City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do in Pittsburgh (No Matter Where You Are)
We explore every inch of Allegheny County (and beyond) for a look at the communities where we live, work and play.
Photo by Dave DiCello
/ SCALING THE MOUNTAIN /
Ever seen a postcard depicting the Pittsburgh skyline? Chances are that photograph was taken from Mount Washington, a peak perfectly positioned against the confluence of the three rivers. There also is much to see on and around the hilly terrain and at its base. The South Side, at the foot of the mountain, is the city’s unparalleled nightlife district. Above it, steep and winding roads lead to several homey neighborhoods.
South Side Flats: The bar scene in this riverside area has everything from low-fidelity dives to hipster joints to high-energy dance clubs. The fun-loving atmosphere extends to eateries, arts venues and tattoo parlors.
South Side Slopes: Well separated from the action below, the South Side Slopes offer residents a quiet life enhanced by three sizable parks.
Mount Washington: This high-altitude neighborhood’s key asset is its eye-popping view of the city skyline. Along Grandview Avenue, upscale restaurants and luxury housing take advantage of the backdrop. In their shadow, a close-knit community enjoys its relative isolation from the hustle and bustle below.
Duquesne Heights: To the west of Mount Washington, this neighborhood enjoys the same breathtaking view and easygoing lifestyle. Olympia Park takes up much of its acreage.
Allentown: Rail lines still are embedded in the main drag of East Warrington Avenue as a remnant of the days when electric street cars transported residents to and from more central parts of the city. The area has faced economic hardship but has held onto local businesses.
Arlington Heights: Roads long and winding up the hillside bisect this mostly residential neighborhood.
Arlington: Similar to Arlington Heights (though flatter), Arlington is comprised mostly of working-class homes.
St. Clair: One of Pittsburgh’s smallest neighborhoods, St. Clair today claims just a handful of streets and about 200 residents.
Mount Oliver Borough: This slice of territory is a civic anomaly as an independent municipality within Pittsburgh city limits. It includes a business district along Brownsville Road.
Mount Oliver: To further complicate things, there is a tiny neighborhood of the city called Mount Oliver next to (and largely indistinguishable from) the borough of Mount Oliver.
Knoxville: Once the site of a strawberry farm (protected from air pollution by Mount Washington), Knoxville began amassing residents in the mid-20th century and still has slews of homes arranged in close proximity.
Beltzhoover: This area is undergoing a major effort to revamp its housing stock. Fun fact: The name comes from a German-born farmer who once owned most of the land.
Bon Air: While it may seem as if this secluded, almost-suburban neighborhood’s only connection to the big city is its lone “T” stop, Bon Air is a happy home for many city families, with beautiful views aplenty.
Carrick: One of Pittsburgh’s larger neighborhoods in terms of geography, Carrick sits on the city’s southernmost edge and sports independent hardware stores, no-frills pubs and family-owned pizza shops along its well-trafficked streets.
10 Fun Things to Do
PHOTO BY JOHN ALTDORFER
1. At the foot of the South Side Slopes sits Games N’ At [2010 Josephine St.], a vintage arcade modeled after those in malls of yore. It has all of the ’80s video classics (Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, etc.), plus air hockey, table tennis, skee-ball and pinball.
2. Want to do a pub crawl? The South Side Flats is the place! Hit up the Double Wide Grill, the Carson Street Saloon, Piper’s Pub, Club Café, Diesel Club Lounge, Brewski’s, Lava Lounge, Jekyl & Hyde, OTB, Fat Head’s, Coppertops, Jack’s, Dee’s, Casey’s, Jimmy D’s, Mario’s or Mullen’s — to name fewer than a third of your options.
3. Each year, City Theatre [1300 Bingham St.] puts on a full season of recent, invariably brainy works. City’s latest productions include “Tribes,” Nina Raine’s exploration of “deaf culture,” and “Grounded,” George Brant’s one-woman show about an Air Force pilot-turned-drone operator.
4. The South Side Flats also is home to the only public boat launch within the city at South Shore Riverfront Park. Kayakers, canoeists and motorboat owners appreciate the launch — but this also is a place for fishing and providing the dog with some aquatic relief in the summer.
5. Though Mount Washington’s patch of prime scenery-gawking terrain is well-developed and cluttered with visitors, Duquesne Heights has green space and open sidewalks — ideal for a picturesque sunrise jog.
6. Chatham Village, an oasis of red-brick homes and ample yards on Mount Washington, is considered one of the best-planned and -preserved examples of the 1930s “garden city” movement. Architecture aficionados should schedule a walk through the community.
7. Just as no visit to San Antonio is complete without a tour of the Alamo, a stop at a Mount Washington observation deck is a must for Pittsburgh’s tourists and newcomers. Get an eye of that skyline, with the rivers unfolding from the Point beneath a seemingly endless succession of bridges.
8. McKinley Skate Park [Bausman Street] in Beltzhoover is one of three municipal skate parks in the city. It arguably is the most challenging, with ramps, half-pipes, splines and rails.
9. Though it exists outside of any well-known dining district, many local foodies insist that Allentown’s Alla Famiglia [804 E. Warrington Ave.] is the best Italian restaurant in the city, with its decisively Old-World style of cooking and its gargantuan portions.
10. What better way to experience a working-class neighborhood than heading to the bowling alley? Check out Carrick Classic Lanes [2036 Brownsville Road, 412/885-2880]. The attached bar, Whoville’s, helps to modernize the old ball-and-pin routine with a selection of craft beers. —Nick Keppler
For Visitors: At night, the South Side Flats can get . . . let’s say “rowdy.” To avoid the chaos, go on a Sunday afternoon. Everything is open, brunch options are plentiful, buskers take to the streets and bar-goers play tailgate toss outside their favorite watering holes.
For Newcomers: This region has its own weekly independent newspaper, the South Pittsburgh Reporter, published continuously since 1939 and available at no cost in several locations across these neighborhoods. Not just a place for pictures of adorable preschoolers from local parades, it delivers sharp reporting on development and property-related legal battles.
For Residents: Bon Air and Carrick both have active neighborhood groups. The Bon Air Civic Association and the Carrick Community Council both plan picnics, block parties and cleanup days, and they help to organize residents in anticipation of school funding or transit cuts. —NK
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
PHOTO BY LEAH LIZARONDO
Skip the chains and college bars and sample a changing South Side. Amazing Café [1506 E. Carson St.] is a groundbreaking oasis with food that redefines what “healthy” can taste like. The café makes sophisticated smoothies and serves them with a bamboo straw; the fare is so artfully made and presented that you simply must take a photo before you dig in.
Piper’s Pub [1828 E. Carson St.] is a gastropub with a well-curated beer and drink selection, as well as an English comfort-food menu that surprisingly is vegetarian-friendly.
The Zenith [86 S. 26th St.] is the embodiment of the South Side’s charming quirks — you’ll need to wind through an antique store to reach the small restaurant. —Leah Lizarondo
/ AROUND THE POINT /
George Washington once looked upon this spot and remarked on its importance: Whoever controlled the confluence of the three rivers controlled the movement of people and goods throughout the region. Nearly 300 years later, after the rise and decline of industrialization, this patch of land still is the nexus of western Pennsylvania.
Downtown: As far as Rust Belt downtowns go, Pittsburgh’s is sturdy. Over the past 20 years, its number of jobs has hovered continuously at about 300,000, and its prime real estate has an occupancy rate of roughly 90 percent. The region’s big employers (Heinz, U.S. Steel, PPG, Alcoa, UPMC, etc.) inhabit the buildings that make up the skyline, while the Cultural District hosts the city’s high-arts mainstays.
South Shore: A sliver of a neighborhood abutting the Monongahela River across from downtown, South Shore consists almost entirely of the Station Square development, a cluster of shops, bars and restaurants — all lit in neon.
Strip District: Wholesalers once took advantage of this neighborhood’s location on the rail and river lines. Today, many of its warehouses have been converted into trendy loft apartments, and its portion of Penn Avenue is home to a mix of ethnic groceries, discount retailers and niche food-makers.
Bluff: Many of its residents love the easy access to downtown, and law offices stake out space here for proximity to courts. But the Bluff, also known as Uptown, is defined in its own right by the job-creating presence of UPMC Mercy and Duquesne University.
Crawford-Roberts: This gateway to the Hill District, once the site of jazz-centered nightlife and civil rights rallies, is Pittsburgh’s long-time African-American cultural center. Rows of family homes, as well as the longstanding nonprofit Hill House Association, make up much of the neighborhood.
Bedford Dwellings: Putting the hill in Hill District, this neighborhood sits atop a massive slope overlooking the East Busway. Homes are less concentrated here, with room for parks and playgrounds above the steep, undeveloped hillside.
Middle Hill: As its largest neighborhood, Middle Hill is the heart of the Hill District. The neighborhood, bisected by historic Wylie Avenue, hosts a number of houses of worship.
Upper Hill: The quietest piece of the Hill District, Upper Hill has a series of winding, tree-lined streets leading up to Robert E. Williams Memorial Park.
10 Fun Things to Do
Photo by Chuck Beard
1. Since 1958, the Gateway Clipper Fleet [350 W. Station Square Drive] has offered tours, theme cruises and proms-on-a-boat that traverse the three rivers. See the city from the deck of a 200-foot riverboat with a stiff drink in your hand and the summer breeze on your skin. The boats dock at Station Square in South Shore.
2. Beginning in the 1940s, the city worked to wrest ownership of The Point from industry; in the ’70s, those efforts led to the development of a 36-acre park. Its central feature is the iconic fountain that gushes water from underground. In warmer months, it hosts events such as the Three Rivers Arts Festival and the landside attractions of the Three Rivers Regatta.
3. Downtown contains all of the high-art, cultural-establishment players that a city should: symphony, dance council, opera company and theater troupe, among others. Most hold shows in the venues that make up the Cultural District.
4. Downtown also is home of the ToonSeum [945 Liberty Ave.], the only museum in the world dedicated to cartoon and comic-book art (or “graphic novels,” if you please). Exhibits rotate every few months; past ones have explored Looney Tunes, female cartoonists and Batman.
5. Consol Energy Center [1001 Fifth Ave.] not only is the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it’s also the default stop for stadium-worthy musical acts. Here’s a sampling of visitors: Rush, Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Green Day, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, Roger Waters, Justin Timberlake and Paul McCartney.
6. Each block of the Strip District offers a random smattering of shops. Think an espresso bar next to a place that sells gourmet popcorn in a dozen flavors next to a discount shoe store — because, why not?
7. CJ’s [2901-2911 Penn Ave.] is housed in a windowless brick building in the less-developed edge of the Strip District. The inconspicuous location is not the only trait it shares with prohibition-era speakeasies: The bar has a calendar of live jazz and further maintains its atmosphere with low lighting, a 25-and-older admissions policy and an enforced dress code.
8. For a school its size, Duquesne has an impressive athletics program and the 4,400-seat A.J. Palumbo Center [1304 Forbes Ave.] to hold it. There, the Duquesne Dukes volleyball, wrestling and basketball teams fend off challengers.
9. Robert E. Williams Memorial Park [Milwaukee Street and Adelaide Street], at the apex of Upper Hill, features a tranquil reservoir and a panoramic view of the city.
10. Freedom Corner [Centre Avenue and Crawford Street] is a marker of the Hill District’s history. That intersection was a starting point for rallies during the Civil Rights movement and the point from which the Pittsburgh delegation to the March on Washington left by bus. Today, a monument marks Freedom Corner, which still is used as a gathering spot. —NK
For Visitors: The most surreal time to visit downtown: Furry season! Every summer since 2006, the convention center has hosted Anthrocon, a gathering of this subculture of folks who are fans of anthropomorphized animals. Attendance reached a record 5,577 in 2013.
For Newcomers: Duquesne University is a good neighbor to the Bluff and the Hill District, providing affordable healthcare options to low-income residents. The school runs the nation’s only university-operated pharmacy, in Crawford-Roberts, and has an on-campus psychology clinic, open to the public and staffed by its clinical psychology graduate students.
For Residents: For boyfriends and husbands looking to smooth things over after a quarrel, a florist sells affordable bouquets out of the former produce terminal on Smallman Street in the Strip every weekday. Five bucks get you a half-dozen roses; there are larger bundles if you did something truly stupid. —NK
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
PHOTO BY LAURA PETRILLA
Dine at Grit & Grace [535 Liberty Ave.] to transport your senses. From the beautiful design to the excellent service and creative food, Grit & Grace offers an experience you won’t forget. It will be hard to order just one appetizer — and equally difficult to resist picking all of the modern dim sum as it rolls around to your table. Cocktails are excellent; wine and beer selections are well curated. You will spend all night noshing, nibbling and sipping.
Out for lunch? Don’t miss Bluebird Kitchen [221 Forbes Ave. and 11 Stanwix St.], serving fast food as it was meant to be: fresh, handmade and creative. Marty’s Market [2301 Smallman St.] in the Strip is perfect for meetings, with fresh and locally sourced breakfast, brunch and lunch menus. —Leah Lizarondo
Photo by Chuck Beard
/ THE NEW NORTH /
There may be no better demonstration of Pittsburgh’s ever-present ability to renew and rebuild than the neighborhoods closest to the Allegheny River on the North Side. What once was a crumbling industrial district now is a multifaceted entertainment destination carrying the rest of the area into a very new version of old Allegheny City.
Chateau: This crescent-shaped neighborhood along the Ohio River is one of the city’s busiest destinations for grown-ups (Rivers Casino) and young’uns (Carnegie Science Center) alike.
Manchester: While plenty of North Siders make their home on the streets of Manchester, its most recognizable namesake — The Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild — is located next door in Chateau.
Central Northside: Allegheny General Hospital makes Central Northside easy to spot from miles away. Physically smaller landmarks such as The Mattress Factory installation art museum also bring in visitors, while the Mexican War Streets remain coveted real estate.
Allegheny Center: Only North Shore rivals this neighborhood in quantity of landmarks. Allegheny Center is home to long-standing institutions such as the National Aviary, the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, the New Hazlett Theater and Allegheny Commons Park.
Allegheny West: The Allegheny campus of the Community College of Allegheny County takes up most of the territory of Allegheny West; beyond it to the north, legions of daily lunchers grab a bite at joints such as the Allegheny Sandwich Shop and the Modern Cafe.
North Shore: The site of the first-ever professional football game in 1892 and the first-ever World Series in 1903 remains mecca for the black-and-gold faithful today; both PNC Park and Heinz Field sit within its borders.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. It wouldn’t be much of a National Aviary [700 Arch St.] without our national bird, would it? Get an up-close look at a pair of bald eagles, along with a diverse bevy of other fowl (and one very content sloth).
2. City of Asylum/Pittsburgh [330 Sampsonia Way] offers a home for international writers living in exile due to political threats in their home country. Their regular literary and music events provide some of the most dynamic opportunities to take in global culture that you’ll find in the ’Burgh — or anywhere else, for that matter.
3. Troubles of the workday got you down? Leave your desk lunch behind and get some ribs at Wilson’s Bar-B-Q [700 N. Taylor Ave., 412/322-7427] in Central Northside. One bite will drown your worries in flavor.
4. As recognizable as Pirates greats Clemente, Stargell, Wagner and Mazeroski are, there are more statues inside PNC Park than outside. Visit the Legacy Square the next time you’re at a game, where statues of seven Negro League greats including Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige stand alongside interactive exhibits on Pittsburgh’s Negro League heritage.
5. Yes, mother always said not to play too close to the tracks — but we’ll let that slide in favor of a game of tennis at the courts at Manchester Park, tucked next to the railway near the corner of Fulton Street and Columbus Avenue.
6. Get your tickets early if you’re planning on taking in an MCG Jazz show at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild [1815 Metropolitan St.]. The popular concert series almost never has tickets left to sell at the door.
7. We’re not going to be so bold as to declare anything to be the most filling meal in Pittsburgh; there are simply too many contenders. But the Bangers & Mash at Monterey Pub [1227 Monterey St.] will leave you as satiated as just about anything.
8. Some of the blackjack and poker tables at Rivers Casino [777 Casino Drive] can see pretty big bets, but you don’t need to be a high roller to enjoy yourself. Some judicious play at a penny slot machine will keep you engaged for a lot less cash.
9. There’s more to a “staycation” than vegging out on your couch. Give yourself a classy holiday in town by booking a room at The Parador Inn [939 Western Ave.] in Allegheny West, a bed-and-breakfast with an island theme.
10. If you can scan the concert lineup at Stage AE [400 North Shore Drive] and not identify a show that you absolutely must see, we don’t believe you’ve ever even heard of music. —Sean Collier
For Visitors: There are plenty of people ’round these parts who’d like to charge you an arm and a leg for parking. Drive past them and leave your ride at Rivers Casino, where self-parking is almost always free when you visit: then you can follow the riverfront trail to North Shore destinations or hail a pedicab outside the main entrance.
For Newcomers: If we hold one thing as an inviolable truth here at Pittsburgh Magazine, it is this: We all could use more puppies and kittens in our lives. Adopt a pet in need at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society [1101 Western Ave.] — and if you can’t bring a new friend into your home, consider volunteering to help the shelter’s companions-in-waiting.
For Residents: We’re not here to discourage fun behavior, but we have to speak up on this point: the Water Steps in North Shore Riverfront Park are popular among families who permit children to wade and play on the structure, but they are not approved for that use. The slick sandstone creates an opportunity for accidents. —SC
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
PHOTO BY LAURA PETRILLA
The North Side is home to the original location of one of the city’s top Thai restaurants, Nicky’s Thai Kitchen [856 Western Ave.]. In the season, score a seat in the back patio and enjoy fantastic food al fresco. Burritos undoubtedly are the new burger — and El Burro Comedor [1108 Federal St.] brings this excellent elevation of the staple to the North Side. The Mexi-Cali-style lunch counter and takeout spot offers tasty standards as well as less-common options such as rolled tacos smothered in guac and salsa, chile relleno burritos, California burritos (with fries inside, yinzers!) and vegetarian-friendly specials. —Leah Lizarondo
PHOTO BY BRAD TRUXELL
/ THE OLD ALLEGHENY /
As you move away from the Allegheny River, the views get even better. Diverse neighborhoods climb up the hills surrounding the flat part of the North Side; these corners of Pittsburgh offer fresh air, scenery and a whole lot more.
Brighton Heights: There’s plenty of hillside green space in this mostly residential neighborhood. Both California Avenue and Brighton Road harbor small business districts.
Perry North: Also dubbed Observatory Hill after its landmark tenant, Perry North is dominated by winding Riverview Park.
Perry South: Longtime residents often call this neighborhood by its former name, Perry Hilltop. Perry South is home base for The Pittsburgh Project, which maintains neighborhood green space Fowler Park, among many other efforts.
Marshall-Shadeland: What’s in a name? Plenty in this neighborhood. Many residents colloquially refer to part of Marshall-Shadeland as Woods Run, and a recent effort has been made to rebrand the residential neighborhood as Brightwood. The Brightwood Civic Group hosts Pumpkinfest, an annual autumn children’s festival.
California-Kirkbride: This neighborhood grew around a series of rowhouses constructed for industrial workers in the late 1800s. Many still stand today, making up the Old Allegheny Rows Historic District, which joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
Summer Hill: Call it TV town: This narrow neighborhood along Interstate 279 North is home to television stations WPXI, WPGH and WPMY.
Northview Heights: The entirety of this neighborhood is a public housing community developed by the city in 1962. Northview Heights has had a troubled history, but additions to security — as well as the efforts of neighborhood organizations including Bethany House Academy — have had a stabilizing influence.
Fineview: Play a pickup ballgame with a view at Fineview Fields [Jay Street], one of the green spaces in this hilltop neighborhood to the north of Allegheny General Hospital.
Spring Garden: With all the hills on the North Side, there’s gotta be at least one valley. Spring Garden is the valley floor between Spring Hill and Troy Hill, with a group of businesses and houses along Spring Garden Avenue.
Spring Hill-City View: We know: There are about a dozen neighborhoods that could be called City View. Climb the hill and you’ll see why this one takes the title. A portion of the neighborhood also runs along I-279 North and contains historic Saint Boniface Church.
East Allegheny: Also known as Deutschtown, picturesque East Allegheny is home to the Sarah Heinz House, The Priory Hotel, the busy business district on East Ohio Street and much more.
Troy Hill: Families have lived in scenic Troy Hill since the 1860s, so there’s plenty of history to be found throughout this neighborhood. Officially, the island of Washington’s Landing — in the Allegheny River at the base of Troy Hill — also is considered to be part of the neighborhood.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. If you and your pooch are in need of a new walk route, we’ve got a suggestion: Put your pup in the front seat and drive to the Allegheny Observatory [159 Riverview Ave.]. Park near the building and follow the winding road back down through Riverview Park; you’ll get to marvel at the historic landmark, and Lassie will have some new grass to sniff.
2. The Vatican, no surprise, contains the world’s largest collection of Catholic relics. Second place, however, goes to St. Anthony’s Chapel [1704 Harpster St.] in Troy Hill, which counts more than 5,000 items among its tally. Make a donation and grab one of the sets of headphones available for a history of the church and audio tour.
3. Plenty of people have a backyard herb garden. We’ll bet most of them haven’t been to Urban Gardener [1901 Brighton Road] in California-Kirkbride, where you can grab specialties such as Mexican mint and curled parsley to add some serious flavor to your dishes. (Get something that simply looks nice while you’re there, too.)
4. Need to fill up some rooms on the cheap, but you’re finding the selection at the local thrift shops a bit lacking? Browse the varied collection at Martin’s Used Furniture [3135 Brighton Road, 412/377-3369] in Brighton Heights.
5. Finding an unexpected, breathtaking piece of public art to appreciate is one of the joys of living in a big city. Schedule a pit stop at the dramatic statue in Legion Memorial Park [Brighton Road and Shadeland Avenue].
6. At Saint Boniface Church [2208 East St.] in Spring Hill-City View, a Latin High Mass is held at 11 a.m. every Sunday — the “High” means sung. Whatever your spiritual stripe, hearing a ceremony sung in Latin at a beautiful old church is a worthwhile experience.
7. We try not to be achingly literal around here, but the view at the Fineview Overlook [Catoma and Meadville streets] is . . . nope, we’re not going to say it.
8. Who doesn’t love a refreshing cocktail on a summer night? Go local with your liquor via a visit to the Wigle Whiskey Garden [1055 Spring Garden Ave., wiglewhiskey.com] in East Allegheny, open Thursday-Sunday.
9. You’re going to eat what for lunch? That thing, in the Tupperware? No. Get in your car, ascend Troy Hill and head to Billy’s Troy Hill Bistro [1720 Lowrie St.], where you should order the crab cakes.
10. Some of the city’s finest jazz musicians frequently can be found performing in the intimate downstairs space at James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy [422 Foreland St.] in East Allegheny. —SC
For Visitors: Headed to a North Side destination? There’s a sizable public parking lot between Foreland and Emlin streets in East Allegheny; you can feed the meters (with quarters or a credit card) for up to 10 hours, so you’ll be set for the day.
For Newcomers: We’ve got your picnic spot: the open fields on the far side of the tennis courts on Washington’s Landing. Keep walking to the edge of the island to peer out over the Allegheny in all its glory.
For Residents: North Siders, rejoice: After two-plus years of continued closure, Rialto Street (the crazy-steep thoroughfare that connects Troy Hill to the 31st Street Bridge) finally reopened in March. —SC
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
The Java n’ Crème House [3619 California Ave., 412/415-0734] — known simply as the java house to locals — is a split-level café in Brighton Heights that serves great coffee, a weekly lunch menu and real-fruit smoothies (no cloying syrups!). Beyond the drinks and fare, the java house is known for an easygoing flair that Bob and Yolanda Rhoden brought with them when they moved here from Los Angeles. Regulars are passionate about one of the North Side’s best-kept secrets, where the portions are generous and delicious, and the atmosphere is warm and inviting. —Leah Lizarondo
PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD
/ NORTHERN 'BURBS /
Business is booming in the north suburbs, as evidenced by the number of developments thriving along Route 19 as it stretches from West View to Harmony in Butler County and beyond. Sure, it’s the ’burbs, but these growing and historic communities north of the city have much more to offer than single-family homes and strip malls.
Marshall: Two historic American Indian paths, the Venango Trail and the Kuskusky Path, weave through Marshall. The area also houses a good chunk of Thorn Hill, one of the region’s largest industrial parks.
Bradford Woods: No two houses are alike in this small community, a one-time summer getaway and stop along the former Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler and New Castle railway line.
Franklin Park: The borough located just off Interstate 79 is home to the venerable Soergel Orchards and Country Store [2573 Brandt School Road].
McCandless: The home of La Roche College [9000 Babcock Blvd.] is destined to grow even busier in 2014 with the addition of the McCandless Crossing development near McKnight Road.
Pine Township: Upscale homes coincide with flourishing businesses in Pine, where something old — Wexford, one of the region’s oldest postal villages — meets something new.
Hampton Township: Recently named one of the 10 Best Towns for Families by Family Circle magazine, Hampton features National Blue Ribbon schools. It also is home to a portion of one of Allegheny County’s crown jewels — Hartwood Acres Park [200 Hartwood Acres].
Richland Township: Historic Bakerstown sits on what were two lots of the “Depreciation Lands” in Richland, the hometown of “America’s Got Talent” singing sensation Jackie Evancho.
West Deer Township: Named after Chief Deer, a member of the Iroquois tribe, the community houses the popular outdoors destination Deer Lakes Park.
Ross Township: Ross Park Mall [1000 Ross Park Mall Drive] and its high-end stores — Nordstrom! Louis Vuitton! — are the centerpiece of this busy community located minutes from downtown.
West View: People still reminisce about West View Park, Pittsburgh’s other beloved amusement park. It delighted riders from 1906 until it closed in 1977. Today, West View is home to Martorelli Stadium, the regularly-packed home turf of North Hills High School football.
Cranberry Township: Already a thriving business community, Cranberry stands to benefit from the planned opening of the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in 2015. Featuring medical offices, ice rinks, youth skating programs and more, the 180,000-square-foot complex is designed for use by the Penguins as a training facility.
Mars: Yes, there’s life on Mars — if you’re referring to the small borough in Butler County. Appropriately, the community has a quirky flying saucer marker in the town square.
Zelienople: Named for Zelie, the eldest daughter of the town’s founder, this community in Butler County is known for its annual Horse Trading Days arts and music festival.
Harmony: Visiting Harmony’s old brick and log homes is akin to taking a step back into bygone days. The quaint town’s historic district, which was founded in the early 1800s by the Harmony Society (a Christian group), is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Adams Township: The home of Mars Area High School was called the top housing market in western Pennsylvania in 2012 by real estate tracking group RealSTATs.
Seven Fields: This growing borough contains quality food options, with restaurants such as SiBA [530 Northpointe Circle], BOhèm Bistro [530 Northpointe Circle] and Double Wide Grill [Route 228].
Evans City: Making a zombie pilgrimage to Evans City, the filming site of “Night of the Living Dead”? Stop in the Living Dead Museum and Giftshop [121 E. Main St.] for the horrific history.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. Forget the diet and visit Soergel Orchards [2573 Brandt School Road] for the Amish-made doughnuts. Available in sugared, cinnamon-sugared and glazed, they are sold on the first Saturday of each month.
2. Play at the Kids Castle at Cranberry Township Community Park [Ernie Mashuda Drive]. Opened in September 2013, the “Alice in Wonderland”-esque playground features three themed areas designed to encourage
3. Got a hankering to see fireworks before the Fourth of July? For the last three years, the dynamite PyroFest has been held at Hartwood Acres Park in the spring.
4. The historic Harmony Inn [230 Mercer St., 724/452-5124] is undergoing renovations after the owners of Slippery Rock’s North Country Brewing Co. purchased it in 2013.
5. Make time for a show or movie at The Strand Theater [119 N. Main St.] in Zelienople. The revitalized theater, built in 1914, always has something going on, whether it’s a live concert or a showing of a classic flick.
6. Cut a rug at Fun Slides Carpet Skate Park [1130 Perry Highway] in Ross Township. The indoor park features carpet slides and dips that patrons negotiate using a pair of innovative plastic “skates.”
7. Yinzer Beach, anyone? Visit the tropics without leaving Pittsburgh at the Cabana Bar [100 Village Run Road] in Pine Township. The venue at the Oxford Club has palm trees, fire pits and even sand.
8. Just zip it at the Go Ape treetop adventure course at North Park [303 Pearce Mill Road]. The course features zip lines, obstacles and more in a piney setting near the park’s 63-acre lake.
9. Tour Chatham University’s new 388-acre Eden Hall campus [6035 Ridge Road, chatham.edu/edenhall] in Richland Township. The future home of the university’s Falk School of Sustainability will be a living, learning laboratory for environmental education students.
10. An Isaly’s restaurant for more than 30 years, the I Shall Always Love You Sweetheart (an acronym for Isaly’s) in West View [448 Perry Highway, 412/931-9994] came under new ownership in 2012. Don’t worry, though, there’s still chipped chopped ham on the classic diner’s menu. —JBS
For Visitors: Dogs aren’t allowed off leashes at North Park, unless it’s within the 1-acre, fenced-in dog park. Oh, and don’t forget to clean up after your pooch. That’s a park rule, not to mention a common courtesy.
For Newcomers: Gluwien, a traditional hot mulled wine, is served every year during the Silvester celebration on New Year’s Eve in Harmony (which is celebrated on German time). Between servings of pork and sauerkraut, there’s also a countdown to the new year before fireworks explode across the sky.
For Residents: Go on, hit Perry Highway during rush hour. In 2013, PennDOT added InSync, an adaptive traffic-control system, to eight traffic signals between Pine and McCandless townships; as a result, there are more green lights for commuters on the busy thoroughfare. —JBS
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
Those who remember what grocery stores looked like before the big boxes opened may want to head to the McGinnis Sisters [700 Adams Shoppes] location in Adams Township and again fall in love with produce and fresh food. This three-generation, family-run specialty grocery offers a beautiful selection of produce, meats and delicious prepared food, all lovingly and locally sourced when possible.
It’s not every day that you find a coffee shop with a meditation room. Coffee Buddha [964 Perry Highway] is truly a coffee “house” where you can enjoy great coffee and housemade treats in the living room, the game room, the Zen garden or the dog-friendly porch and patio. —Leah Lizarondo
PHOTO BY JIM JUDKIS
/ THE NEAR EAST /
The 11 neighborhoods surrounding Allegheny Cemetery, one of the largest and oldest cemeteries in western Pennsylvania, form the heart of Pittsburgh’s ongoing communal and commercial revival.
Polish Hill: Polish Hill is a tiny, tucked-away neighborhood of steep hills, zigzagging city steps and panoramic views. It boasts beloved hot spots such as the un-dive bar Gooski’s and the three-story cultural emporium housing Lili Coffee Shop, Mind Cure Records and Copacetic Comics.
Lower Lawrenceville: Lower Lawrenceville started as an isolated railroad outpost. Today, its sturdy rowhouses, hip shops, riverfront access and proximity to Arsenal Park have made it among the hottest real estate markets between the rivers.
Central Lawrenceville: Central Lawrenceville is reimagining the old self-sufficient neighborhood by combining necessities — banks, mini-marts, pizza joints and corner bars — with such oddities as an upstairs bowling alley, a traditional French bakery and a repertory movie house.
Upper Lawrenceville: A residential neighborhood in the shadow of old industry, Upper Lawrenceville quickly is taking on the flavor of its Lower and Central neighbors with considerable high-end dining, a new mom-and-pop grocery store and doggy day-care businesses.
Stanton Heights: Once a ritzy golf course for the industrial elite, Stanton Heights now is a quiet hilltop suburb surrounded by the bustling city on all sides. Its ranch-style houses and wide (at least for Pittsburgh) streets occasionally host community-wide yard sales.
Morningside: Filling a cozy valley between Highland Park and Stanton Heights, Morningside is a charming residential neighborhood with a sturdy-enough business district to prevent you from having to put too many miles on the family station wagon.
Highland Park: Highland Park enjoys all the energy of the East End without any of the commotion. Its streets are full of charming homes and stately mansions surrounding a thriving business district on Bryant Street and a 135-year-old park.
East Liberty: The character of East Liberty seems to change monthly as developers rejuvenate landmarks such as the Highland Building and the YMCA and expand upon retail investments such as the Eastside shopping center.
Garfield: Garfield is a hillside neighborhood with a thriving arts and business district along Penn Avenue, complete with art galleries and furniture stores, high-end restaurants and a pizza joint.
Bloomfield: Bloomfield may be the archetypical Pittsburgh neighborhood. Its iconic main drag on Liberty Avenue includes decades-old institutions and quirky startups, its narrow side streets house both immigrant families and anarchist punks, and there’s always a parade just a few weeks away. What more do you need?
Friendship: One of our smallest neighborhoods punches above its weight class with a grocery store, a coffee shop, a pharmacy and some of the loveliest old homes in the city.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. Explore the Morningside Greenway, the newest and most-hidden green space in the city. This rugged 40-acre forest stretches across a ridge along the backside of Morningside and Stanton Heights as it overlooks Butler Street and the Allegheny River.
2. Enjoy the pleasures of analog media via record stores such as Sound Cat Records [4526 Liberty Ave.] in Bloomfield, Mind Cure Records [3138 Dobson St.] in Polish Hill and 720 Records [4405 Butler St.] in Lawrenceville.
3. Run laps around the Highland Park Reservoir [North Highland Avenue and Bunkerhill Street] and chuckle at the decades of graffiti scrawled on its railings: some of it vulgar, some of it sweet, some of it ridiculous and some of it outraged.
4. Explore the East Liberty Presbyterian Church [116 S. Highland Ave.], including its meditative labyrinth, its secret duckpin bowling alley and its inspiring sanctuary, which includes the final resting places of Richard and Jennie Mellon.
5. Write a poem using the community magnetic Poetry Board on Downing Street in Polish Hill. Be sure to check the high grass below for fallen adjectives and prepositions.
6. Order soft-serve at Twisters [4210 Main St.], a no-frills ice cream shop in Bloomfield. This summer-only, cash-only spot with a walk-up window is a neighborhood favorite.
7. Visit the grave of Negro Leagues legend Josh Gibson in the Allegheny Cemetery [4734 Butler St.]. Even though a sign marks the way, finding the humble marker takes a little sleuthing.
8. Traverse Garfield during Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn, when the galleries launch exhibits of local art, the Garfield Night Market displays local crafts and the furniture shops and antique stores open their doors.
9. Tour the Alpha Terrace Historic District on North Beatty Street in East Liberty, a block of Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque row houses built in the 1880s and ’90s.
10. Witness human meddling at the Center for PostNatural History [4913 Penn Ave.] in Garfield. This unique museum — open Sunday afternoons, evenings on First Fridays and by appointment — studies how humanity has altered the natural world, for better and worse, through breeding and genetic engineering. —EL
For Visitors: Two secret shortcuts: Stanton Avenue connects Lawrenceville to East Liberty and Highland Park. Gold Way connects Polish Hill to North Oakland.
For Newcomers: With the densest concentration of grocery stores in the region, the smartest shoppers here find the best deals (and the smallest crowds) by playing the field. Shop around.
For Residents: You’ll kick yourself if you’ve been going to the wrong post office all these years. The Lawrenceville branch [186 42nd St.] is less busy than the ones in Bloomfield and East Liberty. Just know that it closes between 1-2 p.m. Monday-Thursday and shuts down at noon on Friday. —EL
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
PHOTO BY LAURA PETRILLA
Practice your eenie-meenie-miney-mo because it will be difficult to pick between two restaurants flanking Bryant Street in Highland Park. Chef Kate Romane calls Churchview Farm her home — and it shines through with fresh takes on Mediterranean food at E2 [5904 Bryant St.]. Punctuate the goodness with choices from the extensive doughnut menu (yes, you read that right).
Park Bruges [5801 Bryant St.] serves up excellent bistro food, with the best French fries in the ’Burgh. Both Park Bruges and E2 have popular Sunday brunches that create lines out the door.
In Lawrenceville, Tamari [3519 Butler St.] makes any day a good day with a fine happy hour — stellar cocktails and half-off fusion tapas. For great late-night eats, head to Fukuda [4770 Liberty Ave.] in Bloomfield for excellent izakaya-style Japanese food. —Leah Lizarondo
PHOTO BY DAVE DICELLO
/ WHERE 8 MEETS 28 /
The North Hills neighborhoods branching from the intersection of Route 8 and Route 28 are a mix of suburban communities and self-sufficient small towns. While some are flood-prone, their abundance of green space also provides an unexpected meeting between urban living and nature.
Shaler Township: Shaler Township transitioned from small town to middle-class suburb after World War II and never looked back. The home of Gov. Tom Corbett has schools and churches as well as bars and ball fields.
Reserve Township: A wooded hillside originally “reserved” as new homesteads for Revolutionary War veterans, Reserve Township now is the stretch of country living closest to downtown.
Millvale: A gritty small town with surprising touches of grace, Millvale has diners, grocery stores and bars — but it also has an authentic French bakery, a concert hall housed in a former church and a set of historic religious murals.
Etna: A former mill town in the shadow of the highway, Etna is reinventing itself with new businesses and nature trails — a mix of down-to-earth and back-to-earth.
Sharpsburg: The one-time home of Seneca warrior Guyasuta and the original H.J. Heinz Co. kitchen, Sharpsburg now is a cozy riverfront community with a welcoming Main Street.
Aspinwall: This bedroom community nestles between swanky North Hills neighborhoods and the Allegheny River — which makes it both classy and well-grounded.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. Visit the 22 murals Maxo Vanka painted on the walls of St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church [24 Maryland Ave.] in Millvale. Take a free Saturday tour, and remember: Donations help the church to restore these wild expressions of faith and community.
2. Enjoy old-school Italian dining at the Gran Canal Caffé [1021 N. Canal St.] in Sharpsburg. This local institution started nearly 20 years ago with a focus on pasta — such as the mushroom ravioli in butter-sage sauce — but the menu since has expanded to include veal and the seafood of the Mediterranean coast.
3. View the smallest small towns in western Pennsylvania at Lynlott Miniatures Dollhouse Junction [223 Commercial Ave.], which claims to be the largest source for dollhouse supplies in the region. The Aspinwall store is a hot spot for hobbyists and includes a workshop where you can watch miniatures being made.
4. Tour France in Millvale with macarons and palmiers at Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery [213 North Ave.] and, around the corner, literature at Librairie les Idées [421 Grant Ave.], a boutique bookstore uncompromisingly devoted to works in the language of Flaubert, Gide and Mallarmé.
5. Enjoy the Allegheny River. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail currently ends in Millvale, but planners are hoping to extend the trail into Etna, Sharpsburg, Aspinwall and beyond. Sharpsburg and Aspinwall have active marinas, while Etna sits at the base of the Pine Creek Watershed.
6. Cheer for the Steel City Roller Derby league, our rockabilly reincarnation of the classic roller-skating sport. The teams in this women-only league meet for home games at the Romp n’ Roll [1661 E. Sutter Road] in Shaler Township.
7. Reap the harvest at Brenckle’s Farms & Greenhouses [Pictured Above; 3814 Mount Troy Road], one of the long-running “truck farms” in grassy Reserve Township. The farm and greenhouse is run by a fourth generation of the Brenckle family, with a fifth in training.
8. The Dougherty Nature Trail weaves between Pine Creek and a ball field to create a modest but meaningful refuge. From its start as a bank-stabilization project, it now anchors Etna’s urban walking initiative.
9. Get a unique take on local history at the religious cemeteries of the North Hills, including Saint Nicholas cemetery and Most Holy Name of Jesus cemetery, both in Reserve, and the St. Anthony, St. Augustine and Beth Shalom cemeteries in Shaler.
10. See the other “falling water” at the Fall Run Park [187 Fall Run Road] in Shaler, one of the few public parks in western Pennsylvania with a waterfall. While the waterfall is grandest when the rivers and creeks swell in the spring, it usually is active year-round. —EL
For Visitors: A tangle of exits from the 62nd Street Bridge leads into Etna, Shaler, Sharpsburg and Aspinwall. They can be confusing, even after numerous visits. If you screw up, use the neighborhood roads beneath the interchange to get back on track.
For Newcomers: These communities are split between the Shaler Area School District and the Fox Chapel Area School District. Know that millage rates do differ significantly between the two.
For Residents: Got a boat? Sixmile Island is an intriguing alluvial island in the Allegheny River, but it is officially private; admire from the water. —EL
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
Randita’s Organic Vegan Cafe [207 Commercial Ave.] is slated to open its doors Aug. 1 in Aspinwall. African peanut stew, roasted zucchini lasagna and leek and bean cassoulet with dumplings are three of the absolutely mouthwatering items on the menu at Randita’s Saxonburg location. If you didn’t know walking in, you might not notice that the food is vegan. The Aspinwall café will open for lunch daily, with dinner service on weekends. Can’t make it to the restaurant? Be on the lookout for Randita’s truck at markets and outdoor festivals. —Leah Lizarondo
PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD
/ ALLEGHENY RIVER COMMUNITIES /
From Tarentum and its roots as an industrial center where plate glass and bottles were manufactured to Oakmont and its famed Oakmont Country Club, the diverse communities that line the Allegheny River — many of them former steel towns — are rich in history. Let’s explore, shall we?
Harrison Township: The historic stone Burtner House, one of the first homes built in Harrison, welcomes commuters exiting Route 28 into the township. Harrison also is the site of a working steel mill, ATI Allegheny Ludlum.
Frazer Township: The small, rural community is home to the large Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills retail complex [590 Pittsburgh Mills Blvd.].
Brackenridge: It’s all about industry here. ATI Allegheny Ludlum, with facilities that spill into the community from Harrison Township, plays a prominent role in Brackenridge, which once was known for its glass factories.
Tarentum: Named for the ancient Greek city-state in Italy, Tarentum — a railroad town and onetime frontier retail center — displays two statues of Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth.
East Deer Township: The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. was founded in this community, which is part of the Deer Lakes School District.
Fawn Township: Founders named the township Fawn because they considered it to be the “offspring” of its parent community, Deer. Major scenes from the George A. Romero flick “Knightriders” were filmed here.
Springdale: Famed environmentalist Rachel Carson, author of “Silent Spring,” grew up in Springdale. Her childhood home, a five-room farmhouse, has been preserved as the Rachel Carson Homestead [613 Marion Ave.].
Springdale Township: Not to be confused with the neighboring borough of the same name, the township is made up of two communities, Harwick (on the western side of town) and Orrville (the eastern half).
Cheswick: The iconic Ches-A-Rena [1216 Pittsburgh St.] in Cheswick no longer is a skating rink — it now hosts concerts and other events. But the enormous Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena [22 Rich Hill Road] in nearby Harmar features three turf fields, a fitness center, a pub and more.
Fox Chapel: Before it became known as one of Pittsburgh’s most affluent communities, Fox Chapel was populated by Seneca Indians.
Harmar Township: A haven for weary motorists, Harmar’s business district — located near interchanges for the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Route 28 — has a lineup of fast-food restaurants, hotels and shopping on busy Freeport Road.
Oakmont: Split by railroad tracks that cut through the center of town, the picturesque borough contains the legendary Oakmont Country Club [1233 Hulton Road], site of the 2016 U.S. Open, and the equally legendary Oakmont Bakery [531 Allegheny Ave.].
O’Hara Township: It’s time to get down to business. O’Hara, named for an industrialist in early western Pennsylvania, houses the enormous RIDC Industrial Park.
Blawnox: The river town with a heart of steel derived its name from the Blaw Steel Construction Co. and the Knox Pressed and Welded Steel Co. — which later combined to form the Blaw-Knox Co.
Verona: One half of the twin boroughs (the other is Oakmont), Verona’s former municipal building — now an accounting firm — is situated on one of the smallest blocks in the world.
Indiana Township: This growing community, part of the Fox Chapel Area School District, has plenty of family-oriented activities, thanks to Hartwood Acres (which also extends into Hampton) and several other smaller community parks.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. Learn more of the history of Pennsylvania’s coal mines with a guided tour of the Tour-Ed Mine [748 Bull Creek Road] in Fawn Township, which welcomes visitors from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The site’s accompanying museum features a log house from 1785, as well as tools and antiques.
2. Let’s go to the movies! The Oaks [310 Allegheny River Blvd.], a refurbished single-screen movie house in Oakmont, presents current, classic and nontraditional cinema entertainment.
3. It’s all aboard at JG’s Tarentum Station Grille [101 Station Drive]. As the name implies, the restaurant is located inside a revamped railroad station; outside, trains still whoosh by.
4. There’s custard. Then there’s the frozen custard at Glen’s Custard [400 Pittsburgh St.] in Springdale. The ever-popular family business has been serving up creamy custards and other treats since 1948.
5. Catch a show on the big screen at the Cinemark Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills [425 Pittsburgh Mills Circle] in Frazer Township. It’s one of the only IMAX theaters in the region.
6. Access your inner explorer at the Allegheny Islands State Park in Harmar Township. Accessible only by boat, the three islands are undeveloped, but group camping is permitted on the grounds.
7. Row, row, row your boat at the Steel City Rowing Club [101 Arch St.] in Verona. The organization, which has trained some of the world’s best rowers, offers learn-to-row programs for youth and adults.
8. Get the blues at Moondog’s [378 Freeport Road]. The intimate club in Blawnox has been showcasing blues and rock bands for more than 20 years.
9. Commune with nature at Harrison Hills Park [5200 Freeport Road] in Harrison Township. In addition to its streams, waterfalls and two ponds, the 500-acre park includes a birding area with more than 180 species.
10. Cool off at the spray park at Deer Lakes Park [1090 Bailey Run Road]. The lakes at the park, which spans Frazer and West Deer townships, also are stocked with bluegill, crappie, trout and a number of other fishes. —JBS
For Visitors: The longstanding Verona Village Inn [551 Wildwood Ave.], which has served up authentic Italian food for three decades, is closed every Monday. Because of the time needed to cook the homestyle dishes, the restaurant recommends making reservations.
For Newcomers: The Oakmonter, a confection comprised of cheesecake and fudge, is one of Oakmont Bakery’s signature treats. Try one. You won’t regret it.
For Residents: The Baja Bar and Grill at the Fox Chapel Yacht Club [1366 Old Freeport Road], which overlooks the Allegheny River, features live entertainment and dancing on the weekends all summer long. —JBS
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD
People go to Oakmont for plenty of reasons, but we all know that the best reason to visit is any excuse to get in close proximity to Oakmont Bakery [531 Allegheny Ave.]. Often voted the best bakery in Pittsburgh, it covers 8,500 square feet with a dizzying array of goodies. You will be hard-pressed to pick only one thing from offerings that range from croissants and cannoli to the popular cakes.
O’Hara Township’s hidden gem off Freeport Road is Blue Elephant [150 Gamma Drive], a vegetarian café serving great organic coffee and a satisfying selection of healthy breakfast and lunch favorites. Try the cranberry panini spiked with jalapeño peppers or the daily rice bowl with seasoned vegetables and choice of three delicious sauces. —Leah Lizarondo
/ COLLEGE TOWN /
The home of the University of Pittsburgh and Carlow University (as well as many of those attending neighboring Carnegie Mellon University) is the backdrop of formative memories for millions. With its sea of UPMC facilities and much-lauded museums, however, Oakland is not just a bustling community for students. More jobs are based in Oakland than in any other neighborhood in Pennsylvania, save the downtowns of Pittsburgh and Philly.
North Oakland: Much of Pitt, including its landmark Cathedral of Learning, is seated in North Oakland — along with the adjacent Craig Street dining district.
Central Oakland: The Pitt campus sprawls through this area, which holds many students’ favorite streets for off-campus housing. This neighborhood also is home to the Carnegie museums and library.
South Oakland: While the area populated by undergrads commonly is mislabeled “South Oakland,” the zone that bears that name on official city maps is a quaint, well-kept collection of tree-lined streets buttressing Schenley Park (with permanent residents, for the most part).
Terrace Village: Sitting on a hill above Oakland is the base of Pitt athletics, centered around the Petersen Sports Complex. Terrace Village also is home to one of the region’s Veterans Affairs hospitals.
West Oakland: This sliver of Oakland contains Carlow University, a Catholic, predominantly women’s liberal arts college that forges its own identity in the shadow of Pitt. West Oakland also is home to a huge slice of the UPMC metroplex.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. The 42-floor Cathedral of Learning [4200 Fifth Ave.], the largest school building in the Western Hemisphere, has 30 Nationality Rooms decked out to resemble classrooms from around the world.
2. Though Pitt’s football team plays at Heinz Field on the North Shore, the Pitt Panthers men’s and women’s basketball teams get their dunk on at the Petersen Events Center [3719 Terrace St.]. “The Pete” frequently is boosted by the raucous Oakland Zoo student cheering section.
3. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History [4400 Forbes Ave.] contains one of the largest collections of dinosaur fossils in the world, including a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus rex and a 78-foot diplodocus.
4. Next door, the Carnegie Museum of Art [4400 Forbes Ave.] displays works from the 17th century to the current day in its rotation of specialty exhibits.
5. Some of the best art in College Town can be seen by walking around. Likenesses of Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Galileo and Bach sit (literally) outside the Carnegie museums, near a life-size replica of a diplodocus. Outside the Frick Fine Arts Building, a harp-playing nymph performs eternally for the Greek god Pan in a dramatic water fountain.
6. Craig Street is the area’s go-to for dining. Among the student standbys are Lulu’s Noodles [400 S. Craig St., 412/687-7777] and the remodeled Union Grill [413 S. Craig St.].
7. Of course, College Town’s most enduring culinary staples are the famous “O fries,” available at the Original Hot Dog Shoppe [3901 Forbes Ave.] since 1960. The portion of piping hot, golden-colored French fries is akin to the size of a pickup-truck wheel.
8. The Conflict Kitchen [221 Schenley Drive], set up in a Schenley Plaza concession stand, is a conceptual project that serves takeout dishes originating from countries involved in some kind of military or diplomatic standoff with the United States. In the past, it has introduced Pittsburghers to the cuisines of North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba.
9. The preserved homes of the Schenley Farms Historic District [around the intersection of Bigelow Boulevard and Bayard Street] in North Oakland are a testament to the city beautification efforts of the late 19th century. Today, many professors seek shelter there, away from the keggers and all-nighters.
10. Each Tuesday, Peter’s Pub [116 Oakland Ave.] hosts Hot Metal Blues, a night for dancing to the blues. The style is a bit like swing but looser. There’s a lesson before each dance for those who are new to boogie chillen’ (to paraphrase John Lee Hooker). —NK
For Visitors: To bypass College Town’s byzantine and sharply enforced street-parking zones, park on Overlook Drive in nearby Schenley Park. It’s a brief walk to the heart of the Pitt campus.
For Newcomers: Easy access to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s main branch is one of the best aspects of living here. It has a full schedule of author visits, children’s activities and language classes. And, oh yeah, more books than Hogwarts.
For Residents: The Carnegie museums offer various discount programs. In addition to lowering prices to $10 for adults and $5 for children (from $17.95 and $11.95, respectively) every Thursday after 4 p.m., there are deals for everyone from AAA members to Port Authority pass holders. —NK
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
PHOTO BY LAURA PETRILLA
James Beard-nominated chef Trevett Hooper singularly balances culinary craft and sustainability practices at his flagship, Legume [214 N. Craig St.]. The seasonal menu changes slightly each day; some favorites include pickled harukei turnips, stinging nettle soup and meticulously sourced steaks.
Want a more casual atmosphere? Grab a bar stool next door at Butterjoint and order from the bar menu (or Legume’s full menu) while enjoying stellar craft cocktails.
In Schenley Plaza, stake out the outdoor seating at The Porch at Schenley [221 Schenley Drive] which prepares beautiful salads featuring ingredients from the rooftop garden and some of Oakland’s best sandwiches, pastas and pizzas. —Leah Lizarondo
PHOTO BY JIM JUDKIS
/ GREEN PITTSBURGH /
Want the feel of the suburbs without the often-punishing commute? These neighborhoods, though vastly different in cultural makeup, are mostly residential, providing green lawns, pedestrian-friendly streets, neighbors who know each other and some of the largest parks in the city.
Shadyside: During America’s first gilded age, mansions spread across Fifth Avenue. Today, Shadyside still boasts upscale eateries and boutiques. It’s also one of Pittsburgh’s most gay-friendly neighborhoods, housing two of the city’s long-established gay bars, Spin [5744 Ellsworth Ave.] and 5801 Video Lounge & Cafe [5801 Ellsworth Ave.].
Squirrel Hill North: In Pittsburgh’s Jewish enclave, families remain anchored for generations, while many stalwart Murray Avenue businesses have lasted for decades. This half of Squirrel Hill also holds tech giant Carnegie Mellon University and, in a wooded pocket, Chatham University.
Squirrel Hill South: This side of Squirrel Hill includes portions of two of Pittsburgh’s largest parks, Frick and Schenley — both lakes of green space. It’s also home to the Squirrel Hill Tunnels, the ever-congested and enraging passageway Pittsburghers love to hate.
Greenfield: With Forbes Avenue extending into both neighborhoods, Greenfield is much like a sleepier Squirrel Hill. It remains a popular home base for young adults.
Hazelwood: Bordering the Monongahela River, this working-class neighborhood once was known for gorgeous hazelnut trees. Now it’s digging itself out from the effects of industrialization.
Glen Hazel: A pocket neighborhood snuggled between Hazelwood and the Mon, Glen Hazel is lined with quaint, two-story homes.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. Robot-technology leader Carnegie Mellon University has set up Victor, a Scrabble-playing “gamebot” that faces challengers in the café at the Gates Center for Computer Science [5000 Forbes Ave.]. The program has a touch-screen board and a rotating monitor framing its CGI head. “He” is fond of trash talk. (“This is going to be a long game if that’s the best you can do,” Victor drones.)
2. Jonesing for the guilty pleasure that is the shopping mall? No need to head to the North or South Hills. National retailers have clustered along a swath of Shadyside’s Walnut Street, now home to Apple, American Apparel, Banana Republic, Gap, J.Crew and Williams-Sonoma.
3. The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts [1047 Shady Ave. and 6300 Fifth Ave.], located in one of the mansions that once defined Fifth Avenue, offers exhibits and classes for teens and adults.
4. Squirrel Hill’s Murray and Forbes avenues combine to create one of the most global dining hubs in the city. Go there for Mexican (Cuzamil), Chinese (How Lee), Indian (Coriander), Thai (Bangkok Balcony), Japanese (Sakura), Korean (Green Pepper) and Syrian (Naya). Sitting among them is an Eat’n Park because, hey, this is still Pittsburgh.
5. In 2012, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail extended along the Mon into Hazelwood, giving riverside runners and cyclists a look at this curve of the river.
6. Schenley Park [Greenfield Road] provides miles of trails for running, a public golf club and a pond. Its Panther Hollow gorge and the bridge above it create a particularly photo-worthy panorama of autumn foliage every October.
7. Hough’s Taproom and Brewpub [563 Greenfield Ave.] in Greenfield holds events to please hops snobs. Some nights, the tavern invites a regional brewery to show off its best stuff. On others, it holds theme nights, with several brewers sending their best pale ale or beer made with grapefruit.
8. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens [1 Schenley Drive] encloses 55,000 square feet of botanical adventure, ornate gardens and exotic plant species in a palace-like green house.
9. Frick Park [Forbes Avenue and Braddock Avenue] arguably is the city’s most dog-friendly. Walk past the playgrounds and down the gorge and you’ll find endless trails, an enclosed off-leash area, trail-goers who expect (and often are happy) to encounter mutts and the most exciting feature for your best friend: places where other dogs have peed.
10. All summer, Center of Life [161 Hazelwood Ave.], a faith-based neighborhood improvement organization, holds Live on Second concerts on Hazelwood’s main drag. The shows feature an anything-goes lineup of hip-hop, jazz and miscellaneous acts that come together at its youth program. —NK
For Visitors: For a time in the ’60s and ’70s, Shadyside was Pittsburgh’s bohemian neighborhood. For three Saturdays every summer, Shadyside again becomes utterly artsy, as Walnut Street is blocked off for Jam on Walnut, a mini-festival of artists’ booths and musical performers.
For Newcomers: Squirrel Hill’s Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh [5738 Forbes Ave.] offers a plethora of fitness programs and facilities for all.
For Residents: Although the last full grocery in Hazelwood packed up in 2009, some residents have formed a Food Forest in a cluster of vacant lots on Second Avenue to supply the neighborhood with fresh produce. Group members are looking for additional volunteers. And, yes, they plant hazelnut trees. —NK
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
PHOTO BY LAURA PETRILLA
James Beard-nominated chef Sonja Finn makes small plates and handmade thin-crust pizzas at the compact Dinette
[5996 Centre Ave.]. Using seasonal produce from the rooftop garden, the open kitchen serves favorites such as grilled shisito peppers and caramelized fennel soup alongside pies with curly kale, feta and egg or dry-cured chorizo with clams and parsley.
Casbah [229 S. Highland Ave.] offers excellent food with Mediterranean and North African flavors; it’s easily one of the city’s most consistently great restaurants. Start with house-cured Castelvetrano olives, pair an excellent entrée with equally excellent wine and end with one of the ultra-decadent desserts. —Leah Lizarondo
PHOTO BY HEATHER MULL
/ THE HIDDEN EAST END /
History comes alive with myriad gems that are as colorful as any you might find among more famous neighborhoods. This is where Pittsburgh’s storied industrialists once made their homes, and their legacy looms as large as their former estates. You’ll find plenty of green space and time-honored buildings here.
Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar: Belmar is the home of Waterworks Mall, which will keep you up to your ears in clothes, food and good books. Across the river, the rest of this neighborhood is a hillside residential community.
Larimer: Sturdy, stately brick houses stand the test of time in this neighborhood that has undergone many a transformation over the past century. Today, Larimer is ground zero for the Pittsburgh tech boom as home of the Bakery Square development and Google’s offices of the future.
Homewood West: This is the one-time home of pre-eminent Pittsburgh photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris as well as the location of Westinghouse Academy (formerly Westinghouse High School), where jazz composer Billy Strayhorn spent his formative years.
Homewood North: Life and Pittsburgh are full of second chances. In this neighborhood, students can find theirs at Pittsburgh Student Achievement Center, an alternative high school perfect for personal reinvention.
Homewood South: The Afro-American Music Institute [7131 Hamilton Ave.] is Homewood South embodied: A neighborhood remaking itself with a passion for art, imagination and a strong love of community.
East Hills: Proud home of the Imani Christian Academy Saints, who hold their own in football, basketball, bowling and cheerleading competitions against the city’s other private high schools.
North Point Breeze: Make your inner literary nerd happy by visiting the setting of three of John Edgar Wideman’s novels, as well as two of his memoirs.
Point Breeze: You won’t be wanting for green space as you wander the former neighborhood of many of Pittsburgh’s industrialists, now the site of the incomparable Frick Art and Historical Center [7227 Reynolds St.].
10 Fun Things to Do
1. Local artist Vanessa German runs ARThouse [7743 Hamilton Ave.], an after-school safe place in Homewood South. Children have free reign to open their hearts and imaginations.
2. It’s the rare coffee shop on which you and the kids can agree: Make Your Mark Art Space and Coffeehouse [6736 Reynolds St., 412/365-2117] is a cozy joint with a tree-shaded patio outside and magnetic walls covered in children’s drawings inside. Said walls also have cups of colored pencils to occupy the too-young-for-caffeine set.
3. Maker’s Place [7240 Fleury Way] in Homewood is an after-school space dedicated to digital literacy. Mentors help kids explore their creativity via technology, including an on-site recording studio.
4. Are boozy milkshakes out of fashion? We hope not, because we’re still drinking them at Burgatory [932 Freeport Road] while enjoying custom-created burgers.
5. Point Breeze North is home to Westinghouse Park [7051 Thomas Blvd.], with a playground as nice as those at Frick Park but without the overcrowding and lack of parking. Do us a favor and don’t tell everyone, OK? We’re trying to keep this our little secret.
6. You’ll have no idea you’re a day’s drive away from the ocean when feasting on Louisiana tuna casserole or jumbo scallops at Simmie’s [8500 Frankstown Road] in the East Hills.
7. Tucked into the Bakery Square shopping center is the ever-nifty TechShop [192 Bakery Square Blvd.], which offers everything from 3-D printers to silk screening to wood and metal shops. You can pay for monthly access or for specific how-to classes.
8. OK, maybe it’s spooky to suggest a graveyard hike, but a walk through Homewood Cemetery [1599 S. Dallas Ave.] will bust your buns with many hills — and give you a peek into history as you walk among the graves of notable ’Burghers including the Mellons and Fricks.
9. Take a trip to the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse [214 N. Lexington St.] where you can find or donate craft remnants and other trinkets.
10. The Homewood branch of the Carnegie Library [7101 Hamilton Ave.] has been in place since 1910, and its architecture alone could keep you busy for hours. We also suggest the library’s summer Jazz on the Steps concert series. —AW
For Visitors: Sunday tea at The Café at the Frick [7227 Reynolds St.] will help you to get in touch with your inner turn-of-the-century industrialist. The veggies are grown on the museum’s grounds, and the beauty of the grounds will make you forget how lost you got driving into town.
For Newcomers: We don’t know what the deal is with the dearth of car washes inside the city, either. Luckily for you, Clean Car Express [970 Washington Blvd.] is in your sights.
For Residents: You’re fixing up your house, and you think, “You know what I need? A church pew.” OK, maybe not — but you can get pews (as well as other practical and reusable items such as doors, windows, sinks and light fixtures) at Construction Junction [214 N. Lexington St.]. —AW
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD
Long before health food and farm-to-table were crazes, the East End Food Co-Op [7516 Meade St.] was holdin’ it down. The co-op has been a champion for local, unprocessed food since it opened in 1980; today, it continues to be a food-advocacy leader in the community. Before you shop, head to the back of the store and enjoy expertly made coffee and tea and grab a plate of the delicious selections in the vegetarian buffet. Want to learn more? The co-op offers a regular curriculum of classes on topics that include beekeeping, composting and kombucha-making. —Leah Lizarondo
PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD
/ THE EASTERN BORDER /
At the city’s right margin, you’ll find a diverse collection of communities stretching out to the Allegheny County line. These old-school neighborhoods are as full of history as they are character, containing a wealth of hidden finds and local landmarks.
Swisshelm Park: House hunters, take note: Swisshelm Park is one of the city’s best-kept secrets — a tree-lined residential neighborhood bordered on one side by Frick Park and on another by the Mon — and every inch of it is less than five minutes from the Parkway East.
Regent Square: While much of the business district commonly referred to as Regent Square falls within the boroughs of Edgewood and Swissvale, Regent Square proper still boasts a key strip of Frick Park and the small business district centered around the corner of Forbes and Braddock avenues.
Wilkinsburg: The large borough rich in history almost is equally divided between commercial and residential areas, with dozens of shady streets branching off from bustling Penn Avenue.
Edgewood: You don’t have to move too far past the city border to find a traditional suburb. Edgewood is marked by beautiful, 100-year-old homes alongside institutions including The Edgewood Club and the stately Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.
Swissvale: A working-class neighborhood rolling up the hills above the Monongahela River, Swissvale has enjoyed a visibility boost, thanks to frequent name-dropping by proud native son Billy Gardell, the comedian and “Mike and Molly” star.
Rankin: The small, primarily residential neighbor of Braddock and Swissvale is known for its eponymous bridge, which straddles the Mon (and is the prime route to Kennywood for many ’Burghers).
Braddock Hills: If you build it, they will come . . . What they come for might change a few times, though. From 1959-76, a property near the center of this community was the site of the Ardmore Drive-In Movie Theater. Then it converted to a shopping center, which has partially given way to Propel Braddock Hills Elementary and High schools.
Forest Hills: The borough along Ardmore Boulevard bears the National Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City, USA” label, and with more than its share of parks and recreational facilities, the name fits.
Churchill: In football-obsessed western Pennsylvania, few schools can boast the success of Woodland Hills High School. The five-time WPIAL champs have sent a steady stream of alums to the NFL.
Wilkins Township: The log cabin built by early Wilkins settler Christopher Linhart in 1782 has seen its community transition from farming center to coal town to Westinghouse community to modern suburb.
Chalfant: Happy centennial to this tiny residential borough. The one-sixth-of-a-square-mile hamlet broke off from Wilkins Township on Dec. 14, 1914.
Turtle Creek: Maybe don’t “Call Arnold Slick from Turtle Crick.” According to Penguins broadcaster Mike Lange, the man named in one of his famous “Lange-isms” was at one time a real resident of quiet Turtle Creek, though a private one who didn’t like to be bothered.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. Maybe you’ve heard about the Large Hadron Collider, the European particle collider where scientists investigate the very nature of reality. You probably haven’t seen the Westinghouse Atom Smasher [Avenue A and Fairview Avenue], an ancestor of the Collider that still stands in Forest Hills. You can’t visit the site today, but you can see its hulking frame from a number of streets in Forest Hills.
2. Grab a stunningly large hoagie at Triangle Bar & Grill [2122 Monongahela Ave., 412/271-9885] in Swissvale. The Battleship will feed a household; the Super Battleship could satiate a whole party.
3. You might not realize you’re entering a gallery as you walk down Whitney Avenue in Wilkinsburg — but when you see the paintings known as the Whitney Avenue Art Gallery, you’ll be transfixed. In 2010, local artists were invited to create original works on abandoned houses along the 700 block of the street.
4. Find a surprising slice of Thailand on the other side of the tracks at Curry Away [247 Edgewood Ave.] in Edgewood. You owe yourself a heaping serving of Massaman curry; whatever you get, order the crab rangoon to start.
5. Feed your mind and Fido’s in one stop. Drop in at Animal Nature [7610 Forbes Ave.] and buy your cat or dog a mind-stimulating puzzle toy. Outside the store, help yourself to a complimentary piece of literature from the Little Free Library, one of several birdhouse-sized libraries in the area.
6. Hungry on Ardmore Boulevard? Get a big Italian meal with a craft beer at Roman Bistro [2104 Ardmore Blvd.] or a savory sandwich at Simple Gourmet [2203 1/2 Ardmore Blvd.].
7. Who’s up for a ukelele party? Drop by Biddle’s Escape [401 Biddle Ave.] every other Wednesday for an open uke session. The coffeeshop also offers yoga, literary events, foreign-language discussion groups — and, obviously, some great java.
8. Got a song in your heart? Well get it out of there so that someone else can hear it. Book some time in Treelady Studios [628 Brown Ave.] in Wilkins Township. Among the high-profile clients that have stopped by: The Discovery Channel’s power duo, The MythBusters, which had to record some quick audio while passing through Pittsburgh.
9. Why spring for Steelers tickets? You won’t find many better football environments than the Wolvarena in Turtle Creek [1200 Lynn Ave.], the home field for Woodland Hills High football. The stadium has been lauded as a must-visit by the likes of ESPN and USA Today.
10. The Sunday-night film series at Regent Square Theater [1035 S. Braddock Ave.] never fails to come up with an intriguing theme. One recent iteration: movies that Don Draper and/or Peggy Olson watched on an episode of “Mad Men,” such as “Born Free” and “The Misfits.” —SC
For Visitors: Cutting over the Rankin Bridge en route to Kennywood, Homestead or The Waterfront? Be forewarned: It’s a notorious speed trap with a 25-mph limit; drive safely and don’t get busted on your way to something fun.
For Newcomers: It’s easy to miss one of the best pizzas in Pittsburgh. Foli’s Place [1050 Brinton Road] in Braddock Hills has bountiful beer specials and great bar food — including the incomparable Combo pizza, a meat-and-veg-loaded masterpiece.
For Residents: Frick Park isn’t the only place around here with challenging hikes. Make a left from Edgewood Avenue once you see Edgewood Towne Centre across the tracks to your right; you’ll find a quiet neighborhood full of ever-ascending streets. The elevation is high enough that you’ll see the city skyline when you reach the apex of the neighborhood. —SC
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
PHOTO BY LAURA PETRILLA
Root 174 [1113 S. Braddock Ave.] is the restaurant you wish you had in your neighborhood. Consistently cited among the best restaurants in Pittsburgh, Root 174 is where Chef/owner Keith Fuller creates amazing seasonal dishes for omnivores and vegans alike. Start with the famous crispy Brussels sprouts and then take your pick from the ever-changing array of main dishes; favorites include the banh mi and vegetarian dishes, which often feature thoughtful touches such as preserved lemon, beet gastrique and black garlic.
Down the street, you can’t miss with all-day breakfast at Square Café [1137 S. Braddock Ave.]. The menu ranges from well-made standards and creative breakfast burritos to original items such as quinoa and lima bean skillet. —Leah Lizarondo
PHOTO BY JOHN ALTDORFER
/ THE SPRAWLING SUBURBS /
Like variety? A hop on Interstate 376 takes you to the city’s Eastern suburbs, where the busy business corridors of Monroeville (site of two major hospitals: Forbes Regional and UPMC East) and Penn Hills merge with the quieter communities of Plum and Murrysville. If you look closely, you can find a few farms here and there.
Monroeville: You can’t talk about Monroeville without mentioning the ubiquitous Monroeville Mall [200 Mall Circle Drive]. The shopping center was the site of filming for the horror classic “Dawn of the Dead.” Must. Have. Brains — er, Shopping.
Murrysville: Just over the border from Allegheny County, the rapidly growing community bills itself as the gateway (follow Route 22) to Westmoreland County.
Penn Hills: Allegheny County’s second-largest municipality by population is home to Lifetime television diva Abby Lee Miller’s dance studio, where you can find the (often-feuding) cast of “Dance Moms.”
Plum: Skiing? Swimming? Why not both? Plum’s Boyce Park [675 Frankstown Road], which spills over into neighboring Monroeville, has a ski lodge and wave pool.
Pitcairn: Named for Pennsylvania Railroad official Robert Pitcairn, the borough is known as the site of large railroad yards.
Export: From rails to trails: The Turtle Creek Industrial Railway, which runs 9½ miles from Export to Trafford, is being turned into a recreational trail for walkers and bikers.
Delmont: Take in dinner and a show at the iconic Lamplighter restaurant [6566 William Penn Highway], which has operated for more than 80 years.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. Rivertowne Brewing offers tours of its facility in Murrysville [5578 Old William Penn Highway] to educate beer drinkers on the brewing process. Each tour includes a beer sampling. Cheers!
2. With all of the Italian-Americans who call Penn Hills home, it’s no surprise there are some great pizza joints in the area, including Pasqualino’s Italian Restaurant [13032 Frankstown Road]. Many longtime customers still refer to Pasqualino’s by its original name, Pizza Palace.
3. Humpty Dumpty sat on the . . . miniature golf course. The fragile nursery-rhyme character overlooks the putt-putt greens at the Willow golf course in Plum [7838 Saltsburg Road, 412/793-9918]. The facility also has a driving range and baseball batting cages.
4. It’s easy to shop until you drop in Monroeville, and not just because of Monroeville Mall. The municipality also boasts the still-thriving Miracle Mile Shopping Center [4100 William Penn Highway]. It was one of the largest centers of its kind when it was built in the 1950s.
5. Be a student of life. The Community College of Allegheny County offers a ton of no-credit, fee-based personal-enrichment courses — including dance, music, massage and writing — at its Boyce campus [595 Beatty Road] in Monroeville.
6. Grab dinner from the original Fox’s Pizza Den [710 Broadway Blvd.]. The location in Pitcairn was the first of the company’s spots to open in 1971.
7. Shoot and score! Murrysville SportZone [4491 School Road South] has dek hockey leagues for players who are older than 30 and 40.
8. Wash down the carbs from Pasqualino’s — or wherever your journey takes you — with Turner’s Iced Tea, made in Penn Hills at Turner’s Dairy Farm [1049 Jefferson Road].
9. Forget visiting the Hollywood sign; take in the Murrysville sign instead. The “tree sign” uses individual trees to spell out the municipality’s name on a hillside. The local Sportsman and Landowners Alliance lights the M on the sign each year during the community’s light-up night.
10. Enjoy a live performance at the Apple Hill Playhouse [275 Manor Road], which showcases crowd-pleasing productions, dinner theater and summer classes at its restored barn house in Delmont. —JBS
For Visitors: Once upon a time, a 35-foot electronic Christmas tree lit up the former Westinghouse Electric Corporation’s Churchill campus. The tree, which overlooked the Parkway East, has found new life in Export after a councilman bought it in an online auction. Constructed of thousands of blinking lights, the tree now is a staple of the community’s holiday celebration.
For Newcomers: The Apple ’n Arts Festival is held every fall at Shield’s Farm [326 E. Pittsburgh St.] in Delmont. The craft show typically attracts 40,000 to 50,000 people to the tiny borough.
For Residents: Built on the grounds of the former landmark Blue Spruce Motel and swimming pool, the Blue Spruce Shoppes in Murrysville soon will be home to the latest Burgatory restaurant. Leave your mark by purchasing one of the pavers that will surround the shopping center’s water fountain. Proceeds benefit the Murrysville Community Library. —JBS
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
The best Indian food in the ’Burgh might be from Udipi Cafe [4141 Old William Penn Highway]. Hidden in an inconspicuous stretch of Old William Penn Highway, this vegetarian restaurant serves South Indian specialties. Start with all manner of bread: mouthwatering dosas, majestic puffed batura and uttapam rice-and-lentil pancakes with savory fillings such as onions and chilis.
Close-by Kohinoor Indo-Pak [4155 William Penn Highway] serves tandoori as it was meant to be, as well as dishes that reflect merged Indian, Pakistani and Chinese cuisine. —Leah Lizarondo
/ THE MON AND BEYOND /
The past may be in the past, but these Mon Valley and eastern communities still stand strong in our post-steel, post-coal days. Today, these neighborhoods are on a journey through urban and small-town reinvention and innovation.
Braddock: The poster child for Rust Belt revival claims a growing collection of artists and people looking to build a renewed life.
North Braddock: At one time, housing a steel mill practically was a requirement for many of the municipalities in the Pittsburgh region. The Edgar Thomson Plant of the U.S. Steel Mon Valley Works, built in 1875, is one of the few in the area that’s still burning.
East Pittsburgh: We’re assuming you love radio and television. Both trace their DNA through East Pittsburgh, the former via the first-ever KDKA broadcast and the latter in the laboratories of Westinghouse, a cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s heyday.
Wilmerding: The 100-year-plus home of the Westinghouse Air Brake Co., Wilmerding now is a residential borough along Turtle Creek.
Wall: Next door to Wilmerding, Wall is the base of Western Pennsylvania Christian Broadcasting (WPCB-TV), the flagship station of Cornerstone Television.
Trafford: This border community mostly — but not entirely — is situated within Westmoreland County. Trafford is full of parks and other tree-filled beautiful spaces.
Duquesne: If you’re identifying historic steel sites, Duquesne Works is a must-see; it’s the former home of the nation’s largest blast furnace.
McKeesport: A bustling city for people of all ages, but especially children, McKeesport carries a Playful City USA distinction for its innovative efforts on behalf of its youngest citizens.
East McKeesport: This small borough is reaping the benefits of renewed community efforts to revitalize its public spaces, all the way down to the sidewalks and lampposts.
North Versailles Township: In the complex math of history and geography, this township was disputed territory between Pennsylvania and the now-distant Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, it’s home to a wide range of businesses, including local beer heavyweight Full Pint Brewing Co. [1963 Lincoln Highway].
Versailles: Because there are three municipalities with similar names listed here in a row, let’s take a moment to clarify. Newcomers, don’t make the common mistake: Around here we say it “ver-sales.”
South Versailles Township: This Versailles is the proud birthplace of Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr.
White Oak: At 66 years old, White Oak is a young borough by western Pa. standards. This young’un of a community exudes good energy with events such as community-wide pickup softball games and family swim nights.
North Huntingdon: A growing, picturesque residential community in Westmoreland County, North Huntingdon also boasts a long stretch of highway businesses along Route 30.
Irwin: It’s not just eastern Pennsylvania that can call itself coal country. Irwin once rested on some of the state’s most bountiful deposits of bituminous coal.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. The Westinghouse Air Brake Co. General Office Building [George Street] is as beautiful today as it was when it was built in 1890. The Wilmerding building, known locally as The Castle, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
2. Time to get your community theater on. Join the audience at a semiprofessional play at The Theatre Factory in Trafford [235 Cavitt Ave.].
3. Got a flair for local history? Pay a visit to the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center [1832 Arboretum Drive]. Claim extra credit if you make use of the research center and its rich archival collection.
4. Few places offer as many programs as the North Versailles Library [1401 Greensburg Ave.]. Whether it’s a Teen Star Trek Party or the adult-targeted Upcycled Art night, there is something for everyone here.
5. The best part of reinventing your town? You can do whatever you want. In Braddock’s case, this means that the local screen printing and embroidery shop, Ink Division [218 Braddock Ave.], is a food-truck hot spot. We don’t know why, either, but we find it’s best not to ask questions about things that are this awesome.
6. Sample the latest hoppy creations at The Pub at Full Pint Brewing Co. in North Versailles.
7. We recommend a trip to Braddock’s Golden Treasures [709-711 Braddock Ave.], especially if you’re starting out on your own. The estate-liquidation service has everything from mattresses and coffee tables to trinkets and vintage toys. You never know what you might find.
8. Celebrate some local-gone-national heritage at the North Huntingdon-based Big Mac Museum and Restaurant [9061 Route 30]. Yes, the Big Mac. Another reminder that the greater Pittsburgh area invented everything wonderful.
9. Headed to White Oak? You better take the cannoli (OK, fine, pay for it, but you know what we’re getting at) at Patti’s Pasticceria [1502 Lincoln Way]. If, for reasons unfathomable to us, you’re not into cannoli, Patti’s offers a variety of Italian pastries (with gluten-free options) as well as organic espresso to wash it all down.
10. Hit up Kerber’s Dairy in North Huntingdon [1856 Guffey Road]. Not only does the staff make ice cream on-site, but Kerber’s also offers mini-golf, year-round tubing and — come fall — hayrides for pumpkin season. —AW
For Visitors: Hit the streets on your feet in this part of town. All of your best finds are going to be those Internet-invisible gems you stumble upon by accident.
For Newcomers: When it comes to trims, loyalty is the name of the game. And the name of your new hairdresser is James Milton of Milton’s Top Notch Hair Design [704 Braddock Ave., 412/727-6837] in Braddock.
For Residents: Enjoy the Great Allegheny Passage through trailheads in McKeesport and Duquesne, with connections to the Steel Valley Trail and the Loop Trail as you head out toward Versailles. —AW
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
One of the flagships of Braddock’s revival is The Brew Gentlemen Beer Co. [512 Braddock Ave.] The borough’s first brewery in 75-plus years produces a balance of solid, classic beers and a rotating selection of experimental brews. The three gentlemen leading the brewery are some of the few U.S. Cicerones (certified beer sommeliers), and that is evidenced by the quality of their craft. Do not miss the White Sky, an utterly unusual and refreshing chai-spiced wheat beer.
Make a trip out to Puzzlers Restaurant [2714 Walnut St.] in McKeesport, a dad’s labor of love for his son with autism. Joe Osinsky bought the restaurant in 2013 to help youth with disabilities gain work experience. Diners love the restaurant’s breakfast and lunch standards. —Leah Lizarondo
/ THE REBORN 'BURBS /
Within this bend in the Monongahela River, shopping malls, amusement parks and bike trails occupy the grounds once hallowed by steel mills, machine shops and slag heaps. Collisions between green space, industrial heritage and new development around these parts make for some of the area’s most interesting places.
Homestead: A former mill town, Homestead is rebuilding a charming main street of restaurants and shops. It also hosts the largest chunk of The Waterfront development.
West Homestead: The small borough of West Homestead once was home to the Mesta Machine Corp. and now houses landmarks including Sandcastle Water Park, the studio of noted painter Robert Qualters and the western edge of The Waterfront shopping complex.
Munhall: The long and narrow borough of Munhall stretches from the Monongahela River into the South Hills. It includes the Carnegie Library of Homestead [510 E. 10th Ave.] and its famed music hall and athletic club.
Whitaker: The childhood home of actor Jeff Goldblum, Whitaker is a small residential community hidden off zigzagging roads and nestled on a hillside near the Rankin Bridge.
West Mifflin: The largest borough in the region also is the most diverse, bringing together such tenants as Kennywood Park, Century III Mall and the Allegheny County Airport.
Hays: While this Pittsburgh neighborhood counts a small residential population, most of Hays is undeveloped — it’s one of the largest undeveloped plots of land in the city limits.
New Homestead: Sandwiched against suburbs on the city’s edge, New Homestead is a small residential community with four independent subdivisions, a scattering of parks and a lot of green space.
Lincoln Place: One of the city’s most far-flung neighborhoods from downtown, Lincoln Place is a predominantly residential community with a small business district along Mifflin Road.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. Follow the Steel Valley Trail, which passes through West Mifflin, Whitaker, Munhall, Homestead and West Homestead and feeds into the Great Allegheny Passage.
2. Honor the industrial heritage of western Pennsylvania with visits to the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area museum in the historic Bost Building and the nearby Pump House in Homestead.
3. Cross the tracks for dessert at Blue Dust [601 Amity St.]. The melted brie covered in macerated black cherries, almonds and honey may sound posh, but the digs at this gastropub decidedly are low-key.
4. Learn the basics of aviation with an introductory flight at the Pittsburgh Flight Training Center at the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin. A half-hour tour over the South Hills costs a little more than $100.
5. Take a load off at the Johnny Rockets location inside Kennywood Park. Scheduled to open this summer, it will be the first sit-down restaurant in the park in 30 years.
6. Grab a bottle of Jim’s Famous Sauce [2600 Skyline Drive], the secret ingredient behind the legendary family hot-dog joint in West Mifflin.
7. Pick up a quart of vegetarian Balkan bean soup and a batch of banitza cheese strudel from the Soup Sega! kitchen at the Bulgarian Macedonian National Educational and Cultural Center [449-451 W. Eighth Ave.], open from late September until mid-June.
8. Celebrate the silver anniversary of Sandcastle Water Park [1000 Sandcastle Drive], which converted an abandoned railroad yard in West Homestead into a popular waterpark in 1989.
9. Catch a Bollywood flick — there’s one playing most weeks at AMC Loews Waterfront 22 [300 W. Waterfront Drive].
10. Grab a formidable hoagie every third Tuesday at the Whitaker Volunteer Fire Co. [239 Church St.]. —EL
For Visitors: Trust us — the roads in the area are less confusing than they seem. All major roads feed into Route 837 or Route 885, which themselves connect to encircle the area.
For Newcomers: This area’s tight clustering of houses, businesses and green spaces make this area an intricate mixture of urban and suburban neighborhoods. People who aim to relocate here can find their preferred balance with a little behind-the-wheel research.
For Residents: Although it is lush, the region lacks a major park. Those seeking greenery can head to the many smaller parks, paths and trails, the prodigious undeveloped land (with permission) and the massive and historic Homestead Cemetery on Main Street in Munhall. —EL
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
Shopping at The Waterfront? Disregard the national chains and head over to Eighth Avenue in Homestead, where the charming Tin Front Café [216 E. Eighth Ave.] serves healthy, delicious food in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Unique entrees include the sweet-corn risotto baked in a Portobello cap and Tin Front’s version of beans and greens, served with a gingery sauce over creamy grits. Visit on a Sunday for the legendary brunch buffet, replete with breakfast favorites, quiches, French toasts and pancakes (including a stellar vegan blueberry option). —Leah Lizarondo
/ FAR DOWNRIVER /
At Allegheny County’s southeastern border, a group of humble, green towns awaits intrepid travelers and new residents. This is western Pennsylvania as it has been for generations: community-focused, more than a little blue-collar and always ready to surprise (and have a good time).
Dravosburg: Patriotism is alive and well in this small borough, as evidenced by the decked-out grounds of the American Legion post at the corner of McClure Street and Duquesne Avenue.
Port Vue: The Youghiogheny River’s scenic confluence with the Mon is near this largely residential community, which also houses a handful of hometown restaurants such as ice cream joint O.C. Treat-N-Eat [1700 Washington Blvd., 412/673-4045].
Glassport: This is one of those areas with a very literal name: Glass, for the bygone Pittsburgh Glass Co., and port, for the borough’s location nestled along the Mon. Glassport is marked by a small-town blend of residences and businesses along Monongahela Avenue.
Liberty: There’s plenty to learn in Liberty, whether it’s book-learning at South Allegheny Middle and High schools or street smarts at Dynamic Martial Arts [2809 Liberty Way].
Lincoln: Roughly 1,000 residents are spread out over Lincoln’s 5 square miles, leaving room for a heaping helping of green space that includes most of the lush Dead Man’s Hollow.
Clairton: One of the last true steel towns in the area, the city of Clairton is home to the busy Clairton Plant, a U.S. Steel coke-making facility. The residential portion of this riverfront city is densely populated; residents flock to busy Clairton Park in the warmer months.
Forward Township: Golf aficionados who are not inclined to join a private club should make tracks to sprawling Forward, home of the public Riverview Golf Course [97 Golf Course Drive].
Elizabeth Borough: Stroll down Second Avenue in this old steel town to find a wealth of independent businesses with plenty of local flavor — then hang a right on Strawberry Street to reach the shores of the Mon.
West Elizabeth: With a handful of streets and a little more than 500 residents, West Elizabeth is a quiet community facing its big sister on the other side of the Mon.
Elizabeth Township: Yep, there are three Elizabeths ’round these parts. This, the biggest ’Beth, is the site of Elizabeth Forward High School, Round Hill Park and 7 Springs Golf Course (no relation to the other Seven Springs).
10 Fun Things to Do
1. The Youghiogheny River Trail is the 71-mile stretch of the Great Allegheny Passage between McKeesport and Confluence, Somerset County. With plenty of scenic riverside stops along the way, it’s a fine warm-up for those getting ready to conquer the whole of the passage.
2. Does food taste better with a view? Plenty of restaurants in the Pittsburgh area would say so — and few have better vistas than the deck at The Boston Waterfront [2422 St. David Drive], an eatery on the Yough in Elizabeth Township.
3. Get your soft serve in its natural state, no sugar added, at Frosty Cone [740 Glassport Elizabeth Road]. While you’re there, check out the wall covered in photos of devotees who’ve worn a Frosty Cone T-shirt while traveling the world.
4. The Allegheny Land Trust owns the 440 acres within Dead Man’s Hollow, a conservation area that is open to the public from dawn until dusk. The densely wooded area makes for peaceful exploration — or, if you want an experience more befitting the Hollow’s spooky name, check out the website’s list of historical misfortunes that have taken place in these woods.
5. A big plate of warm, housemade potato chips covered in buffalo sauce and blue-cheese crumbles. Sound about right? Then head to Rockwell’s Red Lion Restaurant [201 S. Second Ave.] in Elizabeth Borough.
6. There are some sports that are not for novices. Bowling is not such a sport. No one will scoff if your final score is less than your age at Glassport Lanes [839 Monongahela Ave., 412/664-0544], as long as you’re having fun. Before you go, know that these lanes are closed from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
7. As the vinyl resurgence continues to bloom, many flock to record stores in city neighborhoods. If your search for rare finds is limited to Pittsburgh, though, you’ll miss the bevy of great music at Out of the Ordinary Music and Gifts [733 Monongahela Ave.] in Glassport.
8. We don’t know if you’ve priced them recently, but backyard swimming pools are awfully expensive. Cool off for less at the Clairton Pool in Clairton Park, where a season pass costs $50.
9. Teach your kids what the fruits of their own labor taste like. Bring them down to Triple B Farms [823 Berry Lane,] in Forward Township for an afternoon of strawberry picking.
10. Take birdwatching away from your backyard feeder and into the wild at the Joshua C. Whetzel Preserve [Bunola River Road], where a little patience can lead to a hawk sighting. —SC
For Visitors: You don’t need to schlep your own ride all the way down here to enjoy the area’s access points to the Great Allegheny Passage. Rent a bike for $5 per hour or $20 per day at Trailside Treasures [1910 Donner St.]. Trailside Treasures also rents guest rooms for those on a longer journey.
For Newcomers: Social-club culture — that is, membership in the American Legion, a fire hall or various fauna-themed lodges — is alive and well in many parts of western Pennsylvania. Easy socialization and reasonably priced drinks are to be had by joining an area group such as the Elizabeth Loyal Order of Moose [3 Market St., 412/384-3436].
For Residents: Got teenagers more interested in Xbox than calculus? If they attend Elizabeth Forward High School, you can enroll them in the Entertainment Technology Academy to learn about game design. The program was created in partnership with Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center. —SC
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
You know how hipster diners try to look as if they came straight out of the ’60s? Johnny’s Drive-In [Fifth and Madison streets, 412/384-8117] is what they’re aiming for. The old-fashioned service is a treat in itself, and the throwback menu offers breakfast favorites, burgers and handmade shakes. As you head down Route 837 in West Elizabeth, drive slowly or you’ll miss it — and bring cash, as this retro joint doesn’t have time for your plastic. —Leah Lizarondo
PHOTO BY DAVE DICELLO
/ THE SOUTHERN SUBURBS /
You’re getting all dressed up and have everywhere to go in some of Pittsburgh’s finest suburbs, located south of the city limits. Here, you’ll find great schools, choice eats and all of the other reasons many people cite for not living in the city proper.
Dormont: Many consider Dormont the place to be for an artsy, upscale city life — even though it’s technically not in the city. Dormont sits just outside the limits.
Mt. Lebanon: One of Pittsburgh’s most-affluent suburbs, Mt. Lebanon boasts good schools, good shopping, well-tended homes and a sprawling municipal park that includes a public ice center and a newly renovated outdoor swimming complex.
Upper St. Clair Township: You’re probably doing pretty well for yourself if you’re hanging out in Upper St. Clair, a nationally recognized community and school district. Upper St. Clair also fits an impressive 14 parks into its 9.8 square miles.
Baldwin Borough: This inverted-C-shaped borough is heavy on the small-town pride with a love of its high-school football team (go, Highlanders!) and summers spent shooting down the waterslides at Baldwin Borough Swimming Pool [3344 Churchview Ave.].
Baldwin Township: While part of the busy business district on McNeilly Road runs through Baldwin Township, the community is known mostly as a gentle residential area full of friendly neighbors and dogs ready to greet you on the front lawn.
Castle Shannon: The Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railroad arrived here when there were eight busy coal mines nearby to service. Though the miners are long gone, the active tracks remain. Connect yourself to local history with a visit to Pittsburgh Antique Shops [1116 Castle Shannon Blvd.].
Bethel Park: Bethel Park shares shopping space with Upper St. Clair at South Hills Village to go along with more than a handful of quiet streets and homey restaurants. Don’t forget to stop at Bethel Bakery [5200 Brightwood Road] for a treat to savor now or later.
Brentwood: A buzzing community with a main drag — Brownsville Road — that was both a pre-Columbian Native American trail and a formative path during the Whiskey Rebellion.
Whitehall: Whitehall takes pride in its busy public library [100 Borough Park Drive]. The borough touts the library’s consistently high ranking among national surveys.
Pleasant Hills: Bear’s Retreat [253 Inglefield Drive], built in 1794, is the rare landmark still used for its original purpose. This home still is in use as a private residence today.
South Park Township: This beautiful, rural community in the far southwestern corner of Allegheny County is home to the mammoth county park of the same name.
Jefferson Hills: A frequent stop for hikers and cyclists, this residential community offers access to both the Montour and Steel Valley trails within the Great Allegheny Passage.
Overbrook: Young families, take heed: This up-and-coming community is growing in popularity among new parents.
Banksville: This city neighborhood, busy with commerce along Banksville Road, prides itself on its coal-mining heritage.
Beechview: The vast waves of green hills in this neighborhood will make you wish you got out to this picturesque part of the city more often.
Brookline: Sprawling outward between two major South Hills thoroughfares, West Liberty Avenue and Saw Mill Run Boulevard, this busy area isn’t too hurried to neglect its farming heritage, with plenty of green space and a compact business district to brag about.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. How’s this for a superlative? Canton Avenue in Beechview is the steepest public street in the United States (and, some claim, the world). Forget San Francisco or even the South Side Slopes. It’s time to check out what you and your car are made of.
2. Whether you’re looking to try something new or better know your own spirituality, MoonStones [2892 W. Liberty Ave.] in Dormont is your one-stop shop for books, candles, jewelry and other paraphernalia. Make sure to give a nuzzle to Baloo, the resident cat.
3. We’ve heard that you’re thinking about taking guitar lessons, but you feel as if you’re too old to be starting something like that. You’re wrong: Your dreams of shredding can become a reality at Empire Music in Mt. Lebanon [719 Washington Road].
4. There is much to do at Upper St. Clair’s Community & Recreation Center [1551 Mayview Road], but we’re into getting fit with the barre-Pilates fusion class. It’s a little something new, a little something tried and true and a lot of something that’s not plain ol’ yoga (no offense, local yogis).
5. We love a good glass of wine, and Greenhouse Winery in Brentwood [3825 Saw Mill Run Blvd.] is just the place for good glasses of wine. Aside from the wine selection, the winery also has fun extras such as custom labels, amateur winemaker contests and more.
6. South Park’s, uh, South Park contains 2,000 acres that could keep you busy year-round. Wave pool and a concert series in the summer, ice skating and dek hockey in the winter — and so, so much more.
7. We know this is nontraditional, but hear us out: Beto’s Pizza in Banksville [1473 Banksville Road] takes warm crust and sauce and then adds cold cheese and toppings. It takes a little practice to be able to eat a slice without all of the good stuff sliding off, but it’s well worth the effort.
8. Everyone knows that if you’re doing barbecue right, you’ve got as much on you as in you. So maybe don’t wear your best to Brookline’s Bama’s Southern Kitchen [600 Brookline Blvd.] because the ribs are smoked, slathered and ready for your sticky fingers.
9. If you’re in a place named Pleasant Hills, it seems only right to visit a spot as lovely as Mowry Park [400 Mowry Drive]. For the finest of fun experiences, we recommend a visit during summer movie nights, held every Wednesday (Thursday if it rains) at dusk.
10. In a world that’s all coffee, coffee, coffee, here’s a shout out to the tea lovers. Bella’s House of Fine Teas and Gift Shop in Bethel Park [2822 South Park Road] is everything you could want for a floral-covered afternoon. The spot even offers tea parties to-go for bridal showers and the like. —AW
For Visitors: Busy exploring? Start your day with a butter cinnamon roll at Dormont’s Potomac Bakery [1419 Potomac Ave.] and ride that sweet carb buzz all over town.
For Newcomers: Moving in? Leave your unpacked boxes in the living room and go get yourself lost in search of the best local pizza — we’ll suggest Fiori’s in Brookline [103 Capital Ave.] to start. You have to feed the friends who helped you move, right?
For Residents: We know that — even though you dream about it — you don’t have all day to play golf. We’ve solved your problem for you: The Three-Hole Golf Course in Upper St. Clair [1820 McLaughlin Run Road]. Nailed it. —AW
Brazen Kitchen's Tips
PHOTO BY LAURA PETRILLA
For bistro cuisine, Wild Rosemary [1469 Bower Hill Road] in Upper St. Clair is a BYOB spot that offers a weekly dinner menu with housemade desserts.
Casa Rasta in Beechview [2056 Broadway Ave.] brings us a Mexican-Caribbean menu that includes avocado fries, Jamaican jerk-curry tacos, jambalaya and coconut shrimp.
At Crested Duck Charcuterie [1603 Broadway Ave.] in Beechview, Kevin Costa makes exceptional cured delicacies with meat from sustainable sources.
Farther down Route 51, Everest [4042 Saw Mill Run Blvd.] offers mo-mo (dumplings with a variety of fillings) and chau-chau, a Nepali version of chow mein made more savory and spicy and with unexpected ingredients such as kala chana or black chickpeas. —Leah Lizarondo
/ THE MIDWEST /
You’ll find a few common threads in the city’s western communities: shared main streets, a hard-working mindset, sprawling green patches of land and good old-fashioned food joints.
Kennedy Township: The streets of this church-filled community are lined with suburban-style houses and shops situated near Ohio Valley General Hospital.
Stowe Township: The working-class crowd of Stowe has many pizza shops from which to choose, including favorite Mama Lena’s II [732 Broadway St.].
McKees Rocks: This area is deeply rooted in Eastern-European history, housing numerous churches with Old World ties.
Crafton: Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach and NFL television commentator Bill Cowher was born and raised in Crafton, which also is home to Crafton Park.
Ingram: Named for Irishman Thomas Ingram, this community has been going strong for more than 100 years. Each year, the borough presents Ingram Days, a weeklong community event.
Thornburg: The Borough of Thornburg has had an active community theater group since the ’30s. The Thornburg Community Club also prepares a calendar of events for residents.
Fairywood: Mega-online-retailer ModCloth has a warehouse in this neighborhood.
Windgap: Every town in Pennsylvania has a proud yet fairly obscure claim. Windgap is home to the nation’s oldest rubber-band (or gumband) company, Dykema Rubber Band.
Chartiers City: This small community benefits from the efforts of those who run White Lily Baptist Church [3621 Chartiers Ave.] and its outreach center.
Esplen: City crews finally are working on the long vessel that is Carson Street, which runs through this tiny neighborhood overlooking the Ohio River.
West End: Locals and visitors alike zip through this small city neighborhood of shops, eateries and residences, home to Wabash Park.
Sheraden: Pittsburgh Community Redevelopment Group, a member-based nonprofit that works with a network of community groups, began working to stabilize Sheraden in 2011. It hopes to increase home ownership and connect residents with proper resources, such as financial counseling, to ensure longterm stability.
Crafton Heights: Pittsburgh Gifted Center, one of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, operates in this little community.
Westwood: Residents know Westwood is the place to find top-notch ice cream, at Antney’s [1316 Poplar St.] on Poplar Street.
Elliott: With two parks and an assortment of businesses, on-the-go folks can stop in this community that connects drivers to popular main roads.
East Carnegie: The Port Authority’s West Busway runs through this community, where Cellone’s Bakery has operated for decades.
Oakwood: Frequent bowlers have been using the AMF Noble Manor Lanes [2440 Noblestown Road] for years. Recently they’ve gained a new breakfast spot, Eggs-R-Us [2350 Noblestown Road, 412/922-5828].
Ridgemont: This borough is known for its tucked-away homes and as the site of Parkway Center Mall.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church [116 Ella St.] puts together one of the city’s largest Ukrainian festivals — which says something, considering the number of organizations and parishes in the area with Eastern-European lineage. Pierogies and entertainment are highlights of the McKees Rocks church’s late-July festivities.
2. Take Rover to Thornburg’s Conservation Park [Thornburg Road] so that he may roam around an off-leash dog park where all the pooches have a permit; the borough issues only 100 per year and asks that owners leave pups at home on Sundays and Wednesdays.
3. Ingram Days has been a summertime highlight for the past 30-some years. The borough presents its community days and fireworks display at nearby Crafton Park, generally in late summer.
4. Pittsburgh Musical Theater, which trains young thespians, is headquartered in a revamped former school in Elliott [327 S. Main St.], where it also holds summer camp sessions.
5. Stop by the original Mancini’s Bakery location in Stowe Township [601 Mancini Way] any time of day to pick up fresh bread or dough.
6. Need to unwind? Head to Sharp Edge Creekhouse in Fairywood [288 W. Steuben St.] to take advantage of weeknight happy-hour specials on flatbread pizzas and Belgian brews.
7. James Gallery in West End Village [413 S. Main St.] rotates out its exhibits every few months.
8. Stave off late-night doughnut cravings by visiting Big Daddy’s Donuts [90 Noble Ave., 412/921-4441] in Crafton. You’ll likely debate over the choices, including toasted coconut cream and peanut butter and jelly. We suggest getting a few — to “share with others.”
9. Head out on the range with a bunch of friends, or spend some time with the family playing mini-golf at Vietmeier Golf Center in Kennedy Township [1953 McKees Rocks Road].
10. Show off your artsy side at Kennedy Township’s Kolor-n-Kiln [548 Pine Hollow Road], a pottery studio that’s the frequent host of birthday parties. —KM
For Visitors: Forget making a pit stop elsewhere — go to Remember When [3860 Chartiers Ave.] in Windgap to get Pittsburgh’s largest cone. The staff swirl at least 6 inches of the ice milk-based dessert atop a cake cone; don’t be shocked if they have to carry it out the back door, depending on the size you order.
For Newcomers: Contrary to what you might’ve been told, you’ll find some of the best panoramas at West End-Elliott Overlook Park [Rue Grande Vue Street]. If you’re interested in catching Zambelli’s Independence Day fireworks spectacle, arrive early to claim your spots.
For Residents: Need something for a special occasion — or to get a sugar fix? Depend on Stowe Township mainstay Theresa’s Italian Bakery [805 Broadway St., 412/771-7389], famous for lady locks, biscotti, pizzelles and other delicacies. —KM
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
McKees Rocks is home to one of the region’s best pierogi joints, Pierogies Plus [342 Island Ave.]. Proprietor Helen Mannarino makes beloved classics such as potato and cheese, but she also concocts modern takes such as spinach, breakfast (filled with eggs!) and gluten-free pierogies.
An unexpected find in Crafton is Angkor [2350 Noblestown Road, 412/928-8424], a Cambodian/Thai restaurant. Skip the familiar Thai dishes and try Cambodian specialties such as Na-Taings (puffed rice squares) and Mee-Bompong (crispy rice noodle); for dessert, pick the jackfruit specialties. —Leah Lizarondo
/ DOWN THE HIGHWAYS /
The highway in question might be Route 19, Route 50 or Interstates 279 or 79 — they all lead to a series of communities stretching to fill much of southwestern Allegheny County and northern Washington County. Make the short trip to visit near neighbors such as Carnegie — or the healthy hike to North and South Strabane. Adventures to be had along the way are well worth the time and effort.
Bridgeville: This borough is known for its commitment to family-run businesses such as Sarasnick’s Hardware, Batter & Dough Baking Co. and Burgh’s Pizza & Wing Pub.
Scott Township: Sustainable Pittsburgh recently gave Scott Township a gold rating — meaning this community is thinking green and looking to the future.
Heidelberg: Pittsburgh may have a mind for football, but Heidelberg Soccer Club has a longstanding history as a contender on the national amateur soccer scene.
Carnegie: You’ll be charmed by the old-school Main Street running through this easy-to-access borough near downtown. Schedule a leisurely stroll around a show at Off the Wall Theater [25 W. Main St.] for an ideal evening.
Green Tree: The hometown of polarizing politician Ron Paul is one of the region’s busiest suburbs, in terms of commerce, residences and (sorry) traffic.
Rosslyn Farms: This residential community has grown as a desirable real-estate market, as evidenced by a per-capita income of more than $100,000.
South Fayette Township: History gets hardcore in South Fayette, with claims to a wealth of Native American relics. Since 1947, the high school’s “Little Green Machine” marching band has dazzled local and national audiences.
Collier Township: This township takes its youth baseball seriously, with past representation at the Little League Intermediate World Series.
Peters Township: While much of southwestern Pennsylvania claimed its heyday in the days of steel and coal, Peters is one of the region’s post-industrial suburbs, growing rapidly over the last 60 years as commercial and residential developments transformed its farmland.
Cecil Township: Business is all hustle and bustle in this once-rural community in Washington County, thanks to the ever-growing Southpointe Business Park.
North Strabane: For a township that’s not even 30 square miles, North Strabane is hitting it big with two sites on the National Register of Historic Places: the Samuel Brownlee House [Route 519] and the James Thome Farm [213 Linnwood Road].
South Strabane: Not to be outdone by its adjacent northern neighbor, South Strabane boasts three sites on the National Register of Historic Places: the Doak-Little House [Route 40], the Martin Farmstead and the Thomas Munce House [both on Route 136].
Canonsburg: Oh, the songs you could sing in the hometown of both Perry Como and Bobby Vinton, still a well-populated suburb today.
10 Fun Things to Do
PHOTO BY LAURA PETRILLA
1. Sample and sip the tequila at the Juniper Grill [4000 Washington Road] in Peters Township, where there are 16 varieties on the menu — and good food to balance out all that alcohol.
2. We promise to look the other way if you’re an adult acting like a kid at the Sarris Candies store and ice cream shop [511 Adams Ave., Canonsburg]. How could you not?
3. If you’re into stunning landmarks, then have we got the place for you in South Strabane. Martin Farmstead [Route 136 near Munce Road] is an Italianate, Queen Anne-style house, built circa 1860. It’s still a private residence, though, so let’s keep the ogling in the daytime, OK?
4. Check out the locally designed and handmade bags at Moop [100 Rosslyn Road] in Carnegie. We know you’re going to drop a pretty penny on your next purse, so why not choose one made from family-sourced waxed canvas and other ethically sound materials?
5. Yes, we know (unlike your friends who don’t live in Pennsylvania) that Philly is all the way on the other side of the state. That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a good soft pretzel of our rival city’s design. The best place to do that is the Philly Pretzel Factory [1150 Washington Pike] in Collier Township.
6. Maybe your mom wouldn’t let you take horse-riding lessons when you were a kid, but that shouldn’t stop you now that you’re all grown up. Head to Rolling Hills Ranch [677 Hickory Grade Road] and see what you’ve been missing. You can even take a moonlit ride that ends in dinner by a fire.
7. We don’t mess around with recommendations for Indian food, a cuisine that is practically a spiritual journey in and of itself. Which is why we insist that you visit Café Delhi [205 Mary St., 412/278-5058] in Carnegie and settle in for dosas, garlic naan and chicken tikka masala.
8. Get your beast on at Pittsburgh Kettlebell & Performance [1002 Greentree Road]. The spot offers kettlebell classes for folks of all levels, along with mud-run training if you’re looking to be fit and hip at the same time.
9. Rosslyn Farms Community Center [Kings Highway] started as a one-room schoolhouse in 1910 and is every bit as charming as you could possibly imagine. Spend time in the center’s library or the secondhand shop.
10. The Neville Woods Conservation Area is the real deal, nature-walk-wise. Here, you’re enveloped in mature native species as if our ancestors never settled this land at all. —AW
For Visitors: Why head to this neck of the woods? For a minute to take it all in: the lush, rural beauty in the summer or that stark, haunting beauty in the winter. Stretch in all the vastness and imagine a world where you never have to creep in your car down a way-too-narrow, two-way street in the city ever again.
For Newcomers: Clear your calendar for July 4: You’re near the site of the second-largest Fourth of July parade in Pennsylvania. Grab your folding chairs and head over to Pike Street in Canonsburg for a heavy dose of patriotism.
For Residents: We know it’s silly to recommend the most well-known restaurant chain in America, but we can assure you that the Canonsburg McDonald’s [100 Bobby Vinton Blvd.] is the only one covered in Perry Como swag. For that, you must pay a visit. —AW
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
Drive too fast through Cecil Township and you might miss one of the best Korean restaurants in Pittsburgh. Golden Pig [3201 Millers Run Road, 412/220-7170] is a small eatery with big flavors, where proprietor Yong Kwon makes dishes from recipes passed on from her mother. Sit by the small “bar” overlooking her kitchen and watch her make man-du (pan-fried dumplings), Korean pancakes and bulgogi — always served with an assortment of banchan.
Sunnybridge Natural Foods [130 Gallery Drive] in Peters Township stocks a fine health-food selection. Shop for staples and hang out at the café while enjoying gluten-free baked goods and coffee. —Leah Lizarondo
PHOTO BY LAURA PETRILLA
/ THE FAR-FLUNG 'BURBS /
After you drop off a friend or loved one at Pittsburgh International Airport, stop at these spots that will make your journey more than worthwhile — just ask the increasing number of people taking up residence in Allegheny County’s West.
Findlay Township: Once rich with deposits as part of the Pittsburgh coal seam, this township now is abundant with farmland as well as a sizable portion of Pittsburgh International Airport.
North Fayette Township: A still-growing commercial and residential community, North Fayette is home to a chunk of lovely Settlers Cabin Park [1225 Greer Road] and a good bit of the sprawling development around The Mall at Robinson.
Oakdale: Tiny (half of a square mile) but tough (it survived a TNT explosion in 1918, as well as devastating flooding after Hurricanes Frances and Ivan almost 90 years later), this borough is nicknamed “America’s Hometown.”
McDonald: Not one but two NFL head coaches have come from this old manufacturing borough that straddles the Allegheny-Washington county boundary: Marvin Lewis and Marty Schottenheimer.
Crescent Township: A sliver of a place that in 1855 broke off from Moon (Get it? Crescent, Moon?) Crescent provided some filming locations for the 1991 film “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Moon Township: This township has a long military history and continues that tradition as home to the U.S. Air Force Reserve 911th Airlift Wing. (And, of course, the rest of the aforementioned airport.)
Coraopolis: Michael Keaton got his tough-guy Batman training while growing up in this borough, known for its steep brick streets.
Robinson Township: If you’re looking to get your mall on, Robinson is the place to do it. Open-air, strip, traditional — this township has them all.
Pennsbury Village: As of 2010, 661 people live here, all of them in townhouses that make up the entirety of the village. The tiny municipality seceded from Robinson in 1976 over proposed fees for sewage treatment.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. If you’re feeling super adventurous, you can start at the northernmost point on the Montour Trail, which can be found in Moon. Wear good socks because you’ve got miles of walking or biking ahead of you.
2. People come from far and wide to spend their Saturdays lost in the maze of flat-pack furniture that is IKEA [2001 Park Manor Blvd.] in Robinson. Frankly, we can’t blame them. Last one to the café buys the meatballs!
3. You simply haven’t lived until you’ve sold your old books (and then bought four times as many) at Half Price Books [219 Summit Park Drive], which is all but hidden in The Pointe at North Fayette. As with a visit to a casino, it’s best to set yourself a time limit — though here you’re guaranteed to go home with something to show for your time.
4. We’re a little baffled, too, that a townhouse-island of a village has its own pub, but it does. Which means you have to go to Pennsbury Pub and Grille [1049 Pennsbury Blvd.] if only to say you did. If you happen to catch a game on one of the 32 HDTVs, good on you.
5. Make it a more active Throwback Thursday with a trip to Moon’s Dependable Drive In Theater [549 Moon Clinton Road].
6. We don’t know what your plans are for breakfast, but we’ll be at Eggs N’at [8556 University Blvd.]. You’re welcome to join us — just don’t interfere with our frenzied consumption of the Crabby Eggs Benedict.
7. A good mall is hard to find, but you’re in luck when you get to The Mall at Robinson [100 Robinson Centre Drive]. After all, at how many other places can you buy a fishing rod, a box of cigars, a Build-a-Bear and some autographed Steelers memorabilia under one roof?
8. Settlers Cabin Park contains more than 1,600 acres of wilderness-y goodness. We recommend the Green Loop; it’s a bit of a tough hike, but there’s also a little waterfall —and who doesn’t love a little waterfall?
9. Remember how we live in Pennsylvania, with its weird-at-best liquor laws? Exploit that loophole: Robinson’s Giant Eagle Market District [100 Settlers Ridge Center Drive] has more than 250 different beers to choose from in the café.
10. Latitude 360 [200 Quinn Drive] in North Fayette houses 60,000-plus square feet of entertainment: bowling, movies, a cigar bar, stand-up comedy, game room, nightclub and more. If you’re bored here, then we have officially run out of things to suggest for you. —AW
For Visitors: The airplanes appear as if they’re about to land on your head, but we promise they won’t. Enjoy the up-close view, and don’t mind if a few noisy flyovers interrupt that trip to Dependable Drive In.
For Newcomers: Traffic gets thick on the major roads out this way during weekday afternoons and evenings. If you leave just a little bit earlier (or a little bit later), you can save yourself a good half-hour of time spent contemplating the bumper in front of you.
For Residents: Call it an unusual celebration if you must, but do you know where you can host your kid’s birthday party while simultaneously improving your home furnishings? Yup. IKEA. —AW
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
In the age of Tinder, Hyeholde Restaurant [1516 Coraopolis Heights Road] is an old-fashioned romantic getaway. Even the eatery’s history is swoon-worthy: In the 1930s, William Kryskill promised his bride, Clara, that he would build her a castle, and so he did . . . with his own hands. The spirit of that romance infuses Hyeholde to this day. In the spring and summer, take a picnic basket and a bottle of wine from the restaurant and disappear with your amour amid 4 acres of lush greenery. In the cooler months, snuggle up near the fireplace for a fire-lit dinner. —Leah Lizarondo
PHOTO BY JOHN ALTDORFER
/ THE OHIO RIVER VALLEY /
Once upon a time, Horace Greeley urged explorers to “Go West” to discover new prospects. When it comes to the communities that line the Ohio River west of the city, we encourage Pittsburghers to hop on Route 65 and do the same, seizing many opportunities to learn, shop and — of course — have fun.
Sewickley: Mario Lemieux’s adopted hometown features a number of charming stores and eateries along vibrant Beaver Street. Get your high-fashion on at Spoiled Chics the Boutique [350 Beaver St.], one of several specialty shops in “The Village.”
Ambridge: Once a steel powerhouse, Ambridge in Beaver County is named for the American Bridge Co. and is the site of the Harmonist-founded Old Economy Village.
Haysville: With just 70 residents (according to the latest census), the tiny borough along the Ohio has the distinction of being Allegheny County’s least-populated municipality.
Leetsdale: Well-regarded Quaker Valley High School, Buncher Commerce Park, Leetsdale Industrial Park and the Quaker Village shopping center all are packed within this borough’s 1.1 square miles.
Ohio Township: The onetime agricultural community perhaps is best known today for the sprawling Mount Nebo Pointe shopping complex at the Camp Horne Road interchange on I-279 [247-250 Mt. Nebo Pointe Drive].
Neville Island: The heavily industrialized island in the Ohio River also boasts warehouse space and a residential area, as well as the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center [7600 Grand Ave.].
Ben Avon: Once a summer retreat for leaders of industry, this picturesque town’s name translates to “hill by the river” in Scottish Gaelic.
Ben Avon Heights: The clubhouse for Shannopin Country Club [1 Windmere Road] is housed in the otherwise residential borough of Ben Avon Heights; the course itself is next door in Kilbuck Township.
Bell Acres: Originally part of Sewickley Township, this mostly residential community of about 1,300 residents wasn’t incorporated as its own borough until 1960.
Leet Township: Another tiny community with big historic significance, this township — part of the Depreciation Lands reserved for Revolutionary War veterans — was named for John Leet, the surveyor who helped to map out the town of Beaver Falls.
Edgeworth: This small borough along the Ohio is the home of Sewickley Academy, a consistently top-ranked private high school.
Sewickley Heights: The affluent enclave was a retreat for wealthy Pittsburgh industrialists in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. While some of the lavish mansions on the large wooded estates have been demolished and their lots subdivided, many of the ornate stone gates and entrances remain.
Sewickley Hills: Mother Nature rules here. The tiny borough, which has fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, is a mix of residential homes and rural agriculture.
Glen Osborne: The borough bordering Sewickley boasts its own coat of arms and is home to the charming Mary Roberts Rinehart Nature Park [Beaver Street adjacent to Osborne Elementary], named for the noted mystery writer and once part of Rinehart’s estate.
Aleppo Township: Sewickley Heights, Glenfield and Haysville all seceded from Aleppo, which is recognized by a wide variety of residential construction.
Glenfield: Head out to the highway! The addition of the I-79 highway and interchange in the 1970s in Glenfield altered the makeup of the already tiny borough by eliminating nearly 100 of its buildings.
Kilbuck Township: The area’s natural resources and accessible water transportation — not to mention the railroad line — made Kilbuck a popular place for early settlers to the area. The rustic community still is convenient, thanks to its easy commute to Pittsburgh.
Emsworth: Approximately 1 square mile in size, Emsworth, originally purchased from heirs of William Penn, has an extensive history that dates back to the French and Indian War.
Avalon: The popular Avalon Public Library [317 S. Home Ave.], located in a former church that still retains much of its original architecture, is one of the highlights of this mostly residential community.
Bellevue: French for “beautiful view,” Bellevue borders Pittsburgh and has a plethora of small businesses, ranging from restaurants to coffee houses to yoga studios.
Harmony Township: Let it snow! Old Economy Park, home to the annual Beaver County Championship Snow Shovel Riding Contest, is found within Harmony’s borders.
10 Fun Things to Do
1. Bounce off the walls at the SkyZone Trampoline Park [740 Brickworks Drive] in Leetsdale. The venue features open jump, a Foam Zone, dodgeball and — if you want to channel your inner Michael Jordan — the SkySlam basketball court.
2. Check out the historic Dickson Log House [Western Ave.] in Ben Avon. Built in 1796 by one of the area’s first settlers, the house is open for tours throughout the year.
3. Feeling sporty? The 32-acre Robert Morris University Island Sports Complex on Neville Island is a state-of-the-art facility featuring ice skating, hockey, miniature golf and an indoor driving range.
4. No matter the language, heading to your mother’s kitchen always is a lovely thought. Please your palate at Mia Madre Trattoria [649 California Ave.], a traditional Italian restaurant in Avalon. Note that Mia Madre Trattoria is a cash-only establishment.
5. Volunteer at Animal Friends [562 Camp Horne Road]. The no-kill shelter in Ohio Township continues to seek helpers to walk dogs, feed cats and wrangle rabbits.
6. Visit a bygone era at the Sewickley Speakeasy [17 Ohio River Blvd.] in Haysville. The fine-dining establishment and onetime private home of Capt. John Hays was built in the late 1700s.
7. From art classes to exhibitions, music lessons to live performances, there’s always something fun and educational underway at Sewickley’s Sweetwater Center for the Arts [200 Broad St.].
8. Tour the historic Old Economy Village [270 Sixteenth St.] in Ambridge. The Harmony Society, a religious communal group, founded the village in 1824.
9. Unleash the hounds! Established in 1922, the Sewickley Hunt Club [857 Little Sewickley Creek Road] in Sewickley Heights still leads several fox hunts per week. And no, fuzzy mammals are not harmed in the process. As a “drag” club, the riders and their canines pursue an artificial scent rather than a live fox.
10. Catch a live show or grab dinner while enjoying one of the wine specials at Cafe Notte in Emsworth [8070 Ohio River Blvd.]. The family-owned establishment hosts an acoustic music night every Thursday. —JBS
For Visitors: Who’s bringing the haluski? Thousands of people descend on Ambridge each spring to celebrate their ethnic backgrounds with food, crafts and games during the three-day Nationality Days festival.
For Newcomers: Did you know Sewickley comes from a Native American word for “Sweet Water?” Learn more about the village via the public programs offered by the Sewickley Valley Historical Society [200 Broad St.].
For Residents: The Mayernik Center at Avonworth Community Park [498 Camp Horne Road], a log cabin-style building with an expansive wraparound porch, is available to rent year-round for corporate events and weddings. —JBS
Brazen Kitchen's Picks
Amid idyllic grounds off of Camp Horne Road is the 300-seat Willow [634 Camp Horne Road], a beautiful space offering contemporary American cuisine. Come for lunch options that include sandwiches ranging from Reubens to banh mi, and kick off dinner with a cocktail in one of the comfortable lounges. Want a nice glass of wine? Stop by for Uncork’d Thursdays, when selections of wines by the glass or the bottle are half-price. —Leah Lizarondo