I’m a wee bit obsessed with my hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Except for college (an hour north) and a year and a half in central PA, I have lived in this gorgeous city my whole life. Though I don’t know what my future holds, I can honestly say that I would be content if I stayed here to live out the rest of my days. But right now I am enjoying New York (for work purposes though), an exciting place for sure!
Admittedly, there’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to share the gloriousness that is Pittsburgh because there are already so many articles that keep inviting people to move here. We’re a little nervous that we’ll lose the magic over time. But, who am I kidding? I love this place so much I can’t hold back even if I tried! I know Pittsburgh isn’t a typical tourist destination, but I assure you, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The PPG Building
The first thing you’ll notice about Pittsburgh is the stunning skyline that forms a point where the three rivers meet. Our nickname is the Golden Triangle, but really that just means our streets aren’t in a perfect grid, making it an adventure to get around if you’re not familiar. But don’t let that deter you! If you get overwhelmed by big cities, you’ll find Pittsburgh an ideal size made up of numerous neighbourhoods with distinctive personalities that blend into one another. I’m confident you’ll feel at home in more than one neighbourhood if you take the time to explore.
Do me a favour: if you fly into Pittsburgh International Airport and/or drive in from the south through the Fort Pitt Tunnels, be prepared for a view that takes your breath away. Remember the movie Perks of Being a Wallflower and the scene where Emma Watson stands up in the car in the tunnel and opens up to the city? They did not do this experience justice whatsoever. It’s way more brilliant in person.
The second thing you’ll notice is just how kind and down-to-earth most Pittsburghers are. A steel city at heart, we have a “blue-collar” mentality mixed with a huge boost of technology, innovation, and culture, making for a unique blend of creativity and grit.
Typical Tourist Must-Dos in Pittsburgh
While I certainly encourage you to go off the beaten path and try some hidden gems, it’s worth exploring a few tourist activities:
Check out Duquesne Incline and enjoy the view on Mount Washington at night. What the heck is an incline? It’s a train…that travels up and down an inclined plane. While most riders are tourists, people still use it to commute up and down the mount daily. Seriously! It’s been around since the 1800s!
Go to a Pittsburgh Pirates game at PNC Park. Regardless if you’re a Pirates or even a baseball fan or not, this park is worth the price of a ticket. I’m biased, but others have hailed it as the best baseball stadium in the country, and it has a spectacular view of the skyline.
If you’re a museum kind of person, spend a rainy afternoon in Phipps Conservatory, The Andy Warhol Museum, or The National Aviary.
Satisfy your tastebuds by spending a Saturday morning in the Strip District, our melting pot of ethnic foods and farmers’ markets.
Eat More than Primanti Brothers
The ‘Burgh may not necessarily be known for our super healthy eating habits, but we have made the ranks for being home to some really great restaurants. Of course, you may have heard about our weird propensity to put french fries on top of everything, including salads and our famous Primanti Brothers’ sandwiches. Still, we have a lot more to offer to satisfy all appetites. In fact, we were recently named Zagat’s #1 Food City in the United States this past year.
If you’re downtown, you’ve got to try the taqueria, täko; the gastropub, Meat and Potatoes; and my regular go-to, the meatball joint Emporio at Sienna Mercato. Finally, be sure to pop on up to the rooftop bar, Il Tetto, to end your evening.
There are coffee shops galore in every neighbourhood, but my favourite little hideaway is Biddle’s Escape in Regent Square. There are food truck round-ups every Wednesday in the spring and summer, and there’s so much unique decor and tons of flavours to try. I feel relaxed and intrigued every time I go there.
For dessert, enjoy a famous Almond Torte Cake from Prantl’s or get a few scoops of Millie’s Ice Cream in a homemade waffle cone in Shadyside.
Keep Busy in the Burgh
There are plenty of things to do and places to see to keep you busy for any length of time in Pittsburgh, but here are a few of my favourites:
Hike in Frick Park. The largest in the city and one of our four historic parks. It’s beautiful in all seasons, and when you’re there, you often forget you’re in a city at all. It’s a great place to play, to reflect, to exercise, and to picnic.
Attend a craft workshop at a local bar with PopCraft. It’s a fantastic alternative to the numerous wine and paint nights, and you actually make something cool and interesting. It’s perfect for date night, girls’ night out, and family fun.
Go swing dancing at Swing City. There are numerous venues and dance styles available, but swing dancing is one of the most welcoming dance scenes in the city. Swing City is a weekly dance held at Wightman School in Squirrel Hill that offers a beginner’s lesson followed by social dancing with a live band.
Shop local. There are some really unique and interesting shops in the surrounding neighbourhoods, especially in Lawrenceville and Shadyside. One of the shops I continually frequent is Wild Card, a card and handmade goods store. I could easily spend an hour reading the beautiful (and often hilarious) cards, coveting the soft vintage Pittsburgh tees, and debating between colourful prints.
There are so many other gems I haven’t yet shared, but it’s time you come and see Pittsburgh for yourself! You won’t regret it.