Category Archives: Pittsburgh

THE GLOW Pittsburgh: My New Favorite Halloween Experience

DUDE. I'm taking my kids to this before Halloween---THE GLOW looks so cool!

I love finding out about new things happening in my city. This fall, I was thrilled to hear about THE GLOW, which opened a new location here in Western Pennsylvania. I was even more thrilled when I got an invite for a free media pass. This past weekend, my mama and I headed to the new attraction. And it was fabulous.

smaug jackolantern

Why, yes. That is Smaug in the background.

What is THE GLOW?

THE GLOW is an outdoor trail lined with magnificent jack-o-lantern art. At the beginning of the trail where you wait for entrance, the ambiance is already at a ten as the woods near Hartwood Acres are lit with spooky but not scary colored lights. Then, as you walk in, you’re greeted by adorable jack-o-lanterns, some of which have the word “Welcome” in a ton of different languages.

As we went down the path, we saw sea turtles and jellyfish, skeletons riding motorcycles, dinosaurs and fossils, superheroes, cartoon characters and local legends all carved from pumpkins. These larger than life art installments were a wonder to behold.

prehistoric park

These dinosaurs are over 16 feet tall! Click this pic to expand and get a better view.

Right before the end of the trail, there were some pumpkins with digital faces singing Imagine Dragons.

The whole thing was fun and creative and unique–a new way to celebrate the Halloween season.

The Most Affordable Pumpkin Patch

affordable pumpkin patch

At the end of the trail, you pass through a pumpkin patch. Instead of pricing pumpkins by the pound, they’re priced at a flat rate of $3 for small pumpkins and $5 for large pumpkins. This is WAY cheaper than what I’ve paid in the past going to pumpkin farms!

food truck

There’s also a pumpkin carver, a souvenir stand and a gyro truck which is so authentic it offers halal.

icecreations

Pricing

Depending on the time and date you go, you can get discounted tickets. I’ve seen them as low as $10.99 for kids. But normally pricing is as follows:

  • Adults: $22.99
  • Kids: 16.99

You can get your tickets here.

turtle pumpkins

Those are jellyfish made of pumpkins in the top right! Click to expand this pic and see the detail better.

NOTE: Be sure to type the address into your phone exactly as it is listed on the website. I may have gotten lost because I got overconfident with my knowledge of the local area. I ended up at the mansion (not where you want to go) and had to phone it in for help! It’s really easy to find if you just listen to your maps app, though.

Are there other locations?

fred rogers jackolantern

Be still, my yinzer heart! Click on this one to expand.

Yes! This is year one in Pittsburgh, but you can also check out THE GLOW in these cities:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Charlotte, NC

Recommend?

RIP Stupidity

This is the grave of Stu Pidity. If only.

Yes, yes, yes. This was a really cool attraction, and I loved the modestly-priced pumpkin patch at the end. It’s something completely unique, family-friendly, and seasonal without being the least bit scary. Definitely a fun alternative to the pumpkin patch, or just a fun night out this October!

Family-Friendly Oktoberfest

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Pittsburgh Oktoberfest.

I'm so there for the Dachshund Dash at this Oktoberfest celebration!

Not too long ago, I made a new friend from Miami. We were talking a little bit about the culture shock that comes along with making a big move, and they pointed out that Pittsburgh has a bit of a drinking culture.

Which I haven’t ever really thought about before, but is fair. We do have the longest strip of bars in the country on the South Side. We also have one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country, and it tends to get a bit boozy–whether you’re Irish or not. Then, of course, there’s Oktoberfest, which at least in my city has become synonymous with binge drinking out of a stein.

The thing is, while drinking may be a part of Oktoberfest, that’s not the only thing traditional about this holiday. In fact, it doesn’t have to be all crazy boozy. At it’s most authentic, it can be a family-friendly–and relatively affordable–event.

Authentic Oktoberfest at Big Butler Fairgrounds

I was super excited to learn about Pittsburgh Oktoberfest at Big Butler Fairgrounds next weekend (September 27-29) for this reason. It’s super authentic, super family-friendly, and, yes, there will be good food and alcohol. However, there’s some other crazy fun stuff to check out while you’re there:

  • Dachshund Dash. This is exactly what it sounds like, and it sounds adorable. If you have a Dachshund, you can register them to take part in the Dachshund Dash on Saturday! Times vary depending on the age of your pup, and if you’re not so into the racing aspect you can opt instead to enter your Dachshund into a costume contest which will be taking place at 3p both on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Bier Barrel Race. This one is for the humans among us. You’ll use one arm to try to roll the barrel across the finish line first!
  • Kids activities and crafts. In case the littles tire of watching puppies race.
  • Music. There will be someone performing pretty much the entire time you’re thereSo. Much. Music. . Some of it will be authentic, traditional Bavarian music, while at other times you’ll be able to catch some country or rock.

There will be tons more going on, too. It’s going to be a fun time.

Ticket Pricing

Okay, get this. All kids age 17 and under get in FREE. That’s huge! Parking is also free.

If you’re looking at going on the cheapest day, you’ll want to attend the opening ceremonies on Friday, when tickets are only $5.

General admission for adults is $15 on Saturday and Sunday.

You could get a full weekend pass, though, which saves you $10 over buying individual tickets for each day and gets you in on Friday, Saturday AND Sunday.

If you’re interested in drinking and networking, there’s also a $40 option which gets you into the businesspeople mixer in the Bier Garden on Friday night. On top of networking and live music, your ticket also gets you dinner and VIP parking.

No matter the package, you can get your Oktoberfest tickets here.

Where are the Big Butler Fairgrounds?

Logically enough, they’re in Butler County–which isn’t as far as you may think. We’re from Pittsburgh, so we’ll measure distance in time, here. Have you ever driven…

…from Moon Twp to Monroeville?
…from McCandless to Heinz Field on a game day?
…from Bethel Park to the Benedum for a Friday night show?
…from the city to the airport? (We all know that trip takes longer than Google Maps wants to admit.)

If so, you’ve traveled about the same amount of time as you would from the city to Big Butler Fairgrounds. It’s not a bad drive at all. Those in the Northern part of Allegheny county will actually have a far, far shorter trip, but it’s worth the trip for those in other parts of the county, as well.

Especially at those prices.

Especially with kids getting in for free.

And especially with wiener dogs racing.

See you there, friends.

Pay Your Science Center Admission with Snow

So cool! If you save a snowball until the summer solstice, you can actually use it to pay for admission at the Science Center in June!

For the past several years, the Carnegie Science Center has been hosting this fun event on the summer solstice. On the solstice, you can pay for your admission—in snow!

How to Pay for Your Science Center Admission with Snow

If you bring in a snowball on June 21, 2018, you get to name your own admission. This is a big deal as kids’ tickets are usually $11.95 and adults get in for $19.95. When you’re taking the whole family, those admission prices can really add up.

NOTE: If anyone in your household has an ACCESS card, whether it’s for Medicaid or SNAP benefits or cash benefits, you can get up to four tickets for just $3 each. This discount is available everyday of the year–not just on June 21st! You can check out other regularly occurring discounts here.

Prepping for Name-Your-Own-Price Day

If you’d like to take the family to the Science Center in June for cheap, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Clear out room in your freezer to store the snowball.
  • Make a snowball.  Don’t make it silly big.  Remember you need to store it for at least four months.
  • Put it in your freezer until June.
  • Bring it to the Science Center on June 21, 2018. Be sure to prep a cooler so your snowball doesn’t melt on your way in!
  • Bring at least a tiny bit of money to pay for your admission. I don’t know that this is a requirement, but it is good form.
  • Have a fun day at the Science Center!  You’ll get to use a giant slingshot to propel your snowballs into the Ohio River.

Learn More About the Event and Snow in General

What’s the best name-your-own-price promotion you’ve ever seen? Have you ever used snow as currency? Inquiring minds want to know! Leave your story in the comments.

 

Pittsburgh’s Housing Market

I didn't know Pittsburgh's housing market was so stable. Interesting on the affordable housing aspect.

 

Many of you know that I’m saving to buy a home. Well, kind of. It’s a long-term goal, but debt payoff is a priority at this very moment.

While I’m disappointed that progress is slow, I’m not all out freaking out. That’s because Pittsburgh is one of the most stable housing market in the country. Home prices are going up while I’m still renting, but they’re not going up astronomically. I have faith that I’ll be able to catch up.

And, hey, if this new tax bill passes both houses, there’s the real possibility that all the housing markets will be thrown into disarray. Maybe I’ll be able to snag a deal.

Kidding. I’d rather have a stable housing market.

Today I want to share with you some other fun facts about our local housing market–whether you’re looking to move here or just nerdily into personal finance.

We were okay during the Recession.

Remember when I told you that Pittsburgh has the most stable housing market in the country? That stability helped us weather the Recession better than a lot of other places.

I say this noting that if tragedy befell you, regional statistics don’t matter. I had people close to me lose a lot of money because of the crash–money that was directly tied to real estate. But in general, the region fared better than other places.

A major part of that is the fact that we’re not a boom city. People still judge us based on our past, skipping the city over for sexier alternatives.

Sometimes I take offense to that. But our housing market doesn’t. In fact, it hopes you’ll keep us a secret so it can go on quietly growing at a snail’s slow, but steady, pace.

We still have an affordable housing problem.

Rent has gone up since I moved into this place the better part of a decade ago. It’s part of the reason I’ve kept my family put; rent may have gone up, but because we’ve been here so long, we’re still paying less than the rates we’d find on the market.

I’m lucky enough that I can afford relatively healthy housing at this point in my life–even with the price increases.

Many people in my city can’t. As we slowly grow, we progressively gentrify. Our mayor was working on some innovative affordable housing solutions with the Obama administration, but since the turnover in the executive branch, that progress has come to a screeching halt.

Yet our housing is affordable.

If you’re coming from another city, you’ll be overjoyed when you check out the Pittsburgh rental market. We’ve got a relatively low cost of living, and housing is a major factor in that.

However, you have to keep in mind that while our housing is affordable compared to other metro areas, employers are generally aware of that fact. And they’ll pay you accordingly. Moving to Pittsburgh is unlikely to help you pocket the rest of a fat paycheck unless you’re holding onto remote work that factors in another area’s cost of living.

 

What is the housing market like in your city?

 

 

Disney on Ice presents Frozen #Pittsburgh

Wow, can't believe how cheap tickets are for Disney on Ice presents Frozen!

When we went to Disney World earlier this year, one of our favorite attractions was the Frozen performance at Hollywood Studios. A story where fear is overcome by courage and love is just plain winning.

And it’s Disney, so the production value was over the top. Elsa shot magic swirls out of her fingers as she sang her hallmark Let it Go, literally making it snow inside on a hot Florida day in May.

We’re super excited to have the opportunity to view another Frozen production–this time a bit closer to home, and this time, appropriately, on ice.

From November 2 through November 5, 2017, there will be seven performances of Disney on Ice presents Frozen right here in Pittsburgh at PPG Paints Arena. As if the location and content weren’t enough of a reason to get excited, the frugalicious part of you is going to love the price: tickets start at just $15!

Here are the showtimes:

  • November 2nd at 7p
  • November 3rd at 7p
  • November 4th at 11a, 3p, or 7p
  • November 5th at 12p or 4p

We’re really psyched to see the entire story play out on ice with over-the-top sets and effects (it will be like we’re really in Arendelle!), but on top of Frozen characters like Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf, you’ll also see some other Disney characters make an appearance including:

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse
  • Donald Duck
  • Goofy
  • Snow White
  • Cinderella
  • Ariel
  • Rapunzel
  • Woody
  • Buzz Lightyear
  • Dory
  • Nemo
  • Timon
  • Pumbaa

Since the show is only in town for the next few days, you’ll want to hop on purchasing your tickets. You can do so at disneyonice.com or by calling (412) 642-1800.

Have you ever been to a Disney on Ice performance? Or have you been to the Frozen performance in Orlando? Would love to hear more about your experiences in the comments section!

Note: I am receiving free tickets to this event in exchange for promotion and a review.