National Aviary in Pittsburgh: Summer Staycation Series in Western PA

This year, our family of 6 decided to do a “Summer Staycation”. We only go away for vacation every other year at this time. When we do our staycations we love discovering, or rediscovering things in western Pennsylvania. There is so much to do in western PA so narrowing it down can be hard. I realized we had never taken the kids to the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.

I remember going to the aviary on a field trip with the school when I was in elementary school. I remember enjoying my time there. It’s something different that you just can’t find everywhere.

For a family of 6 we actually found it was slightly cheaper just to go ahead and get a 1 year membership. When you get a membership you can visit as many times as you like, you get free parking, and a 10% discount in the gift shop.

Sea Eagles in the background (yes they’re real)

We went on a Tuesday. It wasn’t very crowded at all. We got there around 11 am and there was a surprising amount of parking available. There were different themed areas like the Grasslands, the Wetlands, Condor court and more. It was an immersive experience. Some birds could roam around freely in each room.

Birds running freely in the Wetlands

Birds would fly past you. There was lots of greenery. Very lush and natural looking open habitats.

The Wetlands with Cranes and Scarlett Ibis. There were also flamingos and many other birds.

There are lots of extra experiences you can do if you choose. One I highly recommend is the Lorikeet feeding. For only $3 a person you can get in line to feed the Lorikeet. You’re given a cup of nectar and allowed in the room to feed the Lorikeets. These birds will land right on you and drink from the cup. I had one climb up my arm onto my shoulder and then onto my head. But the birds are small and very gentle. My 6 year old was a little nervous at first but she loved it. She even asked if she could do it again.

Me feeding a Lorikeet and my son in the red shirt.
My 6 yr old participating in the Lorikeet feedings. She loved it.

Another affordable experience that ended up being my husband’s favorite was the SOAR! Birds of Prey presentation. For $5 per person you can go to the sky deck on top of the building. Trainers give a presentation on different birds of prey. Our presentation included a falcon, vultures, and black kites. The birds are well trained. They swoop in and catch treats, perch on the trainers arm, and more. You are not able to touch the birds but you get pretty close.

Vultures taking treats from the trainer.

If your budget’s a little bigger you can get in on experiences like the Sloth Experience, Armadillo experience, Penguin feedings, and more. There is also a theater on premises that shows different films and presentations.

There are two small gift shops and a food court available as well. If you’re not doing any of the added experiences you only need about 2 hours to see all the birds. If you are doing the experiences add at least 30 minutes for each experience. We got there around 11 am and left about 2:30.

If you want there is also the beautiful Allegheny Commons park surrounding the Aviary with a playground area, picnic tables, ponds with bridges, and lots of shady spots for a hot day. We let the kids stretch their legs at the playground and explored the park a little before heading out.

The National Aviary is located on the North Shore and is close to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and not too far from the Carnegie Science Center, It’s also only a 15 minutes drive from Phipps Conservatory.


2019 Pittsburgh Children’s Film Festival Preview: Get Your Tickets Now

Discover the odd, colorful, and delightful world of children’s cinema this summer at the 2019 Pittsburgh Children’s International Film Festival. Join us July 26 – August 1 for week-long line up of children’s films that range from blockbuster hits to fun and quirky international flicks.

The festival will feature several Pittsburgh premiers, as well as the best short films from the 2019 New York International Children’s Film Festival. Complimentary special events, guest appearances, and hands-on activities are planned throughout the week.

The festival will be hosted at Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville, which will play movies at a lower volume to protect young ears and provide kid friendly snacks at select screenings. In the spirit of the festival, children are welcome to move around the theater, chat, and just be kids.

We had the opportunity to visit Rowhouse Cinemas in Lawrenceville to get a sneak peak of the 2019 Pittsburgh Children’s festival. This was our first time visiting Row House Cinemas.

Right in the middle of Lawrenceville sits this super cute single screen theater. As we walked in , framed movie posters are displayed on the wall. we were greeted by friendly staff. The familiar smell of popcorn in the air. A unique feature is the shop, Bierport, to your right where you can purchase craft sodas and beers that can be brought into the theater if you wish. The theater itself offers all natural popcorn with real butter. During the film festival kids’ snack packs will be available with popcorn and juice boxes.

We got to screen The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales a French/Belgian animated comedy. There were three short films included each one was cute and entertaining. The kids talked about which one was their favorite after. Definitely something different to see. You’ll be able to see this film and other during the Children’s Film Festival this summer!


SAVE THE DATE July 26-August 1 – International Children’s Festival – Save the Date!! Discover the odd, colorful, and delightful world of children’s cinema this summer at the 2019 Pittsburgh Children’s International Film Festival.
https://www.usfamilycoupons.com/coupon.php?regionid=75&bid=13899&dealid=3813

Come back to visit LuvSavingMoney.com as I update our “Summer Staycation” series in Pennsylvania

I received a free preview of the event as part of the US Family Guide. Any opinions expressed are my own.


2019 Pittsburgh Children’s International Film Festival

Discover the odd, colorful, and delightful world of children’s cinema this summer at the 2019 Pittsburgh Children’s International Film Festival. Join us July 26 – August 1 for week-long line up of children’s films that range from blockbuster hits to fun and quirky international flicks.

The festival will feature several Pittsburgh premiers, as well as the best short films from the 2019 New York International Children’s Film Festival. Complimentary special events, guest appearances, and hands-on activities are planned throughout the week.

The festival will be hosted at Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville, which will play movies at a lower volume to protect young ears and provide kid friendly snacks at select screenings. In the spirit of the festival, children are welcome to move around the theater, chat, and just be kids.


SAVE THE DATE July 26-August 1 – International Children’s Festival – Save the Date!! Discover the odd, colorful, and delightful world of children’s cinema this summer at the 2019 Pittsburgh Children’s International Film Festival.
https://www.usfamilycoupons.com/coupon.php?regionid=75&bid=13899&dealid=3813


Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown 2019 a Fun and Free Event

Every year the Children’s Book Festival is held at the Bottleworks in the Cambria City section of Johnstown. The area itself has become a cultural district featuring the Discovery Center, Ethnic festivals, and more. The Bottleworks itself displays art from local artists and offers many classes. The first weekend of April draws families from all over the area for the Children’s Book Festival.

This free event centers around children’s books with authors, illustrators, and local businesses and educational resources pregnant. In fact, I credit the Children’s book festival for helping us discover my son’s lazy eye. The blind association was there the one year and was offering free vision screenings. I took advantage of this with my kids. They had these cool, 3D goggle looking things that tracked the eyes and they noticed my son’s one eye was off. They suggested we take the info to an ophthalmologist. We did and found that my son has very low vision in his one eye due to a lazy eye! I got off track there but there are so many great services present to learn about.

There are craft tables galore for the kids to do for free. The volunteers are all so pleasant and helpful. The first station we stopped at this year, the kids got to make vests out of paper bags.

They have a number of special events available at different times throughout the weekend. Joe Wos, a professional illustrator and maze maker, offered an illustration workshop for kids in grades 3rd to 6th grade. An awesome opportunity for kids to learn some tips and trick from a real illustrator.

Camtran, the local public transit system, has been present the last few years. The kids have an opportunity to board the bus, talk to the bus driver, explore the bus a little. This year they also offered story time on the bus.

The Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown has a book sale with new books but they also have a used book sale. My kids each picked a book from the used book sale and they were only 50 cents each! Another awesome thing they do for the kids is, every kid that attends get a FREE brand new book. They have a table set up with all kinds of titles for babies up to middle school age. So no kids walks away without a book they got to choose. I think this is awesome that they do that.

It’s fun to interact with the businesses, authors, and illustrators. We enjoy seeing Julie from Macaroni kids for the Johnstown/Altoona/Laurel Highlands area. Always there with a smile and macaroni necklaces for the kids to make. They really enjoy this craft!

There’s so much to do at the Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown, we usually don’t get to do it all. They have food truck available outside, face painting, and more. This event really renews my kids’ interest in reading. It’s a great way for kids to meet the people that actually write some of their book. It’s a great way to learn about local resource for kids.

Huge thanks to all involved in this festival. It is definitely something my kids look forward to each year. Because it’s a free event and every kids walks away with a free book, it’s help bring people from all walks of life together to share in the joy of reading!


Winter Car Care To Keep You Safe

*This post is sponsored by Reedman-Toll Fiat in Langhorne, PA*

I’m sooo over winter at this point.  When I left for work this morning it was 1 degree, seriously 1.  We already have a few inches of snow hanging around and the news stations can’t make up their mind about what we’re getting tonight.  I heard 2-4 inches of snow and ice.  My husband told me we’re supposed to get up to 6 inches.  Oh well, what can we do, can’t stop it, just prepare for it.  I was driving last night to pick my boys up from their dads house and decided to snap a pic with my phone.  Don’t worry I was at a stop light, I don’t do that when I’m driving.

winter driving 2014

Blech, the lines are gone, there was ice under that snow, and some people choose to go way too fast for conditions in my opinion. Not me though, I was driving about 15-20 mph at points last night.  When temperatures are like this though you want to make sure you take care of your cars needs.  The last thing you want is for your car to break down when the weather is like this.  It’s one of my worst winter fears, to break down in weather like this with my little ones in the car.  So here are my winter care care tips.

–If you have a newer car make sure you’re going for your routine service check ups for your car.  New cars will often have so many you have to do in a time frame anyway to keep your warranty.  Even if you have a used car like mine it’s a good idea to have your vehicle checked before the bad weather starts.

–Don’t ignore the check engine light.  I know that light is scary.  It about gives me a heard attack every time I see it.  Places like Autozone can use a code reader to tell you whats wrong with your car for free. Your local mechanic or a dealership like www.fiatusaoflanghorne.com can do them to but they may charge a small fee.  This actually just happened to me last week.  My check engine light came on for the first time in 5 years that I owned the car.  My car didn’t seem like it had as much power and seemed to be making a funny sound.  I, of course, thought the worst but my husband took it to get the code read.  It ended up just being the antifreeze sensor which was a $15 part and my father in law put it in for free.  Now my car is running fine.  It’s amazing what a small part can do to your car.

–Make sure all your fluids are filled.  Anti-freeze is of course important but don’t forget about your windshield washer fluid.  I use mine constantly in this weather with the salt on the roads.  Be sure to check your oil.  When the temps get really low, like below 15 make sure you have at least a quarter tank of gas in your vehicle because it’s possible for the fuel to freeze at those temps.

–Starting your car about 10 minutes ahead of time before you leave when the temps are low.  Not only will it get the car warm for you and start melting any ice on the windshields but it’s good for your car too.  Cold starts can use more power from the battery.

–Have your battery power level checked.  In the cold weather the battery can drain a little faster.  Again a lot of the chain auto parts  stores or your dealership can check this for you.

–Washing your car when possible including the undercarriage.  Salt or ash on the road is necessary to make driving safe for everyone one but it can do some damage to the cars exterior if it’s allowed to sit on their all winter.  When it’s really cold a lot of car washes will close but when the they’re open its a good idea to take your through and make sure to include the undercarriage wash to rinse off all that salt so it doesn’t eat at the metal on your car.

That’s all my tips for now.  If you have any winter car care tips, feel free to share them in the comments!

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