12 finest issues to do in Pittsburgh

Steel City may be known for its trifecta of professional sports teams, but there’s so much more to this historic center of Pennsylvania. From incredible outdoor opportunities to world-class museums and tours, these are the best things to do in Pittsburgh.

Drive the inclines

Funiculars were all the rage in the late 19th century when two climbing railways were built on Mount Washington in Pittsburgh. Now these are two of the last operations platforms in America – the remnants of a system that once contained 17 of these tiny railcars. Pittsburgh’s twin cable cars, the Monongahela and Duquesne, offer beautiful views of downtown Pittsburgh and the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers. About a mile apart, visitors can hop on one line and hop on another if they so choose.

Stroll the West End Overlook

Pittsburgh has no shortage of random skyline views, but the best views likely come from the West End Overlook. This lookout on Elliott’s Bluff offers expansive views of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers and downtown. Once a modest turnaround with sweeping views, the city renovated the site in 2003 into a park with benches, gardens, and a pavilion.

Get great food on the strip © Peeterv / Getty Images

The strip district

Avenues of converted warehouses and gourmet restaurants line the Strip District. This former industrial area is now home to some of the city’s best international grocery and grocery stores, such as S&D Polish Deli, Salem’s Market, and Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. The Strip District offers a variety of educational opportunities. For example, stop by the Senator John Heinz History Center to learn more about the fascinating history of ketchup, then head to the Carnegie Museum of Art for one of North America’s premier collections of contemporary art.

Carnegie museums

A woman stands in front of an exhibition with multiple pictures of celebrities in bright colors at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Andy Warhol is from Pittsburgh © Archie Carpenter / Getty

Andy Warhol Museum

Pop art icon Andy Warhol was born and raised in Pittsburgh. Here you will find an incredible museum dedicated to his life and art. Housed in an 88,000 square foot facility, this museum is the largest in North America dedicated to a single artist. The Andy Warhol Museum operates an outbuilding on New York’s Lower East Side, but the main attraction is in Pittsburgh, where Warhol’s journey to international fame began.

Mattress factory

Speaking of contemporary art, there may be no equivalent to the spectacle in the mattress factory. This sprawling avant-garde complex was founded in 1975 by Barbara Luderowski and houses 17 permanent installations and a rotating villain gallery with exhibits that confuse and astonish visitors. The mattress factory is also historic. It is often viewed as one of the early catalysts for the modern Pittsburgh revival.

Peruse Point State Park

Point State Park is located at the tip of the “Golden Triangle” of Pittsburgh and is a time capsule of the early history of Pittsburgh. Learn about the French and Indian War, American Revolution, and the city’s early beginnings at the Fort Pitt Museum. This 12,000 square foot museum was built on the bones of historic Fort Pitt, once the largest fortress in North America.

The state park is also home to the Fort Pitt Block House, a structure dating back to before the American Revolution.

A bronze statue of a man in a hat, large coat and knickerbockers stands in front of a glass greenhouse in the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh.Enjoy flowers year-round at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens © Robert Pernell / Shutterstock

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden

Home to flower displays that change with the seasons, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a wonderland for lovers of botany and foliage. The conservatory’s stunning steel-and-glass architecture is reminiscent of the height of the industrial age when its greenhouses brought orchids, cacti, and tropical fruits to droves of Pennsylvania residents. Today you can see some of the same rooms for yourself.

Take an oven tour

Rivers of Steel offers an incredible tour of Pittsburgh’s industrial history at the Carrie Blast Furnaces National Landmark. This holdover from the former US Steel Homestead Steel Works offers a glimpse into a bygone era of American manufacturing. During the two-hour tour, visitors hear stories about the technology of steel making, the steel workers, and the incredible supply chain it took to build the bones of 20th century America.

Cruise on a Gateway Clipper

Sightseeing, dinner, and even ghost cruises are all available on the Gateway Clipper fleet. Gateway Clipper operates five river boats ranging from 55 feet to more than 200 feet in length. Each week they explore the waters of the three rivers, offering spectacular views, meals and libations for those who want to see the city from the water.

A collection of approximately 4,000 vintage cars lined up in Pittsburgh's Bicycle HavenBicycle Haven has nearly 4,000 bicycles on its Pittsburgh site © Spiroview Inc / Shutterstock

Bicycle paradise

The largest bicycle museum and shop in the world is on Preble Avenue. The museum started out as a bicycle repair shop in 1996 before adding a huge museum collection in 2011. Bicycle Heaven is home to nearly 4,000 bicycles – from fiber optic concepts from the space age to movie bikes and more. Bike enthusiasts can rent a bike at the museum and explore Pittsburgh on two wheels.

Sports in Pittsburgh

The NFL Steelers, NHL Penguins and MLB Pirates are giving Pittsburgh a grand slam of professional sports franchises. Everyone has a loyal, local following and they all share the city’s iconic colors, black and gold. Whether you’re a sports fan or not, watching a home game will put you in the midst of ardent locals eager to share their own secrets about the Steel City.

Comments are closed.