Strike the harp and join the chorus, it’s time to roast some chestnuts and deck the halls. December in Pittsburgh is overflowing with holiday celebrations, wintry fun and New Year’s Eve parties. This is the perfect month to honor family traditions and maybe create a few new ones, too.

With enough ideas to fill a few stockings, our Top Family Adventure guide for December will help you make the most of this beautiful month in Pittsburgh. Cheers to some quiet, peaceful moments amidst all the sparkly hustle and bustle!

Photo courtesy Venture Outdoors.

Photo courtesy Venture Outdoors.

Put a holiday twist on outdoor activity with Venture Outdoors

The weather is cooler but it’s still important to get outside and move. Thankfully, Venture Outdoors has planned some creative activities that combine the joy of the holidays and the necessity of exercise.

On December 5th, families can celebrate the season on a Twinkle Lights and Hot Cocoa Walk through all the holiday decorations in Downtown Pittsburgh. Good for all ages, this urban hike will use the city sidewalks to maneuver through the hotspots in the early evening before warming up with some hot chocolate. On December 6th, the holiday theme continues with a Candy Cane Walk in Highland Park. Families will search for hidden candy canes along the trail and then use the sweet treats to stir their hot chocolate at the end of the hike. On December 13th, try out Gingerbread Letterboxing in Olson Park in Moon Township. Best for elementary-aged children and older, families will complete a scavenger hunt over a two- or three-mile hike to find stamps for everything needed to build edible gingerbread art.

Finally, if you’re up for hiking in the snow, sign up for the Family Snowshoe Adventures in January.

Photo courtesy Anita Falce/PPG Place.

Photo courtesy Anita Falce/PPG Place.

Celebrate the magic of the season in Downtown Pittsburgh

There’s something special about seeing your city all dressed up for the holidays. This month, make your way downtown to enjoy all the fun things that the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has coordinated for us. We understand that it may feel overwhelming to venture into the city, especially with young kids in tow, so we’ll break it down for you.

First, where to park? All Pittsburgh Parking Authority Garages are free on Saturdays and here’s an interactive map to help you find a good spot. From there, you can walk and catch free rides on the Holly Trolley or horse-drawn carriages to get you from point A to B (or just for the adventure).

The key hotspots you’ll want to visit are PPG Place, home to the Wintergarden where you’ll find the life-size Santas in the “Spirits of Giving From Around the World” exhibit, a gingerbread house and model train display. Adjacent to the Wintergarden in PPG Plaza is the newly expanded MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink. Take a short walk across the street to Market Square where the kids can get photos with Santa and you can find a special gift from the vendors at the Peoples Gas Holiday Market. Other great family spots that offer kid-friendly activities are Fifth Avenue Place and One Oxford Centre. Plus, there’s the Pittsburgh Creche, MetLife Holiday Kidsplay, Snoopy meet and greets and so much more. Keep this full Season of Events calendar handy because it spells out everything. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy Joey Kennedy/Handmade Arcade.

Photo courtesy Joey Kennedy/Handmade Arcade.

Find a truly unique, hand-crafted gift

If you want to find a special gift for the holidays while also supporting independent artisans, don’t miss Handmade Arcade on December 5th from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. With free admission to over 150 artisans selling their work, you’re sure to find something for even the hard-to-buy-for people on your list. Families will especially enjoy the Hands-On Handmade area full of arts and craft activities. True to the creative spirit of the craft fair, kids will be able to make a coloring book, create with clay, make spin art using old vinyl records, learn how to do a traditional leather saddle stitch, weave fabric on a wooden hand loom, work with robots and much more. Keep a look out for the 10-foot tall dancing puppet!

Let your children surprise you with a gift they choose themselves at the Ten Thousand Villages Children’s Shop on December 4th and 5th in Squirrel Hill. Store volunteers help children select fair trade, handmade items within their budget (gifts range from $2 to $10). Kids then get to help wrap the presents and personalize their own gift tags.