Across town at Carnegie Science Center, the thrilling StormFest blows into town on February 5th and 6th. Families can explore the fascinating world of weather through hands-on activity stations and a visit from Weather Channel meteorologist Nick Walker. Kids will enjoy creating lava bottles, rain sticks, clouds and tornadoes in a jar. They can even make their own thermometer and craft a bead bracelet to explore the water cycle. All this weather-related fun is free with the price of admission. Also this month, the family-friendly National Parks Adventure film hits the big Omnimax screen on February 12th and the Science Center is hosting a National Parks Adventure Day event on February 13th to celebrate its grand opening. With a run time just under 45 minutes, the film takes audiences on a virtual trip through the canyons, mountain peaks, glaciers and other natural wonders of 30 U.S. national parks – potentially inspiring an epic family road-trip to see them in person. Tip: Parents, if you have a current 4th grader, check into the new White House Every Kid in a Park initiative which provides kids with free access to national parks.

Ice climbing as seen in the new Omnimax film, National Parks Adventure. Photo: Carnegie Science Center.
Ice climbing as seen in the new Omnimax film, National Parks Adventure. Photo: Carnegie Science Center.

Next up the Mattress Factory on Pittsburgh’s Northside will offer families a chance to “Weave a Memory” on February 6th at its monthly drop-in, interactive ARTLab activity that’s great for visitors of all ages and free with admission. Inspired by the current Chiharu Shiota: Trace of Memory exhibit, kids can create their own yarn web to “trap ideas and memories” inside. Also, check out the Mini-Factory events on February 13th and 27th where, for a $5 fee, parents and children (ages three to five) can spend an hour exploring the concepts of fantasy and color through collaborative art projects and story times.

Lastly, don’t forget the birds at the National Aviary. This month families can learn all about Australia (where it’s summertime in February) at the Down Under: An Australian Adventure event February 13th – 15th. Stories, crafts and games will focus on Australia and visitors can go on a ‘TalkAbout’ adventure where bird experts will give behind-the-scenes info about all the Aviary’s Australian birds, such as the Laughing Kookaburra, Palm Cockatoo and Rainbow Lorikeets. At the Migration Marathon event on February 27th families can celebrate the journey of migrating birds and also get pumped for the upcoming Pittsburgh Marathon. Be active by completing a migration obstacle course, playing Flamingo Says, making trail mix and learning about the Aviary’s long-distance birds. Pittsburgh Marathon’s Kids of STEEL participants can earn a mile on their training log and get in free with a paying adult. Also, if you have a young bird lover, check into the new toddler/pre-K education classes that kick off this month on February 9th.

Cheer on the Monster Trucks at Consol Energy Center

Don’t let names like “Grave Digger” and “Bad News Travels Fast” scare you away. The monster trucks with those names may be big and tough but they want to impress you when they roll into town for the Pittsburgh Monster Jam February 12th through 14th. This live motorsport event is full of thrilling obstacles perfectly suited to the main stars of the show: the 12-foot tall, 10,000 pound trucks perched upon 66-inch tires. These huge vehicles use their 1,500+ horsepower for quick bursts of speed (up to 100 miles/hour) that can propel them as far as 130 feet (that’s like 14 cars parked side by side) and make them soar up to 35 feet into the air.

Backwards Bob at Monster Truck Jam. Photo: Feld Motor Sports.
Backwards Bob at Monster Truck Jam. Photo: Feld Motor Sports.

On February 11th, fans can attend a free Un-Valentine’s Day Party featuring the Backwards Bob Monster Truck. From 6 to 8 p.m., people are welcomed onto the track to touch the truck, get a photo and meet the driver, Kevin Crocker. There will be face painters, balloon artists, truck-themed Valentine’s Day crafts, activities and treats – all free. The actual shows begin on Friday, February 12th through 14th and tickets start at $12 for kids and $25 for adults. Each 2 p.m. show on Saturday and Sunday is preceded by a Party in the Pits from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. where fans can see the trucks up close and meet the drivers. From now until February 12th, those planning to purchase show tickets may get a free pit pass at participating Metro PCS locations. After the 12th, pit passes will cost $10 and must be purchased where tickets are sold.

Artist Julia Erickson in Peter Pan by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Photo: Rich Sofranko.
Artist Julia Erickson as Tinker Bell in Peter Pan by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Photo: Rich Sofranko.

Fly away to Neverland with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Peter Pan

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) is bringing back Peter Pan, one of its all-time most popular shows, to the Benedum Center from February 12th through the 21st. With the classic characters we all know and love returning to the stage — Tinker Bell, Captain Hook and, of course, Peter Pan and his Lost Boys —  families will be mesmerized by the flying sequences, choreography and detailed costumes that bring the fairytale to life.

Tickets start at $28 and there are several special events to note. First, the PBT will hold a sensory-friendly performance on February 18th that will feature minor adjustments – such as more relaxed house rules, and dimly-lit house lights on for the duration of the show. Second, in addition to the aforementioned Tinker Bell in the Tropics workshop at the Phipps, the PBT will offer a Family Pointe discussion before the 2 p.m. show on February 13th that is perfect for children who want to explore the show in more depth.

Other performing arts shows worth a look this month include the Fiddlesticks Family Concert from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Room on the Broom, part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Citizens Bank Children’s Theater Series.

Creativity is encouraged at the holiday Open House event. Photo: Little House, Big Art.
Creativity is encouraged at the holiday Open House event. Photo: Little House, Big Art.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with art, comedy and ice skating

Mandy Yokim

Mandy moved to Pittsburgh for grad school and fell in love with the city. She is contributing editor of Ultimate Pittsburgh Trivia and Bridges of Pittsburgh. Her freelance work has appeared in a variety of publications including Parents Magazine and Blue Ridge Country. She blogs about Pittsburgh family fun at