Summer is in full swing with long-time favorite July events like the Three Rivers Regatta, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix and the Butler County Fair. Beyond the big events this month, our top family adventures in July guide also offers creative, old-school ideas for fun. Want to mini-golf your way around the city? Explore public art at a pool party? Make African-inspired crafts to the sound of music from the Congo? You can do all that and more.
Ride the Ferris wheel at the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta
One of the most exciting places to be over the 4th of July weekend is the 38th annual EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta. With a backdrop of Point State Park and a view of Pittsburgh’s three rivers, the event offers tons of fun for the whole family.
There are a variety of thrilling water-themed activities like Formula One power boat racing, Jet Ski stunt shows, a vintage power boat exhibit, Dragon Boat races, the very popular Anything That Floats boat-building competition and a Lighted Boat Parade. Beyond the water, there will be music concerts on five stages, the I Made It! Market on the Roberto Clemente Bridge, living history presentations at the Fort Pitt Museum, the Muttley Crew Flying Dog Show and stunt performances by the Monster Energy BMX Team.
New this year is the Wheel of Lights, a huge Ferris wheel standing about 90 feet tall with 16 multi-passenger carriages. At night, the Ferris wheel becomes nothing short of magical as 12 different patterns of LED lights are choreographed to music. The SandSational Sand Sculpting returns to wow crowds as 150 tons of sand is transformed into a vision of Pittsburgh Steelworkers.
In the Cool Off Kids Zone, there will be a man-made beach where kids can build their own sandcastles plus the Carnegie Science Center and Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh will lead water-themed crafts and activities like the Fire & Ice Show and the Anything That Floats: Kids Edition. On Independence Day, don’t miss the U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band perform as the sun sets then prepare for the amazing EQT Flashes of Freedom Fireworks, considered by many to be one of the best fireworks shows in the country.
Celebrate a small-town Independence Day
Now in its 37th year, the Midland 4th of July in Beaver County is cherished by local residents and visitors alike. In addition to live music and a car show, this celebration features a parade with floats, marching bands, tractors, Uncle Sam on stilts, horses and fire trucks. Kids will love riding the small carnival rides and watching the fireworks that end the celebration with a bang.
If you enjoy living history, then try out the Meadowcroft Independence Day Celebration in Washington County. Meadowcroft is a National Historic Landmark which features a variety of ways to learn about how people lived over the past 500 years. Like a living history time machine, the site is home to a 16th-century Indian village, an 18th-century Frontier Trading Post and a 19th-century village. Highlights include historical demonstrations, a pie eating contest and a reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Head north of the city in Butler County to celebrate in Zelienople. This quaint little town will host a 4th of July parade where it’s not uncommon to see unicycles, horses and go-karts following behind more traditional parade staples like marching bands. Enjoy food, games and inflatables in the town’s community park after the parade. There will be free swimming all day at the park pool, also the site of the annual Derby Duck Race. Zambelli fireworks cap off the night but the party continues on July 5 with the Lewis & Clark Circus.
See a tractor pull and pet farm animals at the Big Butler County Fair
Thousands of people come from all over to enjoy the incredible slate of attractions at the Big Butler Fair, which is celebrating its 160th year. From July 3-11, families can enjoy anything from carnival rides, concerts and midway games to tractor pulls, bull riding and amazing 4th of July fireworks.
Highlights of the fair this year include the Gator Boys Road Show, which will entertain the crowd with a wide variety of reptiles like rattlesnakes and alligators. While petting the alligators isn’t the best idea, children are encouraged to enter the Petting Zoo where they can interact with goats, rabbits, pigs and more. Another activity for little animal lovers is the Agricadabra “Magic of Agriculture” Show, a 25-minute, highly interactive opportunity for kids to learn about agriculture through the lens of healthy eating, science and recycling.