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June is busting out all over with new exhibits, productions and festivals to exhilarate and inspire kids. Plan your summer bucket list now with these highlights of the best June activities for families.

1. Sundays through Sept. 25: Mr. Messado’s Magic School for the Young and Young at Heart, Liberty Magic

Even on summer break, a school for magic sounds pretty darn appealing. Liberty Magic hosts superstar Mr. Messado and his hilarious take on magic. The 60-minute show was designed especially for the intimate Liberty Magic theater and is intended for audiences from age 8 to adults. The interactive spectacular offers kids the opportunity to experience a magic show in the Liberty Magic space that’s usually reserved for grownups. Tickets start at $25.

The world’s largest playable guitar weighs in at 2,200 pounds. Photo courtesy of the Carnegie Science Center.

2. Through Oct. 30: GUITAR: The Instrument that Rocked the World, Carnegie Science Center

This traveling exhibit from the National GUITAR Museum presents more than 60 acoustic, electric, historical and unique guitars, including the world’s largest playable guitar, which measures 43 feet in length. Kids will engage with 15 hands-on STEM interactives that explain the science of sound and music. As integral as guitars are to today’s music scene, the exhibit examines the history of musical instruments like lutes and ouds that led to the guitar’s development. GUITAR: The Instrument that Rocked the World is a perfect stop for music and science fans. The exhibit is included with Carnegie Science Center general admission.

The Mantis shrimp’s spring mechanism gives it an extreme speed that creates a sound wave. Photo by Perry Aragon courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

3. May 28-Jan. 2: Nature’s Amazing Machines, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Nature’s Amazing Machines, a traveling exhibit from the Field Museum in Chicago, invites visitors to consider that every living thing on Earth is a marvel of natural engineering. The immersive, interactive exhibit will demonstrate how creatures and organisms are designed to evolve and survive. You will learn about shrimp that can break through glass, how cheetahs reach such remarkable speeds and spider webs that are stronger than steel. Nature’s Amazing Machines also explores nature-inspired human technology, like Velcro and chainsaws. Tickets are $4 for kids and seniors and $6 for grownups (priced separately from museum general admission).

These African penguins swim and play in their pool. Photo by Mike Faix courtesy of the National Aviary.

4. May 28 through August: World of Oceans, National Aviary

Families will experience an international seaside sojourn at the National Aviary’s World of Oceans. Daily events include Wonderful Waterbirds in the Helen M. Schmidt FliteZone Theater, where kids can get up-close-and-personal lessons on flamingos and a Hyacinth Macaw. African Penguin Feedings are planned along with a talk by a penguin expert who will discuss how you can help penguins survive in the wild. These World of Oceans activities are included in the Aviary’s general admission. Additional programming, such as the Lorikeet Feeding and an African Adventure, require separate tickets.

STREB Extreme Action will wow the crowds. Photo by Jamie Kraus courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

5. June 3-12: Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, Cultural District

This year, the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, running June 3-12, is taking on the spirit of a giant block party within the Cultural District. The 10-day Arts Festival, produced by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, will fill the space with pop-up parks, performance stages, art installations and food vendors. Grownups will love the diverse musical lineup and the Artist Market will offer plenty of browsing and shopping opportunities. Kids are catered to as well with hands-on activities and exciting performances – such as STREB Extreme Action, Magic Dot Painting and a family dance workshop. And it’s all free!

Is everything better with chocolate? Find out at the Artillery and Chocolate weekend. Photo courtesy of the Fort Pitt Museum.

6. June 4 and 5: Artillery and Chocolate, Fort Pitt Museum

We like to imagine that everything goes better with chocolate, so the sweet combo of Artillery and Chocolate at Fort Pitt Museum seems like a natural pairing. The weekend event on June 4 and 5 includes an exploration of how chocolate was made and consumed in the 1700s. You’ll have a chance to sample the colonial chocolate and see how it compares to modern recipes. The artillery aspect includes a ceremonial firing of a replica British 6-pounder cannon. The outdoor (weather permitting) Artillery and Chocolate event is free, but admission is required if you want to explore the Fort Pitt Museum.

Be a scientist at the annual BioBlitz. Photo courtesy of Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.

7. June 5: BioBlitz, Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

The annual BioBlitz festival explores the biodiversity of Schenley Park, beginning on the Phipps lawn. Local naturalists and scientists help kids celebrate science, art and nature. Choose from themed nature walks that focus on subjects like birds, stream life, wildflowers or lichen. Share your findings just like a scientist at the BioBlitz Research Base. And kids can also create botanical art illustrations. BioBlitz is free with no registration required.

Kids will be inspired by “The Amazing Lemonade Girl.” Image courtesy of Prime Stage Theatre.
Kids will be inspired by “The Amazing Lemonade Girl.” Image courtesy of Prime Stage Theatre.

8. June 16-19: “The Amazing Lemonade Girl,” Prime Stage Theatre

Prime Stage Theatre just announced a program expansion with Prime Stage Sprouts that is aimed at kids as young as 5. First up is a production of “The Amazing Lemonade Girl,” a true story inspired by Alexandra Flynn Scott. When Alex was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer, she opened a lemonade stand in her front yard to raise money to help other sick kids, one cup at a time. Her efforts grew into the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, which has raised more than $200 million and funded 1,000 medical research projects. The play is suggested for kids ages 5-11, who might decide to join the Lemonade Days drive that runs June 4-12. Tickets are $10 for kids and $18 for grownups. The preview performance on June 16 is pay-what-you-wish. A sensory inclusive show is planned for June 18.

Kids can choose their special zoo day with dad. Image courtesy of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

9. June 18 and 19: Father’s Day weekend celebration, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium honors dads with a weekend of family revelry. Donuts with Dad is scheduled for the morning of June 18 with a breakfast of yummy pastries and activities in the Garden Tent before moving along to the zoo exhibits. Donuts with Dad tickets cost $25 for kids, $28 for grownups and $8 for kids younger than 2. Zoo admission is included. On June 19, dads receive free admission when accompanied by their kids. The Father’s Day Celebration promises a full day of adventure. As you make your way through the zoo, see how many animal dads your kids can spot.

Pittsburgh Public Theater leaves the O’Reilly Theater this summer for performances in Allegheny County Parks. Image courtesy of Allegheny County Parks.
Pittsburgh Public Theater leaves the O’Reilly Theater this summer for performances in Allegheny County Parks. Image courtesy of Allegheny County Parks.

10. June 26 (and July 1, 2, 8 and 9): “Robin Hood,” Allegheny County Parks

A new outdoor theater program aimed at families comes from Pittsburgh Public Theater in the Parks. This summer, the players head to three county parks for a playful retelling of “Robin Hood” by playwright Greg Banks. Robin and his band of merry men bring an action-packed tale and live music to a reimagined Sherwood Forest. Pack a blanket and chairs for an entertaining al fresco performance. “Robin Hood” will be performed at various times and dates at South Park, Boyce Park and Hartwood Acres.

Bonus events:

Ongoing through Aug. 28: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: A Grr-ific Exhibit, The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

June 4: World Ocean Day, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

June 4-Aug. 13: Allegheny County Movie Nights, Hartwood Acres and South Park

June 8: Hop into History: Self-Taught Artist John Kane, Heinz History Center

June 9-12: “Open Air: A Series in Celebration of the Performing Arts,” Allegheny Riverfront in Sharpsburg

June 11: Story Saturday: Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski, Carnegie Museum of Art

June 11 and 12: American Indian Living History Weekend, Fort Pitt Museum

June 11 and 25: Hip-Hop Camp: My Name My Place Street Art and Graffiti Workshop, August Wilson Center African American Cultural Center

June 12: Summer Reading Extravaganza at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main (Oakland)

June 30-July 9: “Seussical Jr.,” Little Lake Theater

For more things to do in June, check out our Weekly Event Guides and read 15 very Pittsburgh things you’ll want to do in June.

Sally Quinn

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