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Pittsburgh Offers Array of Options to Combat Cabin Fever

Jan 30, 2017 07:44PM ● Published by Jennifer Monahan

Paint Monkey 'Paint Your Pet'

Gallery: Cabin Fever [11 Images] Click any image to expand.

While it might be an extreme example, by February most of us in western Pennsylvania can identify—at least a little bit—with Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. Snowed in for the winter, Jack Torrance slowly goes insane. Things unravel from there. February is the stuff of horror films. 

Fear not if this scenario hits too close to home. Unlike rural Maine, the Pittsburgh area has an array of appealing ways to combat cabin fever.

Get Air Pittsburgh in Zelienople opened in November 2016.  Located just off I-79, the massive trampoline park sports 28,000 square feet of jump space, “vert walls” (angled vertical trampolines), dodge ball, basketball, a balance ladder, a slack line and foam pits. Aspiring gymnasts—or anyone willing to hurl themselves around in the air—can take advantage of a series of tumble tracks.

Fans of American Ninja Warrior will be delighted with Get Air Pittsburgh’s ninja course and ninja practice area. The facility has something for everyone, with a large kiddie space open only to children under 46 inches—complete with its own ‘kiddie ninja course.’ One perk for parents is the open area; from any point in the jump area, parents can view any other part of the facility. Another perk—spectators do not pay for admission.

“There’s nothing else like Get Air out there,” said co-owner Jamie McMurtrie. “We wanted to bring something new to the area. It’s something the whole family can do together.”

Josh Andree, manager of the Zelienople facility, explained that in addition to being a blast, jumping on a trampoline is a healthy way to spend a couple of hours. Jumpers are in almost constant motion and use a variety of muscles for both strength and balance. 

For young trampoline enthusiasts, the focus is more on fun than fitness. Fourth-grader Aurea Hickenboth and first-grader Kenzie Clark both said the ninja course was their favorite part of the park. For more information, check out www.getairpittsburgh.com. 

An afternoon of laser tag at Laser Storm in Ross Township is another fun activity suitable for adults or families. John Mator, who opened Laser Storm Laser Tag in 1996 with his wife, Debra, said they regularly welcome kids as young as five or six, teens and adults. 

Laser tag is for everyone, Mator said, because it is a game of strategy. Laser Storm’s oldest participant to date is Mator’s grandmother, who played two consecutive games at age 94. 

The Laser Storm arena has a dividing wall separating the two teams, and the course map changes three times per year; it is currently on its 56th configuration. The equipment is small and lightweight, and people can participate with as few as two competitors or as many as 40, depending on the size of their group. “Everyone from first-time players to tournament-level competitors plays here,” Mator said.

Each game takes approximately 20 minutes, and competitors receive a scorecard at the end with a record of their points, shots fired, accuracy and player rankings. Laser Storm also offers an arcade complete with skee ball, basketball and air hockey games. According to Mator, its rock climbing simulator is unique to the area; the wall rotates and tilts, and is a big draw for visitors. Plan a visit at www.laserstorm.org. 

With a successful operation in Lawrenceville and a new space at The Waterfront in Homestead, Paint Monkey opened its newest location in McCandless Crossing in December. Open six days a week, the paint studio offers both open studio time for walk-in guests as well as scheduled classes and events.

Paint Monkey is unusual among its peers because they pre-sketch the canvases, explained co-owner Mary Lou Bradley. That convenience ensures that beginning painters have a great experience and leave with a painting they can display. If they prefer, customers can also choose a blank canvas and let loose their creativity.  

‘Yinzer Starry Night’ and ‘Paint Your Pet’ classes are among Paint Monkey’s most popular events. For the latter, guests send a photo of their pet in advance and Paint Monkey will sketch each animal for the pet owners to paint. Families can create artwork together with projects like the ‘Seasons Tree’ for a family of three or a sunflower painted across four canvases for a family of four. 

Paint Monkey welcomes outside food and drinks, plays music and encourages a fun atmosphere. Whether for a night out with friends, a creative family activity or a date night, Paint Monkey provides a unique opportunity to explore your artistic side. Details are available at www.beapaintmonkey.com.

Katie’s Clay Studio in Hampton Township is another place to develop creative skills. With paint-your-own pottery, wheel throwing, glass fusion, tie dye and more, crafty people can find plenty of interesting art projects to keep them busy.

The studio recently relocated to the building immediately next door, said owner Katie Petrovich. The new space is significantly larger and allows them to accommodate more aspiring artists and bigger groups.

Katie’s Clay Studio is the only place in town that offers glass fusion projects, and tie-dying is another unique offering. Petrovich explained that the professional-grade dye and instruction on tie-dyeing techniques result in much better projects than one gets at home with drugstore dyes. 

Katie’s Clay Studio welcomes walk-in customers but also offers a wide variety of scheduled classes and workshops for both children and adults. The staff is knowledgeable and eager to help budding artists of all ages to explore new mediums and experiment with different projects. Find out more at www.katiesclaystudio.com. 

For anyone who needs to burn off some excess energy, the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex features an ice rink with frequent public skate hours throughout the week and on weekends. The facility offers skate rentals for $3 per pair. A two-hour session is $8 for adults and $6 for children. In addition to being a great workout in a beautiful facility, skaters have the added benefit of possibly encountering a Stanley Cup champion in the hallway. More information is available at www.upmclemieuxsportscomplex.com. 

If only Jack Torrance had wintered in Pittsburgh instead of Maine. Some playing and fun outside of the dull hotel might have made all the difference.

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