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pittsburgh

Presenting things to do in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania according to Laura of Willful and Wildhearted.

They say you don’t appreciate where you’re from until you leave. When I moved to Chicago in 2007 to attend university, I was a bit of a snob. Aside from my painfully obvious love of my city’s sports, I wasn’t too proud to be from Pittsburgh. It was too small, too mediocre, too boring. I was embarrassed that people made fun of it and called it dirty or other less than desirable attributes. As I got older I began to realize nowhere in the world holds a candle to Pittsburgh. I mean, c’mon. The cringe-worthy local dialect is so infamous, it is being studied by linguist specialists for its fascinating wording.

Most Americans know Pittsburgh struggled with economic turmoil following the collapse of the nation’s steel industry. The Pittsburgh I grew up in wasn’t fancy. It was a blue-collar, working class culture with citizens dedicated to building it back up. As my 28th birthday approaches, and nearly a decade after moving away, I can honestly say I’m proud of its turnaround. In fact, I’m even prouder to call this mysteriously quirky city tucked within the western Appalachian Mountains my home. Here’s a list of my top 5 favorite things to do in Pittsburgh, my peculiar and special hometown.

 


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1. Hitch a ride up to the top of Mt. Washington

Pittsburgh’s skyline has been revered as being one of the best in the United States. Once known for being the poster child for America’s steel mill industry, this unique rustbelt town is quickly transitioning back into the spotlight. For less than $5 USD, locals and visitors alike can hop on a funicular to the top of Mt. Washington, a 450-foot hill overlooking the revitalized town.

whereabouts pittsburgh usa

Breathe in the best view of Pittsburgh // Credit: 10Best

2.  Eat your way into a mind expansion

Pittsburgh’s restaurant scene is where some of the city’s most creative humans in town are doing big things. Thanks to less-severe sanctions on restaurants operations, many of the local businesses are immigrant run. Open your mind to different cuisines from around the world. From Levantine to Burmese, Uzbeck to Jamaican, global dining is making inroads thanks to the industriousness of Pittsburgh’s diverse populations.

Update: As of March 2017, Conflict Kitchen has been permanently closed.

whereabouts pittsburgh usa

There is tons of diversity in the food culture // Credit:  newhairline

3. Drink in a church

I’m pretty sure Pittsburgh is the only city in America where one can enjoy a fresh, locally-brewed beer in a restored Roman Catholic Church called Church Brew Works. While there have been a few changes made, most of the pillars and all of the original stained glass are still in place. It doesn’t feel sacrilegious, though – all of the pews have been replaced with chairs and the organ pipes have been replaced with a distillery.

Where? 3525 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

whereabouts pittsburgh usa

The converted church doubles as a craft brewery // Credit:Church Brew

4. Check out the booming arts district

Pittsburgh is a wonderful place for creatives to thrive mainly because the arts have been strongly woven into the city’s fabric. One of the ‘burgh’s most well-known artistic souls is Andy Warhol, and us locals have a lot of respect for him.

There are a number of art museums and spaces throughout town, but my two favorites are The Andy Warhol Museum and The Mattress Factory. Oddly enough, the latter does not feature any bedding, but rather showcases some of the world’s finest artists (including my favorite – Yayoi Kusuma!)

Where? The Andy Warhol Museum is at 117 Sandusky Street and The Mattress Factory is at 500 Sampsonia Way.

whereabouts pittsburgh usa

Six floors worth of the iconic artist’s works at the Andy Warhol Museum // Credit: Coastal Virginia Mag

5. Catch a sports game

If there’s one thing you must know about Pittsburgh natives is that we take our city’s sports very seriously. We’re known for traveling across the nation just to cheer our home town on during a single game and I take great pride when sports commentators point this out on a regular basis. And if you’ve seen the view from PNC Park , you’d understand where our devotion comes from.

Can you blame us, though? The Pittsburgh Steelers have the most Super Bowl wins in NFL history. The Pittsburgh Penguins just clinched their fourth Stanley Cup since 1991 this past June. The Pittsburgh Pirates are slowly improving. For a long time, our sports teams were one of the only reasons we could be truly prideful of our city. While that’s obviously changed, the love of our hometown heroes hasn’t. Should you find yourself in town during a home game, don’t miss out. The energy is unmatched and the fan loyalty will either make you angry or warm your heart.

whereabouts pittsburgh usa

PNC Park is undoubtedly the best ballpark in the USA // Credit: Pixelbay

Honorable Mentions

  • One of the cooler things you can do in town is dine at Duncan St. Dinners. Chefs Kendyl Ryan and Dan Rodriguez open their home bi-monthly for five-course locally-sourced meals. The duo teams up with Joe Bacharach who perfectly pairs the food with delicious beverages. I’m totally biased because Kendyl is a good friend and it’s cool to see her doing such an awesome thing.
  • Kick back and have a fresh cider at Arsenal Cider House (300 39th Street).It’s Civil War-era inspired and a sweet place to chill out with your friends one afternoon.
  • I really recommend stopping by Randyland (1501 Arch Street). The quirky three-flat is truly a sight to behold. It’s someone’s house (Randy, of course) so remember to be respectful. Randy has transformed a once-dilapidated neighborhood into a psychedelic burst of happiness. He’s helped inspire street art in the area and has contributed to a number of community gardens and works hard to turn empty lots into public parks.
  • Walk inside Cathedral of Learning (4200 Fifth Ave). It’s the library for the University of Pittsburgh students, but to outsiders it’ll feel like you’re walking onto the set of Harry Potter. I’m not kidding.
  • No trip to Pittsburgh is worth it without stopping by the infamous Primanti Brothers (46 18th Street). The chain has been featured on a variety of television shows for being one of the most ridiculous creations in America.

the next somewhere about author

Passport to People Meet Laura Nalin on The Next SomewhereLaura Nalin is a 27-year-old who has been living and working abroad since 2013. While participating in a travel writing program in Lima, Peru, she instantly became interested in the prospect of traveling long-term. After a series of setbacks in the USA, she decided to pack herbags and teach English in Seoul, Korea – an adventure that has led her to Auckland, New Zealand! She hopes to inspire others who are interested in this lifestyle – anything is possible. Featured on Huffington Post, Elite Daily, and Thought Catalog, her collective of travel-related chronicles are at Willful and Wildhearted. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest too.

👉 Special thanks to Laura for sharing local tips on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Have you ever been? What would you recommend seeing? Comment below!

More USA “Whereabouts” guides here:

🚩 Things To Do in Portland, Oregon

🚩 Things To Do in Kansas City, Missouri

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Millette Pulido is a Bay Area-based, Boston-bred Filipina who loves to vagabond. At 29, the former expat has traded in her nomadic ways for a semi-grounded life in San Jose, CA. Recently married, she's focusing on balancing travel with a full-time job and a destination wedding side hustle, all while planning her honeymoon in 2020. She lives for good times, good food, and good peeps. Find out her #wheretonext on Instagram @thenextsomewhere.

Comments:

  • August 22, 2016

    Ahh Laura, I know the feeling of thinking I was too big for my town. Pittsburgh looks so cool and has all the things I look for in a city – great art, awesome food scene and wonderful views. Thanks for sharing Laura’s tips Izzy

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    • August 23, 2016

      Thanks a lot for reading, Katy! I love my hometown now, but yeah – hate to admit that wasn’t always the case. I highly recommend you visit! =)

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  • August 22, 2016

    I am loving the Conflict Kitchen it sounds like my kind of place plus I am originally from Venezuela and would have loved to try their Arepas. I have been to Pitsburgh a few times but it was only for business and did not get to explore. Thanks for sharing this quick guide as it has given this city new meaning for me.

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    • August 23, 2016

      I hope next time you go you can do a bit of exploring. Unfortunately it’s a bit difficult to get around to some of the best spots in town without a car, but it’s worth it to see all the city has to offer. Thanks for reading!

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  • August 22, 2016

    I wasn’t expecting to be charmed by Pittsburgh the first time I went. At the time I was in art school, so my mom and I did a mini road trip to see the Andy Warhol Museum and stop at Fallingwater along the way. I totally fell in love with the city! Although driving was a terrible experience with all the hills, lol. I love the botanical gardens. I don’t think the church brewery was open the last time I went, so clearly I’m due for another trip!

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    • August 23, 2016

      I definitely recommend going again. It has changed SO MUCH in the past few years! The hills are insane – try driving on those in the winter! Ugh. Nightmares. Thanks for reading!

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  • Ami

    August 23, 2016

    You had me with the Drink in the church bit. Very unusual places and lovely captures and description. Thanks for sharing these.

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  • August 23, 2016

    Who knew Pittsburg is so cool?! I love getting these local perspectives of places! I love the look of Church Brew Works! So cool! I have been dying to get to the Andy Warhol Museum! I saw a lot of their collection on a traveling tour. I’ve got to get here now! And I love your graphics, as always! Cheers!

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  • Costas

    September 22, 2016

    Thanks for the nice article. Where is Conflict kitchen? Thanks

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  • July 31, 2017

    This is one of my favorite places to visit . Primanti Brothers and Kelly O’s Diner are two of the places I go to when I’m in Da Burg. Love your post

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