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New program offers 100,000 free tickets to Pittsburgh attractions

The main entrance to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
Jakob Lazzaro
90.5 WESA
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of the dozen attractions offering free admission this summer through RAD's Summer Staycation.

A card at any public library in Allegheny County could be your free ticket to a dozen popular cultural attractions this summer.

Summer Staycation, a new program announced Thursday by the Allegheny Regional Asset District, will provide 100,000 free tickets to the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium, the four Carnegie Museums, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and more.

RAD officials introduced the program at an event at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s main branch, in Oakland, as an extension of its long-running RAD Pass program and its RADical Days lineup of free events in the fall.

RAD board chair Dan Griffin said Summer Staycation also grew out of RAD’s August 2023 initiative 3 For Free, which offered free admission to The Andy Warhol Museum, the Children’s Museum and Heinz History Center and contributed to record-setting attendance at those venues.

Griffin credited new County Executive Sara Innamorato with encouraging RAD — which is funded by a 1% county sales tax — to look for ways to improve accessibility to cultural amenities.

At the launch, Innamorato noted that RADical Days, which typically offers free admission to selected attractions on single dates in the fall, often results in overcrowding.

“The RAD Pass system can help spread out those 100,000 free admissions across the summer months,” she said.

In addition, residents who weren’t aware of the free-ticket day, or who were otherwise occupied on that date, couldn’t avail themselves of the offer.

“This really opens it up for so many working families throughout our region so that they can partake in these fun activities,” Innamorato said.

Summer Staycation runs May 15 through Aug. 30. RADical Days will return as usual in the fall.

Library cards are free. Any holder of an Allegheny County library card can reserve up to four free Summer Staycation tickets for a given venue at

The full list of attractions includes: The Warhol, the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, the Children’s Museum, The Frick Pittsburgh, Heinz History Center, the Mattress Factory, the National Aviary, Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium and Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum.

Ticket offers go online May 1. More information is here.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: