Pittsburgh Destination Guide
Situated along the riverbanks where the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers meet and become the Ohio River, Pittsburgh has emerged from its history as a polluted steel manufacturing town to become a scenic city that is home to more bridges than any other city in the world.
First settled by the Brits in the 1700s, the city developed a manufacturing industry that attracted immigrants from Germany and Central and Eastern Europe. This rich cultural heritage is reflected in the melting pot of cultures that call the city home today, and diverse styles of architecture.
Pittsburgh is divided into five distinct districts. There is plenty here to keep visitors entertained, from scenic hillside views to art and culture, music, sport, outdoor adventures and festivals.
If you are visiting in January or February, Pittsburgh is a top spot for winter sports such as ice-skating, skiing and snowboarding. There is even a Curling Clinic where you can learn more about this strange but fascinating pursuit (no hair tongs involved).
In warmer weather the opportunities for adventure continue, with loads of parks, trails and river activities to choose from. Spectator sports are big in this town too, with football, baseball and ice hockey drawing passionate crowds. Don’t leave Pittsburgh without taking a ride in the 138-year-old wooden Duquesne Incline cable car up the side of Mount Washington for what has been described as one of the top 10 views in America.
Art lovers are in for a treat here too, with the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Andy Warhol Museum and the Mattress Factory showcasing a host of artworks and installations.
Eat and Drink
Pittsburgh celebrates its deliciously diverse culture with several food festivals each year, such as Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, in which 50 restaurants offer special dining deals each January and August, and the Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival each October, honouring traditional Polish dumplings stuffed with sweet or savoury fillings.
Because of the rich variety of cultures in this city – English, German, Irish, Italian, Polish, African, Swedish, Spanish, Russian, Greek, Indian, Middle Eastern and Asian, just for starters – there is an abundance of exotic restaurants serving authentic international cuisine.
If sightseeing works up your appetite, try a Primanti Brothers sandwich of meat, cheese, coleslaw and French fries to keep you going. There are also food tours, and a range of micro-breweries and wineries to visit.
Where to Stay
Each of the five districts offers a selection of accommodation for tourists. Downtown, there is a range of upscale hotels to choose from. In the East End-South district, the college neighbourhood of Oakland has a variety of mid-priced places.
If you appreciate a warehouse vibe, check out the accommodation in East End-North, home to several former industrial neighbourhoods and now also some lively entertainment and dining sectors.
If spectator sports are your thing, check into a hotel on the North Side, home to venues Heinz Field and PNC Park. The Southside, which boasts more restaurants and bars than any other district, offers a range of accommodation options, some with great views of the city.
There are plenty of opportunities to indulge in retail therapy in this city. Downtown, there is a vast range of shops open mostly during business hours. In East End-South, Shadyside features some upmarket shops, while Squirrel Hill has lots of specialty shops, many catering to the needs of the area’s Jewish community. For art and home decor shopping, the Strip District features some unique shops and goods.
Pittsburgh Like a Local
Brunching at South Side vegetarian cafe Zenith promises punters more than a mouthful of tasty food. Here you can also shop for art, vintage clothing, costume jewellery and antiques. Best to get here before the 11am opening time to be sure to get a table.
If it’s a Saturday morning, head down to Penn Ave and Smallman Street, in the Strip District, for an outdoor market featuring international food stalls. Browse produce, clothing and other goods to a live, festive soundtrack.