As I’m writing this, my monkeys are well into summer and enjoying every moment of free time. Yes, back in February, it seemed like this day (and this weather) would never come but it’s finally here! 3 months without much of a schedule. Sleeping in. Staying up late. Days filled with not much to do.
So what is there to do around Pittsburgh in the summer? TONS!!!
Yes, Pittsburgh is such a great city for finding things to do with little (and bigger) kids! I thought I would share some spots that we love to hit over the summer along with some photo tips as well.
Hands down it’s one of our favorite places to visit. When my monkeys were little, we would get the season pass and visit in the morning. I could push the double stroller through there fast enough to be able to make it through the animals and back to the car in time for afternoon naps. It’s a great place to explore and to try your hand at photographing the animals.
Photo Tip #1- Plan to visit early before it gets too hot because that’s when the animals are most active. And don’t be like me and become so focused on getting pictures of the animals that you forget to capture your kids enjoying themselves too!
We love the science center! The rotating exhibits, the favorites that stick around, Sports Works!! There’s plenty to do there for the day or just the afternoon. My kids always loved to visit the special Exploration Station Jr up on the 4th floor. Sadie loved the huge water table area and Caleb loved the ball drop. As a mama of two little ones, I loved that it was a closed off space where they could roam and I didn’t have to worry about losing them.
Now that they’re older, the love saying hi to R2D2 and C3PO and trying out the different activities in the SportsWorks.
And I still bring my camera always looking for that great snapshot. Sadly, I have yet to actually take one 🙂
Photo Tip #2- The Science Center is dark! This makes shooting without a flash very challenging but there are some big beautiful windows that can provide tons of light on a sunny day. Look for the windows! Also you’ll want to use a small f-stop to keep your subject in focus and blur out the other busy things in the background.
3. The Water steps
Just next door to PNC Park on the North Shore of Pittsburgh, you’ll find the Water steps play area with waterfalls, shallow pools and plenty of rock steps to climb on. It’s a free and fun place to cool off in summer, whether you’re in your bathing suit or just wading in shorts and a t-shirt. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grassy hill right next door (but watch out for the geese).
Photo Tip #3- The water steps are very bright and sunny during the day. You’re going to want to keep your ISO at 100 and use a fast shutter to keep from blowing out your highlights (the white parts of your image). And watch out for the water! You don’t want to wreck your camera trying to get that perfect shot. 🙂
4. The Library!
Another one of our favorite, free (and air conditioned) places to visit in the summer. We love the library and love visiting our favorite libraries! Our favorite local library is Northland Public Library in Wexford. We also love the Main Library down in Oakland and the Squirrel Hill Library will always be special to us. Those libraries were the first ones for us to visit when my monkeys were just little ones. You can enjoy story time, play with the puppets and toys they have on hand or even sign up for the summer reading challenge.
Photo Tip #4- The library also can be a dark place, like the science center. You don’t want to use flash because that can disrupt other visitors. For these images, I had to use a high ISO (above 800) and a low f-stop. It’s a great place to capture those quiet moments with your kids (especially if you can sneak around without them seeing you).
5. The Playground!!
This is another fantastic and free spot to visit over the summer. Pittsburgh has so many great parks and many of those parks have great playgrounds with lots to do. When the kids were little and we lived in Oakland, our favorite playground was Anderson Playground or The Dinosaur playground as we knew it. It was a short walk over the bridge from our house and we made the trip almost every evening.
But there are so many other great playgrounds! We loved Blue Slide park in Frick Park. The little Bartlett Playground in Schenley Park was small and quiet, perfect for when my monkeys were littler. And the big wood playground over in Highland Park was also a ton of fun!
These days we like to visit Avonworth Park and playground. It’s nice and shaded and there’s also a good chance of running into some school friends while we’re there.
Photo Tip #5- Try to spend your time just watching your kids at play and not calling for their attention or trying to get them to pose. Capturing summer is about capturing the joy and freedom that they have to just play. Set your camera with a fast shutter speed and just watch and be ready. You might be surprised by what you catch.
This is just the tip of what you can do in the summer in Pittsburgh but their some of our favorite activities. Like I said, summer is a great time to relax, to have fun and to just enjoy some free time. Now if you don’t feel up to capturing some of those moments on your own, or if you want something more than a few cell phone pics, contact me to schedule a LifeStyle session. We can visit your families favorite spots and preserve those memories for years to come!