Tis the season to celebrate the holidays, and Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood has lots of festive things to do in December that will put you in the holiday spirit. Located less than three miles from Downtown, Oakland is home to universities and museums, grand architecture, quaint coffee shops, international cuisine and specialty shops.
Holidays are special at the Carnegie Museums of Art & Natural History where you can see two museums for one price -- they're housed in the same building. The Holiday Tree Display theme this year is "Holidays in the Highlands," where you can see the Hall of Architecture filled with several towering 20-foot Colorado spruce trees, each adorned with handcrafted ornaments that celebrate the beauty of winter with tartan flair. The Neapolitan Presepio is the centerpiece of the Trees Display with more than 100 figures created between 1700 and 1830 by Italian craftsmen. It represents the Neapolitan concept of the Nativity in a panorama of village life. See this beautiful holiday tradition through January 11.
The Nationality Rooms are 30 rooms housed within the Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh campus that depict Pittsburgh's ethnic heritage through authentic examples of architecture and décor. You can go on a narrated tape tour without reservations or take a guided tour which is available daily beginning at 10:30am (first come first serve). Each room reflects the ethnic community who settled in Pittsburgh. The Rooms will be decorated for the holidays through January 18, 2016. They are closed Dec. 24-26 and Jan. 1.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of the nation's oldest and largest Victorian glass houses. There are 19 indoor and outdoor gardens. Phipps is especially beautiful during the holidays. The Winter Flower Show and Light Garden brings the familiar carol "Deck the Halls" to life with changing exhibit rooms reflecting the spirit of the holiday tune, complete with artful arrangements of LED lights, decorated fir trees, whimsical props and poinsettias. Select dates you can bring little ones to pose for a photo with Santa, free with Phipps admission. The exhibit runs through January 10.
Heinz Memorial Chapel sits on the University of Pittsburgh campus. The stunning Gothic architecture includes 73-foot stained glass windows which are among the tallest in the world. Chapel docents are available to give individual and small group walk-up tours during chapel hours. The Heinz Chapel choir performs holiday concerts Dec. 11 and 13.
Oakland is a wonderful place to visit during the holiday season, and these are just a few of the highlights. If you explore this fun and family-friendly neighborhood, be sure to share your photos and experiences with us using the hashtag #LovePGH! Happy Holidays!