I did a post like this once before, but it was in response to the New York Times calling Pittsburgh boring. Harrumph, it is not boring. You just have to know where to go. (Which only the locals do…)
Anyway, I’m posting again about the things there are to do in Pittsburgh for two reasons: One, I have a friend who is an avid reader of my blog coming to visit the city for the first time this weekend, and I think he would like to know a little more about what he’s getting himself into (sup, Jay 😉 ). Two, I need to tell all of the international students that I mentor just how much fun they’re gonna have once they arrive here next month, and what better way to do so than through a blog post?
That is, if they actually ever read it. Haha. Hah. Hah.
Just kidding. I have faith that they will.
Moving on, before we get started, I just wanted to warn you that I’ll be using my university as a reference point for location for each of the places below, since this is mainly directed at my international students. Also, I own approximately four of the photos you’re about to see: the one of PNC Park, the one of CONSOL Energy Center, the one of Remember When, and the one of the sushi at Wholey’s. The rest belong to whoever the heck photographed them. Thanks in advance for not getting mad at me for using them. 😉
Okay. Now let’s do this.
20 Must-Do’s in Pittsburgh
1. The Duquesne Incline
Just a hop, skip, and a jump across the river from Duquesne, this is a very stereotypical but very cool thing to do in the city.
Basically, The Incline is a pulley system of two old trolley cars that take you to the top of Mt. Washington from the South Side. It’s a really unique experience that leads to an incredible photo op (see next number), so you have to make sure you do it at least once on your visit.
2. Mount Washington Overlook
You want a killer view of a beautiful city? Look no further. After riding the incline, make sure you stop by the scenic overlook and snap a couple of photos. It’s truly stunning up there.
(Not that I’ve ever personally gone…)
3. The Strip District
On the other side of downtown from Duquesne (right across the river from the North Shore), is the Strip District, one of Pittsburgh’s most famous and historic shopping centers. This is where you come to get some seriously good food. Like, seriously. Everything here is amazing.
Some of my personal favorites are:
Wholey’s, a fish market that serves some killer sandwiches as well as some of the best and freshest sushi in the city. The macaroni and cheese is also on point. Basically, just get one of everything if you go, and stuff yourself for the rest of eternity.
Primanti’s, Pittsburgh’s famous sandwich shop known for serving the fries and coleslaw actually on the bread with the meat. Trust me, though: It’s amazing, as you can see above.
The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, another incredibly famous store that actually has a really cool book written about it (Macaroni Boy). Here you can get noodles and cheeses and other little goods to take back to your place to cook a delicious, fresh, Italian meal.
There is also this pastry stand that some amazing bakery sets up all the time. I can’t remember which bakery it is that does it, but everything they make is so, so yummy. And it’s not very expensive, either, so you can get lots and lots and lots. Just look for a long white table with lots of awesome sweets, and you’ll know you’ve found it.
And last but not least, you have to go to Mancini’s, the bakery that sells the actual best bread in the entire world. If you don’t stop in and get a loaf, I will personally find you and make you go get one. Not eating Mancini’s while in the city is a sin. An absolute sin.
(Here is a guide to the Strip District that Pittsburgh Magazine put together, just in case you want to know more about the area.)
4. Market Square
Kind of like a miniature version of Union Square in New York City, this is a quaint little corner of the city where you can go to get a bite to eat or just sit and relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Side note: In the wintertime, it’s transformed into a wonderland featuring a massive ice rink and Christmas tree at the PPG Place next door.
So definitely go take advantage of it! Especially cause it’s only a ten minute walk down the street from Duquesne.
5. Senator John Heinz History Center
Located at the very start of the Strip District, this museum features some awesome exhibits on both America’s and Pittsburgh’s history. It also goes into great detail about one of the city’s most famous products: Heinz Ketchup (as founded by Henry John Heinz — not the man the museum is named for).
Oh, and don’t forget to get a stamp card on the first floor by the elevator once you enter, for stamping it on every floor earns you a free Heinz pickle pin from the gift shop. Whoop!
6. Carnegie Science Center/The Warhol
I grouped these two together because they are both on the North Shore, so you will have to take the T from Duquesne in order to get there.
Anyway, the Science Center, which you see above, is really fun and has some cool 21 and over nights where adults can go, have drinks, and play around with all the science-y things minus the screaming little children.
And The Warhol features some of the best works from another of the city’s most famous alumni, Andy Warhol.
7. Heinz Field/PNC Park
If it’s football season, definitely head over to the North Shore to see the Steelers play. Pittsburgh football is like none other, so make sure you see it at least once.
Also on the North Shore, PNC Park is home to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the city’s Major League Baseball team. After 20-ish years of absolutely sucking, they’re finally really good again, so come check them out. If nothing else, you’ll enjoy some killer views of downtown.
8. CONSOL Energy Center
If you like sports or music, plan to spend a lot of time here, because it’s just down the street from Duquesne (maybe a 2 minute walk).
CONSOL Energy Center is the city’s arena, which houses its Stanley Cup champion National Hockey League team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Lots of Duquesne students frequent the hockey games played here because they’re super entertaining and pretty easy to get tickets for thanks to Student Rush.
Lots of super popular music acts perform here, as well, so if you’re interested in seeing any, look up their tour dates to find out if CONSOL is on their list.
9. The South Side
Named because it literally is the south side of the city, this section of Pittsburgh just across the river from downtown is every college student’s dream. Housing everything from Station Square — a well-groomed area full of awesome restaurants (such as my favorite place to brunch, The Grand Concourse) — to the South Side Works — a happening shopping district with some more killer restaurants — to an incredible amount of bars and cafes, you’ll probably be down here a lot, as most Duquesne students are.
And the great thing: Duquesne has a giant flight of [slightly dangerous] steps you can use to get down to the bridge to take you across the river to the South Side. So if you wanna walk, you totally can.
[Just say a little good luck prayer before you go, especially in the wintertime.]
10. Neville Island
Above you see the inside of Paradise Island Bowling, one of Neville Island’s many recreational hotspots. In reality, Neville Island is just an old industrial area in the middle of the Ohio River. It isn’t very beautiful, but the very far end of it houses the aforementioned bowling alley as well as a roller rink, an ice rink, and mini golf. It’s where I grew up frequenting for birthday parties and fun days alike. So if you’re looking for something a little different to do, Neville Island has many options.
There’s just one issue, though: Unless you have a car, you’ll have to take a city bus or call an Uber in order to get there. It’s quite a distance from Duquesne.
11. Ross Park Mall
Also far from Duquesne and only accessible by car, bus, or Uber is Ross Park Mall, the city’s upscale shopping center. Housing everything from Victoria’s Secret to Louis Vuitton, you can literally get everything you’ve ever dreamed of here.
(Here is more information on it.)
Your best bet to get here is probably gonna be Uber, cause it’s also pretty far outside of the city. But once you’re here, man, it’s amazing.
Kennywood is an amusement park with tons of roller coasters, thrill rides, game stands, and water attractions that you just have to experience when in Pittsburgh. I’ll be going this year on my birthday, and I’m so pumped. Also, the food in the park is amazing, especially the Potato Patch fries. You have to get them. If you don’t, I’ll be very disappointed.
But, as with most amusement parks, it’s only open from mid spring to mid fall, so if you come in the winter, you’re out of luck.
13. North Park
I should probably bring my radius back into the city limits…
Anyway, once again, bus, car, or Uber will be how you get to this beautiful area about 30 minutes north of the city. It’s a huge outdoor recreation spot, with a massive lake in the center. You can golf, swim at the giant pool, kayak, hike, jog, bike, picnic. It’s really a wonderful place.
But just in case you don’t want to go all the way to North Park for a pretty outdoor area, there’s always Lake Elizabeth in Allegheny Commons on the North Shore.
No, there aren’t any recreational activities offered, but it’s still a gorgeous retreat from the monotony of the Pittsburgh cityscape.
14. Point State Park
At the very tip of the downtown peninsula lies Point State Park, a lovely grassy area that the state keeps as a park for the public. Adorning its end is a beautiful fountain that shoots straight up into the sky at all hours of the day, except during the wintertime. So in any of the warmer months, head to this spot, relax a little, and get your picture at the fountain. It makes for a lovely memory.
15. Remember When
In Windgap, which is another bus ride away from Duquesne and downtown, is Remember When, Pittsburgh’s most famous ice cream shop. The fame comes from the size of its treats, a size that I will not reveal to you. I’ll simply say that everything is delicious, and you have to order a large cone at least once.
Okay, and that is all for this post!
Some other notable mentions for things to see in the area are the Carnegie museums, the neighborhood of Oakland, Settler’s Cabin park, Schenley Park, and Randy Land. If you want more information on them, though, you’ll have to do a Google search, cause I don’t have time to provide it. Sorryyyy.
Talk to you all again soon!