explore pittsburgh

Are you planning a trip to Pennsylvania? If so, you definitely don’t want to miss out a chance to explore Pittsburgh. As the state’s second-largest city, Pittsburgh offers a surprising array of attractions that are sure to captivate visitors of all ages. From world-class museums and beautiful parks to sports arenas and unique cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone in the “City of Bridges.” In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the best things to do in Pittsburgh, PA, helping you plan the ultimate itinerary for your visit.

Must-See Places to Visit in Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Pittsburgh zoo

If you’re a fan of animals and want to learn more about the planet’s diverse wildlife, a visit to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is a must. Located in Highland Park, just a short distance from the city center, this zoo is home to over 8,000 animals representing more than 600 species from around the world. From African lions and Amur tigers to polar bears and red pandas, you’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of nature’s most fascinating creatures. The aquarium section is also a highlight, featuring diverse aquatic species such as stingrays, jellyfish, sea turtles, and penguins.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

explore pittsburgh

For those who appreciate the beauty of nature, a visit to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a must. Located in Schenley Park, the gardens offer a stunning display of carefully maintained flora and fauna spread across 15 acres of land. From orchids and bonsai trees to desert plants and ferns, the themed gardens at Phipps Conservatory showcase a wide variety of plant species. Don’t miss the chance to explore the outdoor gardens, where you can find both native and exotic flowers, trees, and shrubs. Additionally, the conservatory hosts rotating exhibits, providing visitors with the opportunity to experience different botanical wonders throughout the year.

The Andy Warhol Museum

explore pittsburgh

Even if you’re not particularly interested in art, a visit to The Andy Warhol Museum is a fascinating experience that shouldn’t be missed. Located in Pittsburgh, the museum is the largest in North America dedicated to a single artist. It houses an extensive collection of works by Andy Warhol, the Pittsburgh-born pop art pioneer. Explore the museum’s seven floors, which feature 900 paintings, along with thousands of prints, photos, and films. Iconic works such as “Campbell’s Soup Cans,” “Coca-Cola,” “Mao,” and “Marilyn Monroe” will leave you in awe of Warhol’s artistic vision. Keep an eye on the museum’s events calendar for special exhibitions and events happening during your visit.

Market Square

A trip to Pittsburgh wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Market Square, the bustling heart of Downtown Pittsburgh. With its rich history dating back to 1764, this social and historic landmark offers a lively atmosphere filled with food trucks, farmers’ markets, and some of the city’s most popular restaurants and bars. Indulge in a delicious mile-high deli sandwich at Primanti Brothers Restaurant & Bar, a beloved Pittsburgh dining spot. If you’re craving Mexican cuisine, head to Las Velas for authentic tacos, enchiladas, and burritos. Craft beer enthusiasts shouldn’t miss City Works, a popular spot offering a wide selection of craft beers on tap. For cocktails and pub grub, The Yard is a great choice, while Nicholas Coffee & Tea Co. is the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee and recharge.

Point State Park

explore pittsburgh

For a taste of the outdoors in the heart of downtown, make sure to visit Point State Park. Situated at the confluence of the Allegheny River and Monongahela River, this 36-acre park is a beautiful destination for nature lovers. Explore the park’s trails and Great Lawn, which offer scenic views of Fort Duquesne, Fort Pitt Museum, and Fort Pitt Block House. Don’t forget to check out the magnificent Point State Park Fountain at the tip of the peninsula, which shoots water 150 feet into the air. The fountain is especially mesmerizing when lit up at night.

Carnegie Museum of Art

Art enthusiasts will find delight in the Carnegie Museum of Art, located in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood. Founded by Andrew Carnegie, this museum is the first in the United States dedicated to contemporary art. The museum’s collection features over 100,000 works including paintings, prints, photographs, and sculptures. Marvel at the stunning architecture, landscape design, and interior design at the Heinz Architectural Center, or explore the Hall of Sculpture, which houses Egyptian, Greek, and Roman sculptures. The museum also hosts interactive workshops and exhibits for children, making it a great destination for families.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

For those curious about the natural world, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is a must-visit. Located on the same campus as the Carnegie Museum of Art, this museum provides a fascinating insight into the history of our planet. Visit the PaleoLab to see how paleontologists work with fossils, or explore the Hall of Botany to learn about North America’s diverse biomes. The Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt offers a glimpse into the ancient civilization, with around 5,000 objects on display. The museum also offers summer camps for children, providing them with hands-on experiences in the field of natural history.

Schenley Park

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature, Schenley Park is the perfect retreat. Spanning 456 acres, this urban park offers miles of winding trails, perfect for hiking, walking, or cycling. The Schenley Park Overlook provides breathtaking views of the city skyline and woodlands, making it a popular spot for photography. The park also features amenities such as the Bartlett Playground for children and the Bob O’Connor Golf Course for golf enthusiasts. As an added bonus, the area surrounding Schenley Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, allowing visitors to appreciate both nature and Pittsburgh’s rich history.

National Aviary

National Aviary

Bird lovers won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. Located in Allegheny Commons, this nonprofit aviary is home to over 500 birds and mammals from around the world. Explore the walk-in habitats and marvel at the diverse bird species, including parrots, owls, and birds of prey. The National Aviary also offers interactive exhibits such as penguin feeding and bird encounters, as well as educational programs and events. Check the official events calendar to see what’s happening during your visit.

Frick Park

If you want to explore Pittsburgh surrounded by nature, head to Frick Park, one of Pittsburgh’s historic parks. Covering a vast 644 acres, this park offers a wide range of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you prefer walking, running, or cycling, the park’s well-maintained trails provide the perfect opportunity to get active. The Frick Environmental Center offers free admission and educational programs that focus on conservation and environmental awareness. It’s a great place to learn more about the local area and its natural wonders.

PNC Park

explore pittsburgh

Sports fans shouldn’t miss the chance to catch a baseball game at PNC Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Located in the North Shore neighborhood, this stadium offers a fantastic atmosphere for enjoying America’s favorite pastime. Even if you’re not a fan of baseball, the iconic architecture of PNC Park is worth admiring. Take a behind-the-scenes tour to get an up-close look at the stadium’s features, including the Legacy Theater, The Clubhouse, and the Press Box.

Carnegie Science Center

For those with a passion for science that want to explore Pittsburgh, a visit to the Carnegie Science Center is a must. This interactive museum offers exhibits designed to inspire visitors of all ages. Catch a documentary at The Rangos Giant Cinema, explore the cosmos at Buhl Planetarium & Observatory, or learn about research and career opportunities at the STEM Center. The museum covers a wide range of scientific topics, ensuring there’s something for everyone. Don’t miss the exhibit on the history and science of guitars, perfect for music enthusiasts.

The Frick Pittsburgh

explore pittsburgh

Step back in time and experience the opulence of the Gilded Age at The Frick Pittsburgh. This museum complex, formerly known as the Frick Art & Historical Center, is a treasure trove of art and architecture. Start your visit at The Clayton, the historic home of industrialist Henry Clay Frick. Marvel at the beautifully restored mansion, which showcases turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh. The Frick Art Museum is also worth exploring, with its impressive collection of early Italian Renaissance paintings, Asian porcelain, and French decorative arts.

Senator John Heinz History Center

History buffs will find the Senator John Heinz History Center to be an engaging and educational destination. Located in the historic Strip District, this museum offers interactive exhibits that cover a wide range of topics. Explore Pittsburgh through the world of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, learn about the history of the Heinz brand, or delve into African-American history at the From Slavery to Freedom exhibit. The museum also houses the West Pennsylvania Sports Museum, perfect for sports enthusiasts.

Fort Pitt Museum

For a glimpse into Pittsburgh’s revolutionary history, a visit to the Fort Pitt Museum is a must. Situated within Point State Park, this interactive museum takes visitors on a journey through the city’s birthplace. Learn about the lives of the first Pittsburgh residents and gain a deeper understanding of the city’s historical significance. The museum also hosts events and recreations that bring history to life, providing a unique and immersive experience.

Trundle Manor

For those seeking an offbeat and unconventional experience, Trundle Manor is a hidden gem in Pittsburgh. Curated by artists Anton and Rachel Miriello, this quirky museum showcases a collection of vintage taxidermy, jarred specimens, and displays of cryptozoology. Due to its unconventional nature, visitors must book a tour in advance to explore Trundle Manor. It’s a one-of-a-kind attraction that will leave a lasting impression.

Duquesne Incline

explore pittsburgh

To enjoy panoramic views of Pittsburgh without breaking a sweat, take a ride on the Duquesne Incline. This historic funicular is a popular attraction that offers a leisurely ascent or descent up Mount Washington. As you ride in one of the original 1877 cable cars, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the city skyline and the rivers below. For the best photo opportunities while you explore Pittsburgh, time your visit during the golden hour, when the sun casts a warm glow over the scenery.

5. Take in the Spectacular Views at Emerald View Park

For breathtaking views of the city, head to Emerald View Park. This sprawling green space stretches across Mt. Washington, Duquesne Heights, and Allentown, offering panoramic vistas of downtown Pittsburgh and its surrounding hills. While the viewpoints can get crowded during peak season, there’s plenty of open space to explore. Whether you’re hiking, biking, or simply enjoying a picnic lunch, Emerald View Park is the perfect place to reconnect with nature and take in the beauty of the Steel City.

Discover the City’s History on Molly’s Trolleys

For a unique way to explore Pittsburgh, hop on one of Molly’s Trolleys. These vintage-style trolleys offer narrated tours of the city, covering everything from history and architecture to sports and current events. Departing from the Strip District, the tours take you through diverse areas of Pittsburgh, including Downtown, the North Shore, Oakland, and Mt. Washington. If you’re visiting during the holiday season, don’t miss the Christmas-themed Jolly Trolley for a festive twist on your city tour.

Step into the Colorful World of Randyland

A visit to Randyland is a must for anyone seeking a vibrant, quirky experience in Pittsburgh. Located in the Mexican War Streets neighborhood, Randyland is a colorful and eclectic wonderland filled with unique artwork and found-object pieces. Owner and artist Randy Gilson has transformed his house into a popular tourist destination, with ever-changing displays that range from playful to thought-provoking. Don’t forget to snap some photos and leave a tip to support Randy’s creative endeavors.

Take a Stroll Through the Schenley Farms Historic District and Visit Heinz Memorial Chapel

For a taste of Pittsburgh’s history and architectural beauty, explore the Schenley Farms Historic District. This neighborhood is home to gorgeous mansions and lovingly preserved homes that showcase the beauty of a bygone era. While you’re in the area, don’t miss the Heinz Memorial Chapel. This stunning architectural gem was donated to the University of Pittsburgh by local citizen John Henry Heinz in 1938. It offers a peaceful refuge and is popular with visitors of all faiths.

Soak in the Panoramic Views from the Grandview Overlook on Mt. Washington

For a picture-perfect view of Pittsburgh, head to the Grandview Overlook on Mt. Washington. Climb up the steep slopes of the 450-foot hill and be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic vista of the city skyline and its surrounding regions. To reach the top, hop on the historic Duquesne Incline or the Monongahela Incline, both of which offer a scenic ride to the summit. The Grandview Overlook is also a popular spot to catch the annual Fourth of July fireworks show.

Indulge in Food and Festivals at Market Square

When it comes to dining and entertainment, Market Square is the place to be in Pittsburgh. This bustling square offers a wide array of food options, from upscale Italian to Creole cuisine. With its lively mix of people and vibrant energy, Market Square is one of the most vibrant spots in the city. Don’t forget to explore the area’s history as the location of the city’s first courthouse and jail. Keep an eye out for Night Markets and other festivals that bring the square to life.

Immerse Yourself in Art at the Mattress Factory Art Museum

For a truly unique art experience, visit the Mattress Factory Art Museum. This avant-garde museum showcases immersive room-sized works from resident artists and international contributors. With its interactive displays and unconventional exhibits, the Mattress Factory is a haven for art enthusiasts looking for something out of the ordinary. After your visit, take a stroll through the nearby Allegheny Commons for a beautiful view of the city.

Retreat to Nature at Riverview Park

If you’re looking to escape the city and immerse yourself in nature, Riverview Park is the perfect destination. Located in the northern Pittsburgh suburbs, this 270-acre park offers a network of trails that wind through woodlands and hillsides. Take a leisurely nature walk, explore the Allegheny Observatory, or cool off in the swimming pool. The 2-mile Riverview Loop comes highly recommended for its scenic beauty. With its rich history and natural beauty, Riverview Park is a hidden gem in Pittsburgh.

Sample Craft Beer at Pittsburgh’s Microbreweries

Pittsburgh is quickly becoming a craft beer lover’s paradise, with new microbreweries popping up year after year. From The Church Brew Works, housed in a former church with stained glass windows, to Southern Tier Brewery, known for its extensive selection of drafts, there’s no shortage of options for beer enthusiasts. Consider joining a guided tasting tour or a locally-led pub crawl to experience the best of Pittsburgh’s craft beer scene. Cheers to a fun-filled exploration of the city’s brews!

Cruise the Three Rivers on a Floating Tiki Boat

For a unique and laid-back experience on Pittsburgh’s rivers, hop aboard a floating tiki boat. The Cruisin Tikis offer a one-of-a-kind adventure where you can relax, enjoy island tunes, and bring your own drinks and snacks. Book a sunset cruise to take in the sights of the city as the sky transitions into a twinkling skyline. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply looking for a fun outing with friends, a tiki boat ride is sure to create lasting memories.

Learn About Genetic Engineering at the Center for PostNatural History

Delve into the world of genetic engineering at the Center for PostNatural History. This small yet fascinating museum is dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of living creatures and plants that have been intentionally altered by humans. Explore the exhibits showcasing genetically modified organisms, from cornstalks to animals that produce spider silk. The center offers a thought-provoking look at the impact of genetic engineering on our planet and the possibilities it holds for the future of science and medicine.

Discover Pittsburgh on Two Wheels with a Bike Tour

Explore Pittsburgh’s streets, riverside paths, and trails on a bike tour. Whether you choose an urban route that explores the city’s diverse neighborhoods or a themed tour that takes you off the beaten path, a bike tour is a fun and active way to experience the city. Knowledgeable guides will lead you on a relaxed ride, sharing insights into the history and culture of each area. Don’t miss the opportunity to ride the Great Allegheny Passage, a scenic route that stops at key locations and offers breathtaking views of the Allegheny Mountains.

Experience Thrills and Excitement at Kennywood Amusement Park

For a day of family fun, head to Kennywood Amusement Park. With over 45 rides and attractions, this historic park offers something for everyone. From classic wooden roller coasters to themed areas like Steelers Country and Thomas Town, there’s no shortage of excitement. Kids will love the Journey With Thomas and the Lil’ Phantom roller coaster, while thrill-seekers can brave the Sky Rocket. Enjoy live shows, indulge in delicious food, and create memories that will last a lifetime at Kennywood.

Escape to the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden

Escape the city and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. Located in Settler’s Cabin Park, this 460-acre garden offers a peaceful retreat with woodland trails, glasshouses filled with rare and endangered plants, and a sculpture trail. Discover the children’s garden, enjoy a meal at the on-site cafe, and take in the tranquility of this expansive botanical oasis. Ranked as one of the largest botanic gardens in the United States, the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Explore the Three Rivers Heritage Trail

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail offers an opportunity to explore Pittsburgh’s riverside beauty. Stretching 33 miles through the heart of the city, this historic trail passes major cultural venues and landmarks like Washington Landing and the Old Heinz Factory. Whether you’re walking, biking, or jogging, the trail offers a scenic and enjoyable experience. Plan your route in advance to make the most of your journey and discover the natural and cultural treasures along the way.

Ascend the Many Steps of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is known for its numerous sets of steps, offering both a workout and a unique way to explore the city. With over 737 individual sets of steps, Pittsburgh boasts more steps than any other city in the world. Take a walking tour to learn about the history of these steps and discover the most beautiful stairways in the city. From the charming streets of the Mexican War Streets neighborhood to the breathtaking views from the inclines, the steps of Pittsburgh are a testament to the city’s hilly terrain and its vibrant neighborhoods.

Capture History at the Photo Antiquities Museum of Photographic History

For photography enthusiasts, a visit to the Photo Antiquities Museum of Photographic History is a must. Explore the collection of antique cameras, photo albums, prints, and processing tools dating back to the 1820s. This unique museum showcases the evolution of photography and provides insights into the technological advancements that have shaped the art form. Attend special events and workshops to further enrich your knowledge of photography and its historical significance.

Take a Journey Back in Time at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum

Step back in time and experience the golden age of trolleys at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. Located in Washington, this museum features over 50 vintage electric streetcars that have been lovingly restored and maintained. Take a sightseeing ride to see the streets of Washington from a different perspective and learn about the history of trolleys in the region. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the museum’s exhibits and discover the role trolleys played in shaping the city’s transportation system.

Join the Roaring Crowd at Acrisure Stadium: Home of the Steelers

No visit to Pittsburgh is complete without attending a game at Acrisure Stadium, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or simply looking to soak up the electric atmosphere, cheering on the Steelers is an experience like no other. Take a behind-the-scenes tour to get an exclusive look at the inner workings of the stadium and learn about the history of this iconic team. Keep an eye on the stadium’s calendar for other exciting events, from concerts to monster truck shows.

Pay Tribute to the Armed Forces at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum

Honor the men and women who have served in the armed forces at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum. Located in Pittsburgh’s Oakland district, this beautiful Beaux-Arts building houses exhibits that tell the story of Americans who served in every combat since the Civil War. From artifacts and interactive displays to rotating art shows, this memorial provides a comprehensive look at the brave individuals who have defended our country. Pay your respects and gain a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made by our servicemen and servicewomen.

Marvel at the Architectural Beauty of the Cathedral of Learning

Located on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, the Cathedral of Learning is a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts. This 42-story building is home to classrooms, exhibits, and the Nationality Rooms, which celebrate the diverse cultures that have shaped Pittsburgh. Explore the various rooms and learn about their unique designs and cultural significance. Best of all, admission to the Cathedral of Learning is free, making it an accessible and fascinating destination for all.

Wander Through the Historic Mexican War Streets Neighborhood

Take a stroll through the Mexican War Streets neighborhood and discover its rich history and Victorian-era charm. Once a battleground during the Mexican-American conflict, this neighborhood has transformed into a vibrant area filled with colorful row homes and unique architectural details. Explore the streets, browse the local flea market, and visit nearby attractions like the Mattress Factory. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of this neighborhood and experience the authentic charm of Pittsburgh.

Recommended Places to Stay in Pittsburgh for Sightseeing

When it comes to choosing accommodations in Pittsburgh, there are several options that cater to different preferences and budgets. If you’re looking for a central location, Downtown Pittsburgh, including the Cultural District and Strip District, is a popular choice. The North Shore and South Shore also offer a variety of accommodation options for those looking to stay slightly outside the city center. Here are a few recommended places to stay in Pittsburgh for sightseeing:

Drury Plaza Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown

Located in the heart of downtown, the Drury Plaza Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown offers spacious rooms at reasonable prices. Housed in a former Federal Reserve Bank, this hotel combines history and modern comfort. Don’t forget to take a dip in the indoor pool, where the federal guard shooting range once stood.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, an IHG Hotel

For a touch of French Riviera luxury, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh is a boutique-style hotel that exudes elegance. The rooms are adorned with green velvet headboards and checkered curtains, offering sweeping views of the city. Enjoy the nightly wine-tasting reception and immerse yourself in regal European ambiance.

The Industrialist Hotel, Pittsburgh, Autograph Collection

Surrounded by trendy boutiques and restaurants on Fourth Avenue, The Industrialist Hotel is a top choice for luxury travelers. The hotel seamlessly blends rustic and modern styles, providing a sophisticated and comfortable stay. Indulge in cocktails and gourmet appetizers at the on-site restaurant and bar, Yuzu Kitchen.

Pittsburgh, PA, is a vibrant and diverse city with something to offer every visitor. From exploring world-class museums and botanical gardens to enjoying outdoor activities in the city’s parks, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in Pittsburgh. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, an art lover, or a nature lover, this city has it all. So, plan your ultimate itinerary, book your accommodations, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the “City of Bridges.” – Explore Pittsburgh!