25 Ways To Celebrate Your Galentines and Valentines (Part 1)

Whether you’re celebrating your Valentine, Galentine, or really anyone that you enjoy, we’ve compiled a list of date ideas — platonic or romantic! — that will knock your next park adventure, well, out of the park:

1. Catch sunset at the Highland Park Reservoir

The Overlook at Schenley Park is a fan favorite for sunset spotters. Take a stroll around the Highland Park Reservoir, though, to see the sun set betwixt trees and the Giuseppe Moretti entrance statues in the peaceful entrance garden.

highlandsunset

2. Ride a bicycle built for two on Pocusset Street

Don’t have the balance to reenact that timeless Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid scene with your sweetie? Riding a tandem bicycle (or any bike, really) down the biker- and walker-only Pocusset Street in Schenley Park is the next best thing.

caterpillar

Knock, knock!

3. Hunt for fairy doors 

In Frick and Mellon Park, Allegheny Commons, and many other parks are teensy little doors for the resident fairies. Find and knock on them to see if anyone’s home.

4. Gaze at stars in Riverview Park

The iconic Allegheny Observatory opens its doors weekly to star-struck astronomers for free tours, lectures, and open houses at this incredible space. On clear nights during these events, the 100-year-old-and-older telescopes are generally open for use.

5. Gaze at stars in Mellon Park

Whatever the weather, you can always see 150 stars peeking up from the lawn of Mellon Park’s Walled Garden thanks to 7:11AM  11.20.1979  79º55’W 40º27’N, a memorial art installation.

mellonparkstars

6. Read Shakespeare in a Shakespearean garden

Whilst we speak of Mellon Park, o’er the hill of the Walled Garden thou must recite verses when alighting in the Shakespearean Garden.

7. Make a snowman or snowbeast

This is an anywhere, anytime activity. Let your creativity run wild. Just try not to sing that one song from Frozen when you’re out there; it’s contagious.

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Telescope in Allegheny Observatory in Riverview Park.

8. See the cityscape from Emerald View Park

The Mount Washington overlooks get a lot of love (deservedly), but seeing Downtown peek in and out from the undulating trails of Emerald View Park is always a rewarding experience.

9. Take a trip around the world with a visit to the Plaza

Immerse yourself in international flavors with the fares served in Schenley Plaza. Your hankerings for Chinese, Greek, Belgian, or the ever-changing cuisines at Conflict Kitchen are all conveniently in one square acre.

10. Traverse the tufas

The solid bridges along the lower and upper Panther Hollow trails in Schenley Park, made of a limestone variety (tufa) and built by W.P.A. crews, are straight from a storybook, covered in moss, lichens, and now snow. See these and other old-timey Works Progress projects sprinkled throughout the park.

tufas

Tufa under snow.

11. Latch a love lock and throw away the key

Make a statement with your sweetie by adding your own lock to the Schenley Bridge and throwing away the key — just as you do it in the proper waste receptacle. (Forgetting the combination also acceptable.)

 12. Tour the neighborhood, visit parkside cultural establishments

While you’re in the neighborhood, drop by the Carnegie Museums, the Frick Pittsburgh, Phipps Conservatory, the National Aviary, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, and many other must-see institutions around the parks.

13. Think spring

Send warm thoughts to family, friends, or someone you’re flirting with this Valentine’s Day with the gift of daffodils in the parks. Make a donation of $25, and we’ll plant 50 daffodils in the park of your choice — and send your someone special a personalized e-card to boot. Get started here.

 

Check back next week for the second half of our park date ideas. Share your inspired date ideas below or through Facebook and Twitter!

XOXO,

The Matchmakers at the Parks Conservancy

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Finding Love in the Park

It all started with Lucinda Williams.

Actually, let’s rewind a bit. Back to a time when a young Paul Alessio and Lynne Glover were just kids, finding adventure and foul baseballs in the woods and ballparks of New Castle and Penn Hills. In those days, you could find both youngsters exploring and playing in the parks and creeks around their neighborhoods all day long, swimming and climbing until the street lights came on.

“I remember one time, at a park, at a picnic, my best friend and I getting lost. We had no idea where we were. But it was one of the greatest adventures, you know? It was exciting!” That sense of being lost, being scared, was a childhood adventure that for Lynne was one of the many reasons to love the outdoors.

Lynne and Paul never lost that passion for being outside, especially when they found each other.

At one fateful Lucinda Williams concert, Paul made the fortunate mistake of stepping in front of Lynne just as the music was starting.

“I thought you were tall enough to see!” claims Paul.

Lynne and Paul on their wedding day at Schenley Park Cafe.

Years later, Lynne and Paul, along with their family and friends, found themselves in a place most fitting for this new chapter in their lives: their wedding in Schenley Park. Both lovebirds had at one time been Pitt Panthers, finding escape in the park on bike rides and hikes, getting back to nature to keep the stress of college away. They came across the Schenley Park Cafe sometime during their wedding venue search shortly after its renovation, and knew that it was the perfect spot to exchange vows.

“That venue brings nature into the building. Our family and friends were walking down that Belgian-block trail on our wedding day,” remembers Paul.

“Everyone says that that was one of the best weddings they’d ever been to,” says Lynne.

Lynne and Paul smooching as husband and wife.

Paul and Lynne with their family.

Following a honeymoon chock-full of park visits on the West Coast, Paul and Lynne have now celebrated eight years together. Lynne, Communications Director at VisitPittsburgh and Paul, Project Manager at the Urban Redevelopment Authority, are change-makers across Pittsburgh and in their community of Lawrenceville. They share time in their neighborhood park, Arsenal, with their kids and grandchildren and enjoy two of their big loves — music and nature — at the outdoor concerts at Schenley Plaza.

We love stories with happy endings. Two people who loved to get lost in nature find themselves with their better half. And in two years, we’re excited to wish Paul and Lynne a happy ten year anniversary at the exact spot where they were married — Schenley Park.

Paul and Lynne, eight years strong.

Lauryn Stalter for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Sometimes, it’s great to lose yourself in nature. But for those times when you want to find your way again, we have just the thing. Check out the new MyPGH Parks app, where you’ll have access to all of the trails, sites and events in Schenley, Highland, Frick, Riverview and Emerald View Park. It’s free and available now on Android and iPhone platforms.