Pittsburgh and Countryside
Forge a Steel City adventure in the city’s heart and beyond
Once known primarily for its steel and grit, Pittsburgh has given travelers new reasons to be excited about a trip to this Keystone State mecca. The city boasts a fascinating clutch of world-class museums, offbeat attractions and stunning natural wonders just a short drive away. Cultural travelers and outdoor enthusiasts are finding more than a few reasons to linger in the Steel City.
Pittsburgh is easily explored on foot, by bike or on the water. The Golden Triangle (financial district) sits at the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, which forms a mecca for water sport enthusiasts. Down revitalized streets, where steel mills once billowed and belched, formerly dilapidated buildings now showcase art museums, gourmet restaurants and the budding enterprises of the creative class.
See the City
Because of the surrounding hilly terrain, Pittsburgh offers lots of opportunities to see panoramas of its urban core and outlying neighborhoods. Take your choice between riding up the Duquesne Incline or Monangahela Incline to see the town and its three conjoined rivers. Just 1 mile apart, these fully restored fenunculars were built originally to haul passengers and freight up the side of Mount Washington. Now they send commuters and tourists up to an observation deck to enjoy the views before heading down Grandview Avenue for more great sights.
Take the Just Ducky Tour, in which an amphibious vehicle drives you into the river and up on land, all while your guide asks you to quack during your trip through downtown Pittsburgh. More great views from the riverfront can be found when you rent a kayak. Kayaking down the Allegheny is a longtime pastime among residents, and kayak rentals for visitors are available. Leisurely paddling on the water is a great way to see the city.
If birds get you chirping, you’ll want to visit the National Aviary. This bird paradise was destined for closure until President Bill Clinton bestowed national status upon it, bringing attention to the nation’s largest home of birds from across the world. Now it’s home to flocks of flamingos, waddles of penguins and a host of other endangered fowl. Looking for great food? Drop into the city’s famous Bloomfield neighborhood, which started as an Italian enclave but has added Thai and New American cuisine to its menu.
The Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, set atop a hill in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood, is hailed for its excellent exhibits. Kids will enjoy the petting zoo, reptile house and playground. The zoo’s star attractions include a rare Komodo dragon and a fun-to-watch colony of meerkats, which are housed in an interactive exhibit space complete with crawl-through tunnels. Known for their quirky behavior, high intelligence and oft-upright posture, these mammals never fail to entertain. Visitors can experience a walk-through bat flyaway, a well-stocked African savanna and several exhibits featuring native species.
The facility is one of the nation’s few zoo/aquarium hybrids, and the aquarium segment has gained national acclaim. Centered on the theme “Diversity of Water,” the 45,000-square-foot exhibit houses a wide range of habitats and marine ecosystems, including a tropical rainforest with piranha, an icy habitat for Antarctic penguins and a coral reef for vibrant clownfish and others. There’s even a Pennsylvania exhibit, which features fish and aquatic wildlife of the Allegheny River, including brook trout.
Just 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, there’s more old-school family fun at Kennywood, a charming amusement park with steel and wooden roller coasters, water rides, arcade games and the customary, outsized, sugary carnival fare.
Pittsburgh’s cultural jewels shine in the form of four stellar institutions in the sublime Carnegie Museum. The Museum of Natural History draws crowds to its dinosaur fossils and dazzling mineral collection, while the Museum of Art features a heady ensemble of masterworks by Picasso and Van Gogh.
There are lashings of interactive child-friendly fun, including SpacePlace and Roboworld at the lauded Science Museum, and when it comes to contemporary art, Andy Warhol hoards all the glory at his eponymous museum, which houses commercial illustrations and sketchbooks alongside works from the 1980s, including the Last Supper and Raphael 1-$6.99.
Along with catching Steelers football games at the Heinz Field or watching the Pirates play baseball at PNC Park, sports fans can visit the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Senator John Heinz History Center. The museum’s memorabilia, includes rare baseball cards, Olympic medals and the baseball glove of Satchel Paige, an African-American pitcher who endured segregation.
Ohiopyle State Park
Southeast of the city, with just shy of 19,000 acres of pristine wilderness, Ohiopyle State Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with hiking, biking, camping and fishing. Thrillseekers can enjoy the rather intense class III and IV white-water rafting from spring through early fall down the Youghiogheny River, also known as the “Yough.”
For more family-friendly fun, the Middle Yough features class I and II rapids, which yield more placid conditions for kayaking, fishing and gentle rafting/floats. Cyclists can also pedal 11 miles east along a picturesque trail that traces the banks of the river.
For More Information
Pittsburgh Convention and
Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development