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Best Escapes From A Pittsburgh Winter

November 27, 2010 4:00 PM

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(credit: http://piratescovewp.com)

Anyone who has visited San Francisco has likely heard the quote: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco”; but friends, that west coast city has nothing on winter in Pittsburgh. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to escape from the cold, snow & winter blahs in the ‘Burgh!

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

1 Schenley Park, Oakland
412/622-6914
http://phipps.conservatory.org

What better way to beat the winter blahs than by traipsing through the lush, green gardens at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens! If the towering palm trees in Palm Court and exotic flowers featured in the Orchid Room don’t do the trick, visitors will surely feel that they’ve escaped the icy grip of Old Man Winter’s clutches as they meander through the Tropical Forest Conservatory. As Phipps’ website assures, “You can always expect a dazzling display of color, light, texture, aroma and beauty, no matter the year or season.”

Pittsburgh’s National Aviary

Allegheny Commons West
700 Arch Street
Pittsburgh PA 15212
412-323-7235
http://www.aviary.org

For those who think winter is for the birds, a trip to the National Aviary on Pittsburgh’s North Shore is certainly in order. Perhaps it’s their pink hue or their appearance on tacky tourist souvenirs, but few birds signify the tropics more than pink flamingos. Entering the Aviary’s Flamingo Connection exhibit may make you feel like you’ve boarded a plane bound for Florida or the sunny Caribbean. If that doesn’t help you forget about the weather outside, be sure to gather ’round the fountain in the Aviary’s Tropical Forest Exhibit to help feed the birds!

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

1 Wild Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
412-665-3640
http://www.pittsburghzoo.com

Take off your coat and enjoy the balmy temperatures as you stroll through a tropical rainforest at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. This “exotic jungle canopy” offers another great escape to the plummeting temperatures of a Pittsburgh winter. Coats aren’t necessary inside the state-of-the-art PPG Aquarium, either, where visitors can enjoy watching sharks, eels, rays, penguins and more! If you don’t mind braving the elements a bit while you’re there, you’re sure to enjoy watching the Amur tigers, elephants and gorillas playing in the snow. The animals tend to be a bit more playful in the cooler months! With the only exceptions being Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is open year-round.

Oliver Bath House

38 S. 10th Street,
Pittsburgh’s South Side
412-488-8380
www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us

The dog days of summer may be a distant memory; but swimmers can still make a splash with a visit to the Oliver Bath House on Pittsburgh’s South Side. Throughout the fall, winter and spring months, visitors can dive on in to a water aerobics class, do laps or just laze by the 40- by 80-foot swimming pool!

Pirates Cove Waterpark at Conley Resort

740 Pittsburgh Road
Butler, PA 16002
1-800-344-7303
http://piratescovewp.com

Sandcastle may be closed for the season, but Conley Resort in Butler has its own indoor water park that’s open all year long. As its name might suggest, Pirates Cove Waterpark features a pirate ship with a water cannon along with two slides. While the kids are splashing around, the mom and dad may prefer soaking in a hot tub or staying warm in a soothing sauna.

The Climbing Wall

7501 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15208
412-247-7334
http://www.theclimbingwall.net/

If cabin fever has you climbing the walls, what better way to escape than, well… climbing the walls! Burn off some of that excess energy by rock climbing. This indoor gym offers more than 14,000 square feet of climbing surface. Whether you’re an experienced climber or looking to learn, The Climbing Wall promises something for everyone.

Mellon Park Tennis Center

6601 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
412-665-4017
www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us

Regardless of the weather outside, tennis lovers can hit the court twelve-months a year at the Mellon Park Tennis Center. Located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Beechwood Boulevard in Pittsburgh’s East End, this indoor tennis center features a “state-of-the-art playing surface” and classes for kids as young as four-years old through seniors.

Monster Mini Golf

3813 William Penn Hwy
Monroeville, PA 15146
412-372-4653
www.monsterminigolf.com

If miniature golf makes you feel like you should be having a picnic with the family in a sun-drenched field after playing a round, then heading over to Monster Mini Golf in Monroeville to beat the winter blues. This indoor facility puts a bit of a different spin on the mini golf/putt putt experience with “glow in the dark Monster themed fun for all ages.”

RMU Island Sports Center

7600 Grand Ave.
Pittsburgh PA 15225
412-397-3335
www.rmuislandsports.org

Serious golfers who wish they could hit the links during the winter months without leaving town may be able to ease a little bit of their frustration with the cold at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center. Located just nine miles from downtown, the 32-acre complex features an indoor driving range inside the gigantic golf dome. Hitting a few buckets of balls is sure to help golfers beat the winter blahs!

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