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Fun together as easy as a walk in, near Frick Park

| Monday, March 22, 2010

Everyone's itching to get outside after the winter we just went through. Combining outdoor with indoor activities, weather permitting, can provide an especially rewarding day with friends. The variety of environments and also the changing pace of the day are inherently stimulating and will provide lots of experiences to savor.

The proximity of Frick Park to two business districts -- Regent Square and Squirrel Hill -- makes it an ideal focal point for a day enjoying both nature and civilization.

You'll want to dress carefully for comfort. Choose loose-fitting clothes, including a sweater if it's cool, and sneakers or some other shoe with well-textured soles.

11:15 a.m.

Gather for brunch at the Square Cafe, a short walk from the entrance of Frick Park you'll be using. Outdoor seating is available, weather permitting.

Square Cafe is known for its classy and innovative menu. Omelets can be ordered with meat or vegetarian fillings, priced around $9. Some of the cafe omelets use feta, mozzarella and/or goat cheese. There's even Vegan Hash, made with scrambled silken tofu, peppers, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, served with a warm flour tortilla, $9.

Crepes, also around $9, offer other interesting flavor combinations. Smoked salmon crepes are made with chives, avocado, red onions, capers and Hollandaise sauce.

Square Cafe, 1137 South Braddock Ave., Regent Square. Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Details: 412-244-8802 or online

12:30 p.m.

Walk north on South Braddock to enter Frick Park just before you reach Forbes Avenue. Henry Clay Frick gave the initial 151 acres to the city in 1919 and, after more land was acquired, the park opened in 1927. Expansion has continued until now it occupies 561 acres and stretches from Point Breeze to the Parkway East.

To reach the walking trails, go in past the softball field, turn left and continue past the tennis courts. There are many walking paths through Frick Park, but take what's called Tranquil Trail, which will lead to the Frick Art and Historical Society.

Tranquil Trail is wooded with a gentle slope and perfectly suited to enjoy with friends.

Frick Park hours: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Details: 412-682-7275 or online

1:30 p.m.

Stop for a visit at the Frick Arts and Historical Society, which is across Reynolds Street from the northern most part of Tranquil Trail. Exhibits include touring collections as well as selections from the Frick's holdings. There are water fountains as well as beverages in the museum cafe.

Take the time to enjoy the greenhouse, the car and carriage museum and/or take a tour of the Frick family home, Clayton, which has been beautifully restored. Calling ahead to reserve a Clayton tour spot is recommended.

Frick Arts and Historical Society, 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. Closed Mondays. Details: 412-371-0600 or online

4 p.m.

Walk back to Regent Square to pick up your vehicle. For an alternate route, instead of retracing your steps, take Homewood Trail, which connects with Tranquil Trail just before it goes under Forbes Avenue.

Finish your day by driving to Squirrel Hill and parking in the public lot under the Carnegie Library.

You'll be ready to sit down for an early dinner after all the time you've spent on your feet. Squirrel Hill offers a wide range of cuisines within a few blocks of where you've parked -- including Middle Eastern and Asian. Gullifty's has a big menu of various styles and is known especially for its deserts.

Aladdin's Eatery, 5878 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. Details: 412-421-5100 or online .

Bangkok Balcony, 5846 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Details: 412-521-0728 or online

Gullifty's, 1922 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hilll. Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Mondays to Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to midnight Sundays. Details: 412-521-8222 or online

6:30 p.m.

Wrap up the day at the movies at the Manor Theater. It offers four first-run and often independent films at a time. The audience is much quieter than often experienced at the big multiplex theaters. And a movie will provide yet another kind of experience on your day of exploration.

Manor Theater, 1729 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill. Hours: Details: 412-422-7729 or online

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