Welcome to Part 2 of our Pittsburgh Tourist Guide, inspired by reader response from this post. Be sure to check out Part 1 for even more ideas on what to do next time you’re in the Burgh, all brought to you by local, in-the-know area bloggers!
A Day in the Life with Kate from Thriftburgher
Hi, I’m Kate, from Thriftburgher.
Admittedly, most of the people I do know are through living, working or learning in Pittsburgh. However, I do have a list of Pittsburgh activities in the back of my mind if the occasion of being a Pittsburgh tour guide would arise.
Personally, I think one of Pittsburgh’s most charming qualities stems from its beautiful views and its blue-collar history. I’m a descendent of both Heinz Ketchup plant and steel mill workers. Knowing a little bit about my family’s history and how deep the steel city runs in my blood is pretty cool. That’s definitely an aspect I’d like to share with others.
And no food is more quintessentially blue-collar Pittsburgh than the pierogi. Yinzers are obsessed with the Eastern European dumpling, and I never realized until I was an adult that our obsession infatuation with the pierogi was mostly a Pittsburgh thing.
I’d recommend two places for pierogies, depending on the experience you’d prefer:
Lunch or dinner
• For the more family-like atmosphere, I’d recommend Church Brew Works.
As the name implies, the restaurant makes its home in a former church, called St. John’s the Baptist. (The same church where my dad had his First Communion, no joke.) In addition to their specialty pierogi, with rotating experimental fillings, they have brick oven pizza and house-brewed beers and root beers.
• For the divey atmosphere that boasts the second best Polish food in the city, I’d recommend Bloomfield Bridge Tavern.
Don’t let the understated looks inside deceive you here. Yes, it is a dive bar, but the kitchen churns out buttery magic. It’s not just pierogi, with classic fillings, as options. There’s haluski, kielbasa, and other polish staples. Portions are generous. Yinz don’t forget to wash it all down with an Iron City beer. (Or Yuengling, my preferred brand. I won’t judge.) Pierogi are half price from 5 to 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Pittsburgh is a great place for families with children, but as a 20-something with no children yet, I tend to be more of a kid at heart.
• To get a unique vantage point of the city, go kayaking through Kayak Pittsburgh! They rent equipment by the hour and you can push off the North Shore, exploring the wonders of the city while atop the Allegheny River!
• The Carnegie Science Center, usually a quirky children’s destination, has wonderful 21 plus nights on Fridays once a month that lets adults explore (and drink) with a theme in mind. Finally, you get to play with fun, scientific toys without judgement from glaring parents!
• Another option is PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, to watch a classic game of baseball.
The stadium is beautiful, consistently ranked one of the best baseball parks in the country because of it’s stunning views of the city. (Naturally, the park pays homage to pierogi, with the Pirates Pierogi race at the end of the fifth inning, and a decadent pulled pork pierogi stacker on a pretzel bun available for purchase.)
The perfect weekend morning in the city? Look no further than the Strip District.
• Get started at Pamela’s Diner (multiple locations, including The Strip), undoubtedly the best and most popular breakfast joint in the city.
You’ll probably have to wait for a table, but it’s worthwhile. Honestly can’t go wrong here because it’s all delicious, but I highly recommend crepes, lyonnaise potatoes or Pittsburgh hash. Even President Obama is a fan.
• The Strip District a several-block market district bustling with life in the mornings. Whether you’re hunting for $3 watermelons, cannolis, loose leaf tea or the obligatory black and gold t-shirt, it’s all here. It’s not just what’s for sale, but I think the true Pittsburgh spirit is captured here. You can usually overhear thick, Pittsburghese accents, smell some amazing foods, and catch some decent people watching.
My purchase recommendations: A pepperoni roll from Mancini’s Bread, decadent spreads from Stamoolis, pastries at Enrico Biscotti, and buy any array of Pittsburgh-reference t-shirts from Paul, one of the street vendors that usually sets up at the intersection of 20th Street and Penn Avenue.
Random activities that don’t really require much time and no money: Driving inbound through the Fort Pitt Tunnels, to try to recreate a lame version of a book/movie scene in Pittsburgh-based The Perks of Being a Wallflower; checking out the Mt. Washington Overlook, a classic, very typical tourist destination. It’s touristy for good reason. Because it’s breathtaking. Bonus: My husband also proposed to me here.
Honestly, I could probably write a book about Pittsburgh activities, but those are just a few suggestions during your stay. In need of a thrift store recommendation or any other Pittsburgh fun assistance? Just drop me a line on Twitter, @thriftburgher.
Carol from Steel City Mom
Pittsburgh has so much to offer. The museums are great. Also, the Gateway Clipper or the Ducky Tours are a big tourist attraction.
Educational Travel with
Karyn from Sand and Snow…And Everywhere In Between!
If you’re looking for educational travel, Pittsburgh is THE place to head! With four floors of science fun, an Omnimax Theater, and an actual submarine to tour, Carnegie Science Center has having a blast while learning about science down pat. Do the kids love dinosaurs? Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History in Oakland are the museums to head to for hours of fun learning. Looking for a museum geared toward wee ones? Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh offers a splash and play water area, an art room where kids can practice screen printing, and even an homage to one of my childhood heroes: Mr. Rogers. If you combine art and Pittsburgh together, you’ll undoubtedly come up with one man: Andy Warhol! The North Shore museum in his honor has floors of art work from the man that made Campbell Soup cans famous.
Seasonal Tourism with Leanna from Urban Cashmere
So your “out of town” BFF is coming for a weekend visit. What to do??? Don’t fret, just play to your season! That’s one great (and sometimes not-so-great) thing about Pennsylvania: we get to enjoy all four seasons and the adventures that come with them.
If you grew up in or around Pittsburgh and your life was anything like mine, you might have had your season journeys down to a T. So let’s break it down and see if we can’t find some fun for you and your guests to have!
The fall season is a great time to visit the Pittsburgh Zoo. Enjoy a cool stroll around the zoo and try not to be distracted by all the cuteness.
We then roll into winter… and let me be the first and definitely not the last to tell you that our winters can get pretty snowy. Don’t let that stop you though! Unless the roads are bad. That’s an excuse I’ll allow. But once those roads are clear and Christmas time is fast approaching, drive on down to Market Square, slip on some ice skates and twirl around the giant Christmas tree.
Next we’ll wander into spring, which can be a tricky season around here. It can freeze over one day, rain for 2 weeks straight, then be struck with a cloud of humidity enough to make your hair cry. That’s why I suggest staying indoors. Nope, not your house. Take advantage of the countless escapades to be had indoors around the city. From the art galleries to the natural history museum, Heinz hall to the Science Center, or even catching a musical at the Benedum, you won’t have a free minute!
Last but not least, let’s talk about those hot summer days. I’ll put it simply: we don’t have Cedar Point or Six Flags, but we do have tradition. And any native Pittsburgher will tell you, your summer isn’t complete until you’ve gorged your face with potato patch fries and rode the Phantom’s Revenge 17 times in a row. That’s right. We’re going to Kennywood.
To do list long enough? Get back to me when you need some more!
Thanks for reading our Pittsburgh tourist guide! We look forward to your next visit to our awesome city! Feel free to ask questions in the comments and we’ll get back to you. Also, be sure to check out our Pittsburgh Love Pinterest board for more fun ideas and general Pittsburgh-ness. If you’re a Pittsburgh-area blogger who has some more ideas for our guide, don’t hesitate to contact me to contribute!