Over the last year, our family has turned to Pittsburgh's parks for so many reasons.

For a safe escape from our own four walls.
For family time.
For exercise.
For a mental health release.
And frankly, just for some flat-out fun.

kid doing cartwheel pittsburgh

We still have some parks we have yet to visit – and some trails on the ones we HAVE been to that we still need to explore – but in a year where so much felt like it was taken away from us, the memories we HAVE had over this last year while in nature’s presence has meant everything to us.

While we have only been in Pittsburgh for a little under three years, the Pittsburgh Parks Convervancy is celebrating 25 years of parks.  And to celebrate that, I asked my three kiddos who love those parks so much, to share 25 things they love about the Pittsburgh Parks.

And this is what they (adorably) said.

1.) Going on adventures

2.) Packing for a picnic and then sitting on that log by that little waterfall to eat it (Except when I dropped my chip in the mud. I didn’t like that.)

3.) When I made a friend with that one duck who kept following me at that pond. We should probably go back and see him, he’s probably wondering where I am.

4.) Climbing on that huge tree trunk that fell down. Remember that, Mom? It made you nervous.

5.) Inspecting the roots of that one huge tree that fell down and seeing all the bugs that made a home in there.

6.) Remember that bug hotel? That was cool.

7.) Looking for squirrels

8.) That blue slide that you ride down with cardboard

9.) Dancing on that big stone stage at that park where you could see downtown Pittsburgh.

10.) That one time you let me decide which direction we were going to take on the trails.

11.) The Old Zoo Trail! Our favorite one!

12.) That one time we saw two deer and they didn’t even care that we were there. They were hungry so they just kept eating.

13.) Seeing who could find the best hiking stick. Usually it was me.

14.) When Mom got us lost and we had to slide down that one hill to get back on the trail. (Editor’s note: I think they meant to say it was their DAD who got us lost………)

15.) Riding on Daddy’s shoulders when my feet got tired.

16.) Trying to guess how many miles we walked

17.) Finding bridges and jumping on them.

18.) Dancing underneath that big stone arch. Remember that thing, Mom? Our voices echoed.

19.) Asking you to take our picture next to cool things

20.) Walking in creeks and looking for tadpoles

21.) That one time I did that computer call with that nature lady from the Pittsburgh Parks and I drew a picture of everything I discovered in my backyard. That was a fun morning.

22.) When our cousin came with us so we could show him our favorite trail.

23.) Just being together.

24.) Waving to the people who would walk by us when we moved to the side. (You know, the 6-feet thing, Mom)

25.) Is that 25 things yet, Mom? That’s a lot.  When are we going on our next adventure?

Kids.
They are a beautiful reminder of what it means to find joy in the simple.
And isn’t that what nature does, too?

Adventures don’t always mean grand vacations and expensive getaways … sometimes it’s a packed lunch and a 15 minute drive to your local park.

To learn more about the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the work they’re doing to preserve our city’s parks, follow them on Facebook HERE and check out all the beautiful nature pictures on Instagram HERE.

And maybe you’ll be inspired to make your family’s next adventure there, too.

Written by Brea Schmidt, The Thinking Branch