Courtesy Senator John Heinz History Center.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village
May 1
1 – 5 p.m.

Looking for an inspiring family day-cation that combines history, culture and the great outdoors? With the temps climbing to 70 and flora in bloom, this Sunday is an ideal time for kids and kids at heart to channel their inner archeologist at Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village.

Courtesy Senator John Heinz History Center.

Kicking off its 48th season in Avella, Pa., the national historic landmark is the oldest site of human habitation in North America. It was named one of the “Five Great Places to See Evidence of First Americans” by Smithsonian magazine—which is now part of the Senator John Heinz History Center’s museum system. In 2013, the international tourist destination welcomed more than 17,000 visitors from 41 U.S. states and 17 countries.

Practically situated in Pittsburgh’s backyard, Meadowcroft is anchored by a massive 16,000-year-old rock overhang that was used by the region’s earliest inhabitants for shelter—where visitors of all ages can experience firsthand what everyday life was like for Upper Ohio Valley inhabitants over the past 400 years.

Ready to rock history?

Courtesy Senator John Heinz History Center.

Step into a wigwam located within a 16th-century Eastern Woodland Indian village to test your skills using the atlatl, a spear thrower used by prehistoric hunters. Inspect two 1770s-era structures to discover the similarities and differences between the everyday lives of European settlers and American Indians who inhabited the Upper Ohio Valley during the frontier period.

Next, come face-to-face with elements of everyday family life in the mid-19th century, watch a blacksmith forge red-hot iron, and enjoy a lesson conducted in a one-room schoolhouse.

New this year at the landmark is the new long-term exhibition, Trails to Trains, which explores the evolution of transportation throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. Trailblaze through 16,000 years of transportation history starting with our prehistoric predecessors—who used foot power to navigate the area’s rugged terrain—to the earliest days of Conestoga wagons cursing the National Road and then the faster stagecoach, and finally on to the development of the railroad, when trains cut through rural Pennsylvania farmsteads.

Courtesy Senator John Heinz History Center.

Dive further into history at one of Meadowcroft’s family-friendly public programs, including prehistory hikes with Venture Outdoors on June 11 and October 8; an Atlatl Competition on June 18; 19th-century-style Independence Day Celebrations on July 2 and 3; and Vintage Base Ball Day on August 13.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, Meadowcroft is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., and on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $6 for children ages 6 to 17. Children under 6 and History Center members are free.

Looking for more events? Read our 12 Pittsburgh events not to miss in April and our 8 great family adventures in Pittsburgh in April features.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...