By Tyler Black
Before moving to Pittsburgh more than a year ago, I had never set foot in (nor did I know a single thing about) the city. Having grown up on the eastern side of Pennsylvania, I was always more focused on east-coast cities like Philadelphia and New York City. However, I regularly heard little chirps about Pittsburgh being a wonderful place. So, when I was offered a job as a Travel Consultant in Pittsburgh, I decided to take a leap of faith and see what this city had to offer. And, boy, am I glad I took that chance.
Being a new resident, I was also, in a way, an indefinite tourist. Luckily for me, I met some pretty great people here who showed me around town. And since I’m no stranger to solo traveling, I even took it upon myself to do some exploring on my own. As a result, I’ve compiled a list of five things to do in Pittsburgh you should most definitely check out. Even if we have different tastes, I know you’ll enjoy these spots.
Top Five Things to Do in Pittsburgh
Visit PNC Park
Baseball isn’t everyone’s favorite sport, but even if it isn’t to catch a Pirates game, you should definitely go to PNC Park for the view of the city alone. Google the most beautiful sports stadiums in North America and you’ll always find PNC Park mentioned. The stadium is located in the heart of downtown along the Allegheny River and is an easy walk from any hotel in the city. Pittsburgh’s iconic skyline towers, behind right field, provide an incredible photo opportunity whether it’s night or day.
Because the Pirates have had a losing record for most of the past decade, tickets to the game are dirt cheap compared to most sports stadiums across the country. Seriously, you could sit fairly close to the field at a quarter of the price it would be to sit anywhere in Yankee Stadium. This is an opportunity you’re not going to want to miss before the Pirates finally break their slump. It’s got to happen eventually, right? So, enjoy a cold beer, a delicious hot dog, and relish the views of Pittsburgh all at a low price. And if you’re lucky, the Pirates will have won a game.
Ascend Mount Washington
While PNC Park offers a great view of Pittsburgh from the Allegheny River, Mount Washington provides an astonishing view of the other side of the city. Up behind the Monongahela River (I can’t pronounce it, either, so don’t worry), Mount Washington overlooks the entirety of Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas. You could drive up the mountain to the famous overlook, but why not be a true tourist and take a Duquesne Incline cable car. I’ve never taken the incline because that thing scares the hell out of me, but it is more convenient than trying to deal with parking on small roads and hills at the top.
My favorite part of this view is seeing all the bridges that cross the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers. There are honestly so many! Pittsburgh is home to 446 of them. That’s an absurd number if you think about it. You can also see from atop the mountain where the two rivers meet to form the Ohio River. You’ll be able to snap some beautiful photos from this vantage point.
Sail Away on the Gateway Clipper
The Gateway Clipper is a riverboat cruise that takes you up and down the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio Rivers. A lot of Pittsburgh natives laugh at me when I mention how great the tour is. Nonetheless, I still stick by it! It’s a fantastic way to learn about the city in a unique way. That’s why I think it’s one of the best things to do in Pittsburgh. Besides operating as a tour, the Gateway Clipper also hosts wedding receptions, school dances, and parties. Day or night, you’re going to have a great time sailing through Pittsburgh. Did I mention there’s a full-service bar onboard?
As for the tour, the cruise offers an overview of the entire city. You’ll learn about some of Pittsburgh’s most important buildings, bridges, structures, and landscapes. The guides onboard are very knowledgeable and keep the tour quite entertaining. During certain times of the year, special tours are offered. For example, with Halloween fast approaching, the Gateway Clipper is offering a Haunted Pittsburgh Cruise which allows tourists to hear some of the city’s rich collection of ghost stories.
Take a Stroll Along Carson Street
Separated from downtown Pittsburgh by the Monongahela River (seriously, say that ten times as fast as you can and you’ve achieved an impossible feat) is South Side, an area of the city that was historically known for its heavy industry. Today, the multitude of small shops, restaurants, and bars along Carson Street turned the district into the place to be. This is another place Pittsburgh locals roll their eyes at when I bring up how great of a spot it is. This is probably because it’s a favorite for young, rambunctious students. But believe me, there’s something here for everyone of all ages.
During the day, you can take your pick at a wide range of amazing restaurants. From Venezuelan cuisine at Cilantro y Ajo to Thai fare at Dancing Crab Thai Noodle House, there’s no shortage of ethnic food, should that take your fancy. If you want to keep things more familiar, there’s Carson Street Deli, Double Wide Grill, and even Pittsburgh’s most famous sandwich joint, Primanti Bros. It would honestly take you years to get through every delicious restaurant on Carson Street.
For some beverages, there’s no shortage of places to go, either. In 2006, there were an estimated 80 bars and pubs in South Side alone. In fact, Pittsburgh in general has the most bars per capita in the United States. Carson Street is one of my favorite places to go for a drink because there’s always a place to go for whatever mood I’m feeling. They’ve got large bars and small pubs, dive bars and loud clubs. Sounds like something Dr. Seuss would say. You have your traditional saloons, and also fancy themed joints. Aside from that, there are also tattoo parlors and vape shops all over Carson Street to really round out your experience here. There’s something for everyone, making it one of the best things to do in Pittsburgh.
Learn Something in Pittsburgh’s Attractions
When you’re finished checking out the jaw-dropping views and boozing it up throughout the city, don’t forget to explore the many museums dotted around town. I have no doubt you’ll find something that piques your interest. Carnegie Museum of Natural History and its Museum of Art are two of the more famous places to visit in Pittsburgh. The Carnegie Science Center is also a favorite amongst the locals with exciting activities for both children and adults alike.
The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is another exciting attraction for all ages. It’s one of six zoo and aquarium combinations in the United States and dates back to 1898. The many special events that the zoo and aquarium offer keep tourists and locals alike coming back for more, getting the official stamp of approval for one of the best things to do in Pittsburgh. Another favorite amongst the locals is the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Relax in this peaceful environment and check out hundreds of unique plants and flowers. This wasn’t something I thought I’d enjoy, but I walked out of the greenhouses totally chilled. There are so many beautiful displays.
Some other interesting museums to visit are the Andy Warhol Museum, the Children’s Museum, the Fort Pitt Museum, the Heinz History Center, and the National Aviary. As you can see, there is no shortage of ways to blow your mind in Pittsburgh.
Come See all the Other Things to Do in Pittsburgh!
There’s no lack of excitement in this wonderful city. I’ve only just scratched the surface of things to see and do in this article. The number of attractions inside the city and its surrounding areas could keep anyone busy for weeks. There’s surprisingly so much to explore. These are just some of my personal favorite spots and activities. It may not be New York City or Los Angeles, but you’ll no doubt make some great memories here in Pittsburgh.