Photo courtesy of Gemini Children's Theater.

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All signs point to summer’s end: School is back in session, the cicadas are shrieking and leaves are beginning to rustle. But September remains a prime time for family entertainment. Warm weather weekends burst with festivals, special events and celebrations. Here are 10 things to put on your list to ease the transition into autumn.

Photo courtesy of the Carnegie Science Center.

1. Sept. 3-March 12: “Train Time,” Rangos Giant Cinema

The American premiere of a movie opening in the Rangos Giant Cinema at the Carnegie Science Center visits the surprising intricacies of the modern railroad. “Train Time” mesmerizes with freight trains whisking through breathtaking landscapes. But the behind-the-scenes aspect of STEM careers available throughout the railroad industry is fascinating. Railroads continue to be an integral part of American life and “Train Time” provides an eye-opening glimpse into the roles of dispatchers, roadmasters, engineers and conductors. Catch a daily screening on the big screen. The $7 tickets are separate from Science Center admission.

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

2. Sept. 3 and 4: End of Summer Block Party, Children’s Museum campus

The Children’s Museum and MuseumLab send a fare-thee-well to summer with a weekend of free outdoor activities. The neighborhood block party will draw fun-loving families to two days of excitement. Groups like Assemble, Sensory Super Powers and Kente Arts Alliance will offer activities. Browse booths with products from Minimo Jewelry, Olesya Fashion Boutique and Forlorn Moon Clothing. No registration is required for the outdoor celebration, but visiting the Children’s Museum or MuseumLab requires paid admission.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

3. Sept. 4: Explore Bison with the Park Rangers, South Park

No need to travel all the way to Yellowstone to encounter bison. Allegheny County Park rangers offer families the opportunity to learn more about the herd that lives in South Park. Hands-on opportunities will be available at the exploration table. Join guided walks at the game preserve scheduled for 10 and 11 a.m. to get a good look at these majestic beasts. The Explore Bison with the Park Rangers program is free, but registration is suggested.

Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Musical Theater.

4. Sept. 8-11: Broadway at the Overlook, Pittsburgh Musical Theater

CitiParks and Pittsburgh Musical Theater (PMT) team up to present free preview performances of PMT’s upcoming season. Join the audience at the West End Elliot Overlook for musical selections from favorites such as “Beauty and the Beast, “The Little Mermaid” and “A Lyrical Christmas Carol.” Other samplings give insight into “Evil Dead the Musical,” “Jersey Boys” and “Once.” The 90-minute show includes an intermission with snacks and drinks available for purchase. Or bring a picnic basket and enjoy the city view for a pre-show dinner al fresco. No registration is required for the performances which begin at 7 p.m. daily.

Photo courtesy of Contemporary Craft.

5. Sept. 9-Oct. 16: RADical Days, Allegheny County locations

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — in Allegheny County, at least. The monthlong RADical Days series is the time when organizations that have benefited from the Regional Asset District thank taxpayers with free activities and events. Families can enjoy admission to local museums, hands-on creative activities, plus concerts and theatrical performances. Browse through the complete lineup and mark your calendar for a fun-filled month of free, free, free!

Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

6. Sept. 11: Grandparents Day, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Event planners at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium created a special intergenerational celebration for kids and their grandparents. On Grandparents Day, all pap paps and grandmas accompanied by a grandchild receive free admission. As a reminder that sharing is caring in the world of extended families, the grandkids are allowed several grandparents on the same deal. UPMC for Life members also receive free admission, with or without a grandchild in tow.

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Opera.

7. Sept. 17, 20, 23 and 25: “Rusalka,” Pittsburgh Opera

Once upon a time, long, long ago, before Disney reinvented Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” a Czech fairytale recounted the fanciful story of a water sprite named Rusalka. Rusalka falls in love with a handsome prince and asks a witch to transform her into a woman in exchange for her voice. Will love triumph or will dire consequences unfold? Follow the drama at Pittsburgh Opera’s production of “Rusalka,” opening the company’s 2022-23 season. “Rusalka,” which premiered in 1901, includes supertitle translations. The performance is best for romantically minded tweens, teens and adults. Tickets for ages 6-18 are half-price for all Pittsburgh Opera performances.

Photo courtesy of Gemini Children’s Theater.
Photo courtesy of Gemini Children’s Theater.

8. Sept. 18: Gemini Children’s Theater Fairytale Festival, Riverview Park

Gemini Theater — and its many fans — are thrilled to return to its annual fundraiser with an outdoor Fairytale Festival instead of its traditional Royal Ball. Celebrating 25 years of interactive children’s programming, revelers are invited to dress in their favorite fantasy attire as a royal, pixie or another character. The family-focused party includes a unicorn, royal petting zoo, carnival games and crafting. Expect tasty eats and an opportunity to dance, dance, dance. In addition to sponsorships, tickets are $5 for littles 2.5 or younger, and $35 for all others, with a special rate of $125 for a family of four.

Kawanishi Hide, “Green House” (detail), 1936, courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art.

9. Sept. 18: Sustain/Ability, Carnegie Museum of Art

Carnegie Museum of Art’s Youth Art Initiative invites teens to Sustain/Ability, a day of eco-friendly community connections and activities. Expect clothing swaps and an exploration of how to help create a more sustainable society. Upcycling workshops will offer ideas for on-the-spot mending and fashion creation. Light refreshments will be served, along with a guided tour of the “Extraordinary Ordinary Things” exhibit. The teen-only Sustain/Ability event is free for ages 13-18. Registration is required.

Photo courtesy of the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race.

10. Sept. 24: Junior Great Race, Point State Park

The day before the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race winds its way from Frick Park to The Point, kids have the chance to compete in the Junior Great Race. Runners ages 5-12 can participate in the 1-mile Family Fun Run with their grownups. The under-4 crowd is invited to the Tot Trot, where they’ll take off down a 50-yard walled chute to the finish line. Little ones who aren’t quite upright have their chance to race on their hands and knees in the Diaper Dash. All participants receive a commemorative medal upon completion of their race. Registration is $10 for the Junior Great Race. The experience is priceless.

Bonus events:

Through Sept. 25: Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival, West Newton
Through Oct. 30: Asian Lantern Festival, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Through Oct. 30: GUITAR: The Instrument that Rocked the World, Carnegie Science Center
Through Jan. 2: Nature’s Amazing Machines, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Sept. 1-5: Kickoff & Rib Festival, Acrisure Stadium
Sept. 3 and 17: Family Adventures, Carnegie Science Center
Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27: Tabletop Tuesdays, Schenley Plaza
Sept. 9-11: Pittsburgh Irish Festival, Carrie Blast Furnaces
Sept. 10: Story Saturday: “Many Shapes of Clay,” Carnegie Museum of Art
Sept. 15 and 15: Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival, Station Square
Sept. 17: Three Stooges Film Festival, Harris Theater
Sept. 21: Venture Outdoors Equinox Tree ID Walk, Boyce Mayview Park

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