The Ultimate Guide To Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, a picturesque city built around the confluence of three rivers!
Pittsburgh, a commercial hub and a vibrant city with cityscapes that include rivers, a multitude of bridges, steep hilly terrains, cable cars, skyscrapers, museums, and gardens!
Pittsburgh, located in southwest Pennsylvania, is a charming city nestled around a hilly terrain and the junction of three rivers – Allegheny River, Monongahela River, and the Ohio River. The peninsula formed by these three rivers, also known as Golden Triangle, is home to Pittsburgh Downtown, the most lively part of the town featuring several parks, museums, skyscrapers, shopping districts, and eateries. While the other neighborhoods in the city are located along the steep terrains around the downtown.
Pittsburgh has been a major industrial hub in Nations since the 1800s, when it was one of the world’s leading steel and iron manufacturers. Though the steel mills were closed due to growing concerns about air pollution, other industries, including manufacturing, automotive, healthcare, banking, and technology, continue to thrive in Pittsburgh. The continued growth and development brought several immigrants to the city, making it a culturally diverse and the second-most populous city in the state of Pennsylvania.
Explore the several downtown attractions, ride the iconic incline railway to see the city from the top, and take a boat tour to sail under the city’s many bridges!
The city of Pittsburgh has several nicknames, including The Steel City, The Iron City, The Robot City, with reference to its several leading technology companies, and The City of Bridges, as it’s home to more than four hundred bridges. However, no matter what you call the city, with picturesque cityscapes, several attractions, eclectic neighborhoods, and palatable cuisines, Pittsburgh will worm its way into your heart!
Here is my ultimate guide to Pittsburgh, featuring essential trip-planning information, major Pittsburgh attractions, Pittsburgh attractions map, tours, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants in Pittsburgh!
Planning Your Trip To Pittsburgh
Avoid winter months, directly fly into Pittsburgh international airport, and stay close to downtown Pittsburgh to get the most out of your trip to Pittsburgh!
Best Time To Visit Pittsburgh: Summer and fall with warm temperatures are ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing in Pittsburgh. Spring brings a lot of rainfall, which sometimes lasts through the early summer months, June and early July. Winters are cold and snowy, and it’s not the best time for sightseeing and outdoor activities in Pittsburgh.
Time Required At Pittsburgh: With quite a few things to do in Pittsburgh, I recommend spending a minimum of two days to see the city’s major highlights, including a few museums, downtown parks, ride the iconic incline railway, and take a boat tour to explore the skyline and the several bridges of the city.
Getting To Pittsburgh: The best and most comfortable way to get to Pittsburgh is by flying into Pittsburgh International Airport, located pretty close to Downtown Pittsburgh. Alternatively, you could also take an Amtrak train or a Greyhound bus to Pittsburgh.
- Flight: Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, is the closest international airport to Pittsburgh and is serviced by all major airlines.
- Train: The Pittsburgh Union Station, an Amtrak train station located right in downtown Pittsburgh, is serviced by several Amtrak train services connecting Pittsburgh to other parts of the Nation.
- Bus: Greyhound offers bus services to Pittsburgh, with the closest Greyhound bus stop located at 55 11th St, in downtown Pittsburgh.
Parking & Transportation In Pittsburgh: Most hotels and attractions in Pittsburgh offer paid parking in private and public parking lots. Pittsburgh’s Port Authority also provides a light rail system and several bus services throughout the city. However, as the attractions are scattered all over the city, and traffic and parking conditions are not too bad, I recommend renting a car when visiting Pittsburgh.
Sightseeing Tours In Pittsburgh: If driving is not an option, you could use the hop-on-hop-off tour provided by the Pittsburgh Tour Company, but the shuttles are not very frequent, and you would need to plan and time your attractions. The other excellent sightseeing tour option in Pittsburgh is the riverboat tours offered by Gateway Clipper Fleet. There’re several riverboat tour options, including sightseeing tours, dinner cruises, music cruises, and special events, and it’s a great way to enjoy the city’s skyline and sail under the several bridges of Pittsburgh.
Lodging & Dining In Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh has several lodging options ranging from luxury boutique hotels to bread and breakfasts located in downtown Pittsburgh, offering easy access to several attractions. The food scene in Pittsburgh can also be overwhelming, with several different cuisines and restaurants ranging from fine dining to casual dining. I have reviewed the lodging and dining options in Pittsburgh in detail in the later section of this post.
Things To Do In Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Attractions Map
Most attractions in Pittsburgh are located pretty close to the downtown area except Pittsburgh Zoo and Kennywood amusement park that are located on the outskirts of the city. Though you could use public transportation or hop-on-hop-off tour service to get to the different attractions, renting a car is the best way to explore Pittsburgh.
Here’re the must-see places and things to do in Pittsburgh, listed west to east!
Duquesne Incline, one of the few remaining funiculars in Pittsburgh, is an old cable railway that was once used to transport cargo and workers along the steep slopes of Mt. Washington, now an iconic landmark featuring cable car rides, an observation with spectacular views of the city, a museum, and a gift shop.
Gateway Clipper River Cruise
Gateway Clipper Fleet
The river cruise offered by Gateway Clipper Fleet is one of the best ways to explore the city of Pittsburgh. Sailing the three rivers of Pittsburgh, the riverboat cruise features spectacular views of the city’s skyline, several landmarks, and many bridges of the town. There’re several tour options, including sightseeing tours, dinner cruises, and music cruises.
Point State Park
Point State Park
Point State Park, located at the junction of the three rivers in Pittsburgh – Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio River, features a fountain, promenades and hosts several events. The Point State Park is also a National Historical Landmark due to the area’s historic heritage that dates back to the American, French, and British struggles for control of the Ohio River.
Andy Warhol Museum
Andy Warhol Museum
The Andy Warhol Museum, located on the North Shore of the city, features the most extensive collection of Andy Warhol, a Pittsburgh-born legendary artist, filmmaker, and a significant contributor to the pop art culture. The museum houses Andy Warhol’s paintings, photographs, multi-media displays, video clips and also hosts many events.
The Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, a gift to the city by Henry W. Phipps, a Pittsburgh-based entrepreneur, is a world-class conservatory featuring a colossal Victorian glasshouse, many indoor and outdoor gardens, housing several species of plants and artworks from all over the globe.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, located adjacent to the Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, is one of the four museums operated in the city by the Carnegie Foundation. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History features several exhibits related to nature, culture, geology, and an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils.
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, located in Highland Park, is one of the largest zoo and aquarium combinations in the US. The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium features several animals and amphibians in well-organized sections, including African Savana, Tropical Forest, The Islands, Forest Passage, PPG Aquarium, and more.
Kennywood, located just a few miles southeast of Pittsburgh in West Mifflin, is the best amusement park close to Pittsburgh. Kennywood features several roller coasters, family-friendly rides, themed rides, shows, several eateries, and many seasonal events, and it’s a fun place for kids and grown-ups alike!
Lodging & Dining In Pittsburgh
I recommend staying in Downtown Pittsburgh for easy access to several attractions and an authentic Pittsburgh experience!
Hotels In Pittsburgh: Most of the attractions in Pittsburgh are located close to the downtown, and if you’re visiting for sightseeing, I highly recommend staying right in the heart of the city in Downtown Pittsburgh. There’re several hotels in downtown Pittsburgh, ranging from boutique hotels to bread and breakfasts. Here’re are my top picks for hotels in Pittsburgh
- Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh: Located in downtown Pittsburgh close to several attractions, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh is a boutique hotel featuring contemporary decor, excellent guest service, in-room spa service, and great dining options.
- Omni William Penn Hotel: Located in the Golden Triangle, downtown Pittsburgh, Omni William Penn Hotel is a luxury hotel featuring elegant suites and rooms with two excellent dining options, guest services, and access to several attractions.
- Fairmont Pittsburgh: Also located in the Golden Triangle, downtown Pittsburgh, Fairmont Pittsburgh is a luxury hotel featuring luxurious rooms, an elegant lobby, extraordinary guest services, and access to several downtown attractions.
- Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel: Located in the historic Fulton Building, Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel is a riverfront hotel featuring contemporary rooms, excellent guest service, and access to several downtown attractions, including PNC Park and Heinz Field.
- Embassy Suites: Located in the historic Henry W. Oliver Building, a skyscraper in downtown Pittsburgh, Embassy Suites by Hilton Pittsburgh features great views, modern amenities, and access to many attractions.
Restaurants In Pittsburgh: There’re endless dining options in Pittsburgh, ranging from fine dining to local eateries serving various cuisines. There’re so many eateries in every street, especially in downtown Pittsburgh, it’s impossible to try them all or pick one over the other. However, here’re a few dishes and joints you must try when in Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh salad with french fries, pierogies in Apteka or Pierogies Plus, haluski at Kelly O’s Diner in the Strip or Primanti Bros. Restaurant, and burnt almond torte in Prantl’s Bakery.
Other Pennsylvania Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Pittsburgh, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to Pittsburgh. You can find other Pennsylvania attractions in my Pennsylvania Travel Guide.
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