Friday, December 14, 2018

Best Christmas Light Displays in Pittsburgh

Each year in December, we get the kids in pj's and give them the impression that they're heading to bed early, only to load them up in the car and do a Christmas light drive! I recently asked on our facebook page for the best suggestions around our region. Since so many commented with such great suggestions, I thought they would be worth putting in a post where everyone can see the info in one place. 


1. Christmas Light Up Celebration (Clinton, PA)

TOP RECOMMENDATION! This One-Mile Drive Through Holiday Experience is the best kept holiday secret in Pittsburgh! Over a mile of lights and displays in a beautiful, enchanted woodland setting.  Located on Route 30, only two miles from the Pittsburgh International Airport, and fifteen minutes from shopping at the Mall at Robinson. 



Dates/Times: November 17, 2018 - January 1, 2018. Open daily from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM.  Open on all holidays. $10 donation per car is asked.
600 Clinton Park Drive, Clinton, PA 15026

Traffic detours: There will be traffic detours for Christmas Light Up Celebration on December 14, 15, 21 and 22 from 6 to 9 pm. Traffic will be routed from Rt. 30 West onto Matchette Road, left onto Camp Meeting Road to Clinton Park Road. Police officers will be on Rt. 30 assisting with these detours.

2. Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland (Big Butler Fairgrounds)
This award-winning Christmas light and music extravaganza is unlike any show you've seen. Guests simply tune in their radio, and watch the magic unfold as they drive through hundreds of thousands of brilliant LED lights dancing in perfect synchronization with the music filling their vehicle.  Journey ends at kid-friendly Santa's Village.  $25/carload, $40/mini-bus, limo, activity van.  New & Improved Santa's Village! Entry into Santa's Village is FREE with light show admission. It's a place where young and old alike can gather and enjoy the fun, festive spirit of Christmas indoors.
Dates/Times: November 18, 2018 - January 9th, 2017. Open daily from 6:00PM - 10:00PM. 

1127 New Castle Rd,  Prospect PA 16052




Baker Family Christmas Extravaganza of Lights and Music, a spectacular display of 35,000 Christmas lights set to cheerful holiday music. 

Dates/Times: December 1, 2018 - January 5, 2019. Open daily from 5:00PM - 11:00PM. 

502 Hedge Row Court, Cranberry Township, PA 16066 


There are over 1 million sparkling lights as well as fun, festive opportunities to decorate cookies, ride the Gingerbread Express, visit Santa, and hear choirs singing throughout the park. You'll find hot chocolate and apple cider added to refreshment stands to help you warm up!  Kennywood’s 4-D Theater will show screenings of The Polar Express: A 4-D Experience, included with admission. My kids loved this show! 
Go here to purchase tickets for only $14! (Kids 3 & under are free.)
Dates/Times: Kennywood Holiday Lights will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 5-9pm,  November 23 - December 30, 2018. 

Holiday Lights Rides
   • 4-D Theater, showing The Polar Express 4-D Experience 
   • Auto Race 
   • Ghostwood Estate 
   • Journey with Thomas (train ride) 
   • Kangaroo 
   • Merry-Go-Round 
   • Noah’s Ark 
   • Pirate 
   • Thomas Town Attractions 
   • Turtle 
   • Up to 10 rides in Kiddieland

5.  Maplewood Avenue in Ambridge, PA
There is limited info online that I could find out about this one, but here is a little more info. It has been voted one of the top 10 houses in the country a few times. Donations benefit St. Jude's.

Located in the thriving Metropolis of Leechburg, PA on Main St., this annual computer animated light display has returned. This year they are fully converted to LED and RGB technology, adding a digital dimension to the display. The play list is nearly 1 hour long before repeating to the first song! Free to the public. 


Tune your Radio to 100.3 FM before arriving on Main St.

Drive slowly, there may be a lot of people around. Be aware of children who may be crossing the street
Dates/Times: Starts at 5:30 pm Nightly, ends at 9:30pm on School nights, ends at 10:30pm on Friday and Saturday night. Runs through January 5th, 2019. 
147 Main Street, Leechburg, PA

If you're looking to take a little family road trip, this is a great destination! Since 1985, the Winter Festival of Lights has been delighting visitors of all ages. This annual holiday light show is one of the nation's largest, covering more than 300 acres over a six-mile drive throughout the resort. Located just over an hour from Pittsburgh in Wheeling, WV.  A per car donation is requested and is valid for the entire festival season. Trolley tours are offered several times each night beginning at Wilson Lodge. The family-friendly GlassWorks Grill at the Lodge is a yummy lunch or dinner stop!

Experience the show like never before with NEW 3D Sleigh Bans! Prepare to be amazed as holographic eye wear transforms every point of light into a magical display.
Oglebay also offers a Christmas shop, festival of trees, holiday train rides, family hay rides, a straw maze, gardens of light + more. The on-site Good Zoo holds a light and music extravaganza as well. Various prices apply. Go here for more information.  
Dates/Times: November 9, 2018 - January 6, 2019. The Winter Festival of Lights is viewable Sunday through Thursday until 10:00 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday until 11:00 p.m.
465 Lodge Drive, Wheeling, WV 26003

The Phipps Holiday Magic: Let It Glow is one of the most beautiful Christmas displays in our region! Boasting dazzling new displays of holiday trees, topiaries, exquisitely detailed props, and our signature floral delights, including amaryllis, orchids and more than 2,000 poinsettias. From a newly-restored Palm Court filled with trees mounted on oversized music boxes to a Serpentine Room of nutcrackers, toboggans and tea sets, one amazing display after another will dazzle your senses and warm your holiday spirit. Plus, in the Outdoor and Discovery Gardens, the must-see Winter Light Garden will sparkle with luminous orbs, trees, fountains, a tunnel of lights and an all-new ice tower display that will mesmerize guests of all ages. 


See Holiday Magic in a whole new light! Add limited-edition Holiday Hologram Glasses that use the amazing science of holographic diffraction to reveal festive snowflakes while looking at Phipps’ sparkling spectacular LED displays, an added delight for all ages.
$6 per pair includes a coupon good for free popcorn or a pretzel at the CafΓ© Phipps Holiday Hut*. Purchase yours when you order your timed tickets!
Dates/ Times: Open through January 6, 2019. Daily hours are 5 – 11 p.m. for Winter Light Garden. Regular admission rates apply. 

The Zombek family  holds their Annual Christmas Light Display to benefit Make-A-Wish®. They've raised thousands of dollars for this amazing charity over the past 5 years. The light display features over 20,000 LED Christmas lights, two reindeer heads that sing along with the music and 5’ RGB arches that dance to the music. 
Dates/Times: November 26, 2018 – January 1, 2019. The show is one hour in length and runs continuously from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. on weekdays and 5:00 – 11:00 p.m. on weekends.
214 Williamsburg Drive, Elizabeth, PA 15037

10. Overly's Country Christmas



By the family carload admission, there’s plenty to see and do in Christmas Village:  visit the model trains in Hartman Station; experience the local history in the Sleigh Room; reflect on the meaning of Christmas at the crΓ¨che ; visit with the Talking Christmas Tree; enjoy the little ones play at Mr. Waterheater’s Funderland; walk the lights; admire the handwork of the local college’s gigantic metal sculptures; enjoy the warmth of the bonfire while listening to the songs of Christmas,  visit with Santa until December 23rd, , spend quality time with your children and family to create holiday memories to last a lifetime. For an additional charge, take a horse drawn wagon or sleigh ride, enjoy the smiles of your children or grandchildren aboard the Kids’ Express or have a photo taken with Santa.  (All areas are CASH ONLY.  An ATM is available on site).  $20.00 per car or family van. Cash only.
Go here to check for dates + times. 

116 Blue Ribbon Ln, Greensburg, PA 15601




Here are some other neighborhood suggestions that I don't have much more info on. If anyone has specific addresses or websites about any of them, please let me know!
  • Glenburn Drive (Pleasant hills)
  • Woodland Ridge in Moon twp - a lot of houses participate and will have their lights up the whole month. It's off of Thorn Run Rd. Their light up night is Dec.11, 7pm. 
  • Hidden Valley Drive in West View/Ross (off Rochester Road close to 19) Many houses with a lot of lights!
  • Mt. Nebo Road (across from Home Depot) Lots of lights!
  • Maple Drive in Ross Twp. has three or four houses next to each other with tons of inflatables and some lights.
  • Pleasant Hills (Glenburn neighborhood, off 51 behind Uhaul) "is amazing!" 
  • Stonecrest plan off Saxonburg Blvd

Enjoy your family drives! Hot chocolate optional. πŸ’“πŸ’“πŸ’“

Monday, October 8, 2018

Discount offer for Kennywood Park's Happy Hauntings

This past weekend our family headed to Kennywood Park for their family-friendly Happy Hauntings! If my kids can combine two of their favorites - candy + rides - they call that a pretty great day. 😊
Near the entrance, you will see a sign for the trick-or-treat trail where your kids will be given a bag and follow the trail for goodies. There are some skeletons, but overall, it is not scary. (Although, your husband may or may not be jumping out from behind bushes to try to scare them. πŸ˜‰)


Not all rides were open, but my kids were excited to see the Jackrabbit, Paratrooper, Merry-Go-Round, Auto Racers + the Turtle Coaster were all operating. Kiddieland is also open as well as the brand new Thomas Town! Thomas Town was pretty cool, my kids really love this bigger version of the Mousetrap.



This was the first time we had been there that the new indoor play area in Thomas Town was open. How great is this?! An indoor, air conditioned play area on a hot day?  I think that's a big YES from parents and kids!



Happy Hauntings will be running Saturdays and Sundays in October from noon - 4:00pm. (Admission is free for kids 3 & under.)

DEAL ALERT! πŸ‘‰ We have a deal to save you $3 per ticket......purchase your discount tickets here.

Add this tradition to your family memories for October and......Happy Hauntings!


This post sponsored by Kennywood Park. I have received tickets or compensation in exchange for my review. All opinions remain my own. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Win tickets for Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!

When my kids first started reading chapter books, Junie B. Jones is one of the first series to which they gravitated. She's always seems to be in some sort of mix up that delights as she stumbles her way to a solution. We are pretty excited about the chance to see a Junie B. Jones show live and in person!




Enter: Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!
Junie B. Jones, First-Grader, is super-excited about the upcoming Holiday Sing-Along and Secret Santa gift exchange at her school. Too bad tattletale May keeps ruining all of Junie B.'s fun. So, when Junie B. draws May's name for Secret Santa, she comes up with the perfect plan to teach her nemesis a lesson! But will the Christmas spirit of peace and goodwill interfere before she can give you-know-who what she deserves? A hilarious and endearing tale based on the best-selling book series by Barbara Park.






Fri, Nov 23 - Sat, Nov 24, 2018


  • Byham Theater
  • 101 6th Street 
    Pittsburgh PA 15222

  • Run Time: 60 minutes
    Child Policy

    • This post sponsored in partnership with Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. I may have received tickets or compensation in exchange for promotion. I don't promote venues that my family doesn't love! 
      Photos courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

    Wednesday, October 3, 2018

    $10 off at Idlewild's Hallowboo!

    After our first visit in 2010, Idlewild quickly became a favorite yearly tradition for our family. With an amazing kiddieland, it's endless fun for our little people. They seem to have endless energy in enjoying Jumpin' Jungle. 😲 My kids became extra excited about the idea of a 2nd yearly visit when we were introduced to Hallowboo! All the fun of Idlewild, but with candy + extra treats? They were in!


    Trick or Treat through Story Book Forest
    A stroll through Story Book Forest is always a beloved experience for families visiting Idlewild. Featuring a winding path through a real forest, guests visit cottages and other character scenes from fairy tales and nursery rhymes. During HALLOWBOO, kids 12 and under are provided with a complimentary trick-or-treat bag that they can use to collect delicious treats from Goldilocks, Captain Candy, Little Red Riding Hood and many more! Treats provided by Snyder of Berlin and other candy favorites.
    Ride the HALLOWBOO Express Railroad
    The Loyalhanna Limited Rail Road transforms to the HALLOWBOO Express, featuring an 8 minute train ride through a not-too-scary Halloween themed adventure!
    HALLOWBOO Shows
    Shake out your bones and get ready to dance! Our deadly dance captains are going to cast a spell on you and make you Jack-O-Lantern Jive all night long! These classic dance hits will have you bouncing through the pumpkin patch as Idlewild presents the JACK-O-LANTERN JIVE! (4:00 and 5:00 PM)
    As your spooky day comes to a close, be sure to join your favorite characters for an end of the day spooktacular celebration! We’ll be highlighting some of your favorite moments here at Hallowboo, and we need the help of all of our little monsters at Idlewild! Join us for a ghoulish good time as we end the day with a MONSTER MASH! (Following the 6:00 PM Jukebox Saturday Fright Show)
    It’s a beautiful day in Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood and you’re invited to be a part of the fun! Join Daniel Tiger and Katerina Kittycat for DANIEL TIGER’S GRR-IFIC DAY - a show full of make believe and good feelings as we learn how to share, try new things, and use our imaginations.

    It’s the Idlewild you know and love, with a FUN, family-oriented, Happy Halloween Twist! Enjoy the rides and attractions of Olde Idlewild, Story Book Forest, Jumpin’ Jungle, Hootin’ Holler, Raccoon Lagoon kiddieland, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Plus, Trick-or-Treating through Story Book Forest, Live Entertainment, Costumed Characters, Themed Attractions and more! 




    SAVE BIG!

    We have discount tickets for admission to Idlewild's HALLOWBOO event on any (1) of the following dates: 

    October 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21 ,27, 28, 2018. (Children Age 2 and under are always FREE!)

    Gates & Story Book Forest open at 11:30 am | Rides & Attractions* operate 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

    Go here to purchase your discount tickets -  https://www.idlewild.com/Hallowbooblog

    *SoakZone, Wild Mouse, Loggin’ Toboggan and Ricky’s Racers do not open for HALLOWBOO! Select other rides, attractions, small food stands and games may be closed.



    Go get your tickets and have an amazing family day making memories!


    ABOUT IDLEWILD & SOAKZONE - Founded in 1878 as a picnic ground along the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, Idlewild & SoakZone (Idlewild.com) is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and third-oldest in America. Idlewild is recognized as the world’s best amusement park for children per Amusement Today magazine (http://www.amusementtoday.com). 



    Twitter: @Idlewildpark
    Instagram: @Idlewildpark
    #HALLOWBOO

    This post is sponsored by Idlewild, so I received compensation or products in exchange for my promotion. All opinions remain my own as I don't endorse companies that my family doesn't love!

    Monday, October 1, 2018

    EQT Bridge Theater Series + ticket giveaways

    My kids have edged past the toddler stage (yay!) and are starting to look for kid friendly shows that are still entertaining and fun, but don't feel geared towards younger kids. So our family is very excited about the EQT Bridge Theater Series this year! The EQT Bridge Theater Series tells extremely interesting stories, but teaches some cultural and historical themes as well. 


    The EQT Bridge Theater Series is for children ages 7+ and their families. These shows will amaze, excite, and leave you wondering. Get ready for theater that moves, shakes, and shatters expectations! Shows take place in Downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District in the Byham Theater, Trust Arts Education Center, and one mystery location. The Bridge Theater Series will continue and expand upon the tradition that families begin when their children attend Children’s Theater Series shows at an early age.
    Another great aspect of this series is that most shows are under an hour and tickets start at just $12!
    Be sure you have your settings to our facebook page set to follow as we'll be giving away tickets for each show!

    2018-2019 Season


    Trust Arts Education Center
    A suspenseful tale as old as time itself. Even if you know the story, this version is a new experience that is told as the audience reclines in hammocks under a radiant sky. Androcles is a slave who must escape after being accused of theft. He flees to into the burning sun of the Libyan desert. So many creatures and sounds live in the desert. And in the middle of the pitch-dark night, a roar sounds so loudly that Androcles’ heart freezes. Experience this tale of danger, deception and kindness in this unexpected and immersive story.


    Androcles and The Lion

    Moon Shot
    Byham Theater
    Biggest Story, Smallest Stage. To recreate the story of America’s Apollo 11 lunar landing, seven actors squeeze onto a 21-square feet stage nearly as tight as NASA’s original Mercury capsules. Using only their bodies and their voices, this astounding play brings to life one of the most daring times in the history of human exploration: the Space Race. From the Cold War to Sputnik, from Yuri Gagarin to Neil Armstrong, this action-packed show brings the company’s tongue-in-cheek humor to a whole new atmosphere—one where the rules of gravity no longer apply.


    Leo
    Byham Theater
    What would happen if the law of gravity were to suddenly change?
    LEO is a mind-bending, funny, surreal, and surprisingly touching theater work that challenges the senses and tests perceptions of reality through the clever interplay of live performance and high tech video projection.
    Universally appealing to adults and children, LEO leaves audience members wondering which way is up and which way is down.



    Murikamification

    Step into the daydream that unfolds before your eyes. Using the magical, surrealistic stories of Haruki Murakami as a source of inspiration, Kaiel creates an intensely physical and absurd performance trail. In each new city, the work is adapted to the local context. In each version of ‘Murikamification’, a diverse and curious audience is overwhelmed by surprising scenery in the streets of their own city. Follow the action on this moving theater piece throughout Pittsburgh’s own Cultural District.


    Mark your calendars, purchase tickets + share with your friends! These shows are going to be fantastic fun! Go here to purchase tickets. 
    Children’s Theater Membership benefits, including exclusive meet-and-greets with performers and priority seating, begin at the $100 Partners Membership level. You and your family can play a role in bringing outstanding children’s programming to Pittsburgh. Join today.
    This post sponsored in partnership with Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. I may have received tickets or compensation in exchange for promotion. I don't promote venues that my family doesn't love! 
    Photos courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2018

    Our summer travel adventures

    I've been quiet on the blog this summer because...kids. :) They are now 9, 7, 6 & 5 which is still a very full time job! 
    Summer. It's an awesome thing. It's a frightening thing. My kids don't do great with extended periods of time without a consistent routine. So summer can be a challenge at times. This summer I started a new experiment.....travel! Although most of the time I lament that our extended families all live far away, the one advantage is that travel to see them gives us some new adventures + a free place to stay! So this summer's agenda became visits to family in 4 states:

    North Carolina
    New York
    Minnesota
    Colorado

    The first two states were individual trips, the second two states were put together in a 55 hour road trip! Our saving grace? Kid's podcasts! (More on that later.)


    First stop was The Outer Banks in North Carolina. 9 cousins + surf + sand = win win!



    Our next trip was to NYC. We had a very special reason for our trip there! As you can see, two of our children joined our family through adoption. But we have worked hard to maintain personal connection with their first family and so it was a joy to travel there and spend some time with some of them, including their sister.


    Governor's Island was an awesome find! It's a $3 ferry ride (free for kids) to a car-free island with playgrounds, slides, a 30-park hammock, food vendors + a great view of the Statue of Liberty.


    Maintaining connection with their first family is a whole blog in itself, but it is a beautiful gift to see these siblings spend time together!


    Next it was off to Minnesota! I grew up in Minneapolis and my siblings all still live there. My kids had a great time with all their aunts & uncles. Also, travel tip....scooters are great! They fold compactly, but are great for saving little legs on treks. 


    One more 15 hour car ride and we arrived in Denver, where my parents now live. The beauty of the mountains is so spectacular!


    We did tons of biking and hiking in Colorado....it was the best!



    My husband was able to fly out and join us in Denver, just in time for the 25 hour ride home. :) Which we stretched out into a 5 day drive to make it less difficult.

    Riding the street car in Kansas City, you never know what creatures you'll run into!


    Our next stop was St. Louis which had lots of fun options. I think if we do this drive again, we would definitely stay longer in this city. The City Museum was highly recommended!


    Our final destination on the way home was the Ark Encounter. It's a life-sized ark according to the Biblical record and wow, it was big! They also have a small zoo outside, restaurants, zip line tour + more. Tickets are a lot for adults ($48!), kids are more reasonable at $15. But overall, it was an interesting experience!


     So, a 55 hour car trip....how does everyone keep their sanity? πŸ˜‰ That is the question! We definitely had our moments of insanity. The biggest difference in our travels now is simply that our kids are getting easier in travel as they get older.
    We try not to rely on screen time, but we did get a kindle for each of our kids in traveling. The thing I love about kindles is that you can do a variety of activities on them - movies, music, books & podcasts. So we would rotate activities on them. Our kids really fell in love with podcast listening this summer - and actually learned some cool stuff! Their favorite podcasts are:

    Brains On
    Wow in the World
    Smash Boom Best 
    Story Pirates
    Storynory
    Short & Curly
    Fierce Girls
    Stories Podcast
    Chompers
    Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian
    This Podcast Has Fleas
    Highlights Hangouts 
    Eleanor Amplified 

    Travel is one of my favorite things to do with kids. I know that my travels throughout high school and college really helped expand my world view and I want my kids to experience the same. We don't have unlimited funds and often look for free things to do in the places we visit. We try to pack a lot of our food or stop at grocery stores. We're definitely always looking for ways to cut costs and save money. The more we are able to do this, the more places we'll be able to travel. Everyone had their own rolling suitcase which they were able to manage on their own. The nice thing about summer travel is that summer clothes don't take up as much space as bulky winter items!

    So, till next summer, when I hope we'll be able to experience more travel adventures!