Carnegie Science Center
1 Allegheny Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15212
A huge science center in downtown Pittsburgh.
In my experience, science centers are either a hit or a miss. The Carnegie Science Center is definitely a hit. We’ve been to quite a few science centers over the years and this is easily one of our favorites. (Seriously, the adults had just as much fun as the kids!)
Let’s start with the fact that the facility is huge. You’re going to want to allow at least 3-4 hours to view everything without feeling rushed. The more time you have, the better. The other amazing thing about this science center was just how varied the exhibits were. From Bodyworks, to BricksBurgh, to the Miniature Railroad Village, you can easily spend a whole day at this attraction and not get bored.
BricksBurgh is a builder’s dream, inviting visitors to take on various block challenges such as building Lego ramps across islands, constructing a tower that won’t fall in an Earthquake, building only using the sense of touch, and more. SpacePlace allows kids to experience what it’s like to be inside a rocket, get hands on with physics experiments, and learn about the planets in our solar system. BodyWorks explores the human body with everything from a deep dive into the senses, a look at how our organs work, and a sound machine that produces all sorts of bodily sounds (farts included, obviously). Roboworld invites kids into the world of robots by giving them firsthand opportunities to control and compete against robots as well as watch robots in action. These are just a few of the more than 8 distinct exhibition areas of the science center.
While each person in our party had a different favorite, we all agreed that SportsWorks (housed in the building adjacent to the main science center building), was the most fun. Here, visitors can engage in some healthy competition by racing on a short track, blocking virtual goals, testing their hand-eye coordination and more. The facility also gives you the opportunity to become a human yo-yo and do an expansive ropes and obstacle course. (Note that Ropes Challenge is extremely popular and can often come with a hefty wait time).
The science center is also home to the UUS Requin, a decommissioned submarine that is docked outside and is now used for tours. Visitors can descend into the sub to see what life was like for the sailors that lived and worked aboard it. Tours occur every 20 minutes and tickets can be picked up at the main ticket counter.
If you need some time to relax, you can also check out a show at the planetarium, enjoy a movie at the Rangos Giant Cinema, or take in a show at one of the many stages throughout the center.
Our group included 6- and 8-year-old visitors and they thoroughly enjoyed every part of the museum. Given the variety available, the science center is a great pick for almost any age, from toddler up through teens. While the youngest kids won’t be able to fully participate in some of the more complicated exhibits, there is plenty to look at and lots of buttons to push-both of which are sure to delight the littlest visitors.
Additionally, the Little Learner Clubhouse is designed for the youngest scientists and features climbing equipment, simple water play, books and more. Nursing mothers will also find a private room for nursing, if one is desired. If you’re traveling with a child that is preschool age or younger, we recommend checking out the Miniature Railroad Village, H2Oh!, BodyWorks, and BricksBurgh. Those areas have the most to offer as far as exhibits that would interest very young children.
Given the sheer size and scope of the science center, you’ll want to plan for lunch as well as the possibility of one to two snacks while there. There is a cafeteria available on the lowest level where families can enjoy food that has been brought from home. The River View Café also offers food for sale (although the Café was closed due to Covid-19 on the day we visited). The Three Rivers Heritage Trail, located just behind the science center, also offers benches that overlook the water. If you’d like a seat with a view, it’s a great spot to enjoy a snack or picnic lunch!
Strollers as well as baby carriers are welcome throughout the science center. A limited number of strollers and lockers are available for a small fee, as well. Parking is available in a paid lot adjacent to the building, making parking a breeze.
Whether you’re a Pittsburgh native or just a visitor, the Carnegie Science Center should be on your list of must-dos in The Steel City!