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Staying near home doesn’t sound like a spring break vacation, but there are exhilarating experiences waiting right around the corner or just a few miles away. The diverse neighborhoods of the Pittsburgh region offer a wonderful experience to try new things. A spring break staycation can be extremely fun with these activities suggested by a local expert.

Bob Bechtold
Director of Outreach and Recruitment
One Heinz St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(412) 231-2377

Mr. Bechtold’s passion is serving the community and enlisting opportunities for all ages, and part of that process are the varied responsibilities under his tutelage since 1998 at Sarah Heinz House. This includes the Director of Outreach and Corporate Partnerships, Senior Program Director, Fitness Center Manager, Robotics and Technology Supervisor, Camp Manager, Kitchen Manager and Program Director. Bob graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.S. degree in Psychology, Michigan Ross School of Business, and Boys and Girls Club Leadership University School in the mastery level in the Advanced Leadership Program. From 1991-1994, Bob was a member of the 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Bob is involved in a myriad of affiliations, and is currently the president of the Heinz-DelMonte FCU Board of Directors.

Tip 1: Sight Seeing

Take a tour and explore the Station Square complex. Hop aboard the Just Ducky Tours and blaze your own path on land and river. Not far away is another fun and exhilarating ride on the Duquesne incline to catch an inspirational view of Pittsburgh from Mount Washington or the West End Overlook. Another point of interest is to check out some eateries at the Strip District and munch away on a Primanti sandwich or make a stop for a delicious treat at MonAimee Chocolat. The history of the Strip District abounds with people watching, shops, street vendors and a chance to be part of history as you walk around and check out the diverse blend of cultures.

Tip 2: A Day At The Park

Take the family for a day trip to North Park, which is part of the Allegheny County Park system. There are a multitude of opportunities for water sports at North Park Lake, ball fields, a new ropes course, hiking trails, biking and a picnic shelter to take time to enjoy a basket lunch and then feed the ducks, fish and try out the well-equipped playground. There is a new restaurant at the boat house, which not only has a delicious, healthy menu, but also a time to watch the birds, canoes and water bikes or even rent a kayak. North Park features a wildlife preserve, nature center and specialty programs just for kids to explore a naturalist atmosphere for a unique educational experience.

Tip 3: The Three Rivers Heritage Trail

Pack up the kids and park the car, but not before making a brief moment to unload the bikes and enjoy a day of bike riding. There is an opportunity for the kids to walk the trail for some healthy exercise and view some famous landmarks and maybe dream about playing for the Pirates or Steelers as they walk past PNC Park and Heinz Field. Any extra time available may be used to map out a trip around the city to enjoy the many murals, which includes one at Sarah Heinz House. Put the finishing touches on the whole experience with a break to eat and stop in at the Cafe @ the Lofts, and then enjoy a treat at Gus and Yia Ya’s. The kids will get an educational experience to try out new things, find new adventures and enjoy activities that are not only fun, but also an affordable family outing.

Related: Best Spring 2015 Races In The Pittsburgh Area

Tip 4: Unplug

The is the type of day where the kids will turn off all electronic devices for a day. Forget about the video games and trek on over to your favorite local library. Here you may write letters to deployed military personnel, and at the same time, do some research and find out information about where the soldiers are located. This will be a valuable learning experience to find out about other countries and their cultures. Kids can send letters to P.O. Box 18052, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania or find out more information at Operation Troop Appreciation.

Tip 5: Museums and Destinations

There are a host of venues for a valuable educational adventure as Pittsburgh is well known for its outstanding museums, landmarks and historical buildings. The kids will be able to experience a memory of a lifetime as they marvel at the unmatched displays of wonder and excitement. Be sure to check out the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, Children’s Museum, ToonSeum and St. Anthony’s Chapel on Troy Hill. A day wouldn’t be complete without an excursion to the National Aviary, Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, Senator John Heinz History Center or Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Many of the venues offer hands-on activities and all are forms of exploration for fun and discovering the secrets of ecology, science, sports, music and art.

Related: Ask A Pittsburgh Expert: Easy Crafts To Do With Your Kids

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