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2012 Venture Outdoors Festival
Point State Park
101 Commonwealth Place
Pittsburgh, PA 1522
(412) 255-0564

Price: free
Date: May 19
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Click here for festival information

Venture Outdoors, a Pittsburgh based non-profit organization, boasts one simple goal: Get more people involved in outdoor activities.  Hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, rock climbing and cross-country skiing are only a partial list of the activities included in the more than 500 programs Venture Outdoors oversees annually. Its shining star, however, is the annual Venture Outdoors Festival at Point State Park. In its 12th year, the festival is the perfect springboard for families, couples and individuals interested in outdoor recreation lovers. From weekend warriors to families with young children, the event promises entertainment for every member of the family.

The Mon Wharf parking lot will be open Saturday, offering $5 parking as long as the lot isn’t flooded. Walk up Stanwix Street a few blocks to Point State Park. If the Wharf is flooded, click here or here for alternative options.

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Rock Wall Climbing
Strap on your helmet and slip into your harness, then test your skills on one of the festival’s climbing walls. Reaching heights of up to 32 feet, the exhibit offers a real-life climbing experience complete with realistic wall surfaces and climbing conditions. The professionals at Climb Pittsburgh will be on hand to provide supervision and instruction, and to keep everyone safe. Climbers must be between 45 and 250 pounds to try their hand at the exhibit. Skilled climbers will delight at the opportunity to scale one of the advanced walls, but first timers may experience the thrill on beginner’s walls as well.

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Take to the Allegheny River by kayak or dragon boat as part of your festival experience. Kayak Pittsburgh will offer participants the chance to see the city and paddle one of its signature flat-bottomed, yellow kayaks. The dragon boats provided by the Three Rivers Rowing Association can easily accommodate groups of a dozen people. Kayak trips run all day and leave every half hour all day during the festival. Dragon boating is also an all-day event, and trips leave every hour.

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Biking at the festival is not only a sponsored activity but also a means of transportation. Avoid the hassles of traffic and parking by biking to the event on the Eliza Furnace, or the south- and north-side trails. Click here for interactive online maps of the cities bike trails. Bike Pittsburgh will provide all-day valet service during the event. Bike rentals will also be available at the festival through Golden Triangle Bike Rental.

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Cool down and clear you head after taking the festival’s high-octane events. Step over to the yoga tent for a 30-minute lesson in breathing and relaxation. The exhibit is sponsored by BYS Yoga of Pittsburgh. BYS will provide 30-minute sessions every half hour beginning at 11:30 a.m. Step inside for expert instruction in a wide array of yoga styles, or just to pick up additional information and pamphlets.

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If you’re still looking for a more leisurely way of taking in the festival, the PA Fish and Boat Commission will supply rods, reels and bait for anglers looking to land that big one from the banks of the Allegheny River. No fishing license is required and PAFBC officials will be on hand for assistance and instruction. License-free fishing will be available all day during the Venture Outdoors festival May 19.

Related: Best DIY Bike Tours in Pittsburgh

Nearby Dining
Pamela’s Diner
60 21st St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 281-6366

Hours: Mon to Sat – 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sun – 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Take the family to the best breakfast in the ‘Burgh on your way to the Venture Outdoors festival. With six Pittsburgh locations, Pamela’s Diner is sure to be on the way for families traveling from all directions. Its strip district location is the closest of the Pamela’s Diners to Saturday’s event. Treat the family to the hotcakes that dazzled the G-20 Summit visitors and were even showcased at the White House during the 2009 Memorial Day celebration.

Six Penn Kitchen
146 6th St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 566-7366

Hours: Mon to Thurs – 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Fri – 11 a.m. to midnight; Sat – 4:30 p.m. to midnight

For couples looking to grab cocktails and dinner after the festival, Six Penn Kitchen is an excellent choice. It’s close by and offers just the right setting for the festival crowd. From cracklin’ pork shank to beef short ribs, Six Penn Kitchen will have even the hungriest of customers walking away happy.

More Outdoors
Madison/Pittsburgh S.E. KOA Campgrounds
764 Waltz Mill Rd.
Ruffs Dale, PA 15679
(724) 722-4444
Reservations: (800) 562-4034

Washington/Pittsburgh S.W. KOA Campgrounds
7 KOA Rd.
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 225- 7590
Reservations: (800) 562-4034

Turn the Venture Outdoors event into a weekend-long celebration of the outdoors by spending the night camped out at one of the nearby Kampgrounds of America locations.

Related: Top Hiking Spots

Marcel Tourdot is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh. His work can be found at