City Guide

Choosing A Family

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

Eat, Do, Shop, Play and Learn

A restaurant that specializes in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Dance classes for toddlers and parents. A lending library for educational toys. Storytime at a nearly 90-year-old bookshop. A civic institution sailing the three rivers. In and around Pittsburgh, the offerings for families looking for food, fun and more go so much deeper than the expected family outings. From places to outfit and entertain to natural wonders and city treasures, here are some of our favorites.

The Sprawling Suburbs

Three major highways — the Pennsylvania Turnpike, William Penn Highway (aka Route 22), and the Parkway East — converge here. Roadways always have played a key role in this region’s growth; so has shopping. Developers built the Miracle Mile Shopping Center in 1954 to take advantage of the traffic, then other developers one-upped them with a 1 million-square-foot mall in the next decade. Research labs for U.S. Steel, Westinghouse and others attracted engineers from around the world, particularly India, and the new immigrants often built temples — one of which is a familiar sight perched on a hillside overlooking I-376

Around the Point

With exciting options for work and play, these Pittsburgh neighborhoods are the places a rising number of urbanites want to call home. Attractive new housing options are popping up to meet the demand of folks young, old and in between who want to take advantage of the easy access to entertainment, an exploding dining scene and iconic city scenery.

The Mon and Beyond

Past meets the present in the communities making up Pittsburgh’s eastern and Mon Valley regions. Here you’ll encounter reminders of where we started as leaders in the steel industry and — while plenty of these small towns still face challenges — you’ll find glimpses of where we’re going in neighborhoods moving towards revitalization.

The New North

This segment of the city contains PNC Park, which has the distinction of being the most Instagrammed location in Pennsylvania, according to a recent TIME Magazine analysis of Instagram data. And if you’ve sat down for a ballgame and been distracted by the stunning skyline, you know why. But if you venture to this neighborhood only to attend a sporting event or concert, you’re missing out; the area is full of restaurants, museums, cultural landmarks and churches, as well as some lovely historic homes.

Scaling the Mountain

There’s a lot happening in the area between the South Side and the Hilltop, and every time you visit, it seems a new business has cropped up. The communities around Mount Washington enjoy beautiful views of the city as well as parks, strong neighborhood associations and ethnic restaurants.

The Old Allegheny Slopes

No matter where you drive or walk in The Old Allegheny Slopes, you are probably going up or down a hill. Scarce are flat spots of land in the area that, indeed, has endless slopes. This makes for a lot of good views, along with hidden surprises tucked into these city neighborhoods.

The Reborn 'Burbs

This is where the city’s southern suburbs begin, at the edge of the city limits and drifting into the areas closest to Pittsburgh proper. Along the south bank of the Monongahela River — in an area with heavy industrial roots — you’ll find neighborhoods in the midst of revitalization, with plenty of business and more quaint places to live.

The Northern 'Burbs

The area commonly referred to as the North Hills maintains its long-held status as a fine suburban place to live or go for a walk in a nature park, but the area also offers plenty of shopping and dining and play options. You can find just about any chain business in the country here — but there also are smaller local gems to discover.

The Near East

There’s a reason all of the out-of-town trend pieces praising Pittsburgh’s 21st-century rebirth seem to focus on these neighborhoods. This thriving part of the city is where design, the arts, restaurant culture and high-end shopping are integrated into Pittsburgh’s working-class bones. The character of these communities has remained fundamentally unchanged even as commerce and culture have experienced a time of unprecedented growth.

Far Down the River

Pittsburgh loves its blue-collar industrial history, and at the heart of that are the communities that make up the Mon Valley. Where the Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers meet is the beginning of a network of proud, tight-knit communities with lots of trails and woods to explore, plenty of fishing spots and — important for any community — a wealth of beloved soft-serve ice cream stands.

The Southern Suburbs

With their abundance of green spaces, thriving business districts and walkable sidewalk communities, Pittsburgh’s southern suburbs offer plenty of incentive for families looking for a peaceful place to call home. Though mere minutes from Downtown, these neighborhoods make residents feel as though they are worlds away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Where 8 Meets 28

The completed construction on Route 28 makes access to these northern neighborhoods a breeze — which is great because these boroughs increasingly are becoming destinations. The river communities that have been home to many families with histories in steel- and glass-making have a wealth of quaint, independent retail stores, restaurants and businesses, as well as much-loved libraries, festivals and community days enjoyed by locals since well before their neighborhoods were starting to buzz.

The Midwest

The neighborhoods west of Downtown were among the region’s first. Most were part of Chartiers Township, which (like the creek) was named for Pierre Chartier, a local trader of French and Shawnee parentage who later became a chief. He and his tribesmen helped defeat George Washington in the Battle of Fort Necessity, sparking the French and Indian War. Formerly farmland, most of this area was transformed by industry into working-class neighborhoods, a legacy which persists today.