Summer is a great family time to share all the exceptional recreational, cultural and historical opportunities that the Pittsburgh region offers. Families can enjoy these experiences at the available parks, pools, waterways and wooded areas that have a multitude of interest in all forms of movement for all health, exercise and educational pursuits. Many of the activities are free and families can enjoy that time together at picnics or take hikes, bike or stroll along the scenic waterways. There are ample facilities in the Pittsburgh area to encourage a variety of activities to enjoy and celebrate the summer weather.
Pearce Mill Road
Allison Park, PA 15101
North Park is part of the Allegheny County Park system and the vast facilities that are available are appropriate for all members of the family and adaptable for all interests. There are free swimming lessons and special programs, hiking and biking trails, a swimming pool, golf course, tennis courts, ball fields, horseshoes, fishing, water sports, playgrounds, horse show arena and a newly designed zip-line course. Families can use the picnic and shelter facilities and then take a walk around the park to enjoy the wildlife and nature that are abundant in the park. Events are scheduled throughout the year, and summer is a special time to get involved in all forms of recreational and educational activities.
Sandcastle Water Park
1000 Sandcastle Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15120
If families are looking for a place to escape the summer’s heat and humidity, then Sandcastle Water Park will be the correct choice. There are a variety of thrilling excursions and exhilarating slides, rides and pools, and younger children may enjoy the same experience of the water park with adaptable versions for a safe ride. All family members who just want to relax and beat the heat for a soothing adventure may float along the Lazy River amusement area. The more adventuresome groups may try to survive the enormous wave pool gyrations or take a spin through total darkness for an amazing thrill into a chasm of twists and turns for a memorable slide.
Ohiopyle State Park
7 Sheridan St.
Ohiopyle, PA 15470
Ohiopyle State Park has something for everybody and a short jaunt to the Laurel Highlands may be a comforting journey as the summer’s temperatures reach a boiling point. The historical Great Allegheny Passage offers a brief reprieve from the heat and the relaxing vistas along the wooded path will be a wonderful experience to view the plethora of foliage and wildlife. There are a host of activities that families may enjoy as the natural setting of the park is perfect for hiking, biking, climbing, fishing and all types of water sports. A walk along the banks of the famous raging rapids may offer a soothing spray, and there are guides to traverse the water for a thrilling rafting or kayaking experience.
What better way to spend a hot, summer day than getting doused from the water jets at the Citiparks Spray Parks? Children may move about the fountains of water, but must be aware of the timing of the automatic sensors that give them a thrilling surprise of when they will be turned on or off. There are no swimming skills involved and that opens the participation for all ability levels, including wheel chair accessibility. There are colorful obstacles and heaps of movement to keep the children happy and active. The spray parks are located in Beechview, East Hills, Shadyside and Troy Hill.
Idlewild Park & Soak Zone
2582 Route 30
Ligonier, PA 15688
If you are ready to get wet to fight off the sultry or oppressive summer temperatures, then a trek to the Laurel Highlands and the Idlewild Soak Zone will quell that uncomfortable feeling. Families have many different choices to experience the constant flow of water and the slides, racers and wave pool may just give a cooled-off feeling with each turn, twist or wave. There are opportunities to relax in the calm environment of the swimming pool or tube float to unwind from the soaking deluge of water that Idlewild Park produces. The Soak Zone has something for everyone and thoughts of a return visit are worthy of the total wetness and fun it brings.
Gerry Cernicky is a retired health and physical education teacher with 36 years of experience. He is a former teacher of the year and a sports writer for the Vandergrift News. He delivers podcasts, and maintains a website and blog. He currently resides in Pittsburgh. His work can be found at Examiner.com.