Photo courtesy of Jurassic Quest.

June is busting out all over with the return of many of our favorite family-focused places and warm-weather events. With kids looking forward to the end of a very long and trying school year, we’re happy to report a heaping helping of activities they can look forward to. There’s plenty of fun ahead with these top 11 events for kids.

Photo courtesy of The National Aviary.

1. Journey to Africa, National Aviary: Ongoing through summer                                                          

The National Aviary focuses on the rich diversity of ecosystems in Africa with a new program this summer. Journey to Africa delves into avian species found in a wide range of environments, from deserts and rocky shores to grassy savannahs and jungles. Meet birds from each of these areas and learn how they adapt to their unique surroundings. Catch the immersive bird show, “African Adventure.” Kids will be thrilled to experiencing a Red-billed Hornbill flying overhead and the flapping 6-foot wingspan of a Grey Crowned-crane. Daily events include the African Penguin Feeding, Vultures in Flight and Eagles of Africa. Make a plan and buy your timed tickets here.

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

2. Movies in the Parks, Hartwood Acres and South Park: June 2-Sept. 4

Following Allegheny County’s spring drive-in season, the free Movies in the Parks summer series invites families to leave their cars and lounge on blankets or chairs for an open-air cinema experience. The weekly fun begins at 7:30 p.m. on June 2 at Hartwood Acres, or on June 5 at South Park. There are also kid-friendly activities before the sunset screenings. “Dolittle” launches the season, followed by “Scoob!” Grownups will enjoy sharing some of their nostalgic favorites, like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Check out the complete lineup here.

Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

3. Three Rivers Arts Festival Creative Activities, Downtown: June 4-13

We’re excited about the return of a more traditional, in-person Three Rivers Arts Festival. Grownups love the live music, artist market and all that fragrantly tempting festival food. But kids want more to stay engaged. TRAF’s Creative Activities lineup is just the ticket! The Giant Eagle Creativity Zone hosts cultural groups that have organized all sorts of hands-on and interactive endeavors. Explore movement with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, make a take-home box instruments with UniSound and mold seed bombs with Union Project. Find storytelling that engages kids through dance, music and dramatic play at EQT Plaza. And stop by Katz Plaza for a group painting session. Not ready to join the crowds? The schedule includes virtual activities, too.

Photo courtesy of Jurassic Quest.

4. Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru, The Pavilion at Star Lake: June 4-20

Your dinosaur-crazed kids will love the Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru when it makes a Pittsburgh stop during its national tour. More than 70 animatronic dinosaurs will make their home at The Pavilion at Star Lake from June 4-20. Along with a fierce T. Rex, the “sail-backed” Spinosaurus and an intimidating Triceratops, adorable baby dinosaurs will offer a smiling welcome. An audio guide will offer informative background on the creatures through the 60-minute tour. Dino wranglers will stop by your car for more personal interactions. Boost the kids’ anticipation by downloading free Jurassic Quest activities like a coloring book, word search and foldable projects. Ticket prices range from $39-$80 per car, depending on the date and vehicle size. Each vehicle will receive a free safari-style photo with a dinosaur backdrop to keep as a souvenir.

Photo courtesy of the Gateway Clipper Fleet.

5. Kids Cruises, Gateway Clipper Fleet: June 6-Aug. 29

The Gateway Clipper Fleet’s kid-themed cruises return on June 6 with a Princess Cruise. Popular royal heroines will be on hand to greet little princesses and lead them in fun activities like a DJ dance party. Action fans will prefer the interactive Superhero Cruise that launches June 13. The youngest set can head to the Trolls & Pup Patrol Cruise, the most popular kids cruise, planned for July 11. Find all the details for your river adventures here.

Photo © Paul g. Wiegman, courtesy of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

6. BioBlitz Family Fun Festival, Schenley Park: June 6

Explore the biodiversity of Schenley Park during Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ annual BioBlitz Family Fun Festival. Choose from more than a dozen free activities led by local scientists and naturalists. The lineup includes walks that focus on subjects like spiders, fungi and snails. Kids can also try their hand at botanical drawing, learn about birding or enjoy a yoga stretch. Registration is free but required for each activity.

Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

7. Storytime, Allegheny Commons and Schenley Plaza: Weekly, June 11 and 17

A weekly Storytime, geared to toddlers and the pre-K set, begins at 10:30 a.m. on June 11 in Schenley Plaza and at 10 a.m. on June 17 at the iron deer sculpture in Allegheny Commons Park. Bring a blanket or folding chair to get cozy and focus on a delightful story. The Schenley Plaza location includes a bonus ride on the PNC Carousel. No registration is needed for this series hosted by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and PA Distance Learning Charter School.

Photo courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
Photo courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

8. Reopening, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and MuseumLab: June 12

At last, at last! After more than a year, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and MuseumLab are reopening on June 12. While the buildings were quiet, museum staff spent time installing, refreshing and updating exhibits. New, long-awaited features include the world premiere of Emotions at Play with Pixar’s “Inside Out,” based on the award-winning animated film. We finally get a look at Gymlacium in the Stacks, an amazing climbing space made of knotted rope. The Kindness Gallery, inspired by Mister Rogers and Daniel Tiger, offers cool ways to show kindness.  The Children’s Museum will be open Thursdays through Sundays and the MulseumLab will operate Saturdays and Sundays. Both require advance tickets to control crowd size. Learn more about the new safety protocols here.

Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

9. Kid’s Day, Schenley Plaza: June 13

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy welcomes families to Kid’s Day at Schenley Plaza for an afternoon of fun in the sun — or under the tent. Kids will love the balloon artist, hands-on craft activities and live performers. Moms and dads will love the price: It’s all free, including rides on the PNC Carousel. No registration is needed. Just stop by between noon and 5 p.m.

Photo courtesy of South Park Theatre.

10. “Cinderella … If the Shoe Fits!,” South Park Theatre: June 14-23

South Park Theatre’s lineup of plays for kids returns with all the gleeful silliness we missed last summer. The season opens with the musical “Cinderella … If the Shoe Fits!” with morning and evening shows on the outdoor stage. Lawn seating is limited to 150 patrons, allowing for social distancing. Tickets will be sold at the door and are $5 (free for ages 3 and younger). For a special treat, order a boxed picnic dinner, available on Monday nights. Next up is “Pinocchio: No Strings Attached,” running June 28-July 7. Check out the complete season schedule here.

Photo courtesy of Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village.

11. Atlatl Competition, Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village: June 19

An atlatl (pronounced AT-lat-el) is a spear-thrower used by prehistoric hunters before high-tech arms like the bow and arrow were developed. Atlatls were carved from wood, bone or antlers and were used to increase a spear’s velocity and force to bring down big game like elk or deer. Kids can see the tool in action, learn the proper technique and try out the spear-thrower themselves at Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village on June 19. The day includes watching some of the world’s best competitors during an Atlatl Competition. The atlatl activities are free with general admission. Buy your timed tickets here or take your chances at the Visitor Center.

Bonus events:

Venture Outdoors Big Day Aht

Inside Out at Carnegie Museum of Art

Fern Hollow Nature Center Play Dates

Beast Mode Archery Challenge

World Square

Sally Quinn

Sally Quinn is a Pittsburgh-based editor and writer who writes about food, entertainment, kid stuff, pop culture, cocktails!