that a Primanti’s sandwich had coleslaw and french fries on it. After looking over the menu, I learned there are so many options of your meats for your sandwich.
We opted for a Pitts-Burger® & Cheese and a Turkey Breast & Cheese. I’m told some locations do have kids menus, but the Market Square location we ate at did not. Be sure to check with your server.
City Works – We ate a great lunch in City Works, also in Market Square. Judging by the customers while we there on a Saturday, this is probably one of the best places to take kids for a meal in Market Square. Mom and I each had a large specialty salad. Owen opted for some mini burgers from their kids menu.
If you’ve been to Pittsburgh (or maybe you live there), what are you favorite things to do during the holidays in the city?