Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was once known primarily for its steel production and affectionately named the Steel City. While the city is still proudly considered the Steel City, it has reinvented itself and now rivals other cities with some of the top schools, hospitals, and companies in the country.
University’s like Carnegie Mellon and tech giants like Google and Microsoft have drawn talent and attention from all over. As a result, Pittsburgh is now a revitalized mid-sized city with so much to offer whether you’re a foodie, a sports fanatic, an art-lover, outdoorsman, or history buff – there’s something for everyone.
Are you planning a visit to Pittsburgh, PA? This post will cover everything you need to know from getting around, where to stay and the top things to do in Pittsburgh, PA.
Getting to Pittsburgh
The best way to get to Pittsburgh will most likely be by flying into Pittsburgh International Airport, about 30 minutes from the city. You can quickly get a Lyft or Uber from the airport if you do not plan on renting a car.
Another option you may have is flying into Latrobe Airport, a smaller, local airport about 1 hour from the city. In addition, some budget airlines like Spirit will fly into Latrobe.
Where to Stay in Pittsburgh
There are plenty of options when choosing where to stay, depending on your budget and what things you would like to do in Pittsburgh.
The best neighborhoods to stay in while visiting Pittsburgh are downtown (near Point State Park or Cultural District), the Strip District, Lawrenceville, North Shore, and East Liberty.
Fairmont Pittsburgh (Downtown) One of the best hotels in Pittsburgh is the Fairmont. It’s also a great location to keep you close to the best things to do in Pittsburgh.
Hotel Monaco (Downtown)
The Kimpton and Hotel Monaco are stylish hotels downtown with their own restaurants and bars. These are great options if you love a hotel with style.
Hampton Inn (Strip District)
Holiday Inn Express (North Shore)
The Hampton Inn and the Holiday Inn Express are both in great locations that will keep you in the center of the action in the city.
How to Get around Pittsburgh, PA
In most cases, you’ll want to rent a car to get around the city and see as much as possible while visiting. Parking can be tricky if you are not comfortable with parallel parking, so be forewarned.
Neighborhoods like Lawrenceville have street parking only with narrow streets. Areas like downtown and the North Shore will have garages and lots to park in for a fee.
Are you planning to stay in only a couple of neighborhoods? You can get around with walking and taking Ubers or Lyfts. However, if you’re planning to explore multiple neighborhoods, taking numerous rides throughout the day will get pretty expensive.
Are you visiting in the summer or fall? Pittsburgh is a great city to see by bike. There are multiple places to rent bikes throughout the city, many bike lanes, and a beautiful riverside bike trail from the South Side to the Strip District and the North Shore.
However, make sure to check the weather before making plans – Pittsburgh is known for its rainy days.
Downtown – Point State Park and Cultural District, North Shore, Strip District, Lawrenceville, South Side, Station Square, Mount Washington
Top Things to Do in Pittsburgh
Catch a game at one of the various sporting events
One of the best things to do in Pittsburgh is seeing a sporting event. Pittsburgh is home to some of the biggest names in major US sports leagues like the Pittsburgh Steelers football team and the Penguins hockey team.
Heinz Field is also located in the North Shore but is more expensive to see a game (unless it’s for the University of Pittsburgh’s football team, the Pitt Panthers). You can also tour the stadium on a day when there are no games scheduled.
Although the Pirates baseball team doesn’t have the best record, PNC Park makes for a great night out. The park has a killer view of the city and from the North Shore – perfect for stopping at restaurants and breweries like Southern Tier or The Foundry.
Don’t forget about the Riverhounds soccer stadium located in Station Square. They are a lesser-known and less flashy team for Pittsburgh, but the games are fun to watch, much cheaper to attend and still supply amazing views of the city from the stands.
Check out one of Pittsburgh’s Many Museums
The Warhol Museum
The Warhol museum is one of the popular things to do in Pittsburgh. Andy Warhol was a leader in the pop art movement, and from Pittsburgh and the Warhol Museum pays tribute to his art and legacy.
The Museum is a great daytime activity or date night destination. It’s located on the North Shore, making it easy to loop in with other nearby activities.
The Mattress Factory
The Mattress Factory is another art museum in the Northside (just above the North Shore). The Mattress Factory is an immersive experience featuring art from artists around the world. It’s a lot of fun to walk through the exhibits and experience illusions and installation art with friends.
Carnegie Museum of Art
The Carnegie Museum of Art is a beautiful museum in Pittsburgh that is often rented out for wedding receptions and other high-end events. Located in Oakland, next to Carnegie Mellon University, you can easily pair the Museum with great food.
Check out The Porch at Schenley Plaza for a bite to eat and people-watching. Carnegie is a large museum, so you could easily spend the entire day there and still not see everything.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Connected to the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History goes all the way back to cave dwellers and the start of civilization, so there’s much to cover.
Heinz History Center
Heinz History Center is an excellent option for sports lovers or anyone looking for more Pittsburgh-Specific history. Located at the end of the Strip District, you can easily stop at the history center after grabbing brunch at the famous Pamela’s Diner in the Strip District.
The National Aviary, located on the North Side, is home to impressive animals like owls, penguins, many different birds, and even a sloth! In addition, the aviary has some additional programs and events great for kids.
Perfect for the nature lover, Phipp’s is a walk through a natural wonderland. The rooms are sectioned into different themes, making for an enjoyable daytime activity or date night. Phipp’s Conservatory usually has seasonal themes as well. You will find it near the universities in Oakland.
Make sure to check out Lawrenceville for some boutique shopping or head downtown to Steel City storefront. Steel City is run by a local family and pays tribute to all things Pittsburgh but with style – from Mr Roger’s Neighborhood to the Steelers and everything in between.
Visit Candle Lab in Lawrenceville for a fun activity – make your own candle scent! Then, while the candle wax is setting, stroll down the street and grab a pastry at the famous La Gourmindine or grab brunch at Gepetto Cafe (the best crepes!)
Kayak on the North Shore
An excellent summertime activity in Pittsburgh is kayaking from the North Shore. You get a front-row seat to The Point (the confluence of the three rivers that run through Pittsburgh) and see the Pittsburgh skyline from multiple angles.
A beer lover’s dream: there are a ton of breweries in Pittsburgh to choose between. If you’re having difficulty being decisive, check out PittsburghBreweries.com for a fully customizable brewery tour!
Pittsburgh has a fantastic food scene with creative and inventive chef’s, but you can’t forget the original dishes that Pittsburgh is known for: perogies and Primantis sandwiches. A food tour will provide a well-rounded perspective on all the different versions of Pittsburgh’s food scene.
Randyland is a landmark building and courtyard that you cannot miss in the Northside neighborhood. Resident artist Randy created a colorful and eclectic space that beams with happiness and joy.
It’s a quirky, beloved addition to Pittsburgh, and Randy is a beloved local artist who exudes joy that is contagious.
Home to the most extensive bike collection in the world, Bicycle Heaven is a fun stop on the north shore of Pittsburgh. You’ll be in awe of the vastness of the collection and the flashbacks to past eras. The Museum is easy-going and a fun visit that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
And there you have it, the best things to do in Pittsburgh, PA. This list will keep you busy during your visit to Pittsburgh. Whichever activities you choose to do, it is a great city to explore.