If you’re looking for fun things to do with family in Pittsburgh, the National Aviary is a must see in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh National Aviary is located in Pittsburgh’s Northside neighborhood, and it’s one of the only dedicated bird zoos of its kind in the United States. The Aviary is separated into a variety of climates, with everything from tropical birds to sloths to penguins and eagles.
Keep reading for more information on visiting the National Aviary with kids.
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Eagles at the Aviary and Penguin Point
If you enter through the West Entrance at the National Aviary by the parking lot, be sure to check out Steller’s Sea Eagles and Bald Eagles. The exhibits make it easy to see the huge Sea Eagles up close (one of the largest species of eagles in the world.)
From there, be sure to check out the indoor/outdoor Penguin Point. The exhibit is home to 20 South African penguins. While my son is sometimes scared of the dark area where the Penguins are at the Pittsburgh Zoo, the penguin display at the Aviary is light and open. And they’re seriously the most friendly and interactive penguins I’ve ever seen. The display is also set up so that kids of any size can be eye level with the penguins by going right up to the pool. There’s also a “Kids ViewTube” on the inside to squat down against the pool. The penguins at the National Aviary all have their names on their tags so you can pick out your favorite as well. (We’re a huge fan of Kris the Penguin.)
If your kids love penguins, you can also do a private penguin feeding or penguin encounter for extra time with these fun little water birds.
The Wetlands & Tropical Rainforest at Pittsburgh’s National Aviary
The Tropical Rainforest is one of the newest exhibits at the National Aviary, and it has the coolest selection of birds. It’s also where the two toed sloth spends a lot of his time during the day. If you’re lucky, you might be able to actually catch him moving! In addition to the tropical birds, kids are usually a fan of the ducks waddling around in the area as well.
Be aware that the birds fly around you the entire time, but it’s totally safe as long as you pay attention and follow the rules. (i.e. no snacks for the kiddos in the open exhibits unless you want a birdie snatching it unexpectedly.)
From the rainforest, be sure to walk through the Wetlands exhibit. The flamingos are a highlight at the Wetlands habitat. Other birds in the Wetlands include different species of Terns, Spoonbills and Ibis.
Grasslands & Canary’s Call
The Grasslands is small, enclosed natural habitat. The room, while not very spacious, is filled with dozens of brightly colored birds including doves, finches and other species that are typically found in the grasslands.
Canary’s Call is worth the walk through, although it may not keep the attention of younger kids you’re visiting the National Aviary with. It’s a series of pictures that tell the history of birds and the impact they’ve had on indicating changes in our environment overtime. You can also find bats housed at Canary’s Call here as well as the Rainbow Lorikeets.
If your kids want to get really up close with birds, I recommend bird feeding at the National Aviary with the Lorikeets. We did it with our son and his friend at 2 years old, and they were in aww of the birds getting up close.
Outdoor Areas at the Pittsburgh National Aviary
Condor Court is located outdoors on the other side of Eagle Hall. It’s open all year round and houses Andean Condors, which typically live in the Andes mountains. Given that these huge condors are used to the snow, you can find them outdoors any time of year. There are also cranes and vultures found outdoors at Condor Court.
The Butterfly Garden is nestled outside of the Aviary in the rose garden, and it’s typically open seasonally in the warmer months. This enclosed space offers kids (and kids at heart) the chance to get up close to butterflies and feed them sugar water. In the past we were told that the best time to go to the Butterfly Garden is on a Friday, since they restock butterflies on Thursdays.
Shows and Encounters at the National Aviary
There are several shows and animal encounters at the National Aviary that are available for an additional fee. To date, the only show we’ve seen is the Amazing Amazon show in the Helen M. Schmidt FliteZoneTM Theater. It includes free-flying birds doing tricks and a chance to see an armadillo and sloth. If you’re visiting the National Aviary with a baby or young toddler, I’d recommend just walking through the exhibits versus paying for the shows, since they can be a bit long for younger kids.
Animal encounters at Pittsburgh’s National Aviary include:
- Getting up close with birds, including hawks, falcons or owls
- Feeding and/or meeting penguins up close
- Meeting a sloth one on one
Note: Be sure to check age requirements prior to booking an animal encounter. Most require children to be at least 3 years old and sometimes even older.
Additional Information on Visiting Pittsburgh’s National Aviary
- Hours: Open Daily from 10am- 5pm
- Admission: $17 for Adults/ $16 for Kids and Seniors/ Children under 2 are free. Timed tickets at the National Aviary are currently required. You can find them here.
- Membership: Packages vary. Tip: Admission fee for your visit can be credited toward the price of membership.
- Parking: There’s a small parking lot right next to the Aviary that’s available for $5 a day. Parking at the National Aviary is free for members.
- Food: There’s a dining area available at the National Aviary. You can also walk to one of several Northside Pittsburgh restaurants. One of our favorite quick service restaurant in Pittsburgh is Federal Galley, and it’s walking distance from the National Aviary.
- See Plan Your Visit on the Aviary’s website for more info.
Looking for more fun things to do with kids in Pittsburgh? Check out the posts below.
- The Best Things to do With Toddlers in Pittsburgh
- 7 Reasons to Visit the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
- Tips for Visiting the Carnegie Science Center With Little Kids
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