The Next Big Thing: Why You Should Visit Pittsburgh in 2013

Jan 3, 2013 by


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–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! 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Wow, this is a great article, Tracy! I have to admit, I’ve always been on the “why would I want to go to Pittsburgh” train, but I think it’s time to jump off. You make it sound very appealing. Can’t wait to read more from your trip!

    • Tracy Antonioli

      Thanks! And yes, it’s a fantastic town. Wait until you see my ‘Pittsburgh at Christmas’ post. It’s mostly a photo essay. I want to do a ‘Pittsburgh in the snow’ photo post as well, but am afraid that might be overkill…? It’s just so…pretty there. I feel it needs to be shared.

      • Robert

        You need to go to the Mount Washington Incline and look at the photos in the upper station, there is a picture there that shows Pittsburgh in the early 1950′s it is noon and it looks like midnight and street lamps are on, because of all the smoke and exhaust.

      • Shaun Hall

        Make sure you come visit Pittsburgh Public Theater in the Cultural District!

        • Tracy Antonioli

          I feel like someone else mentioned that to me, too? My husband is all about theater. We will definitely check it out!

  2. Tracy,

    I’m very happy to hear you enjoyed your trip to Pittsburgh. I recently returned/relocated to the ‘burgh after living in NYC for a number of years. It is a beautiful city making an incredible comeback. There are tons of things to do year-round, the people are very friendly and welcoming, AND it’s extremely affordable compared to New York, Chicago, San Fran, LA, etc… I will gladly provide further recommendations for things to see and do to anyone interested in visiting! :)

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I’m so glad I got to visit. So many people said ‘Pittsburgh? Really?’ when I said I’d be visiting. And then I had SUCH a fabulous time. I now feel compelled to get the word out as much as possible.

      I imagine the ‘extremely affordable’ thing will not last; as soon as people discover what a vibrant city it is, prices will go up. Which is a good thing for the city, so I won’t complain if I have to pay more for a hotel next time! I’m REALLY looking forward to returning in the summer; I’m planning on stopping for a couple of nights at the beginning of my season-long road trip. While it was lovely in the snow, I imagine I’d have even more fun exploring the city’s many green spaces. Though they looked nice covered in white, too!

      I see you have a Strip District food blog! I have a post planned about my Strip District restaurant hop; I actually started with breakfast, left, and returned and restaurant hopped for dinner. It was great!

    • Julie

      I live in SF and just bought a house in Pittsburgh because it reminds me a lot of SF and is about a gajillion% cheaper for housing. What I paid for my 2700 sq. ft. historic house is equivalent to five years rent on my 2bdr, 1 ba townhouse in SF. Nuff said. I’m moving next Tues.

      • Tracy Antonioli

        Ha! Best comment ever! I can only imagine. I know I could not ever afford to live in the bay area (or in New York, Boston, DC…the list goes on). But it is reassuring to know that there are other awesome urban areas that I CAN afford (provided I can find a job there). True story–the friend I brought with me to Pittsburgh was like ‘maybe I should look for a job here’ less than 24 hours into our visit.

  3. Jerry

    And…It’s the starting point for the Great Allegheny Passage. That is a trail that, combined with the C&O, takes you from Pittsburgh to DC by bicycle without any cars! It’s one of the longest trails at 355 miles. If you do a follow-up, please take a look at that. It’s considered a world bicycle destination by many.

    Thanks for all the wonderful comments on a city I’ve just started to see at night on the trails. WOW is it beautiful!

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I’ve heard of that! But I can’t imagine riding my bike 35 miles, nevermind 355 miles! Though it would be something to work towards.

      You’ve just started to see Pittsburgh? Please elaborate!

    • My two kids and my dad biked from D.C. to Pittsburgh (my dad and eldest have done it twice now, as part of Rails to Trails Pennsylvania Sojourn trip. If you DO ever want to bike 335 miles, it’s a great way to go! (As for me, I was delighted to hang out at Big Dog Coffee on the South Side and wait to bring them back to Philadelphia).

      Got to this post from Penn Institute for Urban Research where I suggested that the photo of the Smithfield Street Bridge, a National Historic Landmark would be a groovy entry in the 2013 National Historic Landmark photo contest, when it opens for entries on April 1! (See for updates)

      Great post on a wonderful city!

      • elbodans

        I can assure you, I will never want to bike 335 miles! I’d be right there with you in the cafe (or, better, pub!)

        Glad to hear you liked my pic–I really like it too. How does the contest work?

        (Please excuse brief reply I am out of town and don’t have my laptop!)

      • elbodans

        Oh–disregard photo contest question. I see the link! Darn this WordPress app!

        Thank you!!!!

  4. I also recently relocated from a 12 year stint in NYC. Full disclosure: I grew up in Pittsburgh, ’til the age of 18 so I’ve always had a soft spot for it in my heart. However, I never in a million years thought I’d leave NYC to return to my hometown. And I am SO glad I did! A huge element to the city I feel should be included in your list, though, is the cultural scene. The cultural district here is actually second largest in the country next to NYC’s Broadway scene. In fact our local musical theater scene tends to be a stepping stone to Broadway. There is a world class symphony and ballet company, a nationally prominent public theater, as well as dozens of smaller theaters for music, dance and theater. And that’s just performing arts. Opportunity to check out the visual arts is pretty insane also. There are museums every where you turn. There is also a huge gallery scene emerging, with tons of quirky local artists displaying their goods from coffee shops to huge annual arts festivals to their own high end galleries. The arts are one of the biggest reasons I wanted to move back here! It’s definitely not your average “chain restaurant and a blockbuster movie” kinda town! (Although those options are still available in the ‘burbs if you want!)

    Some people looked at me like I was crazy when I told them I wanted to leave NY to come back here, so I’m glad to see the great press the city has been getting over the last few years. I do worry though about the secret getting out a little too much! haha. It’s kind of the country’s best kept one :-)

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I wish I’d had more time to explore the art scene; I plan to return this summer, and will make it a point to check it out (and write about it!)

      I laughed at your ‘those options are available’ comment–why, oh why, would one seek out chain restaurants when there are so many amazing non-chain options in the city?!? Though my husband does have a soft spot for the salad dressing at the Olive Garden (this may well be the ONE thing I’d change about him–his love for the Olive Garden! Well, that and his snoring!)

      And I fear the secret may be out about Pittsburgh…

      • Ann

        If you come in May for the Arts Festival, bring an umbrella.

        • Tracy Antonioli

          Ha! Well, I loved Pittsburgh in the snow–I’m sure it would be great in the rain, too! Just think of all of the puddle photos I could take (I have a thing for reflection photos; I got a great shot on the Pitt campus the other day in the melting snow!)

      • Yes! Legume, The Quiet Storm, Eden, Tamari, Coca Cafe, just off the top of my head! All VERY different, but very delicious!! Tamari if you want class and sass, Legume if you want class, no sass, Eden if you want awesomely raw foods in super casual setting, The Quiet Storm if you want hippy-grunge-chic vegetarian/vegan (great lunch/brunch spot as is Coca Cafe). I’m still exploring the foodie scene myself, and still have lots to discover! But I know these are good standbys for my healthy ways! I’d check out the weekday happy hour from 5 to 7 at Tamari (in Lawrenceville, my neighborhood). Half priced tapas and cocktails that make the best date night in the city (totally based on me being frugal, but with swanky taste :-) ) My husband and I have actually thought of listing our lovely third floor guest suite on Airbnb, so when you come through again, hit me up. We might just have a cool non-hotel setting for you to stay in, in what is currently becoming the trendiest neighborhood in the city :-) And I love meeting cool and interesting people!

        • Tracy Antonioli

          Oh I had Legume and Tamari on my list when I visited last weekend! But, sadly, I didn’t make it to either. I DEFINITELY will next time. In fact, I’m pretty confident I’ll just return to this comment, jot down your suggestions, and do a whole ‘eating healthy in Pittsburgh’ post to go with my ‘eating a giant sandwich filled with french fries’ post. I like comparisons. A lot.

          Oh–and I like ALL of the things you described. You had me at hippy-grunge-chic vegetarian! I was a vegetarian for most of my teens and 20′s; it is still my favorite way to eat, as I feel it requires more inventiveness.

          I will absolutely contact you next time I’m in town (either over Memorial Day weekend or the second week of June, depending on many blog-trip things-as-of-yet-undetermined)–not necessarily to hit you up for lodging, but perhaps to meet for a drink (or a healthy meal). I, too, love meeting cool and interesting people. Honestly, it’s more than half of the reason I work so hard on this blog. I get to meet lots of great people this way. Even if it is just ‘meeting’ them in a virtual world–and asking for great restaurant recommendations. ;-)

      • Meg

        If you’re planning a summer trip, the Arts Festival in June is a perfect time. It used to be 3+ weeks, but is now pared down a bit (though still wonderful). There’s often great music in the dusk/evenings during the Arts Festival, too; plus festival-style street food, so good. Arts Festival – classic Pittsburgh activity!

    • Tracy Antonioli

      And…I’m replying again! I checked out your website. Do you have any HEALTHY dining recommendations for next time I visit Pittsburgh? I fear I gained ten pounds with all the eating I did. Wait until you see my post about the bacon sandwich.

    • Julie

      I’m very involved in the arts and Pittsburgh’s art scene was a major factor in my decision to move there. I think one big reason the arts are so vibrant is because it is so affordable. Emerging artists can easily find cheap housing and studio space. You can have a part-time “day job” to survive and still have plenty of time to create. Next to impossible to earn enough for rent in SF or NY even on a full time income. The average rent for a 1 bdr apt in SF is $2700 a month.

      • Tracy Antonioli

        I can’t imagine anywhere that one can have a part time day job and survive. I live in the suburbs and there’s NO WAY. I’d love to be out of my day job, but alas, until I find something that will pay the mortgage, I’m teaching middle school. Sigh. Some day…

        I’ve heard that Detroit–yes, Detroit–is a great spot for emerging artists. Because of low-to-no-cost rent on studio space in old factories. Worth looking into. I’d like to visit this summer, in fact.

  5. Heidi N.

    Thanks for such a lovely and gushing article about our fair city. I moved here over a dozen years ago with my husband, who is a city native. We bought a lovely home two blocks from the Frick Art Museum & Clayton, with 500 acre Frick Park literally out our back door. Where else could I manage to afford such luxury living? This city is a wonderful, amazing place to raise a family and live comfortably for a lifetime.

    If you do come back again, please let us know and we’d be happy to give you tips for things to see or have you to dinner with a great crew of fellow-academics n’at!

    • Tracy Antonioli

      Thank you–what a great offer! And I likely will take you up on it!

      I LOVED the area surrounding the Frick & Clayton. All the way back to downtown, I was like ‘this is so lovely!’ You are very lucky to live in such a beautiful place. I wanted to tromp through the park in the snow, but I didn’t want to make my friend ruin his non-snow boots. I MUST return in the spring or summer. If all goes well this winter–meaning we don’t get a lot of snow and thus don’t have too many snow days–I’ll be finishing up the academic year five days before my cross-country trip. I plan to leave early and spend a few days in Pittsburgh on my way to Chicago. I hope it works out! It really is a FABULOUS city.

    • Ann

      Or, as they say at Station Square, “n@”

  6. Glad to see you enjoyed a place that I am delighted to call “home.” Next time you come ’round, I recommend the “Square Cafe” in Regent Square for breakfast. Wander through the Strip District on a Saturday morning. Check out the Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ multiple movie theaters- they often offer independent films and classics. Meander in Squirrel Hill and you’ll find some pretty neat little shops. Take a walk through Chatham University (Pennsylvania College for Women/ Chatham College for Women/etc)- it’s my alma mater, sandwiched between Squirrel Hill and Shadyside. It’s officially recognized as an arboretum (tree sanctuary) and is full of old mansions. It’s pretty flipping gorgeous.

    I could go on and on and on when it comes to this city. So glad you enjoyed it.

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I continue to be heart-warmed by how many Pittsburgh locals LOVE their city. Perhaps it is because the area I live in–and grew up in–has little to brag about (a friend who recently moved to the area asked me the best part of the Lehigh Valley, and I replied ‘the proximity to New York City and Philadelphia’–or, in other words, ‘the ability to leave the LV quickly and easily for somewhere far better’!)

      I tried to check out the Strip District on Saturday morning, though all I managed to do was run from car to diner back to car; it was snowing A LOT that morning. But I am confident I will return. And an arboretum full of old mansions? Sign me up for that!

      I’m starting to think I need to spend an extended amount of time there. Perhaps over Memorial Day weekend, if not on my way out to Chicago to begin my epic summer road trip this summer. Either way, I’ll be back asap!

      Thanks for commenting! I checked out your blog–it’s pretty funny. I laughed out loud at ‘live blogging my own anxiety attack’. Ha!

  7. BrianTH

    I came here via a link on Pop City–you may be getting many more of us today for the same reason. I grew up in Detroit, spent time on the East Coast and in Chicago, but have settled in Pittsburgh with my wife (from Delaware) because of the extremely high standard of urban living we could afford here.

    A quick suggestion for future visits–I would definitely spend some time checking out the central North Side neighborhoods. It has some beautiful Victorian districts, a very nice park, and many great cultural institutions, including the Warhol Museum, Mattress Factory (featuring large modern art installations), Children’s Museum, and National Aviary. All of this is walkable from Downtown (if you are a walker, at least), or from the new stations on the T (our light rail system).

    • Tracy Antonioli

      Ah yes–I see the pop city link. Awesome! And welcome, and thanks for commenting! I am getting such amazing feedback from so many Pittsburgh locals. Clearly, you all have something great going on there.

      I was really bummed that I didn’t make it to the North Side–I really wanted to check otu the Warhol Museum, and I’ve heard great things about the National Aviary. I WILL be returning, either over Memorial Day weekend or at the beginning of my summer-long cross country trip (in mid-June) and those places are at the top of my list. And I’m pretty confident it will be more ‘walkable’ in June than it would have been in December. While the snow was lovely, it was (obviously) quite chilly!

      • BrianTH

        Pittsburgh is strangely addictive–both my wife and I came here for grad/professional school originally, and when we first met we had no intention of staying in Pittsburgh long term, and yet here we are.

        That time of year is perfect for visiting the North Side, particularly if you plan on walking a lot. In fact one of my favorite simple pleasures is just walking along the North Shore Riverfront Park and back and forth over the bridges from Downtown, but you will definitely want nice weather for that.

        • Tracy Antonioli

          Yes–before I got this HUGE list of amazing suggestions, I simply wanted to return in the spring or summer to explore the city’s green spaces.

  8. Rita C


    Thank you for all the wonderful thoughts on our beloved hometown. Saw where you said you needed to learn the lingo – here are a few phrases that might help you during your next visit.

    Rita’s Guide to Pittsburgese – Glossary Terms and Phrases

    Jeet Jet - Did you eat yet?

    Gum Bands - Rubber Bands

    Telly Pole - Telephone Pole

    Kennywoods Open - The zipper on your pants is down.

    Like at - Like That

    Like iss - Like This

    Ovaderr - Over There

    S’not - It is not – as in “no it’s snot”

    Dahn tahn - Down Town

    Wutzername - What is her name

    Yagottaseedis – You have to see this

    Yinz – You or you all – Singular or plural – it works for both

    Chipped Ham – Thinly sliced Ham (preferably Isaley’s) as in “Put sum more of dat derr chipped ham on yer sammitch”

    Church Key - Bottle opener

    Crick - Creek

    Cut - Slice of Pizza – as in “ I want two cuts of pepperoni

    Doohickey - Object you can’t name at present time – “Get me that ‘ere doohickey off the shelf”

    Graaj – Garage – Q: Where d’yinz keep the tolls (tools)? A: Danhna graaj

    Sah Side - South Side

    Nor Side – North Side

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I LOVE THIS! It’s a vocabulary guide! Well…sort of. I’ve NEVER heard a slice of pizza called a ‘cut’. My used-to-be-a New Yorker husband would not approve–ha! Also–how did ‘kennywoods’ become ‘fly’? Seriously–this is hysterical. Thanks so much for sharing!

      • Jared

        Kennywood is the theme park in Pittsburgh, down the Monongahela River in West Mifflin. It’s just one of those things. I learned it when I was in grade school. Some more vocabulary:
        Nebby = Nosy
        Slippy = Slippery
        Jaggers = Thorns
        Jaggerbush = Thornbush (this was actually my nickname when I moved away to college)
        Bucs = Pittsburgh Pirates (short for buccaneers)
        Stillers = Pittsburgh Steelers

        You may want to delay your visit until after June 7th. The fountain at Point State Park (the confluence of the three rivers) has been shut down for several years for renovations and new pump machinery. It will be turned back on June 7th. It was pretty tremendous before, and it’s supposed to be better following.

        • Tracy Antonioli

          And I didn’t even know there WAS a theme park! (I’m a huge Disney fan–I started a Disney blog with a friend about a year ago; she’s taken it over since.

          It’s looking like I’ll be there somewhere around the 11th or 12th of June, provided there aren’t any more snow days this year (my last day of work is June 10th and I need to be in Chicago by the 16th…)

          • Robert

            Yes Pittsburgh is an amazing town it has changed so much. When I used to go to Pittsburgh for field trips, it used to be so dirty, then in the late eighties and early nineties the City of Pittsburgh started a restoration effort and started to blast clean the buildings to get rid of the decades of soot and grime off the buildings, which made a big difference then they worked on the derelict steel mills, and tore them down and worked on changing Pittsburgh from the Steel town to a tech town, as in business, hi-technology and medical(Salk developed the polio vaccine in Pittsburgh), Museum of natural history has one of the best dinosaur fossil collections in the world. If you ever get back to Pittsburgh, you need to stay for a couple of weeks and explore the rest of Western PA, like Cooks Forest and the Allegheny National Forest, and some of the towns,like Butler home of the Jeep, Slippery Rock, Grove City, and small towns that is scattered around, even Foxburg, Emlenton and Parker, plus Titusville which is very historical and where the world’s first successful oil well was drilled. There is so much history and interesting sites around Pittsburgh and across Western PA, that you can spend a months there and still discover something new and interesting.
            Pittsburgh is the heart of Western PA, and as a Western Pennsylvanian we are proud of her and our Black and Gold, plus everything that makes Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, it is our identity and our culture.
            See Yun’z later.
            Oh check out Pittsburgh Dad, that is the most hilarious thing you will see.

          • Tracy Antonioli

            I thought I’d need a few weeks just for Pittsburgh! To think I’ve lived here in PA all my life–and have ventured so very far away from here–yet I’ve never visited the other side of my own state! Shame on me.

          • C

            Kennywood is the theme park in the movie Adventureland. Most of the movie was filmed in Pittsburgh.

          • Tracy Antonioli

            Is it?!? I didn’t know. Though I’ve been told all about Kennywood. Sounds charming.

    • Julie

      My realtor kept talking about things in houses that “needs done” as is work that “needs to be done”. I’ve been told it’s a Pittsburgh thing. Eliminate the superfluous and keep the meaning. Very efficient.

      • Tracy Antonioli

        Oh god–my husband does that. He’s extremely intelligent and educated, but occasionally the PA Dutch thing kicks in. Maybe twice per year, he’ll say that ‘the yard needs mowed’. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. I was born and raised in PA, and I ALWAYS use a state of being verb!

  9. Jen

    The article is great! Thank you! Pittsburgh was also recently noted as one of the best spots for a family vacation too. From public playgrounds and water parks, to the zoo, Science and art museums, the National Aviary, the AMAZING Children’s Museum, and Kennywood, there is something for every age and budget.

    I don’t know if you got to visit it, but a must see for all my out of town guests is always the Strip District. It’s foodie heaven.

    If you are coming back to visit the North Side, try staying at the Priory in Deutschtown and schedule a visit to the Allegheny Observatory in Riverview Park. The tours are free, but you have to call ahead to reserve your space. The building is amazing, and if you love history, it’s a must see!

    • Tracy Antonioli

      Wow–a city that is great for kids AND for adults. That’s kind of what I got out of the Carnegie Museum (blog post to come!) it really seemed to be great for all ages. I was bummed that I didn’t get to the Aviary–I’ve heard great things.

      I DID do a Strip District restaurant hop (blog post to come) but of course, three nights didn’t give me NEAR enough time to explore all of the food Pittsburgh has to offer. Honestly, I often visit places mainly to eat (see also: New Orleans) and Pittsburgh shall forever be on my ‘great place to dine’ list.

      I will most definitely check out The Priory, and I LOVE observatories (and history!) I visited the one in Greenwich when I was in London.

      Man–it really seems like I could spend a month there and not see and do everything I’d like to see and do!

  10. Robin Leiss

    Hi. Great article. I love Pittsburgh- I’m born and raised and raising my son here. My dad knows everything (well almost everything) about this city and LOVES LOVES LOVES to play tour guide. Email me if you want to talk about it :)

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I will do that! I have your email on my blogger dashboard; I’ll let you know when I’m coming to visit. I LOVE to get a local’s perspective on a new city (that’s how I fell in love with New Orleans!)

  11. Jared

    Really enjoyed reading about my city. Thank you. Since the other yinzers have offered you lists of must-see’s, I’ll add a few to the master list. Hope you don’t mind. Check out the Wigle Whiskey Distillery in the Strip, the West End Overlook, the Mexican War Streets on the North Side, and, although no one has said it because it probably goes without saying, go up an incline to Mt. Washington and check out the view. The Duquesne Incline has a better view, but the Monongahela Incline is a shorter walk to food. And I live on the Mount, so come say hi.

    ps- A yinzer is a local Pittsburgher, specifically one with an accent

    • Tracy Antonioli

      Ah–see I messed up my inclines. We took the Duquesne incline and tried to find food at the top–nope! But it WAS a lovely view!

      And you had me at ‘whiskey distillery’!

  12. Michael Daly

    I was born in the Burgh, moved away, but now I am back, and it is like discovering the city all over again. Take a trip on the Gateway Clipper Fleet, riverboat tours on the three rivers, and an amazing way to see the city from the rivers from whence they sprang. It launches from Station Square. Chicken and Ribs dinner cruise is an amazing evening.

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I saw the boat tour area when I was walking around Station Square–yet another thing to add to my list of must-dos for a spring or summer trip!

  13. L. Burke

    If you’re not afraid to leave the city and do a little exploring.

    I’d always encourage anyone who visits Pittsburgh to make the drive and check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water. It’s by Ohiopyle State Park which has some white water rafting, and hiking/biking trails.

    If you’re in Pittsburgh for 4th of July weekend besides everything you can do downtown. Every 4th of July weekend there’s also the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festive at Twin Lakes. It’s been voted one of the best art shows in the country. It’s roughly about a 40-50 minute drive from downtown Pittsburgh factoring in traffic.

    There’s so much to do in downtown that people forget about the great things within driving distance up in the Laurel Highlands.

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I actually planned to stop at Falling Water on my way in to the city–I’m coming from the eastern part of the state, and it’s on the way if you take the turnpike (which I no longer suggest doing–ever. The PA turnpike sucks!) But alas, the day I planned to leave it snowed–a lot. And everyone advised me to stay home and skip Falling Water–due to the rural road you take to get there and my tiny little car (I drive a Scion). I absolutely plan to stop on my way next time.

      Sadly, I’ll be in Yellowstone on July 4th (ok–that’s not ‘sadly’ for me, but still!) But that sounds lovely!

      • L. Burke

        Falling Water I’d always suggest seeing in the spring or in the fall. In the spring you get the blooms or the fall the leaves. Just my humble opinion you get the full impact of the place that way.

        If you’re coming from the eastern approach you might be interested in checking out the Super Club in Greensburg on your way in. The food is great. The restaurant is an old converted train station. By browsing your blog it might be right up your alley.

        The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg is well worth checking out too. It’s one of those hidden gems not to many people know about.

        And here’s a link to the Laurel Highlands Visitor’s Guide. Since you’re coming in from the East you might find it helpful. The Zip Line Tour at Seven Springs I can’t recommend enough in the fall.

        • Tracy Antonioli

          oooh yes–the supper club DOES look right up my alley–thanks!

          i NEED to get out there in the spring!!!

  14. Josh

    Just another resident of the ‘Burgh thanking you for this great blog post! I’ve only lived here 3 years, but I’ve never lived somewhere that I’ve had so much pride in the city! It amazes me how many share my thoughts as well. I also find it remarkable that in the 3 years I’ve been here, I feel as though I’ve barely scratched the surface of what the city has to offer, and it feels as though more new restaurants, galleries, etc open every day. For another recommendation, be sure to check out the Church Brew Works near the Bloomfield neighborhood. It is a beautiful old church that has been converted into a brewery/restaurant. Great food, and great drinks!

    • Tracy Antonioli

      Three years, eh? And I thought three days would be enough. Silly me! You are very fortunate to live in such a great city. I am continually amazed at how well-kept this secret really is. Heck, I LIVE in PA and I had NO IDEA!

      I had The Church Brew Works on my list–it seems like a really cool idea (and I love how blasphemous it is). But alas, only two days was far, far too short of a visit. Next time!

  15. Michele Baum

    You’re preaching to the choir here, sister! I grew up in the region and came to Pittsburgh a dozen years ago after nearly 20 years in Tennessee. I love Pittsburgh (though I confess to a slight twinge of regret about leaving the South every winter). It’s cosmopolitan AND community in one highly affordable package.

    Add to your list:

    Dish Osteria, 17th Street, South Side. Yummy Italian food, great atmosphere. Small. Make reservations.

    For a taste of local cuisine, visit Pierogies Plus in McKees Rocks. This is on my “to do” list.

    • Tracy Antonioli

      Pierogies Plus? How, oh how, did I miss a place dedicated to my favorite PA food!?!

      I can see missing the south. It’s far too cold here for me, and I’ve lived here all my life. But it DOES make you appreciate spring even more.

  16. Yes, I agree with you. I live in Pittsburgh and study at Carnegie. It’s wonderful city – very different from NY or Cal

    • elbodans

      I’m in New York right now. Yes, it is very different. But in many ways, better. For example–driving is an option. I love public transit. But I love the freedom a car provides even more.

  17. Quick question. Is this a true visit or a sponsored post. Its great to hear this about our city. But strikes me just a bit like ad advertisement paid for by Visit Pittsburgh. LOL

    • Tracy Antonioli

      Well first, sponsored visits are still true visits. But to answer your question, no, no one paid me to write this. Visit Pittsburgh did provide guidance on things to do while I was in town, but this post was written of my own free will and contains my own true feelings. As would a sponsored post.

      Though you will note that I do disclose whenever an experience is comped or offered at a media rate. In fact, I have a whole policy about it. You can read about it here:

      Really–I loved Pittsburgh. I will be returning this summer for sure. I’d like to check it out during the not-snow!

  18. jessica

    if you want a tour guide for the art scene when you visit again, drop me a line. i’m a full-time artist in pittsburgh (and a pittsburgh native). added bonus – all the cool art spots are surrounded by the best coffee shops and eats. :)

    • Tracy Antonioli

      yes! i REALLY want that! yes yes! i will be in touch. will be visiting likely sometime after june 10th but before the 4th of july.

  19. Allison

    Thanks for a great piece that reveals the ‘wonders of Pittsburgh! You did get to see and do alot in a short period of time. Given the weather and quick visit, it’s understandable you didn’t have the chance to experience all the amazing and highly accessible ways to enjoy the outdoors. The river fronts and many trails provide really scenic and enjoyable hikes or rides for any skill level. Rent a bike at Golden Triangle Bike Rental downtown. Rent a kayak under the sixth street bridge and paddle around the Point. And, as you pointed out, so much green space 1000′s of acres of forest and meadow right in the city limits.

    Come back… there is more to see and do!

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I absolutely will! I can kayak? Really? Pittsburgh is awesome.

  20. Kate

    In my early 20′s, I witnessed the exodus of many friends and family from whom I heard the same mantra: “Pittsburgh sucks.” I was one of the few that remained. Fast forward 15 years, and I am now reconnecting with many of the same people, all of whom now preach, “Wow. The ‘Burgh is amazing!” From the low cost of living, the world class hospitals and universities, the job opportunities, the focus on green initiatives, the cultural district and arts, the incredible food scene, to the the “local flavor” and hometown friendly people, the list goes on and on. To this day, I have to convince out-of-towners that Pittsburgh is truly “America’s Most Livable City.” Maybe now, people will start to believe me!

  21. Ruthie

    Next time you come make sure you visit some of the lovely cemeteries… Notably Allegheny and Homewood. Homewood offers tours that give history on some of the famous steel magnates and other notable Pittsburghers. Some of my favorite sites!

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I LOVE cemeteries! I was sad they were all snow-covered last time. Yet another reason to return!

  22. Marv

    I was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Slippery Rock PA, about 9 years ago I moved to Corning NY, and then 5 years ago I moved to Las Vegas. Neither even remotely compares to living in the beauty and uniqueness of Pittsburgh.
    Everything in Vegas repeats every 5 miles. People act like driving more than 10 minutes to get anywhere just isn’t worth the effort. Not to mention that it is damn near impossible to find a non chain restaurant with good food. I am still on a quest to find good BBQ here. There is none of the sense of community in Vegas that you get with Pittsburgh, none of the sense of history and culture. Even the interactions with the general public while running errands is cold and distant. I miss that sense of community and home that Pittsburgh instantly provides, I miss the water and trees and green spaces. I don’t miss the snow and the cold at all, however the 110 constant summer temperature is not much easier to bear.

    • Tracy Antonioli

      Aww–it sounds like you really miss Pittsburgh. Time for a visit ‘home’?

  23. Shelby

    Being a Texas girl, I had never really gone anywhere “north” except for Indianapolis. The first week of January (so apparently just a few days after you), I booked a last minute trip to Pittsburgh to visit a friend. I was very pleasantly surprised. Everything you wrote was spot on – it is an unexpectedly (to me) beautiful city, and my friend took me to his favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, which were all delicious. Not to mention how cool the Andy Warhol Museum was. The antique stores were my favorite though – they were simply amazing. And (since I currently live in some of the flattest part of Texas), the view from the house in Southside Slopes I stayed in was fabulous. None of my friends understand just how cool the city is!

  24. Patrick

    Hi Tracy,

    Great to hear such nice things about Pittsburgh! I live in Weirton, WV 40 min outside of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a beautiful and under-rated city. When people talk about cities they usually bring up the obvious “BIG” names. It’s well known that living in those trendy big cities is very expensive. Pittsburgh has so much to offer. The topography is gorgeous and so is the architecture. I think the city is doing a great job of shedding it’s old time polluted steel town image by re-inventing itself into a very nice place to live or visit. Arts, culture, music, great hospitals, great schools, and affordable living are all very attractive assets. Plenty to do there. My family and I regularly go there to enjoy the things it has to offer.

    I really enjoyed your article.

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I absolutely agree. In fact, I’d go so far to say that Pittsburgh is the most under-rated city I’ve visited (which is to say, I was beyond pleasantly surprised.) I, too, had the gritty, steel-town picture in my head. And while some of the…dare I say beauty…of that time period remains, there’s just so much to do. My mind was blown.

      I must get back during the summer or fall. I feel like I keep saying that but not doing it…

  25. Caleb

    Fantastic write-up. Sounds like you did a lot in three days! Pittsburgh is a great city with a Big-little town feel and a lot of great people. Funny you mention the Dark Knight, as Pittsburgh is turning into a popular place to shoot films recently. In just the last few years at least parts of Super 8, I am number 4, The Avengers, Promised Land, (+More I’m sure). Jack Reacher was also filmed entirely in the Burgh. Last Fall I was in Buffalo Blues in Shadyside when Channing Tatum strolled in. I later found out he was filming a movie in Pittsburgh as well.

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I can understand why it is such a big film destination–Pittsburgh is so visually interesting! I mean, I even came up with the Gotham image on my own (and I’m not a huge Batman fan).

      And yes, I did do a lot in three days! I NEED to get back sometime soon, as I feel there was so much I didn’t get to do. Hmm. I have a few free days next week…? Now the wheels are turning!

  26. Thank you for this info. I’m planning a trip to Pittsburgh this week and would like to know what are the best options for a family to stay, if they want to park for free and take public transportation in to see the sights. My family lives just outside of NYC, so we are used to trains and buses.

    • Tracy Antonioli

      Yeah–that’s the thing about Pittsburgh. It’s not all the way there with public transportation. I’m sure you could use busses/cabs. But I actually meant to write a whole post about transport options in Pittsburgh. I arrived thinking I’d park and not move my car the whole time; I ended up driving everywhere. Parking is not expensive and, again, the public transport is nothing like what you’d experience in NYC (or Boston. or DC, where I am right now. Or even San Francisco (which has an extensive but confusing system).

  27. Sarathi

    I’m planning a Black Friday roadtrip to the Grove City and Tanger outlets with my boyfriend. We realized how close we’d be to Pittsburgh and are thinking of exploring the city. I’m so overwhelmed by all the suggestions I’ve come across! I had no idea there was so much to do! Does anyone have any sushi suggestions? Preferably all you can eat, we love exploring new restauranta, esp buffets. I also keep reading about Primanti brothers so def planning to check that out! How would I find out more about nightlife options for a couple in their late twenties?

    • Tracy Antonioli

      I can’t help you with nightlife as I’m kind of old and lame. :-/ But I did have sushi somewhere…? I need to check my notes. It was not great. So I’d mostly be advising you against it. Ha. Primanti Brothers was great, touristy as it is (sometimes things are touristy for a reason). And yes, there is SO MUCH to do. I’d skip the outlets and go right to Pittsburgh. ;-) Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>