5 ways to #OptOutside in Pittsburgh on Black Friday

You don’t have to spend the day under fluorescent store lighting.

Go for a hike.

Go for a hike.

Courtesy of Venture Outdoors / Facebook
MJ Slaby

Black Friday doesn’t exactly conjure images of nature.

It’s more like parking lots, malls, and plastic shopping bags. Your best shot at fresh air comes while waiting outside in line early in the morning (if you’re even still into that). But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Started by REI, #OptOutside is a movement to, well, get outside Black Friday and every day. For the fourth year, REI has closed all its locations and paid its employees to take the day off, urging them and others to go outside on a day usually reserved for shopping, GeekWire reported. The retailer isn’t processing online orders today either.

Other groups are joining in, too.

Venture Outdoors also uses the hashtag and is like-minded, said Donna Bour, the organization’s development and communications director. The Pittsburgh nonprofit does programming all year, but once kayaking ends, typically in October, it becomes all about hikes and activities in the show like snowshoeing, she said.

“We’re strong believers that there is no reason that you can’t get outside 12 months a year … Once you get outside and get moving, there’s nothing quite like a winter hike,” Bour said.

Here are 5 ways to #OptOutside on Black Friday in Pittsburgh.

Stroll through the holiday lights.

The Incline’s Rossilynne Culgan mapped this holiday walking tour last year, but it still holds up for 2018, so you can take in the decorations without the crowds of Light Up Night. If you’re going to stop at Miracle, remember that it’s on Liberty Avenue this year, and it opens at 4 p.m. on Black Friday.

Take a hike.

If you want to go out on your own, find the perfect trail no matter where in Pennsylvania you’re spending the holiday weekend. If you’re staying in Pittsburgh, you’ve got a few guided options, too.

  • Join Venture Outdoors for a 4 to 5-mile hike at Settlers Cabin Park. The hike starts at 1 p.m. Friday, and there’s pie at the end. Get your ticket here.
  • Head to North Park for two hikes with L.L. Bean. One starts at noon Friday and the other is at 6 p.m. Both are free, but register here.
  • Hike after dark at the Starlight Stroll with Allegheny Land Trust and REI. You’ll learn about astronomy, nocturnal creatures and more along the way. The hike is at 5 p.m. Friday at Audobon Greenway (Sewickley). Get your ticket here.

Hop on a bike.

The Outdoor Women’s Alliance is leading an all-women bike ride on the Great Allegheny Passage. It starts at 10 a.m. at the Homestead entrance and will be about 18 miles. The ride is free, but RSVP here.

Don’t own a bike? Here’s a list of Healthy Ride stations.

Visit animals at the zoo.

Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium have free admission through Nov. 30 (but are closed on Thanksgiving). Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lace up your skates.

Head Downtown for a quintessential holiday experience of ice skating while everyone else is shopping. The rink at PPG Place is open 11 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. More details here.