Bucket List: 25 Don't-Miss Experiences for the Yinzer in All of Us
You'll have to work hard to make it through the 'Burgh Bucket List — but every entry is more than worth the effort.
We all know the Pittsburgh essentials. Eat a Primanti’s Sandwich. Visit the Warhol Museum. Attend a Steelers game. The things that every local and most visitors accomplish as soon as possible. But there’s a rarified class of quintessential ’Burgh experiences that are no less vital but considerably more difficult to achieve. Once-a-year, once-in-a-blue-moon or once-in-a-lifetime moments that take planning, foresight and a bit of tenacity.
TOUR FALLINGWATER AT TWILIGHT.
You’ve seen the pictures: Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece house, nestled in the woods atop a cascading waterfall. To the uninitiated, it may feel as if pictures are enough — but until you see it in person, it’s easy to miss the fact that the allure of Fallingwater isn’t just the view from downstream. The allure is everything inside the house, too. It’s seeing the stairs in the living room leading directly into the stream; it’s hearing the water from the study’s open window; it’s noticing the colored-glass vases in front of windows, recalling Wright’s stained-glass work. The pleasure of visiting Fallingwater (at least in part) is to try to blot out everyone else and pretend you live there. It can be hard to do that with tours cycling through on regulated paths, but that’s the pleasure of the annual Twilight Tour: The house feels less like a preservation and more like a party locale. Guests at the late-summer gathering enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres on the terraces and mill around the rooms at their leisure. Once the sun sets, everyone is led through a candlelit path to a meadow, where jazz bands play and dinner is served in lantern light. —KB
LEAVE A GALLERY CRAWL WITH A WORK OF ART IN HAND.
The Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District has a distinct sense of occasion that only being downtown can offer, including more than 40 free events enticing Pittsburghers and tourists alike to head for the Golden Triangle. Venues from Wood Street Galleries to Backstage Bar host all manner of artwork, including performance and installation art. Perhaps the coolest thing about the Gallery Crawl is that art — be it a music or dance performance in the street or a giant rubber duck floating in the Allegheny — is everywhere. It’s also prime time to scout new pieces to bring home. The Night Market at Eighth Street and Penn Avenue is a great place to start, with vendors offering everything from jewelry to photography at prices that aren’t off-putting; Tugboat Printshop (pictured) sells its intricate woodblock prints at the Night Market, starting at $65. More interested in shopping in a gallery setting? The finds go beyond normal art spaces: During the Sept. 26 crawl, Liberty Avenue clothing store Social Status hosted an exhibition by local artist and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Baron Batch. His paintings inhabit a new genre he calls Pop-X, a combination of pop art and expressionism. —EKS
GET A FRONT-ROW SEAT FOR AN MCG JAZZ PERFORMANCE.
No music spurs the soul quite like jazz, which is why everyone should experience a world-class performance of the genre at least once. One of the best places in the nation to do that is on the North Shore, at MCG Jazz. Sit in the front row and you just may catch a bead of sweat flying off a soloist — but a seat farther back is better for big bands. Of the venue, Grammy-winning vocalist Nancy Wilson says, “The space provides the intimacy of a living room with the acoustics of a great concert hall.” Unlike today’s typical pop concerts (which can seem more about creating visual spectacles than making music), an MCG Jazz show is stripped down to the barest essentials — performers and their instruments. Who needs more? A solo riff performed by one of the all-time greats will make your jaw drop. What’s more, you may find yourself witness to the next Grammy-winning jazz record; MCG often records its concerts live for release on its private label, which has garnered nine Grammy nods and five wins. Next up: acclaimed acoustic quartet New York Voices performs selections from the act’s celebrated “Let it Snow!” CD on Dec. 12. If that show sells out, which it likely will, catch Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra in February. —EDH
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LEAVE JERRY'S RECORDS WITH MORE VINYL THAN YOU CAN CARRY.
This one will be a serious challenge: 100 vinyl LPs weigh roughly 50 pounds. Under ideal circumstances, you might manage to haul 100 pounds of music down to Murray Avenue — but we’ll need to subtract some weight to account for the steep, poster-plastered steps leading up to Jerry’s Records. Let’s say you can carry 80 pounds. That’s about 160 albums. Now, Jerry’s cheapest buys are three bucks. You can find these steals in every section: the rows of rock and R&B filling the legendary main room; the zigzagging nooks of classical; and the hidden oases of jazz and country. Still, 160 of the cheapest records in the store will run you $480. Yikes. Try crossing the crowded foyer to Whistlin’ Willie’s for heavy 78s. Or check out Jerry’s street-level Bargain Basement for $1 steals. But to cross this item off your list, the best bet is to wait for the man himself, Jerry Weber, to clean house — as he did in October, when news broke of a Brazilian billionaire buying up the world’s vinyl. In response, Weber gave away more than 25,000 records, in boxes of 100, free of charge. —EL
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SIGN ON FOR EAST END BREWING CO.'S ANNUAL KEG RIDE.
There is a bar stool for everyone in this town. For those who prefer to take their beer in new and exciting locations (legally), there’s the annual Pedal Pale Ale keg ride with East End Brewing Co. East End aims to run as sustainable an operation as possible, a commitment that manifests in everything from the clarity of its beer to the delivery of the first of its spring kegs. Forget trucks; each season, as the region shakes off thoughts of frozen roads, kegs of Pedal Pale Ale are strapped to two-wheeled trailers and attached to bikes at the brewery in Larimer. Bike and beer enthusiasts gather to form a Spandex-clad escort, an early-morning horde that accompanies the ale on a leisurely 6- to 10-mile ride to an undisclosed local taphouse. Don’t be afraid; organizers emphasize the ride’s slow, meandering pace. Remember: If hauling one’s body can sometimes be a slow endeavor, hauling the rolling, pitching weight of freshly made beer is far harder. The price of participation often goes to raise money for worthy causes, and every of-age rider is treated to a beer upon arrival. —MJK
SEE A PITTSBURGH-MADE MOVIE WITHIN A MILE OF WHERE IT WAS FILMED.
It’d be too easy to say, “See a Pittsburgh-made movie on the big screen.” There are so many films with local ties — many of them highly regarded — that images of the Steel City flicker across screens on a regular basis. “Silence of the Lambs,” “Night of the Living Dead,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “The Dark Knight Rises.” Wait at a theater long enough and you can buy a ticket for one of those. So let’s get very specific with the geography. How close can you get to watching a flick in its precise filming location? The Cinemark theater at Monroeville Mall has shown “Dawn of the Dead,” which was made in the building. The Hollywood Theater has hosted screenings of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (pictured), which used the cinema in Dormont to shoot a handful of scenes. During Lawrenceville’s 200th birthday celebration, Row House Cinema showed a number of movies set in the neighborhood. So it can be done. Find an occasion to watch a movie right where it was made and then walk out the door and see the same landscape you just gazed at on the screen. It’s an uncanny way to bring the fantasy world of the movies into real life. —SC
PHOTO BY DAVE DICELLO
MAKE A THREE-CHURCH PILGRIMAGE FOR RELICS, PAINTINGS AND STAIRS.
Writer Cynthia Ozick once made this distinction: “A visitor passes through a place; the place passes through the pilgrim.” You’ll understand her meaning after visiting three famous houses of worship near downtown. Afternoons from Saturday to Thursday, you can climb Troy Hill to reach St. Anthony’s Chapel, which houses the largest collection of holy relics outside the Vatican. Ornate cabinets hold thousands of teeth, bone splinters, dried blood and bits of cloth, each lovingly mounted and numbered. A 19th-century Belgian healing priest, Father Suitbert Godfrey Mollinger, acquired these as an act of devotion. Next, head down to Millvale and St. Nicholas Church, which Croatian painter Maxo Vanka covered in humanist murals in 1937 and 1941. In them, Mother Mary is a Croatian peasant, Jesus is speared by doughboys and steelworkers appear as humble pilgrims. Docents offer tours every Saturday. A hop across the 16th Street Bridge brings you to St. Patrick in the Strip. During the Depression, famed labor priest the Rev. James Cox installed a replica of the Holy Stairs that Jesus is said to have climbed during his trial. Worshippers are asked to ascend on their knees. —EL
PHOTO BY RENEE ROSENSTEEL
FIND RANDY ON A VISIT TO RANDYLAND.
If you’ve ever driven past the intersection of Arch and Jacksonia streets in the Central North Side, you’ve seen it: the big, splashy, colorful abode with ephemera affixed to its yellow brick walls. It’s the home of artist Randy Gilson, who calls his creation Randyland. Though Gilson’s home and garden truly are the centerpiece and epitome of his work, Randyland expands beyond the landmark. Gilson has been a critical player in the revitalization of the Central North Side since the 1980s, combining neighborhood cleanup efforts with public-art projects. Gilson himself almost is as hard to miss as the house. He’s a ubiquitous presence in the neighborhood with bleach-blond, longish hair and tinted sunglasses, and his look is a mashup of Jerry Garcia and Bono. Gilson will hand his card to North Side visitors and point them in the right direction to find the garden, which is open nearly every day from 1-7 p.m. One could say Gilson is kind of like the mayor of the Central North Side — an entire neighborhood that may as well be known as Greater Randyland. —EKS
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DRINK A BEER WITH RICK SEBAK.
Humans are creatures of ritual. Rules of conduct that dictate regular, repeated actions build community and connect us to the roots of human civilization. As does beer. Though fermenting grains to preserve them as usable calories might seem a far cry from our modern beer-drinking, sitting shoulder to shoulder with someone over a brew still feels like an act of communion. Elevate that feeling by drinking very good beer with very good people at Piper’s Pub on Thursday nights for As Is Tradition, an informal gathering of brew enthusiasts. Since he was invited to join the weekly convergence two years ago, Rick Sebak has been a fixture. Though many of us consider Mr. Sebak the pre-eminent guide to the city’s beating heart, at As Is Tradition he’s more than happy to follow bartender Hart Johnson’s lead. “Hart always chooses what he thinks I should drink,” Sebak says. “In two years, I don’t think I’ve had to ask for a beer.” Drop in around 10 p.m. when the loyal corps brings exciting beers to share. Opened by Johnson and sent around in 1-ounce pours, you can try beer from the fringes within the warmth of the human circle. —MJK
PHOTO COURTESY PITTSBURGH PARAGLIDING
PARAGLIDE DOWN FLAGSTAFF HILL.
Paragliding might seem like the kind of thing done only over canyons in Utah or down mountain sides in Colorado, but a company called Pittsburgh Paragliding will help you soar through Schenley Park. Flagstaff Hill is a favorite spot of the outfit. (Another is the Carrie Furnace site in Rankin.) Though it might not exactly be the Grand Canyon, once you are off the ground, the experience offers the surreal sensation of thinking that — holy crap — you’re about to sail over Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. You won’t; most flights last only a few exhilarating seconds. More than an extreme sightseeing experience (such as zip-lining), paragliding is a sport, requiring effort and focus at every airborne moment. To onlookers, it must seem as simple as running down a hill while wearing a parachute, but it is an intricate process of pulling on some strings and letting others go while running like Usain Bolt and wearing a helmet and turtle shell-like backpack (to secure the chute and cushion you in case of a clumsy comedown). Few sports demand as much mental and physical exertion in the blink of an eye, but to literally fly above your old urban haunts, it’s worth the effort (and Pittsburgh Paragliding’s hefty fee of $195 a person). —NK
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COMPLETE THE DIRTY DOZEN BICYCLE RACE.
The Dirty Dozen is a 60-mile bike race over Pittsburgh’s 13 stiffest hills. Held every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, riders converge on the Bud Harris Cycling Track parking lot along Washington Boulevard in Highland Park and try to stay warm until the race’s 10 a.m. start. Danny Chew, the cycling madman who founded the race in 1983, wears an old silver whistle around his neck that he blows at the base of every hill to send riders tearing for the top. Guyasuta, Ravine, Rialto, Tesla: The streets are steep enough to make you wonder as you ascend, pedal stroke by increasingly harder pedal stroke, if you might just fall over backward. “How did people build these?” riders mutter as they fight their way through the Dozen — though more often than not the sonic landscape is comprised mostly of wordless shouting and discreet hyperventilation. If it sounds like a suffer-fest, it is. But the challenge of the Dozen also celebrates what cycling always has been about: pushing the limits. Beginning in October, Bike Pittsburgh organizes weekly Sunday rides to prepare you to take on the hills, a feat most are more than capable of accomplishing — if they want it enough. —MJK
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BE ON THE FINAL JACK RABBIT RIDE OF A CALENDAR YEAR.
It’s the end of a night at Kennywood. You’re racing to get on one more ride before the lights go off. Where should you head? Which ride has the shortest line? The Jack Rabbit always is a solid choice — one others may overlook as they bustle toward the exit. Because its line curls around the ride, it may be hard to tell if crowds are waiting in the quick-moving queue (and they’re usually not). You’ve already experienced stomach-dropping plummets on the Phantom’s Revenge and the Thunderbolt. You’ve raced your friends on the Racer. Maybe you’ve even braved the Black Widow. But you can’t leave the park until you’ve gone over that double dip one more time. What’s better than knowing you got on the very last ride of the night? Knowing you jumped on the very last ride of the year. You’ll have to go during Phantom Fright Nights, but what’s better than a spookily decorated amusement park? Bonus points: Snag the last car of the train for your ride — it supposedly gives you the longest airtime during that double dip. —LD
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KAYAK TO THE EDGE OF BRUNOT ISLAND AND SPOT A DEER.
Deer trample over nearly every inch of Pennsylvania, from gardens to graveyards to highways. Still, you might be startled to see a whitetail come to the shore of Brunot Island — a 129-acre isle connected to the mainland by one lonely railway/pedestrian bridge — and trade glances with you. Brunot, which is about 30 minutes of paddling from Kayak Pittsburgh’s rental spot beneath the Roberto Clemente Bridge, once was the site of a farming homestead visited by Lewis and Clark and later a horse- and auto-racing track. Now, it boasts only a NRG Energy-owned power plant, some shrubs and a population of intrepid deer. Dr. Walter Carson, a University of Pittsburgh professor of ecology, says the deer likely swim there and “come and go quite a bit.” The mammals actually are fine swimmers, though they avoid the activity because it is tiring and exposes them to predators. He adds, “I suspect they have devastated the habitat like they have all over Pa. and especially in urban areas.” So the migration is bad news for island-dwelling plants, but it’s a boon to kayakers hoping to spot one of this area’s most magnificent creatures in a surreal locale. —NK
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SNAP A PHOTOGRAPH WITH EVERY DINOSAUR STATUE.
Pittsburgh has plenty of defining features: the bridges, the neighborhoods and, of course, the T-Rex dressed to emulate Mister Rogers. That theropod is far from the only dino in town, as 100 were commissioned as part of a fundraising effort in 2003 for the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. A quest to find all of the dinos can begin gradually: First, you’ll form casual friendships with the specimens in your immediate environment, say by giving directions via dinosaur: “turn left at Dollarasaurus.” Eventually, you’ll find yourself on special trips to see Creation Rex dressed in his seasonal costumes at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh or to run your hands over the tactile patterns and braille of Seymour Sparklesaurus outside the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children. Once your quest becomes serious, you should know that most of these statues emerged during DinoMite Days, and many online maps refer to their original appearances in 2003. The whereabouts of some are unknown, and others are on private property. Some public dinos not to miss: George Washasaurus in the Sen. John Heinz History Center; Lunasaurus Lux outside Tickets for Kids in Aspinwall, which lights up at night; and of course Fred-o-saurus Rex (pictured), that perfect marriage of Pittsburgh icons, which now lives in the South Side. —KB
SEE JOE GRUSHECKY AND BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN PERFORM TOGETHER.
With all due respect to our rust-belt brethren, Pittsburgh’s closet civic counterpart might be the Jersey Shore. A working-class attitude, a fanatical devotion to football and hockey and unabashed love of rock ‘n’ roll define both locales. So the collaboration between Pittsburgh rock king Joe Grushecky and Jersey (and everywhere else) rock king Bruce Springsteen makes a lot of sense. The two met in 1980, when Grushecky’s Iron City Houserockers were signed to national label MCA; by chance, E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt was recording a track with the Houserockers while working on Springsteen’s “The River,” and a friendship was born. Springsteen eventually would produce and help to write Grushecky’s 1995 solo album “American Babylon.” The two have taken the stage together many times over the years; if the E Street Band is playing in Pittsburgh, or the modern Houserockers are playing in Asbury Park, there’s a good chance it’ll happen. But the can’t-miss fruits of this decades-long collaboration have been a series of performances at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, where Springsteen has sat in with the Houserockers for sold-out, headline-grabbing concerts. It happened in 2010, 2011 and in May of this year. If it ever happens again, don’t miss it. —SC
DEVELOP A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A CHURCH PIEROGI.
Go ahead: Become a bit evangelical about church pierogies. After all, these handmade little dumplings can change your relationship with the food. Partly because they’re delicious. But mostly because churches are the farmers markets of pierogies: They give you a sense of the origins of your food. These pierogies are not being served up in cream sauce or with chipotle peppers or filled with shark meat. Instead, they come in a humble plastic bag, handed to you by someone who likely knows how to make them herself, while a community of volunteers toils away behind her. It’s also a culture that is changing, and today there are fewer and fewer opportunities to find pierogies at churches. You’ll find the widest variety during Lent, but there still are a smattering of places that sell them throughout autumn and winter, including St. Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks, St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church of Pittsburgh in the North Side and St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in the South Side. With pickup times during weekdays, seasonal schedules and a fluctuating volunteer base, you’ll want to call ahead before you head out. —KB
PHOTO BY NANCI GOLDBERG
TAKE IN A STEELERS OR PIRATES GAME FROM THE RIVER.
Sure, it’s great that you can pick out individual beads of sweat in Brett Keisel’s beard on an elephant-sized, HD flatscreen TV while flinging moment-by-moment observations onto Twitter and keeping one eye on out-of-town scores for fantasy updates. Although we’d never trade our technological advancements for the lo-fi equipment of yesteryear, there’s something to be said for actually relaxing while taking in a game. In Pittsburgh, we have a one-of-a-kind way to do it. First, get a cheap, battery-powered radio. Then identify a Pirates or Steelers game taking place on a day that you can get away from the world. Next, find a seafaring vessel — bother a friend with a boat, or rent a kayak from Kayak Pittsburgh. Take the radio, get on the boat and float down to the waters outside PNC Park or Heinz Field. Tune in to the game, stare at the city and relax. Hear the roar of the crowd wash over the waters as the play-by-play keeps you up to speed on the action. If it’s a Pirates game, keep alert for your chance at perhaps the ultimate ’Burgh achievement — snagging a home-run ball out of the Allegheny. You know what? Maybe we would trade a few high-tech gadgets for more days like that. —SC
LISTEN TO GAME 7 OF THE 1960 WORLD SERIES AT THE FORBES FIELD WALL.
It started off as a way for one Pittsburgh Pirates fan to relive one glorious day in the team’s history. It’s now “Mazeroski Day,” sponsored by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and hosted by the Game 7 Gang. In 1985, Saul Finkelstein showed up at the Forbes Field wall on Oct. 13 and played the broadcast of the ultimate game of the 1960 World Series on his cassette player. He returned on that date over the next few years, word spread, and soon he wasn’t alone. Since then, baseball aficionados young and old gather at the site on that day every year to relive each moment while The Porch at Schenley sells hot dogs and Cracker Jack snacks. Usually, a former Pirates player or two (or more) is on hand as well. A few in the crowd, which usually reaches about 200, attended the actual game, and they share their version of the day with new and old friends. Others simply are sharing their love of the Pirates — or of Pittsburgh itself. If you share either sentiment (or both), this is a day for you. —LD
WATCH THE INDEPENDENCE DAY FIREWORKS FROM A MOVING INCLINE.
It’s a question that pops up every year: Where should you go to watch the July 4 fireworks? You can join the crowds in Point State Park and watch reflections bounce from the windows of buildings behind you. You can head to a bridge and get a fairly straight-on view — but it’s tough to find the perfect position. Then there’s the obvious choice: Drive to Mount Washington and appreciate the view from above. This option usually is rejected with a litany of common excuses. It’s too hard to get up there. There’s too much traffic. It’s too crowded. One way around these dilemmas? Take in the show from the incline itself. Park at the bottom to avoid the standstill rows of cars that will leave Mount Washington after the show, and hop on either the Duquesne or the Monongahela tracks. At the top, jump off and get back on to make sure you get the best seat. It’ll seem as if there’s a private show going on outside the window. —LD
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CATCH A HOMECOMING PERFORMANCE BY SHARON NEEDLES.
Aaron Coady moved to Pittsburgh in the early aughts and eventually claimed the city as an adopted hometown. Coady, best known as drag queen Sharon Needles, won the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” reality-TV competition in 2012. Needles is famous for her fierce looks and sharp-tongued language; unafraid to speak her mind, she’s been quoted as saying her favorite “famous” Pittsburgher is Andy Warhol. Since achieving celebrity-level status, Needles has performed across the country and globe, making her homecomings few and far between. As a supporter of Pittsburgh Pride Week, though, she has returned for events at the June festival. If you’d like to see her live, your best bet is to check the Pride Week programming far in advance; this past year, she was among the main acts for a Friday-the-13th-themed show. —KM
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VISIT EVERY NATIONALITY ROOM DURING THE CATHEDRAL OF LEARNING'S HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE.
The English Room contains a brick from 10 Downing St. and chairs from the House of Commons. The Israel Heritage Room represents a 1st-century dwelling or house of assembly. Each of the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning was funded by the cultural groups or governments of the countries they represent, which ensures their authenticity. They’re also carefully preserved — even though students attend classes inside them during the week. They’re a sight to see any time of the year, but come the December holidays, the rooms — as well as the Gothic Revival building’s halls — are decked in their finest. Stop and visit each during the Holiday Open House, when guides in traditional dress are stationed at the rooms to share the histories and the artifacts within. In the Commons Room, ethnic performances add to the festive atmosphere and food and craft vendors offer tastes and goods from other cultures. Try to hit all 29 rooms during the afternoon — this year’s event is scheduled for Dec. 7 — for a small-world ride through the best of what other countries have to exhibit. —LD
PHOTO BY MARGARET G. STANLEY
INDULGE IN A THEMED TEA SERVICE AND TOUR AT HARTWOOD ACRES MANSION.
We kid you not when we say that Tea at Hartwood Acres Mansion is one of the hottest tickets in town. Some sessions have sold out in 20 minutes, and invariably tickets are mostly gone within a few hours of being offered. They go on sale almost exactly three months in advance — which for “The Holiday Musical Tea & Tour” would be late September. (Consider this a heads-up for next year.) On the bright side, now is the time to secure your seat to the “Downton Abbey Tea” in early February; its debut installment earlier this year sold out almost immediately. Dress in your best Abbey finery (about 80 percent of guests do) and gather in the Grand Hall for a game of trivia and a costume contest before indulging in a tasty variety of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and “something chocolate” for dessert. The whole event can take up to four hours, since many linger in the stunning setting. The best way to try and score tickets is by phone; call 412/767-9200. —EDH
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ATTEND A MUSICAL AT THE BENEDUM CENTER, THE BYHAM THEATER, THE O’REILLY THEATER AND HEINZ HALL.
The city’s rich arts scene attracts attention for its world-class performers. The venues themselves also are worthy of praise, as they’re works of art in their own right. Make it your mission to see a musical in every major downtown performance venue — the Benedum, Byham, O’Reilly and Heinz Hall — for a well-rounded Pittsburgh theater experience. Some advice: You won’t have trouble getting into a show at the Benedum and Heinz Hall, as touring and local Broadway productions tend to roll through regularly. The Byham, however, schedules a wealth of dance-related programming, and the Pittsburgh Public Theater may not fit a musical into its lineup each season, so you may have to wait for a performance at each of those places. With a bit of planning, it can be done — and in the meantime, take a look at some under-the-radar downtown venues, too. —KM
CAST YOURSELF AS AN EXTRA IN A MOVIE.
One benefit of Hollywood’s affinity for shooting in Pittsburgh is that you could land a (tiny) part in a flick. Those who clear extras casting generally commit numerous hours in exchange for little monetary compensation; the time commitment can vary, from a single day-long shoot to several shorter sessions. What’s in it for you? The opportunity to see a scene or two unfold as it will onscreen, possibly interact with notables and earn bragging rights among family and friends. It doesn’t matter if you’re completely, partially or not at all visible in the scene — the chance to be involved in a locally shot production is beyond cool. At press time, two high-profile cinematic productions are filming in Hollywood on the Mon. The one that’s expressed a need for local extras has used movieextraspittsburgh.com to post casting calls, whereas other projects might rely on agencies such as Nancy Mosser or the Talent Group to recruit the individuals they seek. —KM
We ask 5 well-known Pittsburghers to suggest their essentials for our list.
1. Build an amazing lunch from the East End food startups: a MIX Salad from Coffee Tree Roasters in Larimer, TeaPops from Healcrest Urban Farms in Garfield, Leona’s incredible ice-cream sandwiches from Zeke’s in East Liberty and an Orange Sunrise from Juice Up 412 at The Livermore.
2. Visit the Children’s Museum. You get to play more when there are no kids around, so get your company to have a holiday party there or follow my lead and marry someone on the staff.
3. Don your best black-and-yellow and run the Yinzer 5K. This annual race at North Park has everything: runners in Pittsburgh Maulers T-shirts, mullet wigs and Sally Wiggin downing Isaly’s-style ham barbecue after the race. And it benefits the homeless!
Owner, Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck
1. Go for a paddle [on the water]. Paddling the Point is great — you get a whole new view of the city. Rent kayaks on the North Shore during the summer, or visit North Park and rent a boat there.
2. University of Pittsburgh Nationality Rooms. My mother took me there as a kid, and I still go back today. The rooms are fascinating and well-preserved.
3. The Bayernhof Museum. Words don’t really do it justice; you have to experience it.
Producing Artistic Director, Pittsburgh Public Theater
1. The Polish church, St. Stanislaus Kostka, in the Strip District. I like to go in and light a candle.
2. Toadflax in Shadyside. It’s like having a corner of Paris in your backyard.
3. PNC Park. The best view of our city and a wonderful place to celebrate being a Pittsburgher.
1. The Clemente Museum, Strip District. You need to have wine in the basement and storytime on the first floor to appreciate the upstairs.
2. Jozsa Corner, Hazelwood. Authentic Pittsburgh. Have the Transylvanian gulyas in the early winter, looking out of the window at the former LTV coke works.
3. Pentecostal Temple COGIC, East Liberty. Sunday-morning services by Bishop Loran Mann. All three hours.
1. Attend a star party. We took the kids to Wagman Observatory in Deer Lakes Park. Amazing! It’s free, and you don’t even need a telescope. Amateur astronomers are happy to let you view the planets through their telescopes.
2. Check out a movie at the Carnegie Science Center’s Rangos Omnimax Theater. It’s a four-story dome theater and one of only 50 theaters of its kind in North America. Best views are [from] the top seats in the middle .
3. Try Pamela’s pancakes. We like to visit the Millvale restaurant. Easy parking, and if there is a line, it moves quickly!
We like to consider ourselves experts around here, so we asked around the office: What’s on your personal ’Burgh Bucket List?
- Get your feet wet as a volunteer diver at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
- Brave the Tarzan swing at Go Ape Treetop Adventure in North Park.
- Take a class with Larry Lagattuta at Enrico Biscotti Co. in the Strip District to learn the art of making bread, pasta or pizza.
- Go for a golf outing at Oakmont Country Club.
- Kayak your way to the Point.
- Take in the view from the top of the U.S. Steel Tower.
Senior Account Executive
- Sing with the Pittsburgh Symphony during a Holiday Pops performance.
- Take a helicopter ride around the city to see the view from above. It was nice to see that perspective in the WQED special “Pittsburgh from the Air,” but it would be really cool to actually do it.
- Somehow get to see the “Fourth” river.
Betty Yee Yates
- Learn how to kayak. Working on an island, it’s hard not to notice people rowing in kayaks, canoes and dragon boats. It looks like it would be a peaceful activity, especially early in the morning with mist coming off the water and geese and ducks floating nearby.
- Take a Just Ducky Tour or Segway tour of Pittsburgh — highly recommended by people who’ve taken them. And I like the story of the woman who rode her Segway into the river.
- Learn how to blow or make glass artwork at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. It just seems like a magical process.
Senior Account Executive
- Tour the Carrie Blast Furnaces. They are such a giant (literally and figuratively) part of Pittsburgh’s steel-making history, and the fact that they are still standing is an incredible nod to our city’s heritage.
- Sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” with Jeff Jimerson — not just at a Pittsburgh Penguins game, but anywhere!
- Do the “Time Warp” at a midnight showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont.