October is filled with exciting events that will keep kids entertained throughout the month with seasonal activities offering a touch of mystery, along with a cool exhibit for tiny tykes.
Exhilarating theatrical productions include interactive audiences, the Greatest Show on Earth and a musical revival that’s taken 40 years to come to fruition.
The whole family will be captivated by a giant-sized documentary, plus the annual Fall Flower Show, which is the longest-running in the nation.
Here are our top October picks for Pittsburgh families.
1. Through January: “Wobbleland,” Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Giant soft sculpture fruits and vegetables give little kids a new way to play with their food. “Wobbleland,” developed as an art installation by Marisol Rendón, offers interactive play that helps develop important skills. The Avocado Seesaw lets kids teeter-totter on a slice of avocado. Kids drop oversized orange seeds into holes in the Orange Seed Sorter. And there’s the Watermelon Boat and the Tomato Stacking Game, too. “Wobbleland” activities — and a building full of other amusements — are included with museum admission.
2. Through Oct. 8: “Beauty and the Beast,” Gemini Children’s Theater
It’s impossible to count how many versions of “Beauty and Beast” have appeared since the original was written nearly 300 years ago. In Gemini Theater’s interactive production, Belle travels to the Beast’s castle to save her father. There, she finds an enchanted garden with chatty flowers, forest animals (played by kids in the audience) and a Beast who is more grouchy than horrible. Belle and her audience help the Beast develop a more positive and kinder attitude. This program is intended for kids ages 2 and older. ASL interpreters will be available at the Oct. 7 shows. Tickets are $5 for ages 3 and younger and $15 for ages 4 to adults.
3. Through June 30: “Blue Whales: Return of the Giants,” Carnegie Science Center
The biggest animals to ever live on earth — even bigger than dinosaurs — can be found on Pittsburgh’s biggest screen at The Rangos Giant Cinema. The “Blue Whales” documentary shares the plight of this endangered species while dispensing lots of facts that science-minded kids will appreciate. Blue whales can grow to 100 feet long, about the length of three school buses parked end to end. They eat up to 16 tons a day, which could fill a dump truck. Kids can access lots of free activities from the “Blue Whales: Return of the Giants” website. Explore nature stewardship, whale communication and an augmented reality encounter. Tickets for the film are $10, separate from Science Center admission.
4. Oct. 5: Words & Pictures Series: Jon Klassen, Carnegie Library Lecture Hall
Caldecott Medal winner and New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Jon Klassen brings his new mystery, “The Skull,” to Pittsburgh. Kids love his wry humor in books like “I Want My Hat Back” and “Sam and Dave Dig A Hole.” In “The Skull,” Klassen takes on a more ghostly tone in the retelling of a Tyrolean folktale. The Skull lives in an abandoned house where a girl named Otilla finds shelter. Both Otilla and the Skull live in fear of returning danger. Can Otilla save them both? It’s the perfect story for spooky October reading. Klassen’s visit will entertain kids during an in-person and online presentation. Registration is free.
5. Oct. 6-7: “Sugar Skull!” Byham Theater
“Sugar Skull! A Día de Muertos Musical Adventure” is a touring bilingual/bicultural musical that uses traditional regional music and dance from Mexico. Here’s the story: 12-year-old Vita Flores thinks her family has gone a little crazy planning a Day of the Dead party for deceased loved ones. But Sugar Skull, a candy skeleton, springs to life, taking Vita on a magical adventure. They meet ancient ancestors and the trickster Chaneques along the way. Eventually, Sugar Skull helps Vita understand the meaning of Día de Muertos. The spirited musical is perfect for a young audience. Tickets are $30.25.
6. Oct. 7-28: Fall Flower Show, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Phipp’s Fall Flower Show, Hometown Harvest, celebrates the bounty of fall. Vast displays of plump chrysanthemums in a variety of colors and sizes will offer festive pageantry among other fall experiences. Families can see bees making honey, visit a pumpkin patch and take a walk along a pond. The main focus is likely to be the Garden Railroad, which also opens on Oct. 7. This year’s theme is Pennsylvania Through the Four Seasons. Miniature recreations include a summer sleepaway camp, a lighthouse on a rocky shore, an ice rink and a ski lift, along with biking and hiking through spring scenery. Timed tickets are required.
7. Oct. 13-15, 20-22: “The Epic Quest of the Damsels in Distress,” South Park Theatre
It’s all about girl power in this fairy tale play. Isadora, abandoned by her father in a forest, prefers being strong and independent rather than a damsel in distress. She soon meets three other spirited young women who share the same mindset. They travel together on a comical adventure, running into fairies, dragons and arrogant princes. They prove they can find their way through the world as self-sufficient women. This fall production will be held on the outdoor stage. Bring chairs, snacks and blankets. Tickets are $5; free for ages 3 and younger.
8. Oct. 20-22: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, PPG Paints Arena
Following a six-year hiatus, the reimagined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus returns with its new rendition of the Greatest Show Earth. The circus is now animal-free but there is a lot to keep your family enthralled. Expect a spectacle of superhuman feats with an immersive, 360-degree environment and new technology. Thrill seekers will make acrobatic leaps 30 feet off the ground and the Extreme Box Jump Trampoline will send bicycles and unicycles into the air. Antics on the Triangular Highwire are certain to cause gasps from the audience, too. Tickets start at $16.
9. Oct. 21-29: Halloween fun, multiple locations
Pittsburgh organizations have planned quite a lineup of Halloween family events this month. Some of our favorites include:
- ZooBoo, running Oct. 21, 22, 28 and 29, at Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium, where kids can trick-or-treat, create crafts and show off their spooktacular costumes in the Halloween parade. Activities are included in admission.
- A smashing good time is planned for Punkin Chunkin on Oct. 21 at Hartwood Acres. Watch pumpkins be launched across the field with a full-sized trebuchet. The day includes crafts, games, face painting, balloon art and sword fighting. And it’s all free.
- Catch Boo-tiful Music on Oct. 21 at a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Fiddlesticks concert that’s complete with Discovery Time Activities. Tickets start at $18.
- Head to the National Aviary for the annual Owl-O-Ween on Oct. 21 and 22. Costumed kids will march in a Halloween parade, build an Owl-O-Ween craft and enjoy a meet-and-greet with owls. Activities are included in admission.
- Super Science Saturday presents Booseum at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History on Oct. 28. Costumes are encouraged for a nature-themed Halloween celebration with a scavenger hunt and goodie bags of prizes. Registration is free with museum admission.
10. Oct. 31-Nov. 5: “The Wiz,” Benedum Center
Ease on down, ease on down the road with this twist on “The Wizard of Oz.” You’ll have bragging rights once this revival — the first in 40 years — hits Broadway at the end of its national tour. This Dorothy is a girl in Harlem who gets caught in a snowstorm that transports her to that magical Land of Oz. The score is packed with ‘70s funk, gospel, soul and rock to keep everyone bouncing in their seats. The visuals should be wild! The design team includes scenic designer and Academy Award winner Hannah Beachler (“Black Panther”), plus costume designer and Emmy and Oscar winner Sharen Davis (“Ray,” “Dreamgirls”). Best for ages 8 and older. Tickets start at $35.
Oct. 8: Kids Day, Schenley Plaza
Oct. 9: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Heinz Hall