October wows with great big stuff for kids, from giant monster fish to life-size dinosaurs. Superstar Simone Biles and fellow Olympic gymnasts will vault onto the scene. And Halloween makes its presence known with a month that’s jam-packed with activities for the littlest costumed cuties and full-grown teenage ghouls. Scroll on for October’s top events for kids of all ages in Pittsburgh.
Be sure to pack your masks and visit each organization’s website and social media to stay updated about Covid safety protocols and guidelines.
1. Oct. 1-31: Phantom Fall Fest, Kennywood Park
The folks at Kennywood Park organized Phantom Fall Fest, a new tribute to Halloween that’s geared to both ends of the family spectrum. During the day, little kids can drive, spin and fly on their favorite amusement rides in Kiddieland and Thomas Town. At 6 p.m., as the sun goes down, the fear factor rises for older kids and grownups. Four scare zones, five haunted houses and Kennywood’s hair-raising rides contribute to the frightful fun. Phantom Fall Fest operates Fridays through Sundays. Buy tickets.
2. Oct. 1-2: Making Your Parks Shine, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy with illuminated installations in six parks around the city. Making Your Parks Shine invites families to a series of free community block parties from 6 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 1 and 2. Expect kid-friendly activities, live music and food vendors for a complete festival experience that promises to be dazzling! Registration is free but required.
3. Oct. 2-April 23: Pompeii: The Exhibition, Carnegie Science Center
The story of Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii, the city that was frozen in time under layers of ash and lava, will capture the imaginations of all ages. With the opening of Pompeii: The Exhibition at Carnegie Science Center, the people who had disappeared for 1,700 years are brought back to life. The immersive exhibit includes videos, body casts and artifacts that show how the citizens of Pompeii lived, worked and worshipped. Tickets are sold separately from Science Center admission.
4. Oct. 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17: Campfire Ghost Stories (and other fun stuff), Allegheny County Parks
A chill in the air and a crackling campfire make the perfect setting for ghost stories and songs. Kids can wear costumes to compete for prizes, too. Registration is free for Campfire Ghost Stories events. Allegheny County Parks hosts a bunch of other free seasonal activities with a family focus. Hay Day offers hayrides, a maze, a puppet show, a magician and a barnyard petting zoo on Oct. 3. Catch “Hocus Pocus” (PG) and Nightmare Before Christmas” (PG) at a Family Drive-in Movie night. At Punkin Chunkin on Oct. 23, thrill to the sight of pumpkins being launched across a field by a full-size trebuchet. And be sure to visit one of the Trunk or Treat events with costumed kids for an afternoon of car cruise trick-or-treat merriment.
5. Oct. 7: Elizabeth Acevedo, Schenley Plaza Tent
The author of “Clap When You Land” and “The Poet X,” Elizabeth Acevedo makes a stop at the Schenley Plaza Tent on Oct. 7 as part of the Words & Pictures series presented by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. She’s won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award and the Pura Belpré Award, among others. The free lecture can be accessed virtually, too. Registration is free but required.
6. Oct. 8-April 10: Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
The National Geographic Society’s Monster Fish exhibition will wow visitors of all ages with wild fish stories and plenty of interactive splashes. Take a trip around the world with Zeb Hogan, host of the Nat Geo “WILD” series, to discover the river basins where monster fish make their homes. The exhibit includes five life-size sculptures of colossal fish, games and videos. Detailed maps and illustrations highlight the cultural ties between people and fish. Nearly 20 species and their unique freshwater ecosystems will give kids a greater understanding of the importance of these monster fish to the world. Tickets, sold as an add-on to general admission, are $3 for kids and seniors, $5 for adults.
7. Oct. 9-10: Dino Stroll, Monroeville Convention Center
Your dino-obsessed kiddos will go crazy for the chance to walk among a towering T. rex, Stegosaurus and a Brachiosaurus that stretches out 60 feet. More than 75 life-size animatronic dinosaurs will take over the Monroeville Convention Center during Dino Stroll on Oct. 9 and 10. The interactive walking tour gathers a herd of dinosaurs with moving heads and tails, breathing movements and synchronized sounds that make them seem alive. Tickets are $24.99 for ages 2 and older.