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Our Visit to the National Aviary Here in Pittsburgh!

This summer is all about getting out and about with the kids. After last summer, being stuck at home (and also super pregnant!), I am determined to get my kids out to experience Pittsburgh - we have been making a point to get them to fun, new playgrounds and make quick trips to the Strip District or other cool places where they can walk, run, and explore. I was so excited when the National Aviary reached out to me about coming and checking out their new season, Journey to Africa Presented by Peoples. Truthfully, I hadn't been to the Aviary since a field trip in Elementary School. For one reason or another, I hadn't thought to take the kids to the National Aviary for a day trip, but I have neighbors and friends who have memberships and absolutely love visiting, so I was beyond pumped to check this out with the kids!

We made plans to go down on a hot Wednesday afternoon and I grabbed my mom for support with the kids. Because it had been so long since our last visit, and the Aviary has changed so much since then, we didn’t know what to expect, but we did check out the website in advance to learn a little more about what we'd be seeing.

Upon arrival, the kids LOVED the penguin habitat! There are fun tunnels so the kids can get unique looks at the penguins and we loved seeing Marge, the newest penguin! Bodie could have stayed here all day, and frankly, that's what happened. I let my mom go off with Bodie and kept Georgia and Goldie with me to move on to the Sloth Painting Encounter. Talk about a unique experience! Georgia LOVED Valentino, the Two-toed Sloth, and it was so cool to learn about him specifically. The expert staff at the National Aviary was looking for ways to keep him active and engaged during the pandemic, so they decided to teach him to paint! Sloths have long arms and curved claws and are naturally good at grasping objects, including a paintbrush. Valentino held the paintbrush in his claw and moved the brush against the canvas. Georgia was able to choose colors for her painting and for Bodie's painting, and we are obsessed with the results. I plan on framing them and putting them in the kids' bathroom! We learned about why sloths can swim slightly faster than they move out of water which was a big time question Georgia wanted to ask - we are so grateful for the patience of the staff with my little lady's many questions and making it so interactive! If you have a kiddo that's into sloths (what child isn't??), the Sloth Painting Encounter is definitely worth your while to check out. You can purchase tickets in advance here, and it does include your entry into the National Aviary for the day as well. There are other cool encounters available, I know my kiddos would love the Jr. Zookeeper or Jr. Penguin Encounter!

Next, we moved on to the rest of the habitats at the National Aviary. It was SO nice to see people out and about, visiting and having a good time. The National Aviary is following guidelines from the CDC. Fully-vaccinated adults don't need to wear a mask, and we kept a mask on Georgia and Bodie while we were there since they are unvaccinated. Georgia was so excited to see the flamingos, they are her absolute favorite (she even wore her flamingo dress!). She talked to a parrot, got to see some really unique species of birds (a TOUCAN!), and was REALLY pumped to see the bald eagle! We saw a Great Argus showing off his feathers and making the craziest noises trying to impress his lady friend. Georgia hasn't stopped talking about it! The birds come so close to you and the staff was so friendly and interactive.

It was truly a magical afternoon spent at the National Aviary, and it belongs on any list for parents trying to fully experience Pittsburgh, or looking for an easy way to spend an afternoon. In terms of parenting there, there are nice, clean bathrooms, the AC was pumping beautifully, and there is a little snack bar as well with a nice place to sit and eat. It's a great way to beat the heat and see something new. There's an adorable playground right next door, and Federal Galley is so close for a fun and easy lunch. And, I've been dying to try Happy Day Dessert Factory! I mentioned above that it's not a place that comes to my mind immediately, but that's certainly not the case anymore. It was an awesome experience and we look forward to visiting the National Aviary again soon!

All photos used here courtesy of Michael Faix who is actually an Aviary Employee. Thank you, Michael, for educating us AND photographing us!
Molly Knorr
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