Home to several historic Gilded Age landmarks and a vibrant multicultural community, Pittsburgh is a quintessential blend of old and new – and the choice of great things to see and do here is almost endless.
Situated in western Pennsylvania at the intersection of 3 different rivers, Pittsburgh has gone some way to shedding its former rough and ready industrial reputation as the Steel City and today brims with cultural dynamism. Visitors nowadays will find great museums, well maintained public spaces, top class sports, and buzzing nightlife. Here are 12 of the most fun things to get up to in and around the city.
Head to an urban oasis for the day
Perhaps Pittsburgh’s most popular patch of green space, Point State Park is set on 36-acres in Downtown. The park occupies a coveted position at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and played a key role in the French and Indian War in 1754. Today, it features 23 monuments, plaques and statues to commemorate the struggles between Native Americans, French colonists and British colonists on the site. There’s also a paved promenade encircling the rivers, a fountain that sprays water up to 150-feet in the air, and landscaped gardens.
LOCATION 601 Commonwealth Place HOURS Mon-Sun 7am-11pm
Explore the works of a pop art icon
At 88,000-square-foot, the Andy Warhol Museum is the largest museum dedicated to any single artist in the whole of North America. Its seven storeys are bursting with more than 12,000 paintings, drawings, prints, photos and films that tell the story of the Pittsburgh-born artist. A celebration of one of the most famous creative forces of the 20th century, visitors can immerse in some of his most iconic pieces, including shots of Mick Jagger, Elvis Presley and Joan Collins. It’s also the home of Warhol’s serial work, the Time Capsules, which features 600 containers containing everyday items, correspondence and clothing that Warhol filled, sealed and sent to storage.
LOCATION 117 Sandusky Street HOURS Weds-Thurs & Sat-Mon 10am-5pm Fri 10am-10pm Closed Tues
Learn about Pittsburgh’s rich history on foot or bike
There’s no better way of getting to know a city than by simply exploring it – and even better if you can be accompanied by a local expert as you go. In Pittsburgh, visitors can traverse the city’s most popular districts, as well as its lesser known nooks and crannies, by joining an organised guided tour. Walk the Burgh Tours run themed tours around specific areas or aspects of the city. Tours run for 1.5 to 2 hours and take in up to 2 miles of gentle walking, with several stops along the way. Alternatively, if you like the idea of discovering Pittsburgh with the wind in your hair, you can join a Bike the Burgh Tour. These tours take around 3 hours and 6-9 miles of riding on flat-terrain, and include all bike equipment plus a souvenir. Guides on both the Walk the Burgh and Bike the Burgh tours will also regale you with interesting facts about the city along the way.
Discover an eccentric arts venue
The brainchild of Pittsburgh artist Randy Gilson, Randyland is truly a sight to behold. Packed full of kaleidoscopic murals and objects, the quirky arts building in the city’s Central Northside district has an almost psychedelic quality in its ability to spell-bind all who see it. Every square inch of the venue is strikingly painted and decorated with such eclectic depictions as pink flamingos, giant banana plants, and plastic dinosaurs. The building serves as the artist’s home as well as a space for other creatives to come and work.
LOCATION 1501 Arch Street HOURS Mon-Sun 12pm-5pm
Join a city foodie tour
Pittsburgh’s culinary scene is as varied as it is exciting and one of the best ways to explore it is by joining an organised foodie tour. Founded by Sylvia McCoy, a multi-lingual first-generation Pittsburgher, ‘Burgh Bits & Bites Food Tours invite hungry visitors to discover the full spectrum of the city’s delectable fare. The 2 to 2.5-hour tours run across several neighbourhoods, from the melting pot of ethnic eateries in the Strip District to Bloomfield, known as Pittsburgh’s Little Italy. You’ll learn plenty of history along the way thanks to your friendly and knowledgeable guide. Each tour offers 5-6 stops for tastings. Customised and private group tours for 12 or more are also available.
Peruse top class contemporary photography
A must-visit for fans of contemporary photography, the not-for-profit Silver Eye Center for Photography has grown to become one of Pittsburgh’s most acclaimed arts institutions since opening more than three decades ago. The venue plays host to several exhibitions throughout the year, featuring both emerging and established artists, as well as photography-themed lectures and workshops, all designed to celebrate and promote photography’s power as an expressive art form. There’s also a lab space where experienced photo-artists can come and work with access to museum-quality equipment.
LOCATION 4808 Penn Avenue HOURS Tues, Weds & Fri 11am-6pm Sat 11am-5pm Closed Sun-Mon
Embark on a fun-filled scavenger hunt
Step up your sightseeing by gamifying it. This Wacky Walks Scavenger Hunt offers visitors the opportunity to get under the skin of the city in an exhilarating two-hour tour. Visitors simply have to download the app onto their smartphone, then collect points by finding items around the city. There’s a live remote host to help along the way and players can keep a track of their rank throughout the game. Ticking off most of the best-loved sights in the city, as well as plenty of off-the-beaten-track hidden gems, it’s a great way to explore the city without a guidebook.
Book at Viator.com
Visit an art space dedicated to black lives
An art gallery dedicated to the expression of black lives, BLAQK House Collections was set up by Nicky Jo Dawson and Cynthia Marie Kenderson after they met at a Christian Rally in East Liberty, held after the death of Antwon Rose Jr. Together, they’ve created a space where everyone is celebrated, regardless of bias and social constructs. Featured artists include Theresa Monroe, Ernest Bey and Tom Mosser. It also offers a BlaQk House Artists in Residence Program, an annual residency that provides local artists with the opportunity to work outside of their usual environments.
LOCATION 440 First Avenue
Book at Viator.com
Step back into Pittsburgh’s industrial heritage
Pittsburgh is famously and affectionately known as the ‘Steel City’ — and on the Fire in the Valley – Carnegie Steel and the Town that built America tour, visitors will find out why. The two-hour tour starts at Bryce-Mesta Mansion, former home of multi-millionaire industrialist George Mesta, and finishes up at Carnegie Steel’s Edgar Thomson Works, one of the last remaining steel works in the Monongahela Valley. Along the way there are stops at Homestead, the largest steel mill on the planet; Waterfront Drive, home to a 12,000 press; and the 1892 Battle of Homestead Site.
Book at Viator.com
Get a taste of Pittsburgh’s vibrant beer brewing scene
The oldest and largest craft brewery in Pittsburgh, Penn Brewery specialises in classic German beer styles but produces a wide variety of brews including lagers, ales, porters, and stouts. The Brewery’s beers have won 21 Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup medals. Housed in a 19th-century historic landmark building complex originally built by German immigrant brewers, it features an authentic German bierhalle, outdoor cobblestone biergarten, and rare original lagering caves. The restaurant serves up top notch “Euro-Pittsburgh” cuisine, offering both traditional dishes such as schnitzel, pierogi, potato pancakes, and wurst, plus modern Pittsburgh classics such as French fry-topped salad.
LOCATION 432 First Avenue
Get under the skin of creepy Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh has some spooky secrets, and visitors on the Pittsburgh Evening Ghost Tour will get to experience them first hand. Starting up near the Heinz History Centre, a famously creepy site, the tour winds across town to the former Union Station, home to several well-known local ghosts and now a grandiose complex of plush apartments. The tour explores the haunted houses along the main street of Downtown Pittsburgh, along Grant Street, before ending up at the courthouse and old jail. Along the way, you’ll explore historic churches and the oldest graveyard in the city too, giving you plenty of opportunity to explore Pittsburgh’s paranormal history.
Book at GetYourGuide.com
Savour delicious seafood at Pittsburgh’s oldest restaurant
Dating all the way back to 1870, the Original Oyster House lays claim to being Pittsburgh’s oldest bar and restaurant. But far from living off its long heritage, the old-school fish house and tavern has continued to draw visitors and locals alike with its delectable offering of fresh seafood platters. Pleasingly, the building itself has remained untouched by time, and even has historic landmark status. Inside, the interior remains old school too, with a long counter stretching the length of the restaurant and walls adorned with old memorabilia, all adding to the sense of character and charm. As for the food, be sure to try one of their famous fish sandwiches.
LOCATION 20 Market Square HOURS Tues-Fri 11am-7pm Tues-Fri Sat 12pm-8pm Closed Sun-Mon