Pittsburgh is a down to earth, welcoming city that has something for almost everyone.
Part of the attraction lies in Pittsburgh’s culture. With one of the U.S.A.’s largest collections of theater companies, the Three Rivers Film Festival, a world-class symphony orchestra, and a respected ballet company, Pittsburgh is a cultural powerhouse.
But high culture isn’t the only appeal. You can join the masses as they cheer on the Steelers NFL team, take craft brewery tours, dine on mountains of Polish dumplings at superb restaurants like Pierogies Plus, or watch indie bands perform at venues like the Smiling Moose.
To top it off, Pittsburgh is located in a beautiful setting. Located at the point the Allegheny, Ohio, and Monongahela rivers meet, the parks and hills of Pittsburgh offer incredible photo opportunities.
With beauty, culture, and good, honest fun to enjoy, Pittsburgh is a city that’s well worth exploring.
Pittsburgh is a sporting city like few others. Watch the Steelers battle it out in the NFL, cheer on the Penguins in the NHL, or the Pirates in the MLB.
In recent years, Pittsburgh has emerged as one of America’s craft brewing capitals. Time your visit to coincide with Craft Beer Week in April and tour famous local breweries like ShuBrew, the East End Brewing Company, and Grist Brew.
From the Vintage Grand Prix in September to spring’s Folk Festival and summer’s Three Rivers Arts Festival, there’s always something going on in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh has a massive array of theater companies, but the Pittsburgh Playhouse is the best known. If you get the chance, don’t miss performances of plays by August Wilson, one of America’s leading modern playwrights and a Pittsburgh native.
Food is one of Pittsburgh’s biggest draws. Try the pierogies at Cop Out; Primanti Brothers is the place to go for sandwiches, fries, and coleslaw, while El Burro is a great restaurant for sausage fans.
You don't have to have a green thumb to appreciate the tropical beauty of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The museum's simple layout and informative placards make stopping and smelling the roses easier than ever before. There is also an exhibit in which you can check out hand-blown glass art made into supernatural flower shapes. However one of the biggest highlights of your trip is sure to be the Butterfly Garden where you can have up close and personal encounters with these colorful insects. If you're lucky, one might even perch on your finger!
The Duquesne Incline is an open air cable car which was built over a hundred years ago on the steps of Mount Washington. In the 1970's, a group of locals banned together to ensure that the Incline would be properly preserved and improved upon as a Pittsburgh city landmark. Today you will see many locals heading for the hills to appreciate the sensational views from the observation deck at the top. The cable car is even open past midnight, making it the perfect vantage point for some urban star-gazing.
Tap into your inner mad scientist when you start exploring the Carnegie Science Center. There are many fun interactive exhibits for kids and adults to experience covering topics like robotics, hydroponics, and human anatomy. The science center is just one of four Carnegie landmarks in Pittsburgh, the others being the famous Carnegie Concert Hall, Carnegie Art Museum, and Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The building is located across from Heinz Field in the very heart of downtown surrounded by promenades and waterfront views of the Ohio River.
As the name suggests, this museum was created to focus on the life and achievements of legendary American artist Andy Warhol. He is famous for his vast contributions to the art-pop movement, which is characterized by bright contrasting colors, everyday objects, and cultural icons of the 70s and 80s. The purpose behind pop art's modernism was a shift away from highbrow classical art and instead highlighting the everyday mundane. His influence can still be felt today through artists like Deborah Kass, Damien Hirst, and even Lady Gaga. The museum is the largest single-artist museum in the United States with seven floors of artwork to explore.
If you're one of those people who loves outdoor sports, then Mount Washington is the best place in Pittsburgh to visit. The highest mountain in the northeastern United States comprises a unique landscape for the region, alternating between snow-capped peaks and open grassy vistas perfect for hiking, skiing, and paragliding. Travel tip: there's a lot more to experience at Mount Washington besides outdoor sports. For the truly adventurous, get into gear and enjoy driving around the narrow winding roads along the mountain's popular auto-route.
Late summer is definitely the best time to visit Pittsburgh. The heat of July and August gives way to a pleasant warmth in September, and events like the Vintage Grand Prix offer plenty to do. Otherwise, spring is a good alternative (although it can be quite rainy), with major events like the Pittsburgh Folk Festival.
Most people arrive in Pittsburgh via the city’s International Airport. From there, the best route into town is to take the 28X Airport Flyer bus, which costs $3.75. Fares are paid on the bus, but you’ll need exact change to buy a ticket. There are also a number of car rental outlets at the airport, including Hertz, Alamo, and Avis, and renting a vehicle will cost around $30 a day.
Drivers usually approach Pittsburgh on I-79 (from the west), I-70 (from the south), or I-76 to the north or east. The city is around 5 hours from New York and Washington, and 7 hours from Chicago.
Greyhound is the major bus operator into Pittsburgh and their services run into a stop at 11th and Liberty in the downtown district. The company provides a wide range of connections, including daily services from Philadelphia and New York.
Megabus is an alternative option, providing low price transportation and stopping at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Other bus companies serving Pittsburgh include Fullington Trailways (who serve destinations in Pennsylvania and New York State) and Metropolitan Shuttle, who serve local areas.
Pittsburgh isn’t a huge city (at around 800,000 inhabitants), but it does have a number of different districts to choose from. Some of the best hotels are in the Downtown area. Try the Omni William Penn Hotel for accommodation in a historic property, or the Marriott City Center for an efficient modern option. Student areas like the East End are a good place to find budget accommodation. Try the Shadyside Inn Suites for self-catering apartments or the Quality Inn University Center. But the best views are probably found at South Side hotels like the Morning Glory Inn, a traditional bed & breakfast.
Downtown – The cultural center of Pittsburgh is also the most convenient place to stay. It’s located on a peninsular called “the Point” and feels like a mini-Manhattan, with its dense towers and cluster of museums and theaters. Check out Toonseum, one of America’s only cartoon museums and beautiful architectural sights like the 19th century Allegheny County Courthouse.
South Side – The place to go for bars and restaurants, South Side is a hilly neighborhood that provides some incredible views of Pittsburgh. It’s not hard to reach, thanks to cute funicular railways like the Duquesne Incline. Head down to Carson Street for the best eateries. The tapas at Mallorca and the desserts at Cheesecake Factory are particularly popular.
East End – Home to Carnegie Mellon University and U. Pittsburgh, the East End is a creative quarter with plenty of bars, restaurants, and stores to explore. It’s a green area, with places to relax like Frick Park and is also home to great attractions like the huge collection of dinosaur skeletons in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
Pittsburgh’s Port Authority runs an extensive bus network and a small light rail service (which is handy for reaching the sporting venues). Fares are based on “zones”, but most of the time visitors will stick to Zone 1, where the basic fare is $2.50 per journey. There’s also a free fare zone right in the center of town, where all bus travel is completely free of charge.
Taxis are an excellent way to get around the city. Basic fares are $3.50 for the meter drop, then $5.30 for every subsequent mile and $28 for every hour of waiting. Uber offers a base fare of $2.50, then $1.55 per mile, so is usually a cost effective alternative.
Pittsburgh’s road network can be off-putting at first, thanks to all the steep valleys and hills that dot the city. Beware of motorists making what look like sudden left turns. It’s a local custom to make left turns immediately when the lights turn green, so don’t get caught out. If you need relatively inexpensive city center parking, the Grant Street Transportation Center at 12th Street and Penn Ave. is a good place to try.
Pittsburgh has a number of lively shopping districts with small independent stores and larger chains jostling for the attention of visitors. South Side is probably the best place to look for fashion bargains. Head to Station Square for apparel stores like Morini and accessory stores like Accentricity. Fifth Avenue Place is a busy mall in Downtown, while in eastern Pittsburgh, the Strip hosts a clutch of contemporary design stores in the 16:62 Design Zone.
Finding supermarkets in Pittsburgh is never a problem, and there are plenty of places to buy groceries and other essentials in every part of town. Major chains include Kmart and Walmart but the best places to buy food are smaller places like Weiss Brothers butchers or the Shadyside Market and Deli. The city isn’t too expensive. Expect to pay about $2.65 for 12 eggs and $14 for a good bottle of wine.
Pittsburgh has a diverse dining scene, thanks to waves of immigration from the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Russia, and, more recently, Asia and Latin America. The Bloomfield Bridge Tavern is a great place to go for Polish dishes like pierogi, the Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh serves massive German lagers and sausages, while Meat & Potatoes serves honest American specialities. For up-market gourmet dishes, try popular spots like Nicky’s Thai Kitchen or the bistro at Avenue B, where the seafood and salads are exceptional. Meals tend to cost around $15 for a medium-range meal, up to $50-100 for something more classy.