25 Ways to Celebrate Your Galentines and Valentines (Part 2)

Last week, we starting laying out our recommended ways to celebrate Valentines and Galentine (really, anyone who you love taking to the park). Here’s the second half of our list of park adventures:

14. Find serenity lakeside

Love a little peace and quiet? Skipping rocks? The perfect scene to Instagram? Look no further than the lovely water features throughout the parks. We think you and your someone special will love a trip to Lake Elizabeth, Panther Hollow Lake, and Lake Carnegie.

Sunset at Panther Hollow Lake. Photo: Melissa McMasters.

15. Grab a cuppa at the Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center

Warm your hands around a tasty beverage of your choice and take in the views of Panther Hollow from the big open windows of the Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center. After enjoying your vantage from above, follow the chunky Belgian block trail behind the Cafe through peaceful Panther Hollow.

Hang out with this soldier in Schenley for Valentine’s Day.

16. Play docent all of the art

Pittsburgh parks are art. For art aficionados and history buffs, the parks are like a free museum, open year-round. Brush up on art in the parks with this helpful Pittsburgh Art Places website.

17. Snap a selfie with Dippy and bask in the bosque

Diplodocus carnegii is just too cute not to be a part of any selfies shot around the Plaza. Once you’ve visited Dippy, walk on through the bosque in front of the Carnegie Library – Main with its ceiling of overarching London plane trees.

18. Join the parties that are volunteer days 

It’s always a good time when you gather hundreds of happy, energized folks to beautify the parks. Rain or shine (even snow or sleet), volunteer days are full of positive vibes, perfect for a day spent with your friend or sweetheart.

19. Prowl for owls

Getting on around dusk, the silent winged denizens of the park come to life. If you keep your voice down and your ears open, you might be lucky enough to hear owls on the move.

20. Promenade in Allegheny Commons

The allées of Allegheny Commons were designed to accommodate the wide hoop skirts of the late 19th century when the park was designed. Walking on through this park today can be like going back in time, especially since some of the park’s trees growing there today date almost as old as the park itself.

Daffodils popping up in spring.

21. Give a gift they’ll really dig

A gift of daffodils in the parks is perfect for all of your favorite people, whatever the occasion. Each spring, the bulbs planted through the Daffodil Project burst into life for all to enjoy, which is really a gift from all park lovers to everyone. Learn more here.

22. Go for a ride, start a war

Be a kid again: grab some saucers, toboggans, cafeteria lunch trays, whatever you can get your hands on and hit the sled-riding slopes or go all in on an all-out snow ball battle.

23. Eat to your heart’s content at The Porch

The Porch at Schenley, the only full-service restaurant at Schenley Plaza, is always a popular spot for a bite before or after your adventures in Schenley Park.

24. Skate the night away

Citiparks’ annual Valentines on Ice event attracts couples from across the land for a night of skating under the stars with the city as a backdrop. Added bonus: the first 300 couples to arrive receive complimentary sweets and flowers. Can’t make this event? The Schenley Park Skating Rink is open daily; find the schedule and pricing here.

Where is this snowy scene? You’ll just have to explore the parks and find out!

25. Get lost, then get found

You’re a modern-day explorer on a quest to conquer new park lands. Pack a bag and venture out to parks uncharted by you and your date. It’s always fun to get lost in these urban jungles, but if you’d like to get found, there’s a free app for that.

 

Have other date ideas that we’ve missed? Post them below or through Facebook and Twitter!

XOXO,

The Matchmakers at the Parks Conservancy

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

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.

telescope

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. Learn something new together

Be spontaneous, try something new! Take a shot at disc golf, lawn bowling, or curling.

 

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

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.

Let your love grow this Valentine’s Day

Valentine's DayA box of chocolates…sure, it’s a sweet Valentine’s Day gift, but ten years from now, your special someone will barely remember those truffles.  A dozen roses?  Pretty to look at, but often grown under conditions that are not great for the environment.

Luckily, we’ve got the cure for the common Valentine’s gift–for $50, or about the cost of a dozen roses, you can plant 25 daffodil bulbs or one native tree sapling in one of Pittsburgh’s parks!

These are gifts that promise longevity and stability: daffodils naturalize and multiply, and landscape trees can live for decades, even centuries.  And thanks to current threats like emerald ash borer and oak wilt disease, replenishing our tree population is more important than ever.

All you have to do is make your donation by February 7, and we’ll send your sweetie a card notifying them of your gift (or, if you like, we’ll send it to you so you can personalize it). 

Showing your love for the parks has never been easier!

A Valentine’s gift that lasts

Cherry trees

I know, it seems a bit early to start thinking about Valentine’s Day, but now that the Christmas decorations are down and all the red-and-green M&Ms are off the shelves, the pressure is on to come up with the perfect gift for your special someone.

Well, this year, we propose a unique new idea that will let you show some love to the parks and to your Valentine!  Sure, you could spend $50 on cut flowers that will fade quickly (and that are often grown under conditions highly toxic to the environment and the people who grow them).  But instead, you could put that $50 toward flowers or a tree in Pittsburgh’s parks that will continue to grow year after year.

For your $50 donation, you can choose between 25 daffodil bulbs to be planted in the parks this year as part of our Daffodil Project, or one small native sapling that will help us to restore our forest canopy. 

And when you make your gift before February 8th, we’ll even mail you a special card that you can give to your sweetheart, letting them know you’ve made a contribution to the parks on their behalf. 

So what are you waiting for?  Click here to make your gift today!