Kids explore the color-filled maze of Daedalum. Photo by Dominique Bull, courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
Explore the color-filled maze of Daedalum. Photo by Dominique Bull, courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

For kids, July is the equivalent of 31 snow days. There are no end-of-term exams, no back-to-school schedules. It’s also a month when parents hit the panic button: We’re halfway through summer break and already running out of activities to keep kids busy. Calm your cries of “Yikes!” and scroll through our top July events for kids. You’ll be pleased with the variety of cool activities and age ranges, from toddlers to teens.

1. July 1-Sept. 4: Architects of Air: Daedalum, Backyard @ 8th and Penn

The awe-inspiring, inflatable sculpture known as a luminarium, Daedalum is a maze of 17 egg-shaped domes that cover half the size of a football field. Walking through the translucent dome tops, tunnels and pods is a fully immersive experience designed to create mysterious vistas and a variety of hues. Brilliant colors are created by sunlight shining through the fabric. The main dome’s indirect illumination changes the interior color according to the sun’s position and direction. The main dome’s awe-inspiring, 600-piece pattern was inspired by Rome’s Pantheon and the Gustave Doré drawing of angels circling heavenward in Dante’s paradise. Architects of Air has hosted more than 3 million visitors in 40-plus countries since 1992. Daedalum, the touring luminarium that will spend the summer in Pittsburgh, gets its name from Greek mythology. That’s all pretty cool, but kids will find their bliss exploring this maze of color and light. Tickets are $25, $10 for kids.

Hear the sounds of a Northern Cardinal at Chirp, Chitter, Caw. Photo by Matt Unger, courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

2. July 1-Sept. 4: Chirp, Chitter, Caw: Surrounded by Bird Song, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

This audio exhibition tunes kids into the world of bird songs. Chirp, Chitter, Caw was created in partnership with artists Chris Hoff and Sam Harnett, founders of The World According to Sound. The new experience offers a chance to relax in the listening lounge, mimic unusual bird calls and stroll down Bird Hall to hear sonic snapshots of birds. Tweety birds include the low rumble of the Southern Cassowary, the Superb Lyrebird’s copycat cries and the rhythmic rat-a-tat-tat of the Pileated Woodpecker. Chirp, Chitter, Caw is free with museum admission.

The Fourth at the Fort includes cannon-firing demonstrations led by Revolutionary War reenactors. Photo courtesy of Fort Pitt Museum.

3. July 2 and 4: Independence Day celebrations, multiple locations

Fill the holiday weekend with patriotic festivities that combine education with merriment. Head to Oliver Miller Homestead for Liberty Day on July 2 to learn about the Miller family’s involvement in the Revolutionary War and celebrate our veterans with fireworks and music. Admission is $2. Also on July 2, Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village will applaud the spirit of America with historical demonstrations and period games at its 18th-century frontier area and 19th-century rural village. Independence Day activities are included with general admission. On July 4, Fort Pitt Museum offers the Fourth at the Fort. At 1 p.m., scouts and vets will raise a 36-foot American flag, followed by a free family-friendly afternoon of living history demonstrations, cannon-firing and 18th-century martial music. Stick around Point State Park for the City of Pittsburgh Independence Day Celebration. Enjoy a family-style picnic, complete with live music, headlined by The Clarks, and food vendors from 4-10 p.m. The Independence Day Fireworks will begin at 9:35 p.m. for a big, noisy finish to the weekend.

The Jack Rabbit has been a Kennywood favorite since 1920. Learn more about the 125-year-old amusement park at Kennywood Day at Heinz History Center. Photo courtesy of Kennywood.

4. July 9: Kennywood Day: 125 Years of Memories, Heinz History Center

Bring your friends – and wear your best matching Kennywood outfits – for a day of special programming throughout all six floors. Kids will have a blast with family-friendly games and carnival-themed food. Watch a screening of “That Kennywood Summer,” followed by a Q&A session with Rick Sebak. Be sure to catch Chris Fennimore’s Ethnic Heritage Days Cooking demonstrations for the kind of mouthwatering recipes that Grandma used to make. Fans of cultural history will appreciate hearing from amusement park scholar Lauren Rabinovitz in her presentation, “Kennywood and the Rise of the Amusement Park: An American Phenomenon.” There’s plenty more planned, including a “Behind the Screams” panel and a special unveiling of historic Kennywood artifacts. All Kennywood anniversary activities are included with museum admission.

Free rides on the PNC Caoursel are part of Kids Day at Schenley Plaza. Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

5. July 9, Aug. 9, Sept. 10 and Oct. 8: Kids Day, Schenley Plaza

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy hosts the monthly Kids Day, a free event that invites families to Schenley Plaza. Enjoy Kids Day activities like hands-on crafts. Special guests and performers will provide lively entertainment. A balloon artist will charm kids with twisty creations. And rides on the PNC Carousel will be free. This program is best for families with kids younger than 8. No registration is required.

Vicki Johnson’s book, “Molly’s Tuxedo,” is featured in the Alphabet City Kids series this month. Photo courtesy of City of Asylum.

6. July 15: Alphabet City Kids: Story Hour with Vicki Johnson, City of Asylum

Alphabet City Kids hosts a quarterly visit with authors of books aimed at elementary-age kids. Vicki Johnson is up next with a reading of “Molly’s Tuxedo.” In the charming story, Molly’s school picture day is approaching. She wants to wear her brother’s old tux, but her mother prefers that she wear a dress. Can Molly find the courage to follow her heart and get her mom to understand just how great she’d look in a tux? The family-friendly program is followed by a Q&A, plus a hands-on activity to help bring the story to life. This book highlights a gender-nonconforming main character and is published in partnership with GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance. Registration is free for in-person tickets and for livestream tickets.

Image courtesy of August Wilson African American Cultural Center.

7. July 15: AWCommunity STEAM Day, August Wilson African American Cultural Center

Kids can get a bit of summer inspiration with STEAM-focused, brain-challenging activities that promote Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. This AWCommunity Family Day includes performances, cool demonstrations and lots of other fun at the August Wilson Center. Sign up to join the AWCommunity mailing list and learn about upcoming events and programs. STEAM Day registration is free.

Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

8. July 15, 16, 22 and 23: Fiddlesticks in Your Neighborhood, multiple locations

Pittsburgh Symphony’s musical ambassador, Fiddlesticks, is visiting neighborhoods to share his favorite music with kids throughout the Pittsburgh area. The summertime family concerts will include fun, familiar tunes like “Do Re Mi” from “The Sound of Music,” Offenbach’s “Can-Can” and “When You Wish Upon a Star.” The experience is a wonderful introduction to orchestra music for kids as they witness the many instruments that produce such rousing and beautiful sounds. Fiddlesticks and his orchestra team visit Moon Area High School on July 15, Penn Hills High School on July 16, Moon Area High School on July 22 and Bethel Park High School on July 23. Tickets are $15, $10 for kids.

Picklesburgh draws a pickle-loving crowd of all ages. Photo courtesy of Picklesburgh.

9. July 21-23: Picklesburgh, Downtown

The three-day festival, named USA Today’s No 1 Specialty Food Festival in the country for three years in a row, has expanded to a new location: the Boulevard of the Allies between Stanwix and Smithfield streets as well as PPG Plaza. Picklesburgh fills the weekend with all things pickled, from chocolate-covered pickles and deep-fried pickle tots to pickled meatballs. Kids will beg to try the pickle-flavored lollipops, astronaut pickles and pickle saltwater taffy. Stop by the Li’l Gherkins KidsPlay Activity Area, where kids ages 14 and younger can decorate pickle necklaces, make puppets to take home and get artsy with coloring pages. Local bands will add to the festival soundtrack with live music. Admission is free.

10. July 24-Aug. 2: “Little Red Robin Hood,” South Park Theatre

This hilarious fractured fairy tale mashes favorite characters and stories into a completely new tale. Little Red Robin Hood travels through Nottingham and Sherwood Forest where she must deal with the Big Bad Sheriff and the Naughty Hams, otherwise known as the Three Little Pigs. The vain Prince John awaits his new magical suit that’s being woven by Cinderella’s stepsisters. Meanwhile Little Red Robin Hood needs to save all the village grannies, including Mother Hubbard, Mother Goose and an old lady who lives in a shoe. There’s lots more silly intrigue and excitement, but we’ll leave you and your kids to learn the rest on your own. Tickets are $5, free for ages 3 and younger. Pack a picnic and a blanket to get comfy for this slaphappy performance.

This musical gives a Caribbean twist to “The Little Mermaid.” Image courtesy of Pittsburgh CLO.

11. July 25-29: “Once on This Island,” Benedum Center

CLO Pittsburgh produces the Caribbean-set musical inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” and Rosa Guy’s 1985 novel “My Love, My Love.” This Tony Award-winning version concentrates on the tale of a poor peasant girl, Ti Moune, who falls in love with a rich boy, Daniel, from the other side of the island. Grandiose island gods make bets among themselves over which is more powerful: love or death? The coming-of-age tale deals with some serious issues, including prejudice and grief, and is best for ages 10 and older. But the story, told through exuberant Caribbean rhythm and music, shows how the love can break down societal walls and heal. Tickets start at $29.

Bonus events

July 8: Tropical Forest Hawai’i Festival, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

July 8: Super Science Saturday: All Things Tiny, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

July 22-23: Vintage Grand Prix Race Weekend, Schenley Park

Through Sept 3: Wild Kratts: Creature Power!, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Find even more things to do in Pittsburgh in our weekly and monthly event guides.

Sally Quinn is a Pittsburgh-based editor and writer who writes about food, entertainment, kid stuff, pop culture, cocktails!