Pittsburgh is the second largest city in Pennsylvania. This spirited city has a reputation for being quirky and proudly independent, and these days it's having a hip renaissance. From its industrial past during the Golden Age of manufacturing to its current fascination with art, Steeltown has personality to spare and a lot to offer visitors.
Enjoy expansive panoramas of the downtown Pittsburgh skyline and riverfront from a bright red funicular incline car built in the 1800s. Once one of four, the Duquesne Incline travels to the summit of Mount Washington, where a dedicated observation deck and a gift shop await. Group tours of the original hoisting mechanism and historical artifacts are also available.
Andy Warhol is synonymous with modern art, and his museum on the North Side features The largest museum dedicated to a single artist in the US, its seven floors display Brillo Box sculptures, paintings, and prints of celebrities like Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor, along with interactive exhibits in filmmaking and screen printing.
Artist Randy Gilson opened his home on the North Side of town (purchased with a credit card) to the public in 1995. Since then, it's become a home for folk art, murals and art installations of all styles as well as a beacon of community living. Randyland remains a center for neighborhood activism spearheaded by Gilson, as well as a great place to hang out for an afternoon.
Built in 1924, the Thunderbolt is a wooden roller coaster that has long attracted thrillseekers to Kennywood, a massive amusement park on the banks of the Monongahela River. With its long history as a playground for local steel mill workers and their families, the site is a designated National Historic Landmark, making it one of only two amusement parks to receive the designation. Though most rides are more nostalgic than high tech, the Pittsburgh Plunge water ride is worth a try.
The beloved Pittsburgh Pirates make their home at PNC Park on the shore of the Allegheny River. On game days, cars are banned from the immediate vicinity and a restaurant and retail space are set up beyond right field. Pittsburgh has maintained a relationship with the Pirates for 115 years, which makes catching a home game extra meaningful. Those sitting in Pirate's Cove get an extra bonus of unlimited peanuts.
Built around the convergence of three rivers—the Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio—Point State Park is a green lung for downtown Pittsburgh. A large fountain that is illuminated each night is a focal point for the entire city. Rent a kayak to explore the riverfront, or catch up on some local history at the Fort Pitt Museum at the rear of the 36-acre park.
Of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Science Center is probably the most popular. Most of the exhibits are interactive, from astronomical exploration in the Buhl Planetarium to the model trains chugging through the Western Pennsylvania Miniature Railroad and Village. The Center is located on the North Shore waterfront and is part of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, so it's easy to combine a visit with a hike or bike ride.
Canton Avenue in the Beechview neighborhood of downtown Pittsburgh is notoriously steep, with a pitch of 37 percent. The steepest paved roadway in the world is also the site of the annual Dirty Dozen bicycle race, which started as a bunch of daredevil friends competing with each other but now draws a field of hundreds.
The religion of beer drinking finds a true home at Church Brew Works in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Formerly St. John the Baptist Church, the pub has a full lunch and dinner menu, and a list of beers brewed on-site. Also in Lawrenceville, The Abbey is an atmospheric coffeehouse and pub situated in a former funeral parlor.
The steel industry was once Pittsburgh's pride and joy. Those days are long gone, but their history lives on in the rusting relics of iron making. The Carrie blast furnace tour looks at the structural ruins of the industrial site, which is now a designated National Historic Landmark. The site also presents programs that explore the rehabilitation of post-industrial landscapes.