Behind the Scenes at ScareHouse – A Unique Halloween Tour

Note: ScareHouse is now located in the Pittsburgh Mills shopping mall. We were invited by ScareHouse for a behind-the-scenes tour in 2021 to update this article, but have paid for the tour in the past as well.

If you're looking to get scared silly during Halloween in Pittsburgh, the city has a number of options for you.

But we have to be honest in saying that we're not ones to get excited about haunted attractions. We can appreciate the work and attention to detail that goes into making a haunt, but we're not rushing to get in line to get spooked, either.

So when we found that ScareHouse offers behind the scenes, lights on tours on select days during their operating season, we were in.

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Powdermill Nature Reserve is a Hidden Gem in the Laurel Highlands

One of the fun things about running this site is that we're always discovering new places that were right in front of us but we never noticed. One recent spot we learned about was Powdermill Nature Reserve in Rector, PA (in the heart of the Laurel Highlands), and, naturally, went immediately.

This nature reserve is managed by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and is designed to monitor the wildlife populations found in western Pennsylvania. But beyond their important work, the facility has a few fairly modest exhibits highlighting the animals of the region, a marsh machine to purify wastewater from the facility, periodic lectures and events, and some shorter hiking trails to check out as well!

So while you may not have a terribly long visit at this one, if you are passing by, it is most certainly worth the stop. So let's jump into what you can see a bit more!

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Customized Helicopter Tours of Pittsburgh With Vortex Helicopter Services

It really is hard to beat any view you can get of the Pittsburgh skyline. We've found views of our gorgeous city from just about every angle you can think of from on the hills, along the river trails, on the water, and more.

But there is one view that is hard to get without some extra assistance, and that is seeing the skyline from the air. When we fly in and out of Pittsburgh International Airport, we always hope for a quick flyby of the city to capture some photos, but the quality of which is often hit-or-miss from our cell phones (and of course, a flyby is never guaranteed, either).

Thankfully, in 2021 a new tour company opened offering customized helicopter flights over Pittsburgh- Vortex Helicopter Services operating out of Finleyville Airport. If you are looking to capture a unique vantage point over the city, this tour is a must.

Note: I was invited to fly as a guest of Vortex Helicopter Services as part of a 30-minute media tour over the city. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Touring Birch Creek Farmery Gives an Appreciation for Ethical Farming

As supporters of all things local, it should not be a surprise that we buy our meats and vegetables from area farms as best we can. This includes CSA subscriptions in the summer months, weekly visits to farmer's markets throughout the city, and buying bulk meat orders to fill our deep freezer from time to time as well.

While we are not writing this post to get into the ethical debate on meat-eating outright, we do believe that it is important to know where your meat comes from and that the animals are treated as humanely as possible along the way. By shopping at local farms, we are often able to see all of this first hand!

Naturally, when we started shopping for local meats, Birch Creek Farmery in Burgettstown, PA, quickly came on our radar. It didn't take long after looking at their website to realize that the family who runs the farm have values similar to ours in this regard, and we've become devoted customers ever since (including even visiting the farm for a wine dinner in the past as well).

Cut to a few years later, and the team (now friends) at Birch Creek Farmery invited us out for a proper farm tour to see how they raise their animals. As these tours are open to the public as well, we thought it'd be fun to share a bit more about what the experience is like!

Note: Birch Creek Farmery said that tours can be customized a bit for your interests. Want to spend more time petting and feeding animals? They can do that. Want to learn more of the technical details that go into farming? They can do that too. We opted for a general tour which involved a long walk around the property to see as many animals as possible. Be sure to dress accordingly in long pants and shoes you don't mind getting muddy!

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15 Reasons to Visit Pittsburgh in September – Fall is Coming

September in Pittsburgh often brings about the first signs of fall. The temperatures start to decrease below 80, fall festivals and seasonal attractions open up, school is back in session, and more.

While the looming season change may first be noticeable in this month, there are still plenty of wonderful things to do during the month, and in this one we wanted to share a few of our favorites!

So if you are looking for things to do in Pittsburgh in September, check out the following options.

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Bluegrass and Banjo Night in the North Side on Wednesdays

When you think of Pittsburgh's music scene, your first thought is likely not about the North Side. If you do consider this side of the city, it is likely about the concert venue Stage AE or even one of the stadiums when big named musicians come to town.

But the North Side has far more than just these if you're looking to take in a live performance. In Deutschtown, for example, the music scene thrives on Wednesdays thanks to the Pittsburgh Banjo Club's free practice at the Elks Lodge and the Shelf Life String Band playing at Allegheny City Brewing in the summer months.

If you time your visit appropriately to hit both, it ends up being a lovely night out with great beer, an array of musical styles, and an overall experience you just can't get anywhere else in the city.

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Take a Stroll Through a Sunflower Maze at Maple Bottom Farm

At this point, it should be no surprise that we love checking out sunflowers near Pittsburgh when they're blooming. They're Angie's favorite flower and one of mine as well. 

So when we heard that there was a sunflower maze at Maple Bottom Farm in the Laurel Highlands, I had to go check it out shortly after it opened for the season.

While you may want to temper your expectations for the maze element of this one, this field checks a lot of boxes for us in that it is quite large, gorgeous, and allows for ample opportunities for photos inside the field itself!

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15 Reasons to Visit Pittsburgh in August – Summer Events and More

August in Pittsburgh is most certainly the peak of summer. Numerous sunny days means a number of great outdoor events, as well as many opportunities to beat the heat with ice cream, a cold adult beverage, a museum with air conditioning, and more.

In this one, we wanted to share some of the best things to consider checking out in Pittsburgh during the month!

So if you are looking for things to do in Pittsburgh in August, check out the following options!

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Lincoln Highway Experience – America’s First Cross-Country Road

The Lincoln Highway is America's first transcontinental highway and runs from New York City all the way to San Francisco. 

It was dedicated in 1913 and over the last 100+ years has had a pretty incredible history. To say that this road helped connect the country and opened accessibility to hundreds upon hundreds of small towns and boroughs is not an exaggeration- this one really changed the way Americans work, play, and travel.

While we weren't around to be able to enjoy the Lincoln Highway in its prime, we can get the next best thing in learning all about it at the Lincoln Highway Experience just outside of Latrobe. Next time you're in the area, you'll do well to stop and check this great little museum out!

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Take a Trip Around Lake Arthur on Preston’s Pearl

Lake Arthur at Moraine State Park is one of our favorite outdoor spots in southwest Pennsylvania. It is hard to ask for more than a beautiful lake with a number of fingers and inlets that just beg being explored.

We've featured many ways you can explore the lake including taking out kayaks from Bear Run Campground, standup paddleboarding with SurfSUP Adventures, and even enjoying Moraine State Park's bike trail which runs along the shoreline. But all of these activities required some degree of effort in order to enjoy. For something a bit more leisurely, the park offers boat tours on the resident pontoon boat from late spring to early fall. 

For many years, guests would enjoy the waters via the resident boat Nautical Nature, but in 2021 the Moraine Preservation Fund launched a new pontoon boat that offers 90-minute sightseeing tours, dinner/brunch cruises, and more.

I was fortunate enough to get out on the water for the ship's inaugural sailing as part of a media preview and share more about what you can expect on this one here!

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