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Pittsburgh: A secret winter wonderland

Steel City goes all out for the holidays.

’Tis the season for Christmassy fun, but with all the cash you’re spending on presents, that extravagant vacation is going to have to wait.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a winter getaway. Pittsburgh decks itself out for the holidays, making for a relatively inexpensive vacation just a short plane ride away. Bring the whole family to Steel City and put these three attractions on your list.

Choo choo train: Generations of Pittsburghers have grown up visiting the Carnegie Science Center (1 Allegheny Ave.) to see the miniature railroad and village, built in 1920. Kids can check out the hand-painted scenes of what life was like in small-town Pennsylvania from the 1880s to the 1930s (no need to point out they’re getting a history lesson).

For the birds: Fortunately, the birds haven’t headed too far south: They’re at the National Aviary (700 Arch St.). “Wings of Winter” features its feathery celebrities gliding to festive music. Don’t miss the African penguins at Northside Pole.

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Founding father: It’s hard to overstate the impact industrialist Henry Clay Frick had on Pittsburgh. Each year, Frick and his family would return home to Clayton to celebrate Christmas. Tour Clayton (7227 Reynolds St.), decorated for the season, and visit the Frick Art Museum next door.

Where to shop:Head over to historic Market Square in the Cultural District to shop the handmade crafts at the annual open-air holiday market. Browse a wide array of jewelry, art and clothes while bopping along to live music.

Where to stay:Sleep here At 98 years old, the Omni William Penn lays claim to being the oldest hotel in Pittsburgh. It’s also where President Obama and celebrities stay when they come to town.

Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.

 
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