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5 free things to do in Pittsburgh this August

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Our City/Our Campus

Get the most out of August with this roundup of five fun — and free — Pittsburgh happenings. Don’t forget that your Pitt ID gets you on city buses for free, too.

Tour the Allegheny Observatory

Thursdays and Fridays, Aug. 4-25, 8-10 p.m.

Were you wowed by the first images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope? Take your own journey to the stars with a visit to Pitt’s Allegheny Observatory. It’s here that scientists confirmed that Saturn’s rings aren’t solid but composed of numerous small particles.

Tours of the observatory end with a look through the 13" Fitz-Clark refractor — the third-largest refracting telescope in the world. The heavens await!

Where: Allegheny Observatory, 159 Riverview Ave., Pittsburgh, PA, 15214

Tickets: free with a reservation

Get to know local plants

Thursday, Aug. 4, 6-7:30 p.m.       

There’s more to plant identification than learning to avoid poison ivy. Spend an evening with community herbalist Annie Fox getting to know the plants of Allegheny Commons Park on Pittsburgh’s North Side. Fox will cover the ins and outs of identifying local edible and medicinal plants and safe, ethical foraging practices.

Where: Allegheny Commons Park, 810 Arch St., Pittsburgh, PA, 15212

Tickets: free with a reservation

Learn to salsa dance

Sundays, Aug. 7-28, 5-6 p.m.

Get your feet moving to the beat with a free salsa class in downtown Pittsburgh. Every Sunday in August, instructors from Los Sobrosos lead an hour-long dance class in Market Square. You don’t need to bring a partner — just enthusiasm to learn.

Where: Market Square, the intersection of Forbes Avenue and Market Square

Tickets: free

Go birding

Saturday, Aug. 8, 8-10 a.m.

Learn about our friends in the sky at a birdwatching event in Mellon Park, located in Pittsburgh’s East End. Naturalist educator Stephen Bucklin will lead an excursion appropriate for beginning and experienced birders alike. Binoculars are available to borrow.

Where: Mellon Park, 1047 Shady Ave., Pittsburgh, PA, 15232

Tickets: free with a reservation

Enjoy the music of jazz harpist Alice Coltrane

Tuesday, Aug. 9, 7-8:30 p.m.

The City of Asylum is hosting a presentation and live performance of selections from jazz harpist Alice Coltrane’s oeuvre.

The program is part two of a three-part series dedicated to uplifting the contributions of unheralded female jazz harpists and composers, led by Yoko Suzuki (A&S ’11) in Pitt’s Department of Music.

Coltrane’s albums are described on Pitchfork.com as “suggesting a musical form that moves away from jazz and into a unique sonic realm that draws on classical Indian instrumentation, atonal modern orchestration and homemade religious synth music.”

Where: Alphabet City, 40 W. North Ave., Pittsburgh, PA, 15212

Tickets: free with a reservation


— Nichole Faina