Home to the Steelers and formerly the heart of the American steel industry, Pittsburgh is sometimes overlooked for Philadelphia. However, there's no real reason for that. Pittsburgh, the City of Bridges, is a haven of secret bars, reformed redbrick factories, and legions of museums filled with local and natural history. While it might not seem so from a distance, Pittsburgh is a hip and creative town that could rival the best of what Portland has to offer. There are tons of things to do in Pittsburgh, be it indulging in juicy cheesesteaks, brewery hopping, or admiring Dippy the Dinosaur.
The death of Mister Rogers left a huge gap in the hearts of all Americans, young and old. Although everybody's favorite neighbor might be gone, his legacy remains stronger than ever at the Heinz History Museum in Pittsburgh. Visit the fourth floor of the expansive building to see Mister Rogers' neighborhood with original props and items from the television set. Among the props, such as the Great Oak Tree where Henrietta Pussycat and X The Owl live and the original living room set, there's also a life-like figure of Mister Rogers himself. Sweater, khakis, and all.
However much we now talk about the dangers of fast food, the Big Mac is an American institution. Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Pittsburgh is McDonald's Big Mac Museum. This one-of-a-kind museum has just about everything a McDonald's lover could ever wish for, from the world's tallest Big Mac statue to a play space for the kids. Not only that, but true Big Mac fans can pull up a pew beside a bronze bust of the man who invented America's favorite sandwich, Jim Delligatti, and tuck into a tasty Big Mac.
Curiosity shops and oddities emporiums might not be for everyone, but morbidity connoisseurs will strike gold with a visit to downtown PGH. The Weeping Glass in Allentown offers Tarot readings, unique pieces of art for purchase, and even monthly "Death Parlors" where you can learn about tales of ghosts and murder. Another of Pittsburgh's morbid gems is Trundle Manor. Although it seems like a regular house from the outside, it contains much more. From coffins, taxidermy, old medical devices, and more, the wicked-minded will find everything they need in Pittsburgh.
Randyland is a public art gallery unlike any other in the United States. What began as a house purchased on credit while waiting tables, Randy Gilson has transformed his home into a colorful, living work of art. Dedicated to bringing happiness to his neighborhood, Gilson's 'Randyland' is a hotbed of unique, outsider art that can brighten up the dreariest of days. As well as the murals providing dozens of Instagram-ready backdrops, practically everybody who visits Randyland leaves in a much better mood than they arrived in. To tell the truth, it's hard not to.
Andy Warhol might be synonymous with Campbell's soup, New York, and his Factory, but the inspirational pop artist was a Pittsburgh native. Because of that, it's only fair that the Warhol Museum is based here, and any visitors will tell you there's no better location for it. Exploring Andy Warhol's legacy and sharing his story from beginning to end, the museum also has the largest collection of Warhol's art on the planet. Many of the exhibition rooms also resemble the Factory, giving visitors the chance to feel part of what would go on to become a counterculture arts movement. Furthermore, budding artists can also try out some of Warhol's painting techniques.
Have you ever been paddleboarding? Morein, did you ever imagine you could learn to paddleboard in Pittsburgh? Well, you can, and now you know, so it's time to try. Pittsburgh is actually a paddleboard paradise, but if you don't know how to do it, it can be quite intimidating. Luckily, Pittsburgh has a host of spots where you can have your first paddleboard experience. Not only that, there's a bunch of companies that can teach you how to do it.
Kennywood Park is Pittsburgh's best amusement park, and it's been going for 120 years. What started as a trolley park in 1899 is now America's finest traditional amusement park and a great day out for the whole family. Kennywood is in West Mifflin, which is just a 12-mile drive from downtown Pittsburgh, and, therefore super easy to get to and from. You can buy day passes and not even worry about when you have to leave. Some of its most notoriously fun rides include the Black Widow, the Sky Rocket, and tons of smaller rides. There's even a Kiddieland for the little ones.
Books are never as good as they are when bought from independent bookstores, and the City of Asylum is Pittsburgh's main draw for all keen readers. On the city's North side, City of Asylum is anything but your average independent bookshop. On the contrary, the shop provides a thriving community of writers and readers while also offering a sanctuary for writers to continue doing what they love to do in a time when most of us are reading our things online. The shop also hosts hundreds of events, from readings to musical performances and more. If you're in Pittsburgh for any amount of time, City of Asylum is definitely worth the visit.
The Original Oyster House is the oldest bar and restaurant in Pittsburgh. For almost 150 years, Pittsburgh residents have been heading to this historic landmark for the best-fried oysters in town - if not the state. The Oyster House is also a PGH tradition, with those who move away from the city still ruminating on the establishment for years to come. Providing fresh-from-the-line fish for impeccable prices, you'll be doing harm to yourself if you don't try this Pittsburgh institution at least once.
If you want to learn more about natural history, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is your go-to gallery. The museum is home to an extraordinary collection of items and artifacts; all used to widen a visitor's knowledge of evolutionary progress, science, and conservation. Once you engage in the experience, you will become more excited about science, nature, and the world around you. Learn more about biodiversity or escape to the stars or another galaxy at SkyWatch, located in the Buhl Planetarium and Carnegie Science Center.
Would you like to say hello to snow leopards or red pandas in the Asian Forest or check out the lions and elephants in the African Savanna? How about getting up close with sharks and penguins or becoming acquainted with polar bears and otters? For a true family-fun adventure, you don't want to miss a visit to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. The facility, which is home to a kid-friendly petting zoo, and tanks that hold stingrays, provides a habitat for over 400 species of animals, some of which are endangered or threatened.
You can birdwatch anytime in Pittsburgh at the National Aviary, which represents the largest indoor aviary in the U.S. and the only one given a National designation by Congress. You can find the bird building at Allegheny Commons Park, located on the city's north side. Approximately 500 birds call the aviary home, some of which are listed as endangered or threatened.
If you want to see Pittsburgh in all its glory, you cannot miss a trip up 367-foot high Mount Washington, a natural site that sits across the "Mon" or Pittsburgh's Monongahela River. Take the Duquesne or Monongahela funiculars to get to Grandview Overlook and other lookout sites at the popular local attraction. Trek the trails at Emerald View Park or visit Point of View Park, known for its George Washington sculpture that features the first President and Guyasuta, the Seneca tribal chief. The site is also known for its seafood and Italian eateries.
Located in the Beechview neighborhood, Canton is one steep street. Although the short, one-tenth-mile thoroughfare is not lengthy, it features a 37-foot gain in elevation for every 100 feet walked. Pittsburgh's Dirty Dozen bicycle race takes cyclers over Canton - that is, if they make it over the incline. About half the cyclists give up the battle after attempting the climb 3 or 4 times.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Schenley Park near downtown Pittsburgh is a marvel. Founded in 1893, it showcases a stunning glass and steel Lord & Burnham conservatory. There are 14 themed rooms within the Victorian greenhouse, with one dedicated to orchids, for example. Outside, the gardens are landscaped to perfection and provide further areas for exploration. Phipps places great importance on sustainability and is one of the greenest facilities of its kind. The Tropical Forest Conservatory has a new country theme every three years for a deep dive into the nation's flora and fauna.
Pittsburgh's North Shore is home to PNC Park and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Baseball fans will be aware that the Pirates haven't had a good go of things in recent decades, but boy, do they have an impressive stadium. Those in the know call the venue one of the finest ballparks in the country for its skylined backdrop, brilliant design, kid-friendliness, and fan experience. The PNC cost $216 million in the early 2000s and is a must-visit. Try the chicken wings and pierogis; if you're lucky, you'll see some post-game fireworks or a concert after the game.
Bicycle Heaven is the biggest bike museum in the world, thanks to an avid enthusiast, Craig Morrow. There's a wonderful assortment of two-wheelers, including plastic, wooden, and electric bicycles, rare bicycles like the unusual Bowden Spacelander valued at over $50,000, an extensive Schwinn collection, as well as the bikes used in movies like Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Super 8, and A Beautiful Mind. The museum is free to enter and earns money by selling and repairing bikes and leasing them to various screen productions. In December 2022, flooding caused Bicycle Heaven to close temporarily.
At Pittsburgh's main park in Oakland, you can do all manner of things, including swimming, playing golf, taking a spin on a carousel, going ice skating, grabbing a bite to eat, or simply strolling along the many woodsy trails to clear your head and stretch your legs. Phipps Conservatory also happens to be here, so check out the holiday lights if you're around in winter or the glorious flowers during the warmer seasons. Close to college campuses, this urban park is beloved by students.
You can't go to Pittsburgh and leave Market Square off your itinerary. A downtown highlight, the square has roots going back to 1784. Today, it's a mixed-use development with a piazza-like feel where the locals gather to eat, shop, and make merry. There's a fabulous Christmas village here during winter, every Thursday, the farmer's market sells terrific fresh produce, and various events pop up throughout the year.
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall is a great place to learn about military history, with numerous artifacts. It's also a popular events venue, which has welcomed world-famous visitors and speakers, including Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. The newly married often hold their wedding receptions in the magnificent hall.