Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Allegheny River Communities

Each borough and municipality in this northeastern corner of Allegheny County contains surprises. To those who live along the river’s edge, they’re familiar, hometown destinations and sights; to visitors, they’re spots worth making the drive out along (the finally construction-free) Route 28. Make a day trip to explore a chunk of the region off the beaten path — you might get so attached that you start thinking about a permanent move up the river.

photos by kristi jan hoover

What's Here?

Here, industry and nature both have a home. Harrison hosts facilities for manufacturing company ATI Metals as well as the 500-acre Harrison Hills Park (alleghenycounty.us/parks/hhfac.aspx).

Frazer Township
Eat, drink and catch a movie at The Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills (pittsburghmills.com). While some of the storefronts in the mall proper are seeking new tenants, the sprawling shopping area surrounding it continues to thrive.

This former mill town is a mostly residential community today. Its residents can enjoy daily, riverfront rest and relaxation at quiet Brackenridge Memorial Park.

Brackenridge’s big brother (in terms of size) is home to a number of bars, restaurants and businesses along East Sixth Avenue. It’s also a destination for bikers, thanks to busy Gatto Harley-Davidson (gattoharley-davidson.com).

East Deer Township
East Deer, the birthplace of the storied Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co., has many more trees than homes. A handful of quiet neighborhoods enjoy plenty of shade.

Fawn Township
Where there are deer, fawns often follow — the township was named because it was seen as an offspring of the pre-existing Deer Township. Fawn was a big baby, however; at the time, it included present-day Harrison and Brackenridge, too.

This borough along a bend in the Allegheny River is the birthplace of noted conservationist Rachel Carson, whose book “Silent Spring” played a part in the early days of the environmental movement. You still can visit her homestead (rachel_carson_homestead.myupsite.com) today.

Springdale Township
Springdale’s neighbor to the north typically is referred to by the names of its two primary neighborhoods, Orrville and Harwick. Residents cool off at Bouquet Park Pool (bouquetpark.com), which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016.

The small borough along Pittsburgh Street is no less proud of Rachel Carson than its neighbor Springdale. Rachel Carson Park is the site of Cheswick’s annual Strawberry Festival (cheswick.us).

Fox Chapel
Beautiful homes, bucolic parks and a pair of golf clubs — the Pittsburgh Field Club (fieldclub.org) and Fox Chapel Golf Club (foxchapelgolfclub.org) — define Fox Chapel. Education also is a priority here thanks to Shady Side Academy and the Fox Chapel Area School District.

Harmar Township
Most visitors encounter Harmar Township via the string of businesses and restaurants along Freeport Road. Don’t miss this large municipality’s wealth of natural beauty, including Allegheny Islands State Park, accessible only by boat.

The host community for the 2016 U.S. Open also is one of the region’s most distinctive hometowns. The longstanding Oaks Theater (theoakstheater.com) has converted into a destination for live performance (while remaining a single-screen theater as well).

O’Hara Township
Surrounding Fox Chapel, O’Hara Township is home to many people — more than 8,400 as of the last census — and a location to work for many more, thanks to the bustling RIDC Industrial Park.

While it was named for a pair of steel mills — the Blaw Steel Construction Co. and the Knox Pressed and Welded Steel Co. — this small borough also contains one of the county’s most untouched conservation projects, the undeveloped Sycamore Island.

Follow Allegheny River Boulevard north and you’ll discover a wealth of small, independent businesses in Verona, Oakmont’s southern neighbor.

Indiana Township
Most of favorite summertime destination Hartwood Acres (alleghenycounty.us/parks/hartwood/index.aspx), one site for the county’s popular free concert series, sits within Indiana Township.


The line might be long when you visit Oakmont Bakery, but that’s fine — more time to select delicious desserts and treats to take home. When all of those irresistible scents make you hungry, grab lunch in the bakery’s cafe.  531 Allegheny Ave., oakmontbakery.com.

Try the delicious lamb burger or order a seasonal selection at Hartwood Restaurant & Whispers Pub in Indiana Township. The intimate pub is perfect for a date or a quiet solo meal.  3400 Harts Run Road, hartwoodrestaurant.com.

Gatto Cycle Diner in Tarentum will serve your favorite greasy-spoon specialties. Dive a little deeper and you’ll find choices you’re unlikely to encounter in many train-car diners, such as a great muffaletta sandwich.  139 E. Sixth Ave. & 117 E. Seventh Ave., gattocycle.com/dealer-info/diner.


Feelin’ the blues? There may be no better place in Allegheny County to exorcise those demons than Moondog’s, the longstanding bar and music venue in Blawnox. Throw back a few cold beers and listen to licks from a local or touring act.  378 Freeport Road, moondogs.us.

Select a craft beer at Fusion Bar & Grill in Harmar Township and pair it with Indian food. It’s a family-friendly place, so if you need a spot for good beer that also offers a kid’s menu, Fusion fits the bill.  775 Freeport Road, fusionpittsburgh.com.

The O’Hara Township branch of local chain The Coffee Tree Roasters gladly will make your morning favorite — but don’t ignore the indulgent frozen options among its seasonal selections.  48 Fox Chapel Road, coffeetree.com.


Looking for a read that’ll leave you guessing? That’s the specialty at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont. The store carries pulpy adventures, classic whodunits and much more; it also hosts frequent author visits.  514 Allegheny River Blvd., mysterylovers.com.

Explore the winding corridors and hidden rooms of all three floors of the E.N. Miller Antique Mall in Verona, and you’ll leave with a new treasure — as small as a refrigerator magnet or as large as a bedroom set.  615 E. Railroad Ave., 412/828-3288.

The world has changed: Everything that once was nerdy now is cool. Outfit yourself with comics, toys, apparel and more at New Dimension Comics in The Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills in Frazer Township.  590 Pittsburgh Mills Circle, ndcomics.com/stores/pittsburgh-mills.

photo via flickr creative commons


Feel like spending your day inspecting rare, automatic musical instruments? That’s simply one of the pleasures at the remarkable Bayernhof Museum in O’Hara Township. Reservations are required.  225 St. Charles Place, bayernhofmuseum.com.

Can it really be considered summer before you’ve spent a night with miniature golf and a frozen treat? Get both in one stop at Glen’s Custard in Springdale Borough.  400 Pittsburgh St., glenscustard.com.

Sometimes you need to go bowling. Relax like Lebowski at FunFest Entertainment Center in Harmar Township. The large facility also offers laser tag, arcade games, a connected bar and more.  2525 Freeport Road, funfestcenter.com.

Food Critic's Pick

Get set to crush some of the best wings in Pittsburgh at Nox’s Tavern and Grille in Blawnox. Nox’s serves 21 flavors of wings, so there’s something for just about everyone here; my favorites are hot garlic-Parm, hot sauce and sriracha-lime. If for whatever reason you’re not in the mood for wings, the original steamers — half-pound beef burgers steamed and served with a variety of toppings — also are a solid choice. (720 Blaw Ave., noxstavern.com) — Hal B. Klein

Signature Event

For more than 40 years, people have been flocking to the Burtner House Strawberry Festival in Harrison for a dose of history and a slice of famous strawberry shortcake. Always held on the third Saturday in June, the event, sponsored by the Burtner House Restoration Society, features Civil War re-enactors, genealogy researchers, guided tours of the historical home and more. If you can’t make it in the summer, head over in the fall for the annual Harvest Fest at the home. (724/493-9678) — Lauren Davidson


Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

A Guide to Pittsburgh

Family City Guide: A to G

A is for Aviary, B is for Baseball, C is for Carousel, D is for Dinosaurs, E is for Earth, F is for Flowers and G is for Glass.
Read More

Family City Guide: H - M

H is for History, I is for Ice Skating, J is for Jumping, K is for Kayaking, L is for Laughter and M is for Museum.
Read More

Family City Guide: N to T

N is for Nature, O is for Outer Space, P is for Pumpkins, Q is for Quiet, R is for Roller Coasters, S is for Swimming and T is for Theater.
Read More

Family City Guide: U to Z

U is for Universities, V is for Volunteering, W is for Water, X is for Xylophones, Y is for Yinzer and Z is for Zoo.
Read More

Choosing A Family

Frequent PM contributor Amy Whipple always intended to become a foster parent. Now the adoptive mother of a 3-year-old boy, she shares the story of her new family.
Read More

Eat, Do, Shop, Play and Learn

In and around Pittsburgh, the offerings for families looking for food, fun and more go so much deeper than the expected family outings. From places to outfit and entertain to natural wonders and city treasures, here are some of our favorites.
Read More

City Guide: The Best Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

We scour Allegheny County (and beyond) and visit the region’s neighborhoods and municipalities to bring you our favorite things to do, eat, drink, buy and more.
Read More
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Munhall Native Auditions for American Idol

A rising Pittsburgh star vies for her chance at fame.

Lack of Empathy Leads to Uncivil Discourse

A panel discussion at Duquesne University focused on the tough task of teaching empathy in the digital age.

How Making Juice Changed Sharif Rasheed's Life

The owner of Safi Juice in Garfield left a job he hated to tap into something from his childhood.

Pittsburgh's Can't Miss Concerts in April

This month's lineup includes Rick Astley, Billy Price, Christopher Cross and Ronnie Milsap.

Pittsburgh Flicks and Nightlife in April

Tour local social clubs with the Roaming Social Club; expect changes at AMC Waterfront

April: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest stage plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

Undercover: What We're Reading in April

A look back at "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" as it turns 30, plus two literary events coming up in April.

Perspectives: ‘This Is Us’ Is a Story of Us

A former Pittsburgher finds more than a few similarities between his own life and that of the siblings on "This Is Us."

Spare Change: A New Way of Giving

A local group is using music and some spare change to help charities — and filming every step of the way.

Look How Mighty This Bellevue Garden Has Grown

Last season, the Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Garden produced 4,862 pounds of food; the harvest was donated to three food pantries.

When and Where to Dump Your Junk (including old TVs)

A state environmental agency wants to help you recycle your hard-to-dispose-of household clutter.

Watch: Trailer of “Won't You Be My Neighbor”

The documentary about Mister Rogers' iconic show takes viewers beyond the cardigan collection and into “the heart of a creative genius.”

On a Lark: Pittsburgh Mom Creates Activewear for Babes

Unable to find cute, environmentally friendly gear for her newborn son, Lark Adventurewear founder Pallavi Golla launched her own line of moisture-wicking clothing for kids.

Pittsburgh MultiStories: The Beacon's Perch – The Grant Building

When it opened in 1929 as the city’s tallest structure, crowds of sightseers paid a quarter to visit the rooftop observation deck of the Grant Building — named for the street, which was named for the hill, which was named for the somewhat hapless general.

Rick Sebak Digs Up Distant Carnegie-Trump Connection

Research into Andrew Carnegie’s marriage reveals an unlikely, albeit tenuous, connection between the Pittsburgh icon and the 45th President.