With birds chirping, buds on the trees and flowers popping up everywhere, April is easily one of the most beautiful and cheerful times of the year. Even Tax Day and the occasional spring thunderstorm can’t dampen our spirits. Let us all be thankful: warm, sunny days are returning to Pittsburgh.
We have compiled events this month that could fit perfectly into an alphabet book full of happy things: art, baseball, butterflies, chocolate, Earth Day, the Easter Bunny, family reading nights, Japanese festivals and an Ultimate Day of Play. From ABC to XYZ, our Top 10 family adventures this April in Pittsburgh will help you create pages of memories for your scrapbook.
Egg hunting with the Easter Bunny at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum and The National Aviary
Take your kids for a ride on an antique trolley at The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum’s Bunny Trolley event on Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4. Located in Washington, PA, the museum uses its collection of over 50 trolley cars, artifacts and photo archives to educate visitors about this bygone form of transportation.
Families will ride the trolley to visit the Easter Bunny and participate in an egg hunt. After returning to the station, kids can do a springtime craft activity and watch as live bunnies hop their way through an obstacle course. Don’t forget your camera!
Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $7 for children ages 1-15 and free for children under 1. All activities are included along with complimentary refreshments and access to all trolley exhibits. Bunny trolley rides leave every 20 minutes and the last ride leaves at 4 p.m. each day.
For a fun twist on an egg hunt, join The National Aviary as it hosts EGGstravaganza on Friday, April 3 through Sunday, April 5. The Aviary’s egg hunt is special because kids will use an educational picture guide to help them find realistic looking bird egg such as blue robin eggs and speckled quail eggs. Kids can feed ducks, participate in bird-themed games and crafts and listen to story time with a live bird. The Easter Bunny will lead a parade through the park, outside if weather permits.
All EGGstravaganza activities are included with admission and will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Easter Sunday, The Aviary will host an Easter Brunch catered by Atria’s. And look for special events later in April that will kick off the new season’s theme, Masters of the Sky.
Art-making inspired by whimsical sculptures at the Society for Contemporary Craft
Want to show your kids that art can be more than two-dimensional paintings on a wall? The Society for Contemporary Craft is a visual arts organization in The Strip District that showcases artists who work with craft media such as clay, fiber, glass, metal and wood.
The current exhibition, Bridge 13, features the work of three different artists. Kids will marvel at the huge animal sculptures by Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor. She assembled them using wood, blankets, couch cushions and other repurposed materials. The porcelain sculptures by Jason Walker are inspired by animals and he adds in mechanical and industrial elements. The exhibit also includes the work of Keith Lo Bue. His wearable art is made from a variety of natural and man-made objects.
Families can view the art, then spend time in the drop-in craft room doing an activity inspired by the exhibit. Society for Contemporary Craft is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission and drop-in craft activities are free. The Bridge 13 exhibition runs through August 22.
Supporting Jeremiah’s Place at One World, Many Stories Family Reading Night
Happy 1st birthday to Jeremiah’s Place, a community organization dedicated to serving families who are experiencing a crisis situation and need safe childcare. In addition to celebrating its anniversary, Jeremiah’s Place hopes to bring awareness to Child Abuse Prevention Month with the One World, Many Stories Family Reading Night event on Friday, April 17 from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
Children will receive passports to get stamped as they travel to different reading circles which will focus on love and kindness. At each stop, families will listen to a story and then participate in a related art, movement or music activity. Special guest readers include local children’s book authors, Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan reading The Bumpy, Grumpy Road and Katherine Ayres reading Matthew’s Truck. Local children’s musician, Margaret Hooton and storytelling character, The Lovable Queen of Hearts, will also present stories.
Food will be served before the reading circles and birthday cake will be shared with all. Activities are free and best for children aged birth – 6 years, but older siblings up to age 10 will still enjoy the program. The event will be held at the Kingsley Association at the corner of East Liberty Blvd. and Frankstown Ave. in Pittsburgh.
Painting edible art at the Arts and Chocolate Spectacular in Upper St. Clair
Three words: painting with chocolate. At the Arts and Chocolate Spectacular on April 18, families can experience a delicious combination of entertainment, art and sweet treats. One of the highlights of the event is the edible art station where kids can paint things like graham crackers and marshmallows with “paint” straight from the chocolate fountain.
Come hungry and prepared to try different variations of chocolate. Vendors will be offering free tastings and samples as well as items for purchase. And if you want to eat lunch before your desserts, Atria’s Restaurant will be selling food at the event. King’s Restaurant will be there with the Frownie Brownie, too, so bring your camera.
The art part of the Arts and Chocolate Spectacular will include a student art gallery exhibit, music and dance performances, and a sneak peek of Peter Pan by Pittsburgh Musical Theater. Kids can take their pick of various art activities including face painting, screen printing t-shirts and painting rocks for the community rock garden.
The event will be held at the Community and Recreation Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and all activities are free, except for the cost of the t-shirt for screen printing.
Exploring Japanese culture at the 4th annual Tomodachi Festival
Tomodachi means friend in Japanese and at the 4th annual Tomodachi Festival, presented by the Japan-America Society and Bridge to Japan, families can discover Japanese culture through a variety of activities geared toward kids.
On April 18 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the main branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, families can try on kimonos, eat a Japanese snack with chopsticks, try the Japanese art of origami, write their names in Japanese and make small Japanese books. There will be music, dance and storytelling performances. Japanese cookies will be given as treats but be prepared to try to say a word in Japanese to “earn” it.
Activities are led by friendly volunteers from Japanese programs at area high schools. All ages are welcome and admission is free of charge.
Running the bases at PNC Park on Pirates Kids’ Day
The baseball season starts in April! PNC Park is consistently voted one of the best places to see a game and the Pirates make it especially fun for families on Sunday home games during the season by making them Kids’ Days.
On April 19 starting at 11 a.m., kids can have a blast in the #1 Cochran Family Fun Zone right by the stadium on Federal St., which is closed to traffic during this time. Activities include big inflatables, a Pirate bounce house, live music and more. Promotions on Sundays are usually focused on kids. A ticket to this game will score kids 14 and younger a new pair of Andrew McCutchen socks. After the game, kids can line up along the River Walk in right field to run the bases.
All pre-game activities are free but game tickets must be purchased to receive the promotion item and to run the bases after the game.
Celebrating sustainability at Earth Day events in Schenley Plaza
Pittsburgh will kick off its first citywide celebration of Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22. There are a ton of different activities going on downtown, including a Food Truck Festival where the trucks will be powered by wind energy, a Pop Up Organic Market and a free performance by Chris Jamison from NBC’s The Voice. But the most family-friendly activities are in Schenley Plaza in Oakland which will be centered around the Mother Earth’s Kids Corner & Eco-Art Fair. There will be free Yoga for Tots sessions as well as adult yoga classes during the day. Families can enjoy performances by The Josh & Gab Show, an anti-bullying musical comedy program, and Soundwaves Steelband, a youth steel drum ensemble. There will be arts and crafts, games, story times on a Port Authority biodiesel bus and an afternoon music party with DJ Nugget.
Best parts? All activities are powered using green energy and they don’t require any green from our pockets, either–they’re free! Get specific times and more details here.
Walking among the butterflies at the opening of the Phipps Butterfly Forest
If your family hasn’t experienced the pure magic of walking through the Butterfly Forest at Phipps Conservatory, then this adventure is a must-see when it opens on April 25. At any given time, the Stove Room is filled with 200+ butterflies flitting about from one beautiful flower to the next. Of the 17 different species of butterflies native to the United States, chances are good that you can view at least 10 of them here at Phipps.
To keep the Butterfly Forest fresh and full, Phipps gets about 200-350 pupae each week. They pin these pupae to boards inside the forest room called emerging chambers. You will have the best chance of seeing the pupae emerge from their chrysalides in the morning or evening when the temperature is not as warm. But not to worry, once they’ve emerged the butterflies like the warm temps so you will see plenty of them throughout the day.
The butterflies may choose to land right on you but remember not to touch them because it can damage their wings. Take as many photos as you want, though! Admission to the Butterfly Forest is included with paid admission to Phipps, which is $15 for adults, $11 for kids aged 2-18 and free for kids under 2.
Creating amazing work at Art All Night
One of the biggest art events of the year happens this month at Art All Night in Lawrenceville. Now in its 18th year, Art All Night is a free 24-hour art show featuring more than 1,000 pieces of work. On Saturday April 25 from 4 to 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the event offers a children’s area for Pittsburgh’s youngest artists to happily create their own masterpieces.
The children’s area takes place in a “youth-friendly” section of the show, away from uncensored art pieces. Hands-on activities include button making, screen printing, weaving with recycled materials and building with huge boxes in cardboard city. Some boxes are fridge-sized so kids can sometimes crawl through their creations. In the past, the children’s area has also featured entertainment like magicians, drum circles, giant puppets and storytellers. Plans aren’t completely finalized yet, but one thing is for sure: it will be fun.
Learning the value of unstructured play at the Ultimate Play Day in Greater Hazelwood
The month of April comes to a close in one of the best ways possible: a huge community play date in the park. Studies have shown that play is essential for helping children grow healthy brains, develop gross and fine motor skills and build resilience to stress. On Sunday, April 26 from 1 to 4 p.m., the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative will host its 3rd annual Ultimate Play Day to model a variety of creative and innovative ways for kids of all ages to play.
Schenley Plaza was home to the event for the past two years, but this year all the fun is being moved to Burgwin Park in Greater Hazelwood so that families can explore different parts of the city and get away from seeing play as a set destination but something that can happen anywhere and everywhere. Activities will incorporate natural materials like logs, rocks and acorns. There will be drum circles and hula-hooping and games made from both natural materials as well as recycled materials. Children will get to build with giant blocks, participate in storytelling sessions, create art, and even play on an “audio playground” using sound, voice and music.
When the kids need to take a break from all this play, there will be fruit, drinks and Eat’n Park Smiley Cookies to share. This event is free of charge and there’s plenty of parking at Burgwin Park.
Here’s hoping April showers bring tons of May flowers. See you back here next month with more family-friendly adventures in Pittsburgh!
Looking for adult events? Check out our Top 9 Pittsburgh events not to miss in April feature.