You’re stuck in the house because the holidays tapped you out, but where’s the fun in that? The crafts are getting old, the kids are tired of playing their video games and everyone needs a break from your four walls. The five activities listed here are some of the best free things to do as a family during Pittsburgh’s impending winter.
Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library
5401 Centre Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
A 40-year-old Pittsburgh institution, the PTLL is a creative space where parents and children up to kindergarten age go to grow, imagine and, best of all, play together. Your first visit is free (and memberships are available) and you’re given full access to the PTLL’s catalog of indoor play equipment, toys and arts and crafts. Fun activities are scheduled year-round and the PTLL even hosts birthday parties. With a membership, your family may take up to three toys home per week.
Mister Roger’s Neighborhood
200 Mall Cir Drive
Monroeville, PA 15146
A great place to take the kids to play, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood has been bringing families together for years. With slides, a trolley modeled after the same one from the show, a peek-a-boo treehouse and lots of bench space for caregivers, the Neighborhood of Make Believe is a free tradition that many families take advantage of. Directly across from an Auntie Anne’s, kids can run their sillies out, then enjoy a yummy treat on one of the Neighborhood’s outside tables (no food inside, please), or even make a quick stop at the Pittsburgh Popcorn Factory.
What could be better than two whole hours of stress-free grocery shopping? Most Giant Eagle locations offer this free service to caregivers, to the delight of their children. A daily activity, craft, tons of make-believe items, video games, books and toys upon toys for children ages three to nine (please be sure your little one is potty-trained) makes this play center an enriching, fun destination. The best part is that the Eagle’s Nest can be utilized daily, and even provides other activities outside the hours of the care center, such as a trick-or-treat for little goblins, movie nights and birthday celebrations.
Ikea Play Area
2001 Park Manor Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15205
Take the kids to Ikea’s Play Area for one whole hour of educational, fun play – for free. Stroll Ikea’s whimsical aisles and even grab a tasty treat from Ikea’s gourmet cafeteria while your little guys (37″ – 54″ and potty trained) play with puppets, make art and romp in the ‘ball room.’ Movies are also included, and most everything your kiddos play with can be purchased in-store. Good luck getting out without little yelps of “but Daddy, I neeeeeed it!”
Shaler North Hills Library
1822 Mt. Royal Blvd.
Glenshaw, PA 15116
With a great area for kids to romp around, books to enlighten all ages, toys and games, the Shaler North Hills Library is definitely the best-tended, largest and most inclusive in the area. Great programming awaits your entire family, like bingo nights, trivia contests, reading challenges and holiday plays, and all are free with a simple preregistration. Visit the website often, as events are always in flux.
Nikki Tiani-Moroney is a full time mum of two boys, wife of a professional poker player/photographer/amateur pencil-sharpening competitor and writer from Pittsburgh, PA. When she isn’t studiously neglecting her housework in favor of a good book, she’s out simultaneously fighting crime and picking up sidewalk litter while savoring an occasional cigarette. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.