Great Outdoors Week: Get Ready for the 10-Day Weekend!

Spring is in the air! And with Great Outdoors Week just around the corner, residents in southwestern Pennsylvania will soon have the opportunity to experience all the fun, relaxation, and adventure the great outdoors has to offer—for ten days straight.  Deemed the ten day weekend by some, the 11th annual Great Outdoors Week celebration is set for Friday, May 11 through Sunday, May 20, 2012.

Promoted by the nonprofit Sustainable Pittsburgh and its outdoor recreation partners, Great Outdoors Week (GOW) highlights opportunities to participate in a variety of nature-related activities while showcasing the many outdoor amenities available inSouthwestern Pennsylvania.

“Of the sixty-plus events typically scheduled during Great Outdoors Week, some are family friendly, others are beginner-focused, and even others are geared towards intermediate or advanced enthusiasts,” said Ginette Walker Vinski, Communications Manager at Sustainable Pittsburgh.  “What is especially nice about Great Outdoors Week is that it offers a convenient introduction to folks who want to get involved in outdoor activities but may not have known where to start.”

GOW activities include bike rides, hikes, paddling/rowing, orienteering, running, bird watching, and much more.  Events continue to be added to the Walls are Bad activities calendar each day at

Three signature events are part of GOW this year:

  • Friday, May 11 – Learn to Row and Paddle
  • Friday, May 18 – National Bike to Work Day/Car Free Fridays
  • Saturday, May 19 – Venture Outdoors Festival Presented by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

These events are hosted by Three Rivers Rowing Association, Bike Pittsburgh, and Venture Outdoors respectively.  Below is an overview providing brief descriptions of each.

Organizers are planning a GOW Kickoff celebration on Wednesday, May 9 from 11am until 1pm inMarket Square– rain or shine.  During the lunchtime event, members of the public are invited to try out the Venture Outdoors climbing wall, visit table displays from a select number of outdoor recreation groups, practice loading bikes on a bus bike rack and listen to music from Scott Hall One Man Band.  A free raffle drawing will also be held.  Interviews with local outdoors experts and photos ops are available.

Great Outdoors Week promotes outdoor recreation as part of a healthy and sustainable community.  Outdoor recreation contributes to healthier lifestyles, helps attract and retain strong talent for the region, boosts the local economy, and fosters a sense of stewardship for this region’s parks, trails, and waterways.  Most importantly, outdoor recreation is accessible to everyone.  It’s simply a matter of stepping outside and experiencing the outdoors both in urban and rural areas.

Outdoor groups are encouraged to list their events at and help promote GOW via websites, list-servs, etc.  For more information on GOW, visit or call Sustainable Pittsburgh at 412-258-6646/412-258-6647.  The 2012 Great Outdoors Week media sponsor is 91.3fm WYEP.

Great Outdoors Week Signature Event Overview:

Friday, May 11 – Learn to Row and Paddle

2 sessions: 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm and 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Three Rivers Rowing Association invites you to try rowing in their indoor tanks at their Millvale Boathouse. If weather permits, participants will also try out dragon boats on the river!  This is a free opportunity to learn the basics of rowing, paddling or both.  Space is limited.  Register by calling 412-231-8772 or visiting

Friday, May 18 – National Bike to Work Day/Car Free Fridays Kickoff Event

Dust off your bike, leave the car at home, and ride to work! Coordinated by Bike Pittsburgh, this is a great opportunity to try bicycling to work. There will be Hydration Stations along key commuting corridors throughout the city. Bike Pittsburghvolunteers will hand out refreshments, SWAG bags, and Passports to participants. The Passports will be good for weeklong discounts at local businesses throughout the city. Hydration Stations will be open from 7:30am-9:30am. At 8:00am public officials will host a press event at a Hydration Station in the Portico at the City County Building.  This year bike commuters are also encouraged to participate in the Pittsburgh Bike Challenge that runs through August 31. Participants are encouraged to log all of their biking miles to earn points for a chance to win prizes and rewards for using a bike. For a complete list of Hydration Stations locations and more information about the Pittsburgh Bike Challenge please visit

Saturday, May 19 – Venture Outdoors Festival Presented by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

11:00 am – 6:00 pm

Bring your family and friends!  Come to this annual festival at PointState Park.  Try out kayaking with great views of the city. Take a bike ride or stroll around the Point. Try your hand at fishing. Relax and stretch in a free yoga class, or try to reach the top of our climbing wall.  Venture Outdoors makes it easy for you to get outside!  For more information call 412-255-0564 or visit

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