For decades, the Pittsburgh region has been a haven for refugees fleeing violence and oppression in their home countries. Refugee families, children and individuals have put down roots in southwestern Pennsylvania with the help of local resettlement agencies, religious organizations and nondenominational groups. Today, our region is dotted with vibrant communities of hard-working Bhutanese, Bosnian, Burmese, Congolese, Iraqi, Somali, Sudanese and Syrian refugees, among others.
While adapting to a new home with different languages and customs is difficult even in the best of circumstances, refugees positively contribute to the Pittsburgh community in a variety of ways. On June 17, Pittsburgh’s World Refugee Day in Market Square celebrated those contributions with musical and dance performances, as well as “Refugee Voices” presentations and food and fares from the local communities.
Who are refugees? A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. While returning home is often a goal, many refugees spend years in temporary camps in third countries before either returning home or being approved for resettlement in an adopted country. Their plight has been brought to wider public attention over the past year as conflict in Syria and ongoing violence around the world has forced more than 15 million people to flee their country of origin. The United Nations’ Refugee Agency calls this the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
Through it all, Pittsburgh has remained a welcoming city. Thanks to the tireless efforts of various organizations, our region continues to help more than 500 refugees create homes here each year. The U.S. refugee process is grueling and typically takes years. Refugees remain among the most highly vetted population to enter our country, undergoing screenings by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and one-on-one interviews abroad before they may be approved to enter the United States.
It’s time to head outside for some fun family activities. From a children’s theater festival to a week long celebration of innovation in learning, there’s something for everyone this month.
Kids Day at PNC Park: May 1
Baseball season will go into full swing with Kids Day at PNC Park. Little ones can have some fun before the game at the #1 Cochran Family Fun Zone on Federal Street. Inside the park, fans age 14 and under will receive a commemorative Andrew McCutchen Silver Slugger Plastic Bat with paid admission. After the final inning, kids can pretend to be their favorite players when they rush onto the field for a chance to Run the Bases.
Federal Street activities will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visit the Pirates website for more details and ticket prices.
Mother’s Day Weekend in Lawrenceville:May 6—8
The whole family should head to Lawrenceville for the neighborhood’s Mother’s Day Weekend. Mom can indulge in discounts and freebies at 54 participating businesses all along Butler Street. For the foodie mom, there are brunch deals, wine tastings and sweet treats at various restaurants, bars and bakeries. Take advantage of special deals on gifts and services at Wildcard, Love Bikes and Metamorphosis. The event will also offer activities for kids and moms to enjoy together, including Mom and Me make-up classes at The Gilded Girl, Mommy and Me Yoga at Shining Light, and puppet shows at the Teddy Bear Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Mother’s Day Weekend in Lawrenceville will begin on Friday, May 6 and continue through Sunday, May 8. Some activities require registration.
Millvale May Days:
The Business Association of Millvale (BAM) will present a weekend full of activities for Millvale May Days. The free event will feature self-guided tours of 30 stops in Millvale’s business district, where guests can check out sales, specials and raffles. Also included are horse-drawn carriage rides, live music, and opportunities in GAP Park to learn about Millvale’s plan for a sustainable future. BAM will also provide tour maps to mark off for a chance to win one of three grand prizes.
Millvale May Days will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 6 and at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. Grand prize winners will be announced at 5 p.m. during the Saturday Post Party at the Millvale Library.
Pittsburgh Vegan Festival: May 6—7
Vegan and non-vegans alike can attend two days of food and fun at the North Hills Unitarian Universalist Church during the Pittsburgh Vegan Festival. The all-ages event will begin on Friday, May 6 with an opening party and the RE-Model Gala, an art and dance fashion show featuring belly dancers modeling designs by local artists who work with recycled materials.
The event continues on Saturday, May 7 with a full day of vegan cuisine, live entertainment and over two dozen vendors offering everything from handmade jewelry to astrology consultations. Among the available food items are vegan hot dogs from Onion Maiden, Indian fare from Sree’s Foods, and empanadas from Salud Pgh. Especially for kids, there’s story time, an art activity, play time, and more.
The Pittsburgh Vegan Festival will kick off on Friday, May 6 with an opening party from 6 to 9 p.m. The event continues on Saturday, May 7 from 12 to 7 p.m. Tickets for the opening party are $10 pre-sale, $15 at the door, and free for kids 12 and under. Admission to the Saturday main event costs $5 at the door (free for kids 12 and under).
Remake Learning Days: May 9 – 15
During Remake Learning Days, a first for Pittsburgh, kids and families can experience first-hand the revolution underway in the future of education in our region. With hundreds of events on tap, all categorized by audience (children and families, for one), this is your chance to explore the world of hands-on and technology-based learning including STEM and STEAM – that’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math. From STEM all hands on tech at the Carnegie Library to Family Maker Night, there’s plenty to do in this weeklong celebration showcasing everything that makes the Pittsburgh region a national leader in innovative teaching and learning.
Find events everywhere from schools and museums to universities and tech startups, all free and open for you to explore. Check the schedule and plan your week!
EQT Children’s Theater Festival in the Cultural District: May 12—15
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will celebrate 30 years of bringing outstanding children’s programming to Pittsburgh with the latest EQT Children’s Theater Festival. Organized by the Children’s Theater Series, the event will roll out productions by eight award-winning theater companies from Canada, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Peru and Scotland. As part of the festivities, the Cultural District will also offer a wide array of hands-on activities, public art and music at a variety of outdoor, pop-up green spaces and indoor lobbies.
Enjoy a slice or two at Steel City Pizza Fest, Pittsburgh’s premiere pizza and music festival. The annual event returns to Arsenal Park to serve up offerings from 11 area pizza shops representing Millvale, Bloomfield and Lawrenceville. Spirit’s Pizza Boat, the Driftwood Mobile Pizza Oven and the Pittsburgh Pizza Truck will also appear.
In addition to gorging on some cheesy, doughy goodness, guests can also listen to live performances by bands The Turpentiners, Allegheny Rhythm Rangers, Strange Monsters and Turbosonics, or shop for local, handmade goods at the Spring It On craft show.
The 2016 Steel City Pizza Fest will take place from 12 to 6 p.m. The event is free to attend and open to everyone, including dogs.
Touch-a-Truck in the Strip District: May 14
The Junior League of Pittsburgh, an organization of women committed to improving communities through volunteerism, will host a Touch-a-Truck fundraiser in the Strip District. Kids of all ages will have the opportunity to explore fire trucks, ambulances, police cars and other vehicles, and meet the men and women who drive them. Food trucks will add to the mix by selling food and beverages. Proceeds from the event will support the Junior League of Pittsburgh.
Touch-a-Truck will take place from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. at 15th and Smallman Street in the Strip District. Tickets are $4 online, $5 at the door. VIP tickets are $10 for adults, $15 for children (includes early access at 9 a.m. and a t-shirt). Parking is free.
Noah’s Ark Grand Opening at Kennywood: May 25
Families visiting Kennywood this year will discover some major surprises. The historic theme park begins its 118th season with the much-anticipated return of the Noah’s Ark whale. Twenty years after its removal, the majestic creature returns to celebrate its 80th anniversary serving as the entrance to the classic ride. The park will commemorate the occasion with a grand opening event.
Other changes include a new and improved Potato Patch, and the addition of a 4-D Theater, which will run the animated short Ice Age: No Time For Nuts 4-D every 12 minutes. The theater is free with park admission.
Free Family Fishing Day at Fort Pitt Museum: May 29
Point State Park and the Fort Pitt Museum will provide fun and educational activities in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Fish-for-Free Days, a state-wide event allowing people to legally fish on Pennsylvania waterways with or without a license. Point State Park staff will provide plenty of modern fishing equipment and teachable moments for the 21st century. The Fort Pitt Museum will have costumed interpreters with period 18th-century fishing equipment to demonstrate how people fished at Fort Pitt 250 years ago.
The Free Family Fishing Day at Fort Pitt Museum will take place in the Amphitheater along the Monongahela Wharf. While participants are not required to have a fishing license, all other fishing regulations still apply.
PyroFest at Cooper’s Lake: May 28-29
Now in its fifth year, PyroFest returns to Cooper’s Lake to unleash an epic Memorial Day weekend fireworks display. For the first time ever, the event will feature four highly renowned international pyrotechnic companies. On Saturday, May 28, the Chinese company Vulcan will present their action-packed show Road Trip Ramble, followed by Ricardo Caballer Ricasa. On Sunday, May 29, the Canadian company Sirius Pyrotechnics and Pyrotecnico, the largest fireworks company in America, will light up the sky.
PyroFest will also have a choreographed special effects production set to a live performance by the band Rusted Root. Other offerings include music on the main stage, food vendors and a Kids Zone.
Tickets for PyroFest are available for purchase at Showclix.
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Quick question: Any idea how many neighborhoods there are in Pittsburgh?
Hm. Here’s a hint: A LOT. There are 90 in all. Which is kind of crazy. But the really crazy part is that they each have something a little different to offer. The problem is, you can’t really get a good sense for what makes each spot special when you’re just passing through. It’s as though you have to stop, park your car and walk around a bit to truly get a feel for things.
Great idea! Explore Pittsburgh and get some exercise in at the same time. With 90 neighborhoods to hit, you better get started soon. Well, this article should help. Here are 12 walks around town you should take – at least once. Just click the green map icon on each image to see the route.
You can’t call yourself a Pittsburgher if you’ve never seen the Steel City from Mt. Washington. And no visit to Pittsburgh is complete without a walk along Grandview Avenue. So whether you’re a longtime native, a newbie or just passing through plan on taking this one mile walk from the Point of View Statue (George Washington and Seneca Chief Guyasuta) to Shiloh Street. You’ll pass a the Le Mont, St. Mary of the Mount, a few inclines and observation pods where you’ll want to stop for a photo (or ten). Take your time and take your time before making the return trip back to see George.
Mexican War Streets
Known for beautifully restored row houses, tree-lined streets and community gardens, this historic district has a character and feel that’s best experienced on foot. To do so, meander through the streets between West North Avenue to Sampsonia Way and from Sherman to Drovers. Along the way, plan to make stops at a handful of amazing art spaces including the Mattress Factory, City of Asylum, and Randyland. If you’re feeling extra energized cross North Avenue and explore Allegheny Commons and Lake Elizabeth.
The Strip District
Spending a weekend morning in the Strip District. It’s a quintessential Pittsburgh experience. To see what we mean, head to the Penn Avenue market district between Liberty and Smallman for street vendors, ethnic eateries and food purveyors, unique boutiques, antique shops and more. Prepare to shop, smell and sample your way through spots like Wholey’s, Penn Mac, Enrico Biscotti, Parma Sausage and La Prima Espresso. Whatever you do, don’t forget about brunch at Deluca’s or Pamela’s. Then walk it off as you continue your tour of the Strip District with a walk through the Heinz History Center.
Schenley Plaza + Park
Okay, we’re going to come right out and say it. Block an entire day off for this walk. Or plan to take a series of walks. Because there’s so many great things to see, do and explore in and around Oakland. You could park in Schenley Plaza and pop into the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History. Take a lap around (or through) the Cathedral of Learning. Head up Schenley Drive. Stop at Phipps Conservatory. Climb Flagstaff Hill. Follow Panther Hollow Trail through Schenley Park. If you pack everything into one trip, you’ll cover four miles, minimum. Go you!
Riverfront Plaza to Point State Park
If you’re trying to log some extra miles post brunch in the Strip, keep walking until you reach Point State Park. A trail closure makes the starting point a little tricky to reach, but you can get there through the parking lot across the street from the Heinz History Center, or by following Penn to 10th Street. A right on 10th will take you under the Convention Center to Riverfront Plaza. Follow the Three Rivers Heritage Trail to the left. Walking alongside the Allegheny River, make your way to Point State Park. FYI – It’s about two miles there and back if you begin at the Convention Center.
Roberto Clemente Bridge + PNC Park
You don’t have to like baseball to love PNC Park. So what we’re trying to say is that you should definitely check out a Pirates game. And when you do, make your way to the game by crossing the Roberto Clemente Bridge with thousands of Pittsburgh-loving Buccos fans. Best of all, the bridge is closed during home games. So the entire walk is like a giant block party suspended over the river. If you’re taking this stroll in the off season or when the team is out of town, feel free to combine it with other routes, including the North Shore Trail, a trip through the Strip District or a loop around Point State Park.
East Carson Street + South Side Trail
Take a lap around South Side with a route that’s equal parts urban streets and off-road. Kick things off at SouthSide Works near the Hot Metal Bridge. From there, follow the South Side Riverfront Trail along the Monongahela River. You’ll pass through the South Shore Riverfront Park. Kickback or carry on until you reach 18th Street. The next part is up to you. Continue on the Riverfront trail or hop off between 18th and 16th Street to East Carson to explore the sights, sounds and shops on the South Side. Eventually, you’ll want to make your way back to where you began by heading east (obviously!) on Carson Street. Said differently, walk in the direction where the cross streets get bigger until you arrive back in SouthSide Works.
North Shore Trail
From the Great Lawn to the Water Steps and Heinz Field to PNC Park, there’s no shortage of reasons to hit the Three Rivers Heritage Trail on the North Shore. If you do, you can explore at will. Especially if you head to Washington’s Landing and back. Fair warning, it’s almost 10 miles there and back. But every mile is totally worth it. Do this: Start at the Carnegie Science Center, hop on the trail and make a left towards Heinz Field. From there it’s a straight shot to the Landing. So keep walking, stop and splash around at the Water Steps, take a lap around PNC Park or a break at Redfin Blues. The possibilities are endless!
There’s a lot to love about Lawrenceville. The shops and eateries along Butler Street have a lot to do with that. So why not see them all? Good call! Do this: supercharge your walk with a healthy dose of caffeine from Espresso a Mano. You’ll want to stay here all day. But we’re here for the walk, remember? And all of the boutiques, like Pavement and Mid-Atlantic Mercantile. Wildcard is always worth a stop. So is Atlas Bottle Shop. Pastries anyone? See Le Gourmandine. After your treat, you could keep going and take a lap around Allegheny Cemetery. Or you could make your way back to lower Lawrenceville. Either way, you’re looking at a two-ish mile round trip.
While Lawrenceville gets all of the hype, there’s a lot to love about Highland Park too. This lovely neighborhood offers walkable streets right next to some exciting redevelopment projects in East Liberty. Plus, attractions like Highland Park, Pittsburgh Zoo and bike oval make stopping by worthwhile. If you do, begin your tour by scoping out Highland Park. Next, set out to weave your way through this neighborhood, using North Highland Street as your guidepost. Before calling it a day, you might want to consider a detour along Bryant Street. Grab a snack or drink at neighborhood staples like Park Bruges, e2, Joseph Tamellini’s and Tazz D’orro coffee.
Head to this thoroughfare in Shadyside to shop, snack and sip the afternoon away. More specifically, the stretch of Walnut between Ivy and South Aiken is where the action is. But it’s a short walk along this section of Walnut. So if you’re looking to break a sweat and burn off that pastry from Prantl’s, you have a few options. For starters, Bakery Square is less than a mile away. More shopping anyone? Or avoid the crowds altogether with a trip to Mellon Park. Paved paths through this park’s “secret” gardens await you. On your return trip, it’s not a bad idea to stop for some gelato from Mercurio’s. It’s actually a great idea!
Frick Park + Regent Square
If you’ve never been to Frick Park, you definitely need to go. Whether it’s on foot, via mountain bike or with your pup, Frick has you covered with 600 acres to explore. The trails and nature beauty are such that this walk feels more like a hike. Which is awesome. Especially when you sandwich it between snacks in Regent Square. We prefer brunch at Square Cafe and an afternoon of fun at Frick, followed by an adult beverage at D’s Six Pax and Dogs. Armed with the map we created (see green map icon above) and this map of Frick Park, you have an awesome day ahead of you.
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It’s the perfect time to explore some of the Pittsburgh region’s great recreational amenities. What better way to quickly cover as many of Pittsburgh’s wilderness trails as possible than by bike? Our ImaginePittsburgh.com Neighbor Gary Stout can help you get out and on your way. Whether you’re buying, renting, or your wheels need some TLC as you make your way along the Great Allegheny Passage, the Stout family’s shop, Bikes Unlimited in Connellsville, Fayette County is worth a stop. Just 23 miles from Ohiopyle, Bikes Unlimited is part of the revival of trail towns in southwestern Pennsylvania.
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