Places to Visit: Near And Far
A lot of us are traveling again.
As the pandemic eases, we’re hitting the roads, the bike trails, the rails and the skies. Blue Sky News, the news service for Pittsburgh International Airport, reports that 8.1 million travelers passed through the airport in 2022, or 83% of its record 2019 levels — the year before the pandemic hit — so travel is definitely taking off.
To that end, Pittsburgh Magazine this month kicks off a quarterly feature called Getaway that will introduce readers to quick trips they can take in the region. Managing Editor Sean Collier visited Moundsville, W.Va. — a little more than an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh — which touts some unusual cultural treasures.
For the first time since 2019, my husband and I this month will be returning to spring training in Bradenton, Florida. We made this annual pilgrimage for years before the pandemic. It’s such a joy to stake out your seat under the palm trees at LECOM Park and have the Pirate announcer say: “It’s a sunny 82 degrees here in Bradenton; 31 degrees in Pittsburgh.”
It’s the oldest ballpark still used for spring training — in fact, it celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. When it was known as McKechnie Field in 2013, the city of Bradenton, with help from the Pittsburgh Pirates, financed $10 million in improvements that added a boardwalk around the perimeter of the outfield, lined with tiki bars and beer stands; improved and expanded seating; and enhanced lots of other fan amenities. My husband’s idea of heaven is to nab the best seats along the boardwalk, grab a cold beer and watch the game amid the soft breezes and sunshine. Many spectators spend the whole game just circling the field with a beverage in hand; they don’t really care about the score — it’s the vibe and anticipation of a fresh new season that inevitably draws them. The fact that Andrew McCutchen is back where he belongs will make it all the better.
Closer to home, two other parks are marking important milestones — the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium and Kennywood Park — both of which are celebrating their 125th anniversaries this year. Our contributor Mark Houser traces their origins and explains why they were founded in the same year of 1898. We include two quizzes to see how much you know about these popular attractions.
Over the last century, both have adapted to changing economics, changing philosophies and changing times while still maintaining their charm and nostalgia.
If you can’t get out of town, we’re fortunate in Pittsburgh to have some of the best places to visit right here.
Virginia Linn can be reached at email@example.com.