90 Neighborhoods and What We Love About Them
Explore the ins and outs of Pittsburgh’s incredible, diverse neighborhoods with fun things to do in every part of town.
Photo by Dave DiCello
In previous editions of our annual City Guide, we’ve expressed our unbounded affection for Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. Our city is divided into distinct territories, each with its own character, history and traditions. One of the joys of being a ’Burgher is exploring these communities, learning their ins and outs, and debating their merits with cross-town friends. Even as we wrote about more and more of our favorite ’hoods, however, we couldn’t help but feel like we were neglecting too many others — there are 90, after all.
This year, we decided to present something we love in every Pittsburgh neighborhood. From big to small, West (End) to East (Hills), we’ve pegged a notable feature of all 90. You’ll find old favorites, newly discovered gems and more than a few items that will inspire an exploratory trip.
Love one that we missed? Tell us about it. As every Pittsburgher knows, discovering new aspects of our city is a delightful hobby.
Take a break from whatever you should be doing and enjoy a cigar and cuppa at Leaf & Bean.
Like the sail of an enormous ship, the bow of the August Wilson Center for African-American Culture curves above Liberty Avenue, a sleek masterpiece of metal and glass. Since its unveiling in 2009, the downtown center has astonished locals and visitors alike, becoming one of the most awe-inspiring structures in the city. Named after Pittsburgh’s beloved playwright, the August Wilson Center houses art galleries, classrooms and a voluminous theater with state-of-the-art equipment. The interior is on par with any Smithsonian hall, and the facilities offer nonstop activity, from concerts to staged readings to fine art exhibits. For years, the city’s African-American community could only dream of such a wondrous venue. Today, that dream is more than a reality — the center is a pillar of the Cultural District, attracting visitors weekly. The AWC Dance Ensemble has attracted national attention. During Gallery Crawls, the place is packed. In coming years, the August Wilson Center will have to evolve in order to keep itself buoyant. Downtown is a fickle neighborhood, and staff needs to stay savvy to attract patrons and donors. One thing will endure: The center is a monument to Pittsburgh’s rich history and a reminder of how much African-American culture has impacted Steel City lifeIt won’t be easy, but one way or another, this ship will sail. — Robert Isenberg
[980 Liberty Ave.; augustwilsoncenter.org, 412/258-2700]
Pittsburgh Public Schools' Miller Pre-K to 5 center, formerly Miller African Centered Academy, gives Hill District students a head start.
Oishii Bento offers a variety of sushi choices, including the Oishii and ocean rolls, which can be made spicy upon request.
Middle Hill – Wylie Avenue
No Pittsburgh neighborhood has undergone a struggle more documented than the Hill District. At one time, Wylie Avenue was one of America’s great centers of black culture. This is where the Pittsburgh Courier became a newspaper of national influence. It’s where Pittsburgh’s African-American population found an identity. This is where such talents as Billy Eckstein, Lena Horne and August Wilson grew. (Several of Wilson’s plays, including Gem of the Ocean, Two Trains Running, Radio Golf and Pulitzer Prize-winner The Piano Lesson are set on or around Wylie Avenue.) Unfortunately, the development of what was the Lower Hill in the 1960s decimated the culture of the Hill District, with the construction of the Civic Arena as the knockout punch. More than 50 years later, the glory days may be gone for Wylie Avenue — but it remains a center of culture, commerce and community. August Wilson once observed that the Hill District never seemed to sleep, that there was always movement and life there. That’s still true today, as churches, civic organizations and the nearby Carnegie Library branch dominate the street. Part of the Hill may be gone, but its history is immovable. — Sean Collier
High above the city, Pitt's student-athletes train at the Petersen Sports Complex.
The statue is about 12 feet tall (closer to 14 at the tip of the sword) and weighs about 3 tons. Made of cast iron, it has developed a pale-green patina throughout the years. The statue was installed in October 2011 in an empty lot at the corner of Tustin and Seneca streets in the part of Uptown that’s sometimes called “Soho.” Sam Kiss, a native of Belgium, saw this warrior in the lot of an antiques store in Duncansville, Pa., and fell in love at first sight; he eventually arranged to truck the artwork here on a flatbed. He’s dubbed the statue “Sir Samelot,” and he thinks of it not only as a neighborhood guardian but also as a menacing reminder to folks downtown on Grant Street to be careful with their politics. Neither Kiss nor the man at the antiques store can offer a guess as to the statue’s provenance, but Kiss says the markings on the knight’s shield might be able to tell us something. In his first few months as a Pittsburgher, Sir Samelot was decorated several times: with pumpkins and a Scream mask for Halloween; with a Steelers shield; with an extended sword lancing three turkeys for Thanksgiving; and with a Santa hat and sleigh for Christmas. — Rick Sebak
Robert E. Williams Memorial Park is a stately, historic landmark dating to 1889.
The Hill House Association is a nonprofit with deep roots — its heritage can be traced back to ancestors in the early 1900s. Today, the organization provides early child development services, senior care and much more. — Sean Collier
Summer in Pittsburgh is always packed with hopping happenings, but the annual Full Bloom Summer Dance Party is probably the only one with fire-throwers, hula-hoopers and a kickin’ dance floor in a theater. Each year, Full Bloom benefits the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater as it harvests a vast garden of local and national talent. Looking for an excuse to see what East Liberty has to offer? You won’t find richer entertainment than this. — Robert Isenberg
[5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty; 412/363-3000, kelly-strayhorn.org]
At Unblurred, a regular gallery crawl through the Penn Avenue Arts Corridor, a dozen galleries open their doors; the Pittsburgh Glass Center and Dance Alloy Theater (both heavyweights headquartered on Penn) hold interactive, participatory events; coffee shops and the ultra-popular Quiet Storm Vegetarian & Vegan Cafe bring music and spoken word; restaurants and cafes offer tastes of their fare — and more. Other than downtown’s Gallery Crawl, it’s the only regular neighborhood-wide arts event in town. “There is a very, very wide range of art,” says Michele Morris, president of the Friendship Development Associates Board. “There is something for everyone. Every gallery has its own little following, and you get some spillage into the next gallery.” After being open for less than six months, Salt of the Earth got in on Unblurred; the restaurant’s staff members hung out at the Glass Lofts and handed out samples at Unblurred in April 2011. It’s not surprising that they would participate: Previously, chef/owner Kevin Sousa was a member of the Friendship Development Associates board. By rights, events such as Unblurred should attract more than a fair share of new residents to one of Pittsburgh’s under-appreciated neighborhoods. With world-class food, abundant art, historic homes and so much more, it’s about time. — Sean Collier
Justin Severino, chef/owner of Cure, could write a book about his values related to food production. So then Cure is more than a restaurant — it’s also an expression of Severino’s dedication to ethical farming practices, humane animal husbandry, sustainability and traditional food-preparation techniques. At Cure, the age-old idea that no part of the animal should be wasted is alive and well. For a wide variety of curing, smoking and processing methods, Severino uses on-site equipment to produce homemade delicacies, ranging from more predictable items including sausage and bacon to rarer items such as crispy pig ears and blood sausage. To ensure that each dish is perfect, Severino obtains his meats from local purveyors, including Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance, Otterbein Acres and Clarion River Valley Organics. In general, the dishes at Cure include a generous amount of fat and salt. The space matches the cuisine: Severino and friends designed, gutted and built out the eatery. The result feels like a homey farm building, with an original tin ceiling and a wall covered with horizontal slabs of 200-year-old barn wood. The décor has a few amusing touches, including a sculpture of a pig and meat hooks for hanging coats. Cure is a restaurant of our time — a time when we care about the environment, the ethical treatment of animals, eating “clean” and our connection to our food. — Valentina
[5336 Butler St.; curepittsburgh.com, 412/252-2595]
Squirrel Hill North
There’s plenty to love at Chatham University, housed on a picturesque campus in the heart of Squirrel Hill — but now stretching throughout the East End and into the North Hills. Chatham’s interior-design program has been remodeled. Students studying in this field can now earn their bachelor's degree in interior architecture in three years and be prepared for jobs with architects or interior-design firms. The program is located in the university’s new Eastside Building, adjacent to the Bakery Square complex on Penn Avenue. The LEED-certified building is less than a mile from the main campus and gives the program’s 70 total undergraduate and graduate students better access to gallery space, computer labs, drawing rooms and a resource center of design product samples. Meanwhile (and befitting a college for women), Chatham’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship offers undergraduates role models along with five rigorous concentrations within the department of business. Building on the university’s foundation of women's leadership development, entrepreneurial thinking, environmental sustainability and an international focus, the curriculum has two advanced courses in leadership. Those seeking an M.B.A. can get started during their senior year through Chatham’s accelerated graduate programs. Elsewhere, Chatham’s acclaimed, progressive Eden Hall Campus has brought cutting-edge work in sustainability to Richland Township. — Christine H. O’Toole
After its original East End location shuttered in 2010, many wondered if they had seen the last of Mr. Roboto Project; even those closely involved with the co-op weren’t sure what the future held. The improved Roboto, which opened in November 2011 in Bloomfield, would be something different. The new venue includes two separate rooms — the first is a gallery that provides more-than-adequate room for local artists to show their artwork as well as tables for various pamphlets, fliers and assorted literature. The performance room is beyond the steps, toward the back, in a sparse, cozy space equipped with a small stage and P.A. system. With the aid of a new group of volunteers, Roboto’s existence appears to be in good hands. The new location “helps bring a broader scale of people into the new space,” says current project board member Renee Hagens. “Not just for the sole purpose of music — it’s become a place to celebrate art as well.” Because the project is located on Penn Avenue, it’s a welcome addition to the gallery scene, serving as yet another destination for locals to whet their artistic appetites. That the show space has not only continued but thrived in uncertain times is a testament to its backers’ hard work and dedication — and its malleability for numerous activities speaks volumes of its importance in the future of the city’s underground creative culture. — Kurt Garrison
[5106 Penn Ave.; facebook.com/robotoproject]
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium administers the Sea Turtle Second Chance program, rehabilitating members of this endangered species.
Not long ago, Polish Hill was famous for having four bars, a giant church and a basketball court — yet no gas station, post office or supermarket. Pittsburgh’s most improbable neighborhood was well-stocked with beer and fine architecture, but it was almost impossible for its residents to find such daily staples as a decent cup of coffee. The opening of Lili Coffee Shop marked a new era in Polish Hill history. Quaint, pleasant and funky, Lili is the kind of bohemian coffeehouse you’d find in South Side or Bloomfield, except that it’s located on a humble side street in Polish Hill. No matter the time of year, the steaming cups of java are always welcome, but Lili is particularly enjoyable in the summer, when patrons can sit outside at tables and imagine themselves in old Europe. Surreal as Polish Hill is, this tiny cliff-side community is one of the most neighborly in the city, and its sloping streets make it easy for acquaintances to run into each other. With its big windows and cozy seating, Lili Coffee Shop is a bright and cheery place to congregate, and the menu of soups, quiches and muffins offers scrumptious mid-day treats. On some nights, you might catch a movie screening, a singer-songwriter or a poetry release party. Locals often insist that Polish Hill is really “picking up.” This is misleading, of course; Polish Hill has always been a fine place to live. With establishments such as Lili leading the way, the neighborhood could experience a serious renaissance. — Robert Isenberg
[3138 Dobson St.; 412/682-3600]
Many of your high school or college classes dragged on in dull, windowless lecture halls. But there isn’t a drab spot to be found in the Nationality Rooms inside the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning: The 29 rooms are designed to place you within the classic architecture from nations far and wide. You also can experience these one-of-a-kind classrooms for a lot less than the price of tuition. Free audio tours are available on weekends and when school is not in session, with guided tours available for groups of 10 or more (with advance reservations). Be sure to check out the newest additions — the Turkish and Swiss rooms — on the third floor. — James Santelli
[4200 Fifth Ave.; nationalityrooms.pitt.edu]
If you’re on the way home from work, wrapping up a visit to the nearby Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium or celebrating a game down the street at Natoli Field, Eddie’s Pizza Haus is the place for food in Morningside. For more than 30 years, it’s been a neighborhood staple. The menu is as varied as the name suggests, with pizza by the slice and whole pies in flavors ranging from cheese to buffalo chicken. Other choices include hoagies, salads, and such perennial favorites as wings and fries. Seasonal offerings include heart-shaped pies for Valentine’s Day and tuna-salad hoagies on Fridays during Lent. When calling ahead or walking in, know that Eddie’s is cash-only and doesn’t offer seating. — Amy Whipple
[1744 Chislett St.; 412/361-6600]
The cream puff, known as choux a la crème in France, is a flaky pastry — not overly sweet — found in quaint patisseries. La Gourmandine creates these beauties to perfection. Freshly baked in the Lawrenceville shop, the Parisian treat is made with choux dough, split in half and filled with a sweetened whipped cream and finished off with a dusting of powdered sugar. For hazelnut fans, try the Paris-Brest. If you’re hoping to snag one (or a few) of these pastries, plan your visit in advance. When the cream puffs are gone, they’re gone … until tomorrow. — Melinda Urick
[4605 Butler St.; lagourmandinebakery.com, 412/682-2210]
If you’re stuck on I-376 near Bates Street during the colder months, you might catch a glimpse of The Shrine of the Blessed Mother — or “Our Lady of the Parkway.” The real treat is to wind down the narrow streets of Ward and Wakefield to the actual site. In the spring, the virtually secret space is enclosed with the soft purple beauty of irises. The original shrine — a 2-foot statue of Mary with altar and kneeler — was built in 1956 when two strangers came together at the spot after having visions of the Virgin Mary. The site also includes wooden crucifixes for the Stations of the Cross and other small statues and trinkets. — Amy Whipple
[6 Wakefield St.]
“I’ll need these pants taken out,” you’ll sheepishly say to the gruff-looking man behind the counter at New Oakland Tailor. With a wink, owner Gino Deluliis will say, “These things are always shrinking in people’s closets.” — Katie Booth
The secret to an immaculately clean car for less than $25: Get the standard wash at Auto Bathouse, where every trip through involves a waterfall of suds and scrubbers. Spring for the interior service, and a small army of attendants will clean out your cabin in a few minutes. — Sean Collier
Mexican beers, sangria and south-of-the-border fare packed with fresh ingredients make Round Corner Cantina a Lawrenceville favorite.
Want something along the lines of cookies-and-cream ice cream with Twix, Kit Kats, candy corn, Cap’n Crunch — and magic? Well, you can get that exact treat at Oh Yeah! Ice Cream & Coffee Co. in Shadyside. — Sean Collier
The neighborhood's angled streets leave room for relaxing green spaces such as the tiny Baum Grove Parklet.
The invention of Mike Hanley and Jerry Dilembo, Burgatory delivers on its promise to provide a “helluva burger” and “heavenly shakes.” The burgers are made of a proprietary blend of hormone-free sirloin, chuck, brisket and short-rib cuts. There are top-notch veggie burgers, too. Most fun is the “custom creation” offering, which allows you to build your own concoction, starting with your choice of bun and burger, and finishing with a dizzying array of toppings. In the evening, the neighborhood bar crowd visits to enjoy sports and conversation around the centrally located TVs. The bar stays open late and offers the full menu, as well as a nice assortment of cocktails and bottled beers. — Valentina
[932 Freeport Road; burgatorybar.com, 412/781-1456]
Imani Christian Academy, a private school, works daily to improve the lives and the futures of its students by focusing on early childhood development and individual attention. In fall 2012, the school made a move that had the community buzzing: the Imani Saints Varsity Football team joined the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League. A shift in football conference alignment may seem like a minor change, but consider the implications: In football-mad western Pennsylvania, Imani Christian was now playing marquee matchups under the Friday night lights. “It gives our young men an opportunity to compete at a level that people from around the area can recognize,” said Tru Dixon, dean of students and athletic coordinator. In 2011, the school fielded an independent team, playing entirely on the road and traveling as far as the Erie area to find opponents; a year later, the team was playing home games at Chadwick Field in nearby Homewood. And, by the way, its players won all three of their home games, including a 40-3 rout of McDonald, Pa.’s Fort Cherry High School en route to posting a 6-3 record. The boy’s varsity basketball team fared even better, posting an 8-1 record in its first year of WPIAL competition. In a tough neighborhood, points of pride are sometimes few and far between. To the parents and teens of the East Hills, seeing their Saints take the field or court as hometown heroes is about much more than just sports. — Sean Collier
Pittsburgh artist and activist Vanessa German makes her home in Homewood South, where she frequently is found creating art on her front porch, immersed in the community she loves dearly. When an onslaught of children joined her on the porch, German obtained access to an empty house down the street at the corner of Hamilton and Hale (right on the route for the 71D) and opened Art House. There, children are given space to be safe in their art and imaginations with “Miss Vanessa” as a model for the lifesaving power of love. Art House also hosts community dinners and art exhibitions. — Amy Whipple
Handsome and historic Westinghouse High School opened its doors in 1917.
The Pittsburgh Student Achievement Center offers specialized attention, including the HAWKS mentoring initiative.
While many places offer growler service, there may be no source of suds more fully ingrained in that traditional community spirit than East End Brewing Co. The brewery’s beers also are on tap at more than 100 area bars and restaurants, where tap handles proudly proclaim the birthplace of the brews. East End stands for everything local and, until 2012, that meant a tiny brewery and taproom in Homewood, too small to meet the growing demand for East End’s beers. In its spacious new home in nearby Larimer, East End can brew more, host more and try more. (For fans of a different type of brew, Indiana, Pa.-based Commonplace Coffee Co. shares the space.) One thing has carried over: The owners, as well as four full-time employees, fight to keep East End a near-zero-waste business. Spent grain is donated to a local farm for feed. Scrap wood found at the new space was upcycled into the bar. Even empty sacks from grain are stacked and stored so that customers can later claim them. Aside from the brewery’s positive impact on the environment, local focus and frequent charitable endeavors — among them the annual, ever-popular Keg Ride, a bicycle-led keg delivery event to benefit BikePGH and other organizations — East End promotes community in the simplest way possible: by bringing people together. — Sean Collier
[147 Julius St.; eastendbrewing.com, 412/537-BEER]
North Point Breeze
Whether you've scaled Everest or get nervous on Mount Washington, The Climbing Wall has a workout for you.
Root 174 chef/co-owner Keith Fuller says he spent six years “loving” his job as executive chef at Six Penn Kitchen but eventually decided to strike out on his own in 2011. His approach to cooking is simple — “to make good food and have fun.” Fuller’s restaurant is an expression of his desires: He wants the staff to feel like family, the customers to relax and the vibe to be rustic. Anyone can see his dedication to Root 174 — check out the restaurant logo tattooed on his neck! For this venture, Fuller brought together a great team that will add to your dining experience; his staff will greet you at the door with a smile and check on you throughout your meal. The restaurant’s name represents the square root of the sum of Regent Square’s two zip codes. Root 174 fills the space of much-loved Legume, which relocated to Oakland, so Fuller transformed the interior to offer a different experience. Superb offerings range from vegan vegetable cakes to hanger steak, with interesting flavor combinations and sauces — all of which remain in line with the restaurant’s comfort-food focus. Unlike traditional comfort food, the presentation at Root 174 is simple yet neat, with appropriately sized portions. There are quite a few indulgent options available, too.
[1113 S. Braddock Ave.; root174.com, 412/243-4348]
Make an appointment at Copper Kettle Brewing Co. (copperkettlepgh.com; 412/906-9400) to brew a case of your own beer.
You won’t find boring checkerboards and identical designs, standard-issue kitchens and bland clapboard siding in Swisshelm Park, an old-fashioned suburb of ranch houses and brick cottages. When you walk its wide streets, you travel back in time to the Rockwellian America of yesteryear. There are no chain stores in Swisshelm and no billboards or sprawl. This charming neighborhood is a little slice of houses and two-lane streets arranged the way Pittsburgh’s surrounding environs used to be. The highway roars above, but Swisshelm Park doesn’t trifle with an exit ramp. Pub in the Park nearly straddles the line between Swissvale and Swisshelm, attracting regulars from both neighborhoods. This inviting pub, tucked well out of the way, has become one of our favorites. It’s a true Irish pub; ’tenders cheerfully say “Slainte!” when they’re handing you a drink, and they can pour a Guinness just right (a true rarity outside of Ireland). They are absolutely not averse to a good time with live bands, karaoke, special parties for big sports events (easily visible on 10 new TVs), trivia and more surprises — be sure to get on the email list to receive the full rundown. There’s a dart room in the back. Bartenders will know you by name on your second visit. And the last time we stopped in, they offered a couple of barbecue ham sandwiches for no apparent reason. This pub is home. — Robert Isenberg and Sean Collier
[7034 Blackhawk St.; pubintheparkpgh.com, 412/241-9242]
When you start walking the Duck Hollow Trail, it doesn’t matter how close The Waterfront shopping complexes are — you feel like you’re in the middle of Appalachia. The trail forms a crescent along the riverbank, cutting through woods and skirting the water. Although you’re never far from a bridge or a barge, the most humanity you’re likely to see is a hiker or biker who silently nods as you pass. The trail is bookended by Hazelwood’s train tracks and the Homestead Grays Bridge, but in between lies the neighborhood of Glen Hazel. Duck Hollow is well worth a promenade. — Robert Isenberg
[Trail access and parking at the south end of Old Browns Hill Road]
Squirrel Hill South
With much more than an amazing view, it's not hard to while away the hours at the Schenley Overlook.
Feeling inspired to swing the bat after a Pirates win? Head to Batting Practice Softball & Baseball Batting Cages, on the border of Lincoln Place and West Mifflin, where you can face a full 100 pitches for only $9. The cages are wrapped in a circle beneath a big-top net (preventing your pop fouls from soaring back onto Buttermilk Hollow Road), and the machines can fire fastballs at big-league speeds of up to 90 m.p.h. Novices would be advised to not come anywhere near that velocity; in fact, Batting Practice offers softball pitches for those of us without professional experience. The cages are open until 9 p.m. every day, so drop by late to take your cuts under the lights.
[4635 Buttermilk Hollow Road; battingpracticecages.com, 412/462-5713]
There was once a time when hazelnut trees flourished along the hills that rose above the Monongahela River. There was also a man, Col. George Woods — the very man who laid out Pittsburgh’s downtown as we know it today — and he had a son, John, who did the drafting for “The Woods Plan.” The younger Woods went to those hazelnut forests in 1792 and built a stone house, 23 feet by 31. Two years later, he played a prominent role in the Whiskey Rebellion. Stand today at John Woods’ house, at the corner of Tullymet and Monongahela streets in modern-day Hazelwood, and try to imagine that. Clear out the cars and the contemporary houses and visions of the South Side. Peek inside and imagine a cooking fireplace in the cellar settled atop a dirt floor. Gaze in at the 19th-century Greek Revival fireplace in the front room, the staircase in the corner and another room with an additional fireplace in the back. More stairs to the attic. Think about how simple it all is. Think about how this house was called a mansion by a Pittsburgh newspaper somewhere around 1909 — when real mansions dotted the city. Stand there now and know how old this house is, one of the oldest in the city, one of three surviving 18th-century buildings. Know where we started and how very far we’ve come. — Amy Whipple
[4604 Monongahela St.]
The Carnegies and Mellons weren’t the only families to once rule this blue-collar town. Indeed, the Fricks were also prestigious members of Pittsburgh’s upper crust around the turn of the last century. The public has been able to visit this famous family’s “castle” (aka The Frick Art & Historical Center) since 1990. Take a tour of the Victorian-style home with an impressive art collection. In addition to the house (pictured here as part of photographer Vik Muniz's "Clayton Days" series), the Car and Carriage Museum showcases the Frick’s personal vehicle collection, including a classic Ford Model T. If all that history leaves you hungry, stop by The Café at the Frick, where you can enjoy a dish fit for royalty. —Caitlyn Kronket
[7227 Reynolds St.; thefrickpittsburgh.org, 412/371-0600]
The parks of New Homestead are much like the neighborhood itself — patches of land so tiny and tranquil that you might drive past without giving much notice. Most people don’t know the difference between Homestead and New Homestead, and the 900 or so residents don’t seem to mind. They have Panorama Field and Revenue Parklet (also known as Roland Lockridge Community Park), and the earthy baseball field and basic playground keep locals happy. Most of New Homestead is covered in greenery, and in the right spots, you can take in a remarkable, scenic view of the Mon. New Homestead is like a little slice of rural Pennsylvania, right on the edge of the city. — Robert Isenberg
[Revenue and Benezette streets]
If Pittsburgh has its own version of the fanciful paradise from the ’90s family flick FernGully, it would probably be Hays Woods. “Where is Hays Woods?” you ask. Adjacent to The Waterfront, this 635-acre swath of land is the largest undeveloped parcel in the city. You would be excused for not realizing this: From the Glenwood Bridge, Hays resembles a jumble of highways and warehouses, hardly worth exploring. Look closer, and you’ll find a vast urban forest, complete with bald eagles and a waterfall. If both of those things are startling — more fitting in some Rocky Mountain state than in Pittsburgh — we couldn’t agree more. Yet a bald eagles’ nest has been spotted in Hays Woods, and the woodland has long been home to its own waterfall. Not an Amazonian cascade, mind you, but remarkable to behold: The steady stream pours from a high cliff, splashing into the rocks and clay below. Meanwhile, a half-dozen perennial streams crisscross the forest. A century after the district was once used for digging coal, the sanctuary looks practically virginal. Entrepreneurs have long desired to level the trees and replace them with a strip mine or commercial developments. So far, activists have helped to stop these projects in the hopes that Hays Woods will remain intact. It’s hard to say who will win this debate in future years. For now, the land remains a well-kept secret, virtually unknown to longtime residents but an inspiration to all who visit. — Robert Isenberg
The Outfield Reserved seats at PNC Park, on top of the right-field wall (sections 142-145) give you a nice perch that offers a near-perfect perspective for a baseball game — plus, they’re reasonably priced (usually around $25). — Pat Lackey
Rivers Casino is our hub of everlasting nightlife and constant gaming — with beer and a giant buffet. In a city that finds pride in going to bed early, it’s nice to have a place that’s welcoming at all hours. Rivers has a solution for even the most cash-strapped gamer: the penny slots. One-cent slot machines present more than just a way to go to the casino with about six bucks in your pocket, though; they’re also a great way to extend a trip. One of the best things about the last outpost of the revitalized North Shore is how it complements nearby activities. Stop at Rivers Casino before a Pirates game, dinner at Hyde Park or a concert at Stage AE … or wander over for a nightcap. Take advantage of the ample and often free parking at Rivers: Play a few hands of blackjack and then head over to Heinz Field or PNC Park for a game. The table games are great — with old-school Vegas class and low minimum bets — but for some, the endless maze of slot machines is still the main event at Rivers. This is the kind of place where you stop in, get some food, play some games and go home happy, win or lose. It’s quickly become part of the downtown landscape. — Sean Collier
[777 Casino Drive; theriverscasino.com, 412/231-7777]
Tucked cozily into Liverpool Street on the North Side, Manchester Academic Charter School offers a diverse lineup of programs for local youths, including a robotics team (an appealing group for young ’Burghers to join). — Sean Collier
When Ed Menzer made a trip to Puerto Rico, he fell hook, line and sinker for the Spanish parador — buildings retrofitted for overnight stay. In 2005, Menzer purchased a North Side mansion built by industrialist Joshua Rhodes in 1870 that already had been turned into a bed and breakfast; Menzer took a little more than a year to renovate the 8,000-square-foot property before opening it to the public. The original paradors are meant to blend into their surrounding communities, which the Parador Inn’s exterior does. The interiors, though, are inspired by Hemingway’s Key West, bringing a little bit of tropical paradise to a city not known for cool ocean breezes. Menzer (and his dogs Razor and RJ) host nine different rooms and suites at $150 per night (though a Saturday-night-only stay is $200). While the prices are consistent throughout, accommodations range from 328 to 869 square feet and from single rooms to multilevel suites. Access to the nearby YMCA is included in the cost. The Parador is conveniently located near the stadiums and the casino, and it is a modest walk from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, downtown and the Strip. If you visit the Parador website, check out weather-related deals, as well as discounts for local attractions. For those so inclined, Menzer also maintains an active history-fun-fact-laden blog, which gives visitors a taste of his personality. — Amy Whipple
[939 Western Ave.; theparadorinn.com, 412/231-4800]
We’re pretty sure there’s no way to count the number of great Pittsburgh spots for a wedding reception. We can, however, tally the locations that come with a penguin (not the hockey-playing kind) as a greeter: one. That would be The National Aviary, where — in addition to both indoor and outdoor venues and complimentary access to the Aviary’s exhibits for your guests — you can upgrade your reception package to include one of the North Side landmark’s famous African penguins, which will waddle and generally act adorable on your special day. Just be sure to keep your speeches PG-rated, lest the parrots learn a few new phrases. — Sean Collier
[700 Arch St.; aviary.org, 412/323-7235]
So you want to build yourself a garden. You’ve never planted so much as a chia seed, but you’re pretty sure your thumb is green. Where do you start? May we suggest The Urban Gardener, a one-stop shop for amateur horticulture? You can find every kind of gardening equipment and decoration, and you can also get a crash course in fertilizers, organic pest control, rain barrels and cultivation techniques. Established in 1997 in a converted gas station, Urban Gardener offers on-site consultation, sending employees to your house to assess what you’re doing. If you’re really struggling, they’ll even handle weeding and pruning for you. You can attend one of the store’s regular seminars or pick up a birdbath for your newly landscaped yard. California-Kirkbride may seem like an odd location for such an agrarian business, but it’s ideal: Urban gardening makes sense in the inner city, where old properties are finding new purpose. This turn-of-the-century town is just beginning to put down new roots, and like the nearby Mexican War Streets, California-Kirkbride could blossom at any moment. It’s never too late to start a flowerbed or raise some herbs. Just as this humble little neighborhood can reinvent itself, so too can the average city slicker grow life from the dirt. — Robert Isenberg
[1901 Brighton Road; urbangardenerpgh.com, 412/323-GROW]
Perry South (Perry Hilltop)
What started as a three-week summer work-camp in 1985 became by 1993 a year-round community center. The Rev. Saleem Ghubril founded the Pittsburgh Project as a way to both spread the Christian faith and to reconcile racial tensions. The project has a year-round staff of 29 to serve 300 kids and teenagers who use its services. It also boasts an annual participation of 2,700 people who charge nothing to repair homes owned by the elderly. After-school and summer youth development programs focus on creating “servant leaders” through academic success, healthy relationships with adults and peers, transformation of the culture around them and service to others. These are available to all K-12 students at a cost of $150 per student for a five-day-a-week program that runs through the school year. Home repair draws volunteers from across the country, with camps available during the year. Pittsburgh Project is housed in a converted school building, which includes classrooms, as well as a 275-seat sanctuary, a 324-bed guesthouse, a recreation room, café, dining hall and a 20-seat meeting room/art gallery. The project runs the neighboring Fowler Park and Pool in addition to a 1.5-acre urban farm and the Charles Street farmers market. — Amy Whipple
[2801 N. Charles St.; pittsburghproject.org, 412/321-1678]
Central North Side
City of Asylum/Pittsburgh provides a temporary home for international writers in exile; it also hosts literary events.
Spring Hill-City View
Everybody could use a good backrub. But what kind? At Pittsburgh Massageworks, the list of options is extensive. You can opt for a chair massage, a hot stone massage or a regular old table massage (in Swedish or Thai styles). Your session can last an hour or two. Just ask. But the most unique offering at Pittsburgh Massageworks is its “sensory deprivation tank,” a compartment that allows you to float in warm saltwater and removes all other stimuli — no noise, no scent, not even a glimmer of light. This concept might sound panic-inducing, but the idea of the isolation tank is to help guests relax, meditate and become one with their own minds. Without the noise and intrusions of the everyday world, the tank offers a chance to drop out and tune in for 90 full minutes. Don’t worry about falling asleep: Should you do so, you’ll sleep much more deeply in the chamber, and it’s physically impossible to drown, says founder Amy Green. It makes sense that the enlightened Pittsburgh Massageworks would stand high in the Spring Hill-City View neighborhood, a rolling crest that overlooks the Allegheny River valley. The quiet residential district isn’t well-known outside of its environs, but the area boasts beautiful German-style homes and safe streets, owing to strong community initiatives. Thanks to Pittsburgh Massageworks, overworked visitors can get some muscular relief — or take a break from the busy world altogether. — Robert Isenberg
[1517 Hetzel St.; pittsburghmassageworks.abmp.com, 412/626-2648]
Troy Hill (Washington's Landing)
Once you’ve arrived on Washington’s Landing, park by the tennis courts, hop on your bike and let the tires rumble on the dirt path past all those boats docked along the Allegheny River. Look up and see the bottom of the 31st Street Bridge. Grab a bite to eat at dockside restaurant Redfin Blues. Keep pedaling, and watch as the trees part and the city’s skyline opens up to you on a clear day where river meets steel and steel meets blue sky. Pass all the townhouses, and you’ve reached the end of Washington’s Landing — but feel free to cross the car-free bridge onto the North Shore Trail and let this urban oasis continue to wash over you. — James Santelli
[Access via 30th Street Bridge at River Avenue]
Team Pittsburgh DekHockey is truly a Pittsburgh creation: From coaches to concession to referees, it’s entirely staffed by volunteers. Dek hockey is a version of ball (or street) hockey. Team Pittsburgh’s rink is NHL-regulation size. Located in Marmaduke Park, Team Pittsburgh is open to children ages 4-19 from across the city. Boys and girls play together in five age-determined divisions for in-house teams. Eight traveling teams (two per age group) are available for children ages 7-19. Registration is $75, and participation requires (limited) mandatory fundraising. The fall season kicks off with the annual Sportsman’s Bash at the Butler Farm Show grounds. — Amy Whipple
[3915 Oswald St.; teampittsburgh.net]
Deutschtown institution (and past Best Restaurants honoree) Legends of the North Shore knows how to make mouths water.
What’s that? It’s 8 a.m., you’re hungry and you have only the change from your couch cushions? Make a beeline for Spring Garden, where you can pick up the $2.99 breakfast at Tracy’s Deli — a mountain of hash browns with eggs and toast. — Sean Collier
Long ago, the Marshall-Shadeland area was known as “Woods Run,” and names don’t get much more pastoral than that. Today, some folks have started calling it “Brightwood.” Whatever it's called, this sizable slice of Pittsburgh is tranquil, tree-lined and neighborly. Just beyond California Avenue, you’ll find the Riverfront Trail, a continuation of the North Side foot and bicycle route. Along the Ohio River, you can find beautiful views of downtown and Brunot Island, plus healthy solitude right in the heart of the city. Feeling ambitious on a sunny day? The trail can take you all the way to Millvale and back. — Robert Isenberg
[Trail access and parking at the intersection of Island and Preble avenues]
We thought we'd seen the city skyline from every dramatic view imaginable — then we found the breathtaking Fineview Overlook.
It’s no secret that Northview Heights, the small North Side neighborhood developed as a public housing project in the late 1950s, has faced challenges as a community throughout its history. So the success of Bethany House Academy, which celebrated 50 years in 2012, is one of Pittsburgh’s most inspiring stories. The nonprofit organization is home to a preschool, daily after-school programs, summer education and more, teaching subjects ranging from computer literacy to African drumming for neighborhood children and teens. Area churches also prepare hot dinners for students every night. These programs and offerings are free, supported by the United Methodist Church as well as other donors and foundations, such as the Heinz Endowments. Many staff members are also Northview Heights residents; some grew up in the community and attended Bethany House as children, further tying the organization into the fabric of the neighborhood. Executive Director Keith Murphy has run Bethany House for 20 years; he began as a consultant and “fell in love with the place,” he says. “We’ve served generations. Bethany House has been a mainstay and never closed its doors — even though economic times are tough on all of us. Our success has always been in hiring community mothers and community fathers to serve in capacities that exist even [farther] than our doors.” — Sean Collier
It's so important that they named the neighborhood after it. Stargazers have been peering skyward at the Allegheny Observatory since 1858.
Who else? Our friends at WPXI-TV. Take a look over at the new studios while passing on Interstate 279. We’re not sure we’ve ever printed the phrase “good-looking TV studio,” but it definitely applies here. — Sean Collier
Savvy fliers know the best layovers are at Douglas International Airport in Charlotte. Why? Because of the finger-lickin’ southern barbecue in the food court, of course. Thanks to the Pittsburgh Barbecue Co.’s hickory-smoked racks of ribs glazed with a vinegar-based, Carolina-style marinade, you no longer need to use beef as an excuse to fly into Charlotte. This is authentic BBQ in the 'Burgh, thanks to a mammoth smoker custom-built for owner Arthur Cohen. It’s takeout-only, so bring along wet naps because you’re never going to make it home before succumbing to the sweet aromas of a succulent beef brisket. — Sean Conboy
[1000 Banksville Ave.; pghbbq.com, 412/563-1005]
Inside the kitchen at Casa Rasta, owner and Mexico City native Antonio Fraga creates a number of taco varieties — pulled-pork, Jamaican-jerk chicken and specials (such as curried goat). He regularly makes vegetarian fillings; vegan options are sometimes offered. — Kristina Martin
Thanks to massive renovations, the Carnegie Library of Brookline looks like an ultra-modern house of knowledge. Don’t let the slick redesign fool you, though; this building has been a Brookline institution since 1930. — Sean Collier
Want a traditional Pittsburgh summer evening? Saddle up to the bar at Sophie’s Saloon and order a (stunningly cheap) pint of Iron City. Watch no fewer than four innings of a Pirates game while arguing with regulars about the starting rotation. Repeat as often as possible. — Sean Collier
A tiny diner, booths piled high with comfort food — each with a stack of Pennsylvania Lottery cards next to the Heinz bottle, in case you want to fill out your numbers over lunch. Is there anything more Pittsburgh than that? At Frank and Shirley’s Restaurant, nothing on the menu hits $10 — opening the door for a feast of down-home cooking. Wake up with a satisfying greasy-spoon breakfast, stop in on your lunch break for a filling sandwich or come in the early evening for dinner like Grandma used to make. It’s unpretentious, simple and tasty. You could live in this diner. — Sean Collier
[2209 Saw Mill Run Blvd.; 412/882-3550]
It might be the only store in Pittsburgh with a whole section labeled “Bric-a-Brac.” Head to Red, White and Blue Thrift and go home with an old radio, a sofa, a winter jacket, shoes, toys, books, old records. Whatever you do, though, please don’t sing that Macklemore song. — Sean Collier
For 23 years, Pittsburgh Musical Theater has trained young pupils in the art of performance. The company produces pro-grade Broadway shows at the Byham Theater, but students begin their training at PMT headquarters, a vintage brick building in Elliott. (Most people assume it’s a West End institution, but it actually lies just over the border.) Within its classrooms, teenaged thespians take dance, vocal and acting lessons, hoping to bring their newfound razzle-dazzle to the Cultural District and beyond. Academy founder Ken Gargaro has seen alumni crisscross the country, starring on stage and screen. Now that’s show business. — Robert Isenberg
[327 S. Main St.; pittsburghmusicals.com, 412/539-0900]
The red cars of the Duquesne Incline connect Mount Washington to downtown Pittsburgh and serve as an icon of the cityscape. Behind the scenes, a team of about two dozen workers makes sure they scale the mountain all day, every day. Chuck Massey mans the controls from an office atop the track, between the east and west cars. He operates the doors, bells and when the cars stop and go. When he’s not running the incline, he also gives tours to community groups. “I enjoy talking to people and meeting people,” he says. “I get to find out where they’re from. It’s really nice to hear what other people think about the incline and Pittsburgh. And the view — they say — is spectacular.” — Elizabeth Speed Kabus
[1197 W. Carson St.; duquesneincline.org, 412/381-1665]
Venture to Shiloh Grill, the Harris Grill’s sister restaurant atop Mount Washington, where intrepid travelers who make it up the hill are amply rewarded with a piping-hot block of lasagna. — Jilly MacDowell
Thanks to PNC Park, we’ve gotten used to live sports with a dramatic view. Now that Highmark Stadium — home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL Pro soccer league and women’s football team the Pittsburgh Passion — has opened, local sports fans have the chance to take in a dramatic cityscape from the South Shore, too. After a soft introduction hosting the annual Penguins Pond ice-skating rink, the Passion faced off against the D.C. Divas in the stadium’s debut game April 6, 2013. The Riverhounds followed a week later, welcoming the Harrisburg City Islanders April 13. The intimate, 3,000-plus seat stadium boasts an up-close view of the action that will remind ’Burghers of a high school football game — but with the city skyline and the Fort Pitt Bridge towering above the pitch. Diehards, meanwhile, are advised to grab a ticket in the Supporter Section behind the east goal, where Euro-style fanaticism is not only permitted but encouraged (time to break out the noisemakers and body paint!). After the game, you can head to Station Square. Fortunately, you’ll have cash left to go out, as ’Hounds tickets start at just $9.50. Can’t get enough of this brand-new spot? The stadium plans to start opening for concerts (fitting because the field sits on the site of the former amphitheatre at Station Square) and other events. Or rent it out yourself for a party of your own. — Sean Collier
[510 W. Station Square Drive; highmarkstadium.com]
Since 1981, James Gallery has exhibited a wide variety of work from artists both local and global. The Gallery — which bills itself as “New Gallery New Ideas in the West End” — is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment. The staff at the gallery works through discussion: the consumer’s taste, the space the piece will inhabit, any other pieces in the consumer’s collection and both parties’ love of art. The gallery has in-house pieces, as well as networks, to help acquire art old and new, from paintings to photographs to carvings to lithographs as well as posters and reproductions. Gallery founder James Frederick started with a framing business in 1976 and, to this day, the gallery provides custom framing and preservation services for previously purchased art or family treasures. The gallery also values collections, gives instruction in art care and insurance, and assists when art owners wish to sell or donate. You might recognize the gallery’s efforts at local hospitals including Allegheny General, St. Clair, UPMC Shadyside, UPMC Montefiore and UPMC Magee-Womens. Through these partnerships, the gallery staff aims to be “aware and sensitive to patient needs, family comfort, hospital staff, spirit and public perception of the healing environment.” James Gallery’s space, as well as its 1,200-square-foot sculpture garden, can be reserved for meetings and social functions. —Amy Whipple
[413 S. Main St.; jamesgallery.net, 412/922-9800]
This is no ordinary distributor — this is Beer World, Westwood's warehouse of snacks and suds.
Crafton Heights’ Open Door Youth Outreach Center celebrated its 25th birthday in 2012. In addition to after-school, weekend and youth group activities for kids, grown-ups are invited on Wednesday evenings for pick-up volleyball games. — Sean Collier
We can’t confirm this using science, but we’re pretty sure it’s impossible to be bored at AMF Noble Manor Lanes. Competitive types will dig this Oakwood spot, with bowling, billiards, darts and a full-service grill. — Sean Collier
Sheraden Park is a sprawling urban oasis, offering playgrounds, trails and plenty of shade.
There’s a vision of the perfect summer night that sticks in people’s minds: Strolling down a tranquil neighborhood street. Passing a Little League game under the lights. Ordering ice cream through the window of a corner shop. In most places, this is a bygone fantasy; in Windgap, it happens every night, thanks to Remember When Ice Cream. The store was built in 1960 as a barbershop; before the first hairs could be trimmed, though, a rival opened down the street. The owner called an audible and converted the small building into a place for frozen treats. Current owner Mary Gettel bought the store in 1991, renaming it Remember When after one of her children uttered the phrase in passing. Gettel decided to play up the nostalgic theme, painting the exterior pink and white. “If we were going to do the ’50s theme,” she says, “we were going to do it all the way.” That extends to weekly oldies nights courtesy of Doo Wop Dan, a local DJ with encyclopedic knowledge of early hits; residents tote lawn chairs, order one of Gettel’s original-recipe hard ice cream flavors and listen until after dark. While the theme is decidedly old-fashioned, that doesn’t mean the choices are. The extensive menu not only features a wide variety of shakes, sundaes, cones and hot food, but also boasts health-conscious choices such as gluten-free Dole Whip and pure cane-sugar sodas. “I’ve added all these things to make it a one-stop shop,” says Gettel, who is getting ready to retire and is, at press time, looking for Remember When’s next owner. Particularly ambitious visitors can opt for “Pittsburgh’s Largest Ice Cream Cone,” a mammoth creation so big it won’t fit through the store’s front window. (You can pick it up at the side door.) — Sean Collier
[3860 Chartiers Ave.; rememberwhenicecream.com, 412/331-2234]
Inaccessible Brunot Island rises out of the Ohio River as a lush forest, creeping up opposite West Carson Street. From the edge of Esplen, you can see the island’s only tenant: a rusting though active power plant, minimally staffed and accessible only by a small footbridge running along the railroad tracks. That footbridge is meant solely for employees, so local explorers hoping for a closer look at the largely wooded island will need a boat. It’s a lonely sight now, but this island was once home to a popular racetrack. Much earlier, it served as the first stop on the transcontinental journey of Meriwether Lewis. Technically, the whole island is private property; curious ’Burghers will have to find a convenient spot to investigate with their eyes. — Sean Collier
We’re betting on an underdog: Parkway Center Mall is down but not out — a ready-made shopping center minutes from downtown? We hope to see a swanky development in the not-too-distant future. — Sean Collier
The features that make Sharp Edge Creekhouse an essential stop: the ultra-affordable daily “mystery brew,” mind-blowing appetizers (especially the chicken bites), the array of Belgians on tap and the hundreds of bottles from around the world. — Sean Collier
As with so many of Pittsburgh’s finest traditions, Cellone’s Bakery began in “the old country” — in this case, Torino, Italy. Members of the Cellone family left Italy in 1911 to make a home in Pittsburgh. When they arrived, they baked breads at home and went door-to-door with a horse-drawn wagon. And as do all great Pittsburgh legends, they grew and grew until today. Cellone’s fresh breads are available in grocery stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, with 49 locations alone in Pittsburgh (to which they deliver daily). Local restaurants offering Cellone’s breads also get the personal touch, with daily drop-offs the norm. Cellone’s frozen products have national distribution. The company, in the family for four generations, also boasts of its status as the first bakery in the United States to produce the egg bun, that yellow hamburger favorite. — Amy Whipple
If you pass by the unassuming White Lily Baptist Church in Chartiers, you might spy the hefty anchor leaning on a boulder — a reference to a pair of Bible passages — in front of the building. It’s a striking visual, but the story of this congregation is even more remarkable. The beginnings of White Lily Baptist reach back to 1918, when members began meeting in the basement of a row house; the only decoration was a painting of white lilies. As the church approaches its 100th birthday, its congregants hope to open a community center. — Sean Collier
[3621 Chartiers Ave.; whitelilybc.org, 412/771-2533]
South Side Flats
Everything about The Smiling Moose is just a step better than Carson Street’s par. Sure, as do many bars, the menu focuses on sandwiches, sliders and snacks. But this isn’t your usual pub grub; try a shrimp po’boy with roasted red pepper mayo, red cabbage slaw and corn salsa. Yes, there’s a lot of beer and mixed drinks, but not your watered-down, by-the-bucket libations — more like a mighty, I.P.A.-focused beer list and creative cocktails named for horror-movie icons. Even the patronage is a little more refined; you’ll find familiar regulars and out-of-town visitors dropping in on the strength of The Moose’s growing reputation as an island of reliability in the chaotic South Side. Upstairs, the bar regularly hosts punk and indie concerts and comedy shows in a unique space with a towering stage (and satellite bar around the corner). Downstairs, regular features that include comedy and music open-mic nights and trivia competitions pull loyal followings. Ravenous Pens fans know that The Moose is one of the premier hockey bars in town, with all eyes on the giant projection screen as soon as the puck drops. The South Side seems to morph and change every year or so, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. A few institutions stay reliably great no matter what’s going on outside, though, and The Smiling Moose might be the best of them. — Sean Collier
[1306 E. Carson St.; smiling-moose.com, 412/431-4668]
Owned by entrepreneurs Jonathan and Brandy Vlasic, cozy and romantic Alla Famiglia offers a menu that may include such Italian dishes as veal chop Milanese, caprese salad and mussels Diavola. — Kristina Martin
You can't quite smack a home run off the U.S. Steel Tower from Arlington Ballfield, but you can pretend.
The Council of the Three Rivers American Indian Center was formed by a pair of local Native American families to strengthen ties with others in the Pittsburgh area. The group runs several Head Start/pre-kindergarten centers, including one in Knoxville. — Sean Collier
The South Hills Racing Pigeon Club dates back to the early 1900s; club pigeons were once recruited for military service.
It takes more than tennis courts and bike racks to make a good city park. Sometimes, you need to come up with a unique draw — say, a free-to-the-public skateboard park within a few minutes of downtown. McKinley Skate Park in Beltzhoover, not a mile from Saw Mill Run Boulevard, is equipped with half- and quarter-pipes, rails and ramps for your skateboarding, biking or other wheeled needs. Haven’t dusted off that board since Tony Hawk’s glory days? Head to Beltzhoover and see if you remember how to ollie. Got little ones who tend more toward the X Games than the Little League? Buy some elbowpads and get ’em skating. — Sean Collier
[Bausman Street, near Saw Mill Run Boulevard intersection; pittsburghpa.gov/citiparks/skate-parks]
Bring the kids (or the pups) for an evening stroll around Philip Murray Playground.
In one of Pittsburgh’s most troubled neighborhoods, Lighthouse Cathedral of Pittsburgh works tirelessly for its congregation. Meetings, church programs, outreach efforts and youth classes fill the calendar year-round. — Sean Collier
South Side Slopes
On the one hand, Corner Café is a solid little dive on the South Side Slopes. Pints are cheap, service is dependable and, really, what more could you ask for? But Corner Café is also a kind of speakeasy for stand-up comedians. Its small stage hosts a wide range of wise guys, from amateurs working their first mic to local stars plying their craft. As Pittsburgh’s independent comedy scene grows, Corner Café is becoming a favorite stop on our little vaudeville circuit. The Slopes have been home to crackups and storytellers for 200 years; it’s only natural to give ’em a spotlight. — Robert Isenberg
[2500 S. 18th St.; 412/488-2995]