Travel Guide: the Mr. Rogers Trail

In the external scheme of things, shining moments are as brief as the twinkling of an eye, yet such twinklings are what eternity is made of — moments when we human beings can say “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” “I forgive you,” “I’m grateful for you.” That’s what eternity is made of: invisible imperishable good stuff. – Mr. Rogers

If you grew up watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood or even if you are inspired by the man himself, the Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) Trail is a great way to reflect and appreciate the lessons he taught.

We took a two day trip from Columbus to the Pittsburgh area to explore some sites on the Mr. Rogers Trail.  Some sightseeing was closed during this Pandemic-era (totally understandable) but there was still enough to see and explore to make it worthwhile.  Since we have watched movies, documentaries, read books and listened to podcasts we added in a few Mr. Rogers things for fun.

The road trip

We listened to the Finding Fred podcast on the way there.  It’s a great deep-dive into the lessons Fred taught through his show. I highly recommend to get into the mood.

We also listened to the Mister Rogers Neighborhood playlist on Spotify.  Hearing his songs was a blast from the past, and for some reason, a blast to my eyes. (Always makes me cry to hear him say “I like you.”)

I also made us the sandwiches he orders in Episode 1508 when he visits a local restaurant.  Fred was a vegetarian so he ordered a lettuce, tomato and cheese sandwich. I made homemade bread just for these sandwiches.

The Fred Rogers Trail

Disclaimer: There are many sites to visit, but due to the Pandemic, we weren’t able to visit all of them.  So I’m sharing the ones we were able to see in order.

Duquesne Incline

Ride a look-alike trolley to Mr. Roger’s famous one.  We were able to take a ride on this 143-year-old cable car. It’s bright red which reminds you of the trolley to the Make-Believe.

Note: This place takes EXACT cash only, and you have to give the payment after the first ride. It’s $2.50 each way. This means if you planned on paying at the end, you won’t be able to. Make sure to bring $5 cash with you for every adult and $2 for children.

Wear a mask if you’re going any time soon!

Latrobe

This is Fred’s hometown.  It’s where he grew up, was ordained in the church and where he’s buried. It includes museum displays and parks to visit in his honor.

Unity Cemetery

Visiting his grave was a little sad, but seeing all the gifts left for him at his grave reminded me that although he’s not with us, he is not forgotten.

Flowers and cards left at his grave.

143 is a number you’ll see around. It was his favorite number, and the weight he tried to keep himself at for his entire life. It means “I love you”.  (1= 1, 4= LOVE, 3= YOU)

Fred Rogers Statue in James H. Rogers Park

You can sit on a bench right next to Mr. Rogers. The statue is his size and there’s a beautiful message in front of the statue that says “You are special.”  Such a positive tribute to a great man.

Latrobe Art Center

Right around the corner from the park is the Latrobe Art Center, which was founded by Rogers’ sister Nancy. Here, you can pick up souvenirs from your trip.  We bought a mug!

Banana Split

Latrobe isn’t just known for Mr. Rogers. It’s also known for Rolling Rock beer and banana splits. So, be sure to visit the statue and head to Valley Dairy Restaurant where you can taste the original banana split recipe created right here.

Rogers’ Childhood Home

Although it’s a private residence, you can drive by and see Mr. Rogers’ family home. It’s actually rather large, so we know he was somewhat wealthy growing up.

Pittsburgh

After Latrobe, we spent the night in Pittsburgh.  We explored a little of the city in the evening and then in the morning, we were back on the trail.

We started the stay by swimming in the hotel pool.  This wasn’t just for recreation, but in true Rogers’ style.  He went swimming almost every morning of his life.

Senator John Heinz History Center

This History Center is incredible. An affiliate of Smithsonian, they have three stories of amazing exhibitions.  One of them, of course, is Mr. Rogers.

They house the largest largest collection of original items from the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood television set on public view.

An interested part of the exhibit was his clothing donated by his wife. It included items he wore on the show, things he wore at home and more.

It was a trip down memory lane and a great way to reflect on his show and the lessons he taught.

Tribute to the Children

Our last stop was to visit the giant statue of Mr. Rogers that overlooked downtown Pittsburgh. My favorite part of the memorial was a circular walkway that played his music.  You had to stand under to hear it, but it was very moving to hear his voice in a setting like this.

So if you’re looking for a worthwhile pilgrimage where you can reflect on the lessons taught by one of the greatest teachers of our generation, you can do no better than the Fred Rogers trail. His message was to love yourself and love your neighbor. To be kind, to forgive, to look for the helpers, and to love. Happy trails to those of you who walk his trail.

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.

– Mr. Rogers

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