Passionate About Pittsburgh
and the Moms Who Live Here

Which Pass Should I Buy?

From museums to the science center to the zoo, Pittsburgh has tons of fun things to do with kids. So many, in fact, that sometimes it’s hard to choose which venues to get a pass to. After eleven years and five children, I have tried all the passes. Here are some thoughts about each one.

Carnegie Science Center/Natural History Museum/Carnegie Art Museum


Get. This. Pass. You can get into four museums with it! The Andy Warhol Museum isn’t great for young kids, but it works for teens or for an interesting date night. I pretty much always have this pass. I have a lot of family and friends visit, so I buy the pass that gets up to eight people in at a time. This allows me to take family and friends for free and has definitely been worth the money for me. My kids love the Science Center and Sports Works. They also love the Natural History Museum.

The Children’s Museum


The Children’s Museum is always fun. It includes a big art room where kids can paint and do various art projects, a water play area, the garage where they can race cars and build stuff, and a netted climbing area among other things. It is definitely geared toward younger kids, but my 10 and 11-year-olds both still have fun there. Another nice thing is the second floor is designated for little kids, so no field trips or big kids in that section. I usually switch off buying this pass and the zoo pass every other year.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium


You can’t lose with a zoo pass. While the summer is the most popular season, we prefer to go to the zoo in cooler weather, when the animals are more active, or on nicer winter days to get some fresh air. Some of our favorite exhibits are the polar bears, sharks, and the snake house. With the pass, we don’t feel guilty about going just to play on the playgrounds and glance at a couple of animals either. I personally like the Zoo because it’s good exercise – pushing the stroller up all those hills is hard work! I usually buy the family pass plus the guest passes, so I can bring family when they come into town.

The National Aviary


The Aviary is small, but fun. We are usually done with the whole thing after an hour, but then again, my kids like to move quickly. While the price at the door is expensive, it’s great as an add-on with the Children’s Museum, because that way it’s cheaper. You can also feed the birds for an additional fee. It is really cool to see unique birds and have them walking/flying all around you.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Phipps is one place you might not think to get a yearly pass for kids, but it’s worth it. The gardens are beautiful and the Christmas and spring exhibits are spectacular. They also have fun activities for kids like scavenger hunts with stamps and a garden play area just for kids. My kids also enjoy their storytimes.

Another nice thing about buying passes is that most of them are reciprocal with other science centers, children’s museums, and zoos around the country. You can check online to see which national museums will take your Pittsburgh pass. This has allowed to us visit places for free almost everywhere we go. Which is awesome.

So buy a new pass and go have fun!

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