• Cassandra Brentley

5 MORE Reasons to Visit The National Aviary | Summer 2022

You may recall last year I shared a post titled “5 Reasons to Visit The National Aviary this Summer with your Family.” Recently our family returned to The National Aviary for an up-close and personal sloth encounter, so I wanted to share 5 MORE reasons you should consider visiting The National Aviary this summer, even if you’ve been to The National Aviary before!

Before I jump into my list, I want to acknowledge that this is a sponsored blog post, however, this blog post contains my authentic views of my family's experience. Ok, now that I got that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get into what you can look forward to when visiting The National Aviary this summer!


1. Animal Encounters - I highly recommend that you add an animal encounter to your next visit to the National Aviary, trust me your children will love it! This year, we did the sloth encounter, which is a one-of-a-kind experience designed for kids ages three and up. The sloth encounter is offered every day except Tuesdays, though the National Aviary is open on Tuesdays during their summer season. This truly immersive experience provides opportunities for your


family to learn about this incredible animal AND you will have the opportunity to touch and feed the sloth. The sloth encounter is an extremely educational experience where you can ask all kinds of questions and see firsthand how slow and methodical the sloth moves, as well as the reason behind their deliberately slow movement. Preston, Braxton, and Olivia said they liked the sloth encounter because they were able to touch and feed the sloth. While you take turns meeting, touching, and feeding the sloth you are able to take lots of pictures and videos in order to capture these priceless memories, which is always a priority for me!


In addition to the sloth encounter, the National Aviary also offers a sloth painting encounter, where the sloths create a custom art piece during the interactive experience. During this encounter you can see the sloth’s natural behaviors of grasping, holding, and moving items, like a paintbrush.” If you want to meet some other birds you can opt for other encounters such as the penguin encounter, which our family experienced last year, or an owl or falcon encounter. All of the animal encounters offer unique ways to get up close and personal with some of nature’s most fascinating birds.


2. Lorikeet Feedings- If meeting a sloth isn’t reason enough to visit the National Aviary, you might consider a lorikeet feeding. You have to make sure you arrive early and purchase a ticket or you can actually purchase tickets online before you visit, as an add-on to your general admission ticket at shop.aviary.org! This immersive experience takes you into the habitat where you feed the colorful birds some sweet nectar from a small tin bowl. During our visit this year our children, well our boys, Preston and Braxton, were brave enough to give this encounter a try and they absolutely loved it. I was so proud of them because last year they chickened out at the last minute. This was a reminder to me of how much they are growing up and how different each visit to the National Aviary can be simply because our children are always growing which creates a new experience each time we are able to visit.

3. Draw Alive Mixed Reality Aquarium - New this summer you’ll find interactive exhibits throughout the National Aviary. Our favorite, by far, was a cool Draw Alive mixed reality aquarium experience where our children selected a coloring page from a variety of options that are set up in the lobby area. We then picked out a few crayons and sat down to color. Once the kids were finished coloring their masterpieces they placed them on a podium and then watched their creations emerge into a digital aquarium. I feel like this description is not doing this new feature justice, you really just have to try it for yourself. Head over to my Instagram page to check out a reel of this experience in action. You might be asking yourself, what is mixed reality, and the answer is that mixed reality is an immersive computer-generated environment in which elements of a physical and virtual environment are combined. Again, you really have to experience this for yourself. Both children and adults could spend hours in this area of the National Aviary alone. There are other interactive games to try as well. Right across from the penguin habitat there is a floor projection game that incorporates movement and learning in a really fun way. One of the greatest benefits I noticed in the mixed reality aquarium experience is that it provides an opportunity for your children to calm down by coloring, which is a great way to reset before exploring other habitats throughout the National Aviary.



4. The Penguins! This list would not be complete if I did not highlight the beautiful African Penguins. My children love watching the penguins swim around in their habitat. If you visit during feeding time, it's really cool to watch the penguins swallow fish whole! Each time we visit I feel like the penguins are up to something different. When Olivia and I went on a mommy and me visit to The National Aviary in May we learned that many of the penguins were molting. During our most recent visit, we saw some penguins mating (we told the kids there were wrestling, LOL)! The kid-sized tunnels at the penguin habitat are also a favorite of Preston, Braxton, and Olivia because it offers some different views of inside the habitat. Also, as I mentioned above, you can book a penguin encounter and meet an African penguin up close and personal.


5. Prevent Summer Learning Loss (also known as summer slide) - The 5th reason to visit

the National Aviary this summer (and every summer) is to prevent summer slide. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “the average student loses one to three months of learning over summer.” One way to prevent summer slide is by keeping your children engaged in learning activities throughout the summer. A trip to the National Aviary is a great real-world learning experience that allows children, and

adults, to learn about the more than 500 species of birds from all over the world that you can find at this one-of-a-kind bird zoo. This year, I encouraged Preston to read aloud the various wayfinding signs and informational plaques that are located throughout. During our sloth encounter, we encouraged all three children to ask questions. After our visit was over, we kept the conversation going about what we learned and what we saw during lunch. At home, I notice the children paying closer attention to the birds in our neighborhood, especially the little guy who built a nest in the awning over the front porch! A visit to the National Aviary is a great way to prevent summer slide and expose your children to subjects like biology, ecology, zoology, and the interdisciplinary ways they all come together. You know we are all about STEM education over here, so this last reason might be my favorite!


Pro-Tip - Consider buying a family membership that will allow you to visit more often. If you are like us and have a family of 5 you can expect to spend about $85-$90 for one visit. If you purchase a family/household membership for $110 you can visit as often as you’d like, and receive discounts for animal encounters and other exclusive members-only perks!


I hope you find these tips helpful as you plan your next trip to The National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! In addition to a fun-filled family experience, the aviary will also make a unique date experience for couples who are dating or married. I’d also recommend the Aviary as a fun activity for friends to explore before or after a weekend brunch and for college students at the local universities looking for cool Pittsburgh experiences. The National Aviary is also an event space for birthday parties, and weddings. I even attended a board meeting there before! So, if you are looking for a unique experience for your next event, definitely consider the National Aviary.


The National Aviary is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats, many of which are endangered in the wild. In addition to creating an immersive zoo experience, the National Aviary also rescues and rehabilitates birds. You can purchase tickets for your visit and learn more about The National Aviary by visiting their website: www.aviary.org



Thanks again to The National Aviary for hosting our most recent visit. All opinions are my own.



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