Pittsburgh, PA, the city of reinvention, torn down its unused steel mills (except for one being turned into a museum), recreated its waterfront as a walking, running and cycling trail, and poured not-for-profit Foundation money into arts, culture and museums. The latter is thanks primarily to steel tycoon Andrew Carnegies’ legacy: he developed a public library system throughout the U.S. and indirectly founded many of the current Carnegie museums throughout Pittsburgh, including the Carnegie Science Center on the shores of the Allegheny River and in the shadow of PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. See it all from a view on the city’s remaining incline railway car, once transportation for industrial workers.
The Carnegie Science Center is an easy spot for families to spend an afternoon. It’s children’s museum, one-third interactive sports and science activities and one third submarine. Yes, a submarine. Moored on the riverbanks outside the Science Centre is the USS Requin, and the price of museum admission ($18.95 for adults and $11.95 for kids) includes a tour (but get to it one half hour before closing) of this WWII battleship, the Navy’s first Radar Picket submarine.
Otherwise, you can run through the rest of the museum in about an hour, as kids spend their time on exploration stations constructing working circuits or engineering dams. At SpacePlace you can climb the outside of a space shuttle to complete repairs, and RoboWorld is full of charming replica robots from favourite Sci-fi films such as Space Odyssey, and of course Star Wars.(R2D2 is there). Nearby, industrial robot arms shoot basketballs and kick butt at air hockey.
However it’s the adjacent Highmark Sports Works building that can eat up an afternoon. At this midway experience of sports science kids learn about the physics of sports by strapping themselves into life-sized exhibits and becoming a human yoyo or launching themselves 20-feet in the air on a bungee-harnessed trampoline. You can also ride a unicycle and a rollercoaster simulator or wall climb a giant padded pole.
If you still have energy, head next door for a late afternoon or evening baseball game at the traditional PNC Park stadium where families with kids 14 and under can get tickets in the Kids Grandstand for $8 to $20 each. Thanks to sports and waterfront development, Pittsburgh got a little more family friendly. (http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org)
Originally Published in Mom and Caregiver Magazine, September 2014.