If you’re not from Pittsburgh originally, you probably have family or friends visit and want the true Pittsburgh experience. Even if you’ve been here a while, you may have some things you need to check off your Pittsburgh bucket list. Here are some great things (many cheap or free) that you can do with out-of-towners to give them a taste of the Steel City.
Two must-sees in Pittsburgh are the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Carnegie Museum of Art. Located in Oakland, these museums are in the same building so getting one ticket means you can explore both.
The Carnegie Library main location in Oakland is also located in the same building. A historical site, it’s worth checking out even if you don’t physically check anything out. For locals, the Carnegie library system is awesome. You can check out books online, including eBooks and audiobooks, and you also get free access to LYNDA.com.
People know Pittsburgh for its sports teams! If you’re entertaining visitors, try to attend at least one game at PNC Park, Heinz Field, or PPG Paints Arena depending on the season. If there aren’t any sports events going on, you can always walk up to the stadiums along the North Shore Riverfront Park.
If you’re looking for a great view of the skyline, the North Shore trail is a great place to start. Get up close to the Three Sisters Bridges and the sports arenas. The open area is close to several restaurants, and in the summer you can splash around in the Water Steps Fountain. It’s fairly easy to find street parking on the north shore (unless it’s game day). You can also park for free at the Three Rivers Casino and walk down to the trail.
One of the most iconic buildings on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, the Cathedral of Learning is a 42-floor cathedral dedicated to higher education. It’s impressive from the outside, and once you step inside you’ll wonder how you ended up at Hogwarts. As of recently, you can take the elevator up to the 36th floor for a nice view of the surrounding area. The Cathedral also houses Nationality Rooms that pay homage to nationalities from around the world.
When the weather’s nice out, stopping by the Pittsburgh Zoo is a great way to spend a few hours with visitors. There’s plenty of parking and if you’re in the city already, Highland Park is a pretty central location. The zoo houses lots of happy animals — also fish and aquatic animals in the PPG Aquarium. One ticket includes access to both.
Andy Warhol, a well-known Pittsburgher, has a seven-floor museum dedicated to his life and legacy. If you’re a Warhol fan or love pop art, be sure to stop by The Andy Warhol Museum.
Another great free thing to do with visitors is to visit Point State Park. Pittsburgh’s Point — where the Allegheny and Manonghale rivers meet — is iconic. It’s a perfect place to walk around and get a scenic view of the city. The park is open every day from dawn to dusk.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden is a world-class garden located in Oakland in Schenley Park. The conservatory has over 15 acres of greenery, blossoms and blooms. There’s a large glasshouse, unique gardens, and a great souvenir shop. The gardens change with the seasons, so this is a great place to bring out-of-towners in every season.
Pittsburgh has several beautiful parks right in the city limits. Schenley Park, Frick Park, Mellon Park and Highland Park all offer a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. If you’re looking to hike, run or bike, these parks are for you.
This aviary is the only of it’s kind in the country. The National Aviary is located on Pittsburgh’s North Side and allows visitors to get up close and personal with over 500 birds from around the world.
For a perfect view of Point State Park, hop on the Duquesne Incline, a century-old cable car that goes up and down Mt. Washington. The incline upper station is home to a small museum of Pittsburgh history. The museum is free for attendees, but riding the incline is cash only. The top of Mt. Washington offers spectacular views of the city.
For those who love science and/or have young children, the Carnegie Science Center is a great spot on the North Shore. It includes many interactive exhibits, the Rangos Giant Cinema, a planetarium, and live shows. For those looking for some grown-up fun, the center also hosts 21+ nights.
Pittsburgh is home to several gorgeous theaters in the Cultural District. Between Heinz Hall, the Benedum Center, and Byham Theater, there’s a lot going on in that part of downtown. Enjoy a performance by the world-class and Grammy-winning Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. See a ballet by the prestigious Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. And if you’re a Pitt student, you get access to cheap seats.
If you’re hosting family or friends on a weekend, walking through the Strip District is a great option. Wholey’s is a unique market that offers fresh seafood and meat. During the summer, there are several farmer’s markets with local produce. This is also a great spot to get cheap sports gear and Pittsburgh memorabilia for your inner yinzer.
There’s always something good happening at Market Square. Spend some time downtown at good restaurants and a few local shops. It’s a very walkable area that often has live music on the weekends and holidays.
This may be a divisive option. It’s common knowledge that you’ll either love the place or you won’t. But Primanti Bros. is a well-known Pittsburgh spot that may be worth stopping by. If you’re looking for a different type of sandwich (one without fries on it perhaps), other great local sandwich shops include Peppi’s and North Shore Deli.
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