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North Hills Monthly

Summer is Still Happening, though it May Look a Little Different

Jun 29, 2020 12:20AM ● By Kathleen Ganster

Having fun in North Park. Photo courtesy Allegheny County

Summer plans – what are summer plans? Whatever plans were made before COVID-19 have either been cancelled, or at the very least, altered. But that doesn’t mean that there are not plenty of fun things to choose from to do either in person, online or by other means.

The Allegheny County Park system has resumed and revamped much of its programming. 

“Since the pandemic began, our county parks have remained open and provided an important outlet for residents to get outside, enjoy fresh air and sunshine, and exercise—all of which are important to both physical and emotional health,” said County Executive Rick Fitzgerald. “We opened North Park Golf Course as soon as state regulations allowed, with proper mitigation measures.” 

Programming includes outdoor yoga, mountain biking, bike lessons, nature and science programs and youth sports. 

The summer concert series has a new look with the Parks Unplugged music/interview series, and drive-in movies will be offered at Hartwood Acres Amphitheater starting July 11. 

As part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series, performances by local musicians and artists will be televised from 7-8 p.m. every Sunday night on the CW channel as well as posted on the county parks’ Facebook page and the county’s YouTube channel at 8 p.m. from July 5-Sept. 6.

Parks Unplugged, a 14-episode online series featuring acoustic performances by local artists in county park settings will run through Sept. 4 and can be seen every Friday at 7 p.m. on the county’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Hartwood Acres will also host free family drive-in movies beginning at sundown every Saturday, and free date night drive-ins every other Friday. For more information, visit or

Steamworks Creative reopened in early June. Owner John Vento calls Steamworks an “all-volunteer run community listening room” that seats 50 guests. The venue was remodeled right before the stay-at-home orders in March.

“Ironically, we had already expanded our space, so we have more room than before,” he said. Steamworks hosted online performances during the quarantine, but Vento was looking forward to live performances. 

"After nearly three months of closure, we came to realize how important music is to so many,” explained Vento. “As we reopen, we've come to appreciate our artists and our guests more than ever.” For a list of upcoming performances, visit  

Many children’s summer camps have been cancelled, but the National Aviary is offering virtual camps. “Right now, kids crave normalcy. We felt it was especially important to provide that same camp experience for kids this summer, and now our campers get to engage with us in a new way,” said Jennifer Torpie, curator of education & public programs.

Camps will allow children to view exclusive live and pre-recorded content, participate in hands-on crafts and activities, and meet some of the National Aviary’s birds. Programming is open for children ages 6 to 18 and include such topics as Beaks, Wings & Things, Conservation Heroes, and Aviary Behind-the-Scenes

“This isn’t just going to be a week of screen time. Campers will do guided crafts and activities, get to ask our staff questions during live virtual animal encounters, and even go behind-the-scenes to places they wouldn’t get to visit during in-person camps,” she said. 

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania launches its summer programming during the week of July 6, which includes free, weekly naturalist-led Birds and More walks at Beechwood, Todd Nature Reserve and Succop Nature Park. 

“We are also working on new full-day and half-day programs that will have attendance caps to remain in compliance with social distancing guidelines. We are excited to see everyone back at our reserves and on the trails,” said Communications Director Rachel Handel. For more information, visit

RIVAL Yoga, with the support of Shaler Township, has created its own Pittsburgh POP UP Yoga Project, according to owner Megan Foley.

“We are taking advantage of their beautiful parks to offer a collection of outdoor yoga ‘flow’ classes for all levels,” said Foley. “This project allows practicing yogis to continue, especially in a time when fresh air, exercise, meditation and control of mental and physical health are of greatest need.”

Classes will continue to be offered all summer outdoors while the regular schedule continues to develop and classes are added. Visit for more information. All classes will also provide a collection site for nonperishable items to be donated to North Hills Community Outreach.

Those anxious to get out on the water have a few options. SurfsUP Adventures began offering paddle boarding in early June.

“Paddle boarding is such a great way to bring positivity and outdoor adventure into people’s lives. I’m so grateful we can begin providing our eco-tours, SUP yoga, and glow SUP adventures again,” said owner Ian Smith.

SurfsUP opened with their most popular eco-tours at Moraine State Park and the Islands of Oakmont and quickly expanded to Sunset SUP Yoga and After Dark Glow SUP. River surfing and instructor certifications are also available. Visit

Kayaking and paddle boarding are also available through Kayak Pittsburgh Venture Outdoors. They opened their doors on June 11th at the North Park location. Participants must register online before their visit and follow social distancing guidelines as per their website.

“As long as there is availability, guests can register the same day. The registration is easy and ensures a cashless, contactless visit,” explained President and CEO Valerie Beichner.

Venture Outdoors also reintroduced their TriAnglers fishing program in June. The program is designed for fisherfolks of all levels of experience to enjoy the beauty of downtown Pittsburgh; they utilize Venture Outdoors’ equipment, making fishing fast and easy at the North Shore location.

With so many summer camps and other resources limited this summer, Beichner encourages parents to take advantage of their free online resources including webinars. They also began weekly strolls and introduced other programming as restrictions allowed. Visit for more information.

Those looking for other outdoor activities can also visit L.L. Bean’s site, as they resumed programming at North Park in late June. 

Up for a garden party? Southern Butler County Garden Club is hosting their 12th Annual Garden Tour on Saturday, July 25. The self-guided tour allows guests to tour a variety of private gardens in the Cranberry Township area. Garden club hostesses will be at each garden along with the homeowners to answer questions. Guests are asked to follow state mandated guidelines in place at the time. Visit or SBCGC’s Facebook page.

If you’re looking inward instead of outdoors, Kearns Spirituality Center will offer Your Soul Aches: Coping in Tumultuous Times on July 15. This virtual, interactive seminar will define the differences and similarities between highly sensitive people and empaths; enable you to test to determine your level of sensitivity; and provide strategies and coping mechanisms for self-care. The program will be led by Kristen Lane, a certified health and wellness coach. For more information, visit


Don’t forget that because of the fluidity of the COVID-19 virus, things can change at any given moment. Before you go to any event, be familiar with new policies that may have been implemented according to the latest government guidelines. Guests may need to wear masks, practice social distancing, take their own snacks and water, etc. 

Of course, make sure that a place is still open, or an event is still happening, especially if there are changes in government guidelines. Be prepared to take precautions if necessary. 

As always, if you are ill, stay home. And if you believe you were exposed to COVID-19 or become ill after visiting a site or event, notify organizers immediately.