The Sights, the Lights

If you have some kind of preconceived idea of Pittsburgh as a “washed-out casualty of the Rust Belt”, be prepared to have your mind changed.  Pittsburgh is secretly awesome* with a lot to offer in the way of art, food, culture, and more.

DSC00188If you have some time to spare while in town, here are some places (some of our favorties!) you might want to check out:

  1. Pop into one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh to kill a morning or afternoon – Art and Natural History in Oakland,  The Andy Warhol Museum in the North Shore and the Carnegie Science Center, also on the North Shore.
  2. Besides being home to two of the Carnegie Museums, Oakland is also the home of the University of Pittsburgh, our grad school alma mater, and Carlow and Carnegie Mellon Universities.  As such there are a lot of interesting things to look at.  Some highlights are the Carnegie Museums and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh main branch, all connected (also home of Dippy the dinosaur, where we first met!); Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum; and the Cathedral of Learning.  If you have time, stop and take a tour of the Nationality Rooms – classrooms designed to represent the culture of various ethnic groups that have settled in Pittsburgh – inside the Cathedral.

    Duquesne Incline

    Duquesne Incline

  3. Take in the second-best view of the city at Mt. Washington (second best view in my opinion; see #10 for the best).  As long as you’re up there you should probably take a ride on one of the city’s two remaining funiculars, the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines.
  4. While on the south side of the city, head to the Zenith Cafe for a great vegetarian/vegan brunch in an awesome setting – a restaurant cum antique store/art gallery.  A variety of salads!  Breakfast cakes!  Delicious teas!  Also be sure to check out East Carson Street, “arguably the longest stretch of bars in the country,” but also home to a lot of small shops and other interesting eateries.
  5. See how a wealthy turn-of-the-century (20th century, that is) family lived at The Frick Art & Historical Center in Point Breeze, both museum and historic house, as well as separate art museum, car museum, and lovely grounds where you can treat yourself to afternoon tea.
  6. Go to Smoke in Homestead and eat some tacos filled with things like chicken apple and bacon or pork with apricot habanero sauce.  Or ribs and house made pickles.  Or brisket.  Just go.  You will not regret it.
  7. If the Buccos are in town, head into the city to beautiful PNC Park for a Pirates baseball game.  Bonus: great views of the skyline and the giant pierogie race!
  8. Fancy a stroll through the park?  Well, besides Robin Hill Park where the wedding is happening, check out Frick or Schenley Parks for some outdoor time.  With 561 and 456 acres respectively, they’re the city’s two largest parks with walking trails, playgrounds, and more.
  9. Schenley Park is also the location of Phipps Conservatory, a gorgeous Victorian-era greenhouse with a huge variety of indoor plants and outdoor gardens.
  10. Check out some bridges.  Seriously.  Pittsburgh has 446 of ’em and some of them are beautiful behemoths.  The best view of the city is heading east on I-376 as you come out of the Fort Pitt tunnel.  Just trust me.
In Frick Park.

In Frick Park.

*Don’t believe me about the secretly awesome part?  Check out these articles that concur and also offer plenty more to do, see, and eat:

“New Meets Old in Pittsburgh: This city is cool.  What’s more, it’s not self-conscious enough to care whether you know it.” Josh Noel, Chicago Tribune

“Portlandia, your 15 minutes are up.  Long live Pittsburgh.”  Maura Judkus, Washington Post

“What Pittsburgh Can Teach the Rest of the Country about Living Well,” Laura Shocker, The Huffington Post

“30 Reasons You Need to Move to Pittsburgh” Molly Kirwan, (Also very good reasons to visit.)


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