Photo Credit: Stephanie Anderson

Thanksgiving is a great time to celebrate the holidays and spend precious moments with family and friends. The Pittsburgh region is adept at providing activities for families to share memories, and the plethora of cultural and recreational pursuits may be an educational, historical and healthy way to enjoy the fall season. This is more than a time to share a holiday meal, but a wonderful opportunity to explore what Pittsburgh has to offer. Children may be delighted to welcome Santa Claus and participate in parades and seasonal celebrations. There are opportunities to experience early Christmas shopping or be entertained with musical selections, colorful lighting displays and seasonal decorations.

PNC YMCA Turkey Trot
PNC Park
115 Federal St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(412) 227-3800

Date: Nov. 28, 2013

The annual Turkey Trot has been a mainstay for 23 years for aspiring runners and walkers to celebrate the Thanksgiving season. Kids may rejoice and participate in a healthy start before they assemble at the Thanksgiving dinner table. There are different categories for those that are running and walking for fun and exercise or dedicated runners that have trained for the Turkey Trot. What better time for families to join together and find time to encourage a healthy outlook and share the joy of the season with other participants in a friendly jaunt as they run and walk past the awe-inspiring venues of PNC Park and Heinz Field.

Related: Tips For Keeping Your Kids Active From A Pittsburgh Fitness Professional

Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
1 Museum Road
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 228-9256

Dates: Nov. 29 through Dec. 15, 2013

Hop aboard the Santa Trolley and join Santa Claus with a festive trolley ride to celebrate the holiday season. Families may enjoy the musical selections with the children to get in the spirit. There are opportunities to be a conductor while visiting the Lionel toy train display, which includes a small town, trains and all the accessories for a wonderful make-believe experience. Play tables are designed similar to children’s television shows for a memorable hands-on experience. After the ride, there are crafts and a free refreshment available, and then move onto the museum for a chance to purchase gifts.

Gingerbread House & Train Display
1 PPG Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 434-1900

Date: Nov. 22, 2013 through Jan. 7, 2014

PPG Place is where you should be to view the elaborate gingerbread houses that are designed by students, local organizations, chefs and seniors. Trains traverse through a myriad of tunnels, buildings and villages while the sounds of the holiday season prepare families for the upcoming Christmas holiday. The gingerbread houses, which are engaged in a friendly competition for best in show, are aligned throughout the train display and along the perimeter of the Wintergarden. There are exhibits from countries around the world that feature ethnic costumes and the history of how Christmas is celebrated. Bring your camera for the perfect family holiday portrait, and the trains, costumes, gingerbread houses and holiday music will be an educational and historical memory for all family members.

Carnegie Science Center
1 Allegheny Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(412) 237-3400

Carnegie Science Center offers a science fun day for kids to enhance interest in scientific exploration. The kids can romp among the exhibits for an exhilarating hands-on experience. Kids will have the opportunity to view a theater production and watch a selected Omnimax movie. The sight, sounds and smells of innovation and the tactile approach used by the Carnegie Science Center provide imagination and an inspirational experience. This is a special scientific day for kids to unwind and participate in activities that are fun in an educational learning environment.

Related: A Guide To The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

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