The Next Big Thing: Why You Should Visit Pittsburgh in 2013
If you’re making any travel-related New Year’s resolutions, I urge you to add ‘visit Pittsburgh’ to your list. Yes, I said Pittsburgh. National Geographic Traveler named Pittsburgh one of the Top Best Places to Visit in 2012; in classic procrastinator form, I slid in just under the wire with a last-minute trip during the actual last days of the year this past weekend.
But that’s ok, because The Today Show–in conjunction with Jetsetter.com–just included Pittsburgh in their list of Top Travel Destinations of 2013; so if you didn’t get there in 2012, make 2013 your year to visit. As a travel blogger living and working in Pennsylvania, I’m embarrassed to admit that this was my first trip to the second-largest city in my own state; it will not be my last visit. Here are some of the reasons why:
Educational Opportunities Abound
With two major universities–The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon–in one Pittsburgh neighborhood alone, and a handful more scattered throughout Steel City proper, it should come as no surprise that this is a city with a focus on learning. Which clearly means it is a great city for me. During my short visit, I explored the Carnegie Museum, checked out the Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, explored a Victorian-era estate and art gallery at the Frick and Clayton, and roamed the biomes of the world at the Phipps Conservatory. And I took more notes than I have during many lectures I’ve attended during my own years in college.
The Emerging Foodie Scene
Pittsburgh is more than french fries and coleslaw. There are over eleven hundred Pittsburgh restaurants in Pittsburgh, and I set out to experience as many of them as possible in my brief visit. Pittsburgh dining runs the spectrum from fine dining to diner and dive-bar deliciousness; I enjoyed everything from sushi to stuffed dates to the best darn homefries I’ve ever tasted. If you leave Pittsburgh hungry, you’re doing something wrong.
The Quality and Quantity of Lodging Options
Because Pittsburgh is at once a college town, a town with a thriving sports scene, and a town with many business travelers, you will find all different types of lodging for any budget. And because Pittsburgh is made up of many interesting little neighborhoods, each with it’s own distinct vibe, you can choose a hotel, motel, or B&B in an area that best suits your travel style–and your budget.
Four Season Fun
Pittsburgh has many green spaces that are, well, green during spring and summer; I’m sure they are even more beautiful in autumn when the leaves change. I visited in the dead of winter–over five inches of snow fell during my short trip–so I can tell you that the city is just as lovely in the snow (perhaps even more so); additionally, there are enough indoor activities to more than occupy your time should you visit during the colder months. And many–like the Carnegie Museum, pictured above–also grant beautiful-yet-warm views of the gorgeous winter weather. Personally, I’d like to visit in each season just to experience them all.
And, finally, the last–and possibly most important reason–to visit Pittsburgh: It is beautiful. As a sort-of-photographer, I seek out beauty wherever I go and attempt to capture it. This was a surprisingly easy task in Pittsburgh. The downtown area is an art-deco and neon masterpiece; as we drove down Penn Avenue back to our room at the Omni William Penn, I mentioned to my travel partner that it reminded me Gotham City. I was then pleasantly surprised to learn that The Dark Night Rises was filmed in Pittsburgh; thus, it doesn’t just look like Gotham, it is Gotham! (Full disclosure–I haven’t even seen The Dark Night Rises yet, much to the chagrin of my Batman-loving husband.) The Oakland neighborhood features beautiful academic buildings and quaint shops and restaurants and, farther out, sprawling used-to-be mansions of used-to-be Pittsburgh elites. The south side is main-street-tastic, filled with sports bars, restaurants, and shops galore. And the whole thing is surrounded by hills studded with the lights and roofs of private homes, several gorgeous iron bridges, and miles and miles of waterfront along the three rivers. I came home with over six hundred photos–from a three day trip.
If any of the above sounds interesting to you–and I hope it does–you’re in luck. I have over a dozen Pittsburgh posts planned to help you create your own Pittsburgh city break. Stay tuned!
And if, in the meantime, you’d like to start researching and planning a visit–and I think you should–check out the official Pittsburgh tourism site, Visit Pittsburgh, for lots of great travel-planning resources.
EDIT: This post has been viewed almost 2,000 times in the past 24 hours–which is awesome! I’m so thrilled to know that so many other people love this wonderful city. As one of my many visitors today, you should know that I have a dozen more Pittsburgh posts planned–the next is scheduled for next Thursday, and features some great photos of Pittsburgh during the holiday season. To easily follow my posts, please ‘like’ The Suitcase Scholar on Facebook, or follow me–Tracy Antonioli–on Twitter. Also, as I most definitely will be returning to Pittsburgh, please leave any must-do suggestions in the comments section below. Thanks, and thanks for visiting! Come back often!