A Visitor’s Guide to Pittsburgh

While there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of websites dedicated to helping you navigate Pittsburgh, whether you’re a visitor or just moved to the city or a long timer looking for something new to do, they’re all kind of involved and take a lot of effort, or are trying to provide a really in depth overview of what you can do in the city.

So I’ve put together my quick Top 5 things to do for those of you who just want to know what, where and why.

5. Shadyside

Autumn, Shadyside Pittsburgh Drink beer on a sunny patio, spend cash at upscale local boutiques or national chains, or just walk the streets and admire the old Victorian houses. A diverse neighborhood, you’ll find yourself amongst affluent gays, CMU-bound Asians and aging sellout hipsters alike! Definitely check out Walnut Street for the main attraction, but when you’re ready for the real meat head over to Ellsworth Avenue.

4. Bridle Trail, Schenley Park

This is a downhill trail, equally great for cycling or walking, which begins at the corner of Overlook Drive and Greenfield Road in Schenley Park. It’s one of those cool spots in Pittsburgh where you’re in the woods but can catch glimpses of skyscrapers Downtown and Oakland laid out before you. Take a bus to Squirrel Hill and make the descent in your manner of preference, you’ll end up at a public pool, playground and Panther Hollow…where you can continue on to Oakland itself.

3. The Mattress Factory

decapitated Grecian statues An incredibly unique installation art experience that, in my inflated ego’s opinion, simply blows the more popular and well-known museums in the city out of the water. Explore the outdoor catacombs, get lost in a basement of light, darkness and trickery, and when you’re done, check out Street View on Google Maps for more fun.

2. Three Rivers Heritage Trail System

a bridge span a river A relatively new addition to the City of Bridges, just about every inch of the banks of the Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers is covered in bikable, walkable trails. This is the one thing I regret missing out on the most after deciding to travel full-time.

1. City Steps

city-steps My favorite of all of the relics of Pittsburgh’s past, there are thousands and thousands of old, sometimes decaying unfortunately, sets of concrete stairs around the city. Built into, atop and around all types of hills, back in the day when people didn’t hop in their cars every time they wanted to go ten feet down the road, the city stairs were a way to make it from one place to another quickly, directly, and in keeping with good shape. You can find them anywhere, but the Southside Slopes are a great place to start looking.

There you have it, a quick primer on what to do when one wants to explore my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Of course, if you prefer something seriously more in depth, you might want to check out this issue of travel magazine Wand’rly where they cover the city all up in detail.

0. BONUS TO DO: Kayak Pittsburgh

One of the cooler features added to the city since my departure in 2008, Kayak Pittsburgh rents (you guessed it!) kayaks. Find them beneath the Roberto Clemente Bridge (6th Street on the North Shore, near PNC Park) and make your way around the Three Rivers by floating on top of them.

The Peanut Gallery

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