Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Why you (yes, YOU) have some dear old friends in Pittsburgh!

I remember this tree!

I remember this tree!

His voice, advice, welcoming way and total acceptance will stop all 30-somethings dead in their tracks. Because, really, there is nothing like running into an old friend who knew you when YOU were a wee one. And loved you because you were you. Such an encounter awaits you at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. That special friend? Fred Rogers.

Pittsburgh is his town. His legacy lives there. The Children’s Museum gives you the chance to touch it, feel it and share some of that Fred Rogers magic with your own children.

Hi Lady Elaine!

Hi Lady Elaine!

Parts of the TV show’s set and puppets are woven throughout the museum.

X the Owl at Pittsburgh Children's Museum

Including the original Daniel Tiger who is now the animated star of PBS’s reinvention of Mister Rogers: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Daniel Tiger at the Pittsburgh Children's Museum

If you aren’t watching this show with your children, START! Now! Calming and engaging, my 4-year-old is entranced. I feel like I learn just as much about parenting as he learns about overcoming the challenges he faces each day (sharing, disappointment, potty training, separation anxiety,etc.) PBS Mon-Fri. 11 AM

Mister Rogers Trolley

In the transportation room or garage, there is a giant Mister Rogers Red Trolley to climb on.

Worth noting, this room features a giant climbing, sliding exhibit complete with an elevator so that children of all abilities can participate. LOVE that!

The Children’s Museum is filled with other wonderful attractions, an enormous art studio where you can make prints, work with clay, paint, draw,etc.

Pittsburgh Children's Museum of Pittsburgh Art Studio

There is a climbing tower that takes munchkins all the way to the second floor.

Climbing tower pittsburgh children's museum

There is an energy busting rainbow bounce tunnel. Yes, please!

Rainbow Bounce Tunnel

A word play area, puppet theater, mechanism building center (for older more independent kids) and a toddler play area that is incredible even for the tiniest adventurers.

Gummy bear color light wheel

But the best kept secret is downstairs, under the cafe. Not only is there a stage featuring that familiar castle from the land of make-believe, but there is a real, working, independent radio station broadcasting LIVE to children everywhere. It’s called IQ Kids Radio. You can listen directly on your smart phone or computer.

And they are NOT jamming the airways full of teeny-bop bubble-gum drivel. It’s fun, intelligent music, storytelling, interviews, and factoids. Executive Director and on-air host, Larry Berger, even invited us inside. My pre-schooler slipped on some headphones and stepped up to the mic.

An Incredible Audio Workshop!

An Incredible Audio Workshop!

He sang his favorite, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” Berger quickly engaged C by playing the recording backwards, sped up chipmunk style, then with a grown-up voice and on and on. It was an awesome hands-on learning experience on how digital recording and editing works. It never occurred to me that teaching a nearly 4-year-old these concepts was even possible. It is!

Stop by the Children’s Museum when you are visiting Pittsburgh. And in the meantime, listen each Saturday morning to their fantastic line-up for your little ones. I have to say, coming out of the TV world, it is so rare to find a media outlet devoated to quality programming, committed to education, and willing to find the money to support it. RARE. RARE. And RARE. These folks are passionate about YOUR kids.

Just the way your old friend, Fred Rogers, was passionate about you.



PS1: ON A PRACTICAL NOTE: The cafe serves up ambience and healthy food for lunch. The walls serve as a gallery of photographs of Fred Rogers. Delightful! Bathrooms are clean. Wipes and extra diapers at the front desk for forgetful parents (I know this because my diaper bag was full of everything but…um…diapers!)

PS2: Coming SOON to the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum… This museum is unveiling its newly renovated water play area that will include ice and snow activities, dam building and a giant water wheel. It sounds like it’s going to be very cool.

This blog post is part of a series of the rather circuitous route we took to our new home in Maine! More to come : ) Read here and here for other incredible must-see Pitt-stops in Pittsburgh!

Anna Crowley Redding is a mom and stepmom to FIVE kids and the author of six books for young readers with four more on the way! You can check out more information on her books and support her writing by clicking here.