CSC Fireworks - More American than Apple Pie!

Fireworks.  What is more American than fireworks?  I would contend that there isn't much...  So what does every true red, white, and blue American do on the Fourth of July??  Watch fireworks, of course!

This Fourth of July, we watched the city of Pittsburgh's fireworks show from the North Shore on the lawn of the Carnegie Science Center.  And honestly, it was probably my favorite location for fireworks yet!!  Next year, it's a destination that you should seriously consider, and here is why.  

1.  Ahhhhh mazing view!  Seriously, it was one of the best vantage points that I have experienced for the downtown Pittsburgh fireworks display.  I have watched the fireworks from two different locations in Point State Park and a location near Station Square, and all of those locations were good.  BUT the Carnegie Science Center lawn was amazing, because the Pittsburgh skyline was the backdrop for the fireworks display, which made pictures of the fireworks pretty amazing!  I am an amateur photographer (working on my skills!) and I was able to get these great shots!!


2.  No crazies - a cool crowd.  A few years ago when Isaiah was a baby, John and I went to Point State Park with some friends to watch the fireworks from the lawn.  We had six adults, a baby in a stroller, and blankets to stake out our piece of grass for the fireworks.  We ended up closer to downtown so that we could leave with the first wave of the crowd and board the trolley as soon as possible after the fireworks (ya know, baby and all!).  Well, it was an interesting crowd that was quite densely packed on the lawn.  And when I say interesting, you'd just have to be there to take it all in.  There was a group of teen boys armed with bottle rockets that they launched INTO the crowd.  Then within the next frantic five minutes, the police arrived, caught the hoodlums, and had them bent over face first on 4' by 6' white plastic tables while they were cuffing them.  And all of this happened within 15 feet of us.  It was frightening, because the bottle rockets could have been shot into our laps and the teens didn't seem to know what they were doing or care much about the consequences.  After that incident, I never really wanted to go to Point State Park to watch fireworks again.  

In stark contrast to that craziness, the Carnegie Science Center crowd was quite peaceful!  They sold food and beer on the lawn, but no one was acting up or out of order.  The crowd was quite tame, which is what I like when I'm with my little ones.  There were people near our spot playing cards at a picnic table, people on blankets on the grass, and crowds relaxing at chairs and table sets on the patio.  The lawn had adequate space for everyone to relax, so you never had to worry about being on top of the next family.  The buzz of the crowd at the CSC was a comforting hum, and it set my mind at ease.    

3.  An uncrowded evening at the Carnegie Science Center.  The fireworks event began at 6:00 pm, and included parking and full access to all four floors of the CSC, which is awesome!!  The fireworks didn't start until 9:35 pm, so plenty of time was alloted for exploring the CSC!!  We arrived late, because Annika had been feeling crummy earlier in the day, so we didn't have as much time to play as we would have liked.  We went straight to the Exploration Station Jr. for Isaiah, and we were there by ourselves for quite some time!  Isaiah almost had the exhibit all to himself!!  

After Exploration Station Jr. we only had enough time to watch the fish on the third floor for a minute.  We walked by the robot exhibit without stopping, and Isaiah has been talking about wanting to visit the robots ever since.  Sounds like we are due for a trip back to the CSC soon!  The CSC also had an exhibit earlier in the night explaining how fireworks work, which would have been amazing for a geek like me and a firebug like my husband!!  But all things considered, we really enjoyed the extra special time to explore the CSC without the normal crowds!

It was a great night, with a great view of some amazing, beautiful fireworks!  Would we do it again?  We would love to, BUT it would depend on two factors that I considered potential drawbacks to the event - price and traffic.  

The price of the fireworks event at the Carnegie Science Center is $39 per person, and children under three are free.  Admission was free for us because I am a Carnegie Science Center Insider this summer, but if it wasn't, the price tag would have deterred us.  I'm sure that the price tag (combined with a whole lot of science) serves to keep hooligans out, which, in turn, provides a great atmosphere for families and people who enjoy a low-key, classy evening!  So the cost, while it may seem a bit much, is really well worth it, when you consider your access to all the facilities and exhibits, and the lawn access and view.  There were also tickets sold for viewing the fireworks from the CSC roof, which sold out quickly, because I'm sure the view was even more fabulous!   

And the traffic, traffic, and more traffic was a bear!!  When we headed for the CSC from the South Hills, we sat in a significant amount of traffic on the West End Bridge.  The trip probably took us 20 minutes longer than the trip would normally have taken, which paled in comparison to the trip home.  From the CSC parking lot to our home, the trip took an hour and a half...  Most of the traffic was at a stand-still throughout the North Side. I also noticed throngs of people at the North Shore trolley stops, so it's hard to say if the trolley would have been a quicker route for residents of the South Hills.  Yikes!  The good part was that both children passed out before we got very far, so it wasn't as painful as it could have been! 

Isaiah, watching the city!
It was certainly an enjoyable, family friendly event, one that we would love to repeat in the future!  With the great location and the wonderful crowd, the CSC has jumped to the top of my fireworks viewing list.  Have you ever attended fireworks at the Carnegie Science Center?   Is it your favorite too?  If not, what do you think is the best spot in Pittsburgh for viewing the fireworks downtown? 


  1. gorgeous pictures! I'll have to remember that when we're down that direction and Caroline is older that the noise won't bother her. I haven't been to fireworks since my family vacationed in Lexington, VA...we went to VMI for the fireworks...BEST SHOW I've ever seen! The cadets were playing frisbee on the lawn before and the crowd was wonderful! So much going on there too! So if you ever want to go on vacation somewhere, go there over the 4th...crowded yes but SOOOO educational! We took tours all over town that week and so family friendly!

    1. Thank you Joni! It was seriously a great location - really ideal for a family with kids!! We had Annika there at 8 months old, and John covered her ears for most of the show, I have a funny picture that I forgot to include. LOL, seriously!! I have never been to Lexington, VA, but the educational tours sound neat!! We almost went on vacation this 4th, but didn't... Now I have a vacation idea for next year! :)

  2. Thanks for the insight Alayna! Great photos! We're up in New Castle and are going to the Pirates / Indians game followed by CSC fireworks viewing tonight You're right about all the CSC offers to make a great evening on the 4th. Hopefully, my camera will cooperate and I'll have some photos to share. Dreading the traffic, but there's no avoiding it. At least I can park at CSC and walk the Three Rivers Heritage Trail back and forth from PNC Park. Happy Independence Day!......Curt Savage Media


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