The Original Pittsburgh Visitors Guide

Welcome to Pittsburgh, where history, culture and nature pack the city limits. Consider this the beginner’s version: 30 places to see and things to do that will delight and enlighten newcomers to the city. And if you’re returning to Pittsburgh, there’s probably a few things on this list you’ll want to discover anew.
Pittsburgh Aerial On A Beautiful Spring Day


The list:

Click on the place you want to check out first or continue scrolling through the entire list.

Make sure you call ahead before you go to confirm operating hours during the pandemic.


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Allegheny Observatory

You’ll find the historic, striking Allegheny Observatory perched atop hilly Riverview Park in what was once Allegheny City, Pittsburgh’s twin across the river. While you can (and should) explore the park and wind your way up to the site, this is no day-to-day tourist attraction; it’s still a working and vital research facility operated by the University of Pittsburgh. A visit takes some planning, but is worth the effort; you can schedule a nighttime tour during the warmer months, attend a monthly public lecture or mark your calendar for the once-per-year open house. If the night of your visit is clear, you can peer through a telescope at celestial bodies in the same spot researchers have been gazing upward for more than 160 years.

Know Before You Go

159 Riverview Ave., Perry North
Tours and lectures are free, but reservations are required; visit the website for schedule and reservation information.


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The Andy Warhol Museum

Explore the life and work of the iconic Pittsburgh-born artist at the North Side museum that has housed some of his most noteworthy works since 1994. Warhol’s greatest hits — the soup cans, the Brillo boxes, the prints of Elvis and Marilyn — are all here, of course. But make time for the more somber side of Warhol, including the jarring “Death and Disaster” series and towering prints of human skulls. Make sure you wind your way up to “Silver Clouds,” and get a picture on the lobby couch underneath a giant image of Warhol; the latter photo-op was on Jay-Z’s agenda, so it should be on yours.

Know Before You Go

117 Sandusky St., North Shore, 412/237-8300
Regular hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, with extended hours until 10 p.m. Fridays. The museum is closed on Mondays.  Adult tickets are $20. Tickets for senior citizens, students and guests under 18 are $10.


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August Wilson African American Cultural Center

Over the course of his 10-play “Pittsburgh Cycle,” for which he earned two Pulitzer Prizes, playwright August Wilson explored the Black experience in Pittsburgh and America through each decade of the 20th century. The striking building named for him in Downtown’s Cultural District aims to continue that work, presenting and spotlighting Black artists and culture from Pittsburgh and beyond. Three galleries, impressive performance spaces and more make up the building; programming including theater, music and special events fills the calendar. If your visit doesn’t coincide with a ticketed event, stop in for one of the always-impressive photo exhibits.

Know Before You Go

980 Liberty Ave., Downtown; 412/339-1011
Galleries are free and open to the public from 3-8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and 12-5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.  Check the venue website for performance and event schedule and ticket information.


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Butler Street

It’s a cliche to call a given city’s hip neighborhood “our Brooklyn.” Yet in the case of Butler Street as it runs through trendy Lawrenceville, we have the facts to back it up: in the locally shot HBO Max feature “An American Pickle,” Butler Street actually stands in for Brooklyn. You’ll find a bevy of restaurants — put Ki Ramen, Driftwood Oven and Walter’s Southern Kitchen on your list — plus thriving bars and more than enough entertainment to fill the evening. Need to buy gifts? Locals and visitors alike will impress their recipients at WildCard (above). Don’t miss Row House Cinema and its sister establishment Bierport, where you can select a craft brew and sip it while watching a silver-screen classic.

Know Before You Go

Parking is limited. Consider arriving via rideshare services, bike or public transportation.


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Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History

Dinosaurs and Degas share a roof at this sprawling complex in Oakland. Built in 1895, the modern Carnegie Institute and Library Complex is enjoying its third century as a cultural hub. Both museums could easily fill a full day, but if you’re on a whirlwind, make sure you take in the photographs of Pittsburgh native Charles “Teenie” Harris and Monet’s iconic “Water Lilies” at the art museum. Leave time for the Egyptian artifacts and the dazzling Hall of Minerals and Gems on the Natural History side. Dinosaur-adjacent selfies are, obviously, a must: The Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton on display here is the first complete specimen ever discovered.

Know Before You Go

4400 Forbes Ave., North Oakland; 412/622-3131
Regular hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, with extended hours until 8 p.m. Thursdays.  Adult tickets are $19.95. Senior citizen tickets are $14.95. Tickets for students and guests under 18 are $11.95.


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Carnegie Science Center

There are family destinations designed to distract your kids for a few hours, and then there are family destinations where you’ll almost forget about your kids because you’re fully engaged yourself. The newly expanded Carnegie Science Center on the North Side is definitely in the latter category; we won’t be held responsible if you lose track of your toddlers while taking selfies in the Robot Hall of Fame or studying the thousands of tiny details in the Miniature Railroad & Village. Don’t miss the gargantuan Rangos Giant Cinema, and check out the touring exhibitions (for which a separate admission fee may apply) in the new PPG Science Pavilion.

Know Before You Go

1 Allegheny Ave., Chateau; 412/237-3400
Regular hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.  Adult tickets are $19.95. Senior citizen tickets are $14.95. Tickets for guests ages 3-12 are $11.95.


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Carrie Blast Furnaces

Pittsburgh is the city that steel built — and Pittsburgh’s steel built plenty of other cities. Much of it was forged in the bygone U.S. Steel Homestead Works, a portion of which can be found preserved as the Carrie Blast Furnaces. Take a tour of the hulking structure to learn about the region’s industrial history, centered on a pair of furnaces from the early 20th century. You can also tour a selection of art that has been erected on and around the facility in more recent years. See if anything special is brewing around your visit; the site was used for a production of “King Lear” by Quantum Theater in 2019, and has hosted drive-in cinema screenings in 2020.

Know Before You Go

Carrie Furnace Blvd., Rankin; 412/464-4020
Tour times and prices vary; check website for rates and schedules.




Cathedral of Learning

The towering Gothic skyscraper that serves as the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh campus is, at 535 feet tall, the second-tallest educational building in the world. (Pitt just couldn’t beat the University of Moscow.) If you’re just admiring the Cathedral from the outside and passing through its impressive (some would say Hogwarts-esque) Commons Room, you’re missing the main attraction. The 31 Nationality Rooms, depicting traditional classroom settings from cultures around the world, are the Cathedral’s most remarkable feature. Since most are working classrooms, however, you’ll have to plan your group or self-guided tour away from classroom hours. Your best shot is during the summer or on weekends.

Know Before You Go

4200 Fifth Ave., North Oakland; 412/624-6001
Audio tours are available during select hours (and only on weekends while school is in session). Guided tours are available with advance reservations for groups of 10 or more.  Touring hours vary throughout the year; check the website for hours and availability.  Tour admission is $4. Admission for guests under 18 is $2.


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Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

There’s plenty of plain old fun at the Children’s Museum, a family must-visit tucked into the North Side. In the garage, the nursery and the waterplay area, younger visitors will find a sandbox of diversions to occupy hours. There’s plenty of focus on education, however, particularly in science and art; your trip will likely involve the creation of a junior masterpiece in the studio and feats of creation in the makeshop. Kids older than 10 should head to the new Museumlab, next door to the museum itself, to find more advanced opportunities to invent and explore.

Know Before You Go

10 Children’s Way, Allegheny Center; 412/322-5058
Open daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Museumlab hours vary.  Adult tickets are $16. Tickets for senior citizens and children are $14.


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City of Asylum and Alphabet City

City of Asylum is a home for exiled writers on Pittsburgh’s North Side. Writers who have fled persecution or imprisonment in their home countries take up residence in the organization’s buildings — the most notable of which, “House Poem” at 408 Sampsonia Way, is both a work of public art and itself a work of literature by Huang Xiang, City of Asylum’s first writer in residence. “House Poem” is worth a stroll, but be sure to stop at Alphabet City, the organization’s stellar bookstore. You’ll find a carefully curated selection of literature for every taste, with a focus on international writers and social justice tomes. Keep an eye on the organization’s event schedule as well; the annual Jazz Poetry concerts are fantastic.

Know Before You Go

40 W. North Ave., Central Northside,; 412/435-1110
Hours and event schedules vary. Check the organization’s website for details and current hours of operation.


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Cultural District

Live entertainment for every budget can be found in the heart of Downtown with a nexus of venues and galleries (plus plenty to eat) clustered around Penn and Liberty avenues. For the city’s grandest experiences, take in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall, musicals at the Benedum Center or plays from Pittsburgh Public Theater at the O’Reilly; for more intimate entertainment, head to revitalized Liberty Avenue and spend the night at Liberty Magic, Arcade Comedy Theater or the single-screen Harris Theater. Gone are the days when Downtown was shuttered with sundown; in the Cultural District, the curtain is always about to rise.

Know Before You Go

Visit or venue websites for show calendars and tickets.


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East Carson Street

This bar-and-club soaked patch of the South Side is the most raucous corner of Pittsburgh nightlife. But if your idea of a good time is less … collegiate, still make a point of strolling the historic neighborhood — it’s packed with Victorian architecture — while the sun is up. Dinner at Carmi Soul Food? Throwback fashion at Three Rivers Vintage? Top-notch cocktails at Acacia (above) — or equally admirable milkshakes at Fudge Farm? Pick your preference and cap it off with live music at Club Cafe or a show at City Theatre. (Whether you stick around to whoop it up with the younger crowd is up to you.)

Know Before You Go

Parking is heavily restricted in the South Side on weekends. Consider taking a rideshare vehicle or public transportation.


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Frick Park

The still-new Frick Environmental Center is a marvel, one of the rare structures to have achieved “Living Building” status. You can play tennis, let your dog stretch in an off-leash area or take your kids to the iconic Blue Slide Playground. But the best way to engage with 644-acre Frick Park is to get lost in it; set off down one of its many trails, from narrow wooded paths to wide lanes suitable for biking, and see where you end up. It may well be in a different city neighborhood. (See p.52 for more on how to forget you’re in the city altogether.)

Know Before You Go

Visit for park maps and event schedules.
Park hours are 6 a.m.-11 p.m.; some facilities may be unavailable after sunset.


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The Frick Pittsburgh

Innumerable historic locations allow you to gape at the lifestyles of the bygone rich and famous. At The Frick Pittsburgh, however, you can truly begin to picture yourself among the long-ago upper echelon. A tour of Clayton, Henry Clay Frick’s Pittsburgh home, reveals the day-to-day habits of the turn-of-the-previous-century industrialist and his family; follow a tour with lunch at the Cafe at the Frick, and you can however briefly pretend you’re a resident being served your noontime meal. That’s all before you explore the museum itself, where you’ll find treasures from the legendary Frick art collection and impressive temporary exhibits. Don’t think of it as a house tour; with all these attractions and more (like the can’t-miss Car and Carriage museum), this is an all-day destination.

Know Before You Go

7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze; 412/371-0600
Regular hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, with extended hours until 9 p.m. Fridays. The Frick is closed on Mondays.  Clayton tours cost $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, students and active-duty military and $8 for guests under 16. Admission to the grounds and certain exhibits is free, while special exhibitions sometimes carry a separate cost.


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Kelly-Strayhorn Theater

It’d be hard to find a more fitting moniker for this East Liberty performance space. Invoking the names of Billy Strayhorn and Gene Kelly, two Pittsburgh-bred titans of 20th-century performance, gives you a sense not only of the caliber of artistry you can expect here but also the breadth. Theater, dance, spoken word, music and nearly every other discipline you can name appears on the calendar at the Kelly-Strayhorn, a community-focused space that both develops its own programming and shares resources with smaller arts organizations. Note the many surviving architectural details in the historic building, which opened in 1914 as a silent-movie house.

Know Before You Go

5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty, 412/363-3000
Visit the venue website for show calendars and ticket prices.


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Kennywood Park

The amusement park along the Mon has been a western Pennsylvania destination for more than 120 years. The cross-generational appeal of “Kennywood Memories” speaks to the park’s ability to offer idyllic, summer fun for every phase of life. The youngest guests can get their first taste of thrills at Kiddieland, teens and young adults can ride coasters late into the night and older guests can soak up the nostalgia of Kennywood’s beautifully preserved history. While its two sister parks — the water park Sandcastle and Ligonier’s more tot-focused Idlewild & Soakzone — are worth the trip, Kennywood is as essential as Pittsburgh gets.

Know Before You Go

4800 Kennywood Blvd., West Mifflin; 412/461-0500
Check the park’s official website for daily calendar and hours of operation.  Single-day tickets for adults are $45.99; significant discounts are available based on age, date and promotions.


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Maxo Vanka Murals

Croatian artist Maxo Vanka painted a series of striking murals on the walls of St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church between 1937 and 1951. These are a radical departure, however, from the religious artwork you may be picturing; informed by the horrors of the World Wars and Vanka’s personal emphasis on social justice, the murals are dramatic, often scary works with titles including “Immigrant Mother Gives Her Sons for American History” and “Christ on the Battlefield.” Take the 60-minute guided tour for full context and background (tour times and availability continue to change; check the website to be sure). While you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to explore Millvale, a resurgent river community with plenty of old-school charm.

Know Before You Go

24 Maryland Ave., Millvale 
Tour tickets are $10.


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The Monongahela Incline and Mount Washington

There’s no better view of the city — and few better views of any city — than the vista from Mount Washington. The best way to get to Grandview Avenue (and the small business district along Shiloh Street) is a ride on the Monongahela Incline, the 150-year-old funicular railway that hoists visitors and commuters up the side of the mountain. Aim for off-peak hours for the best views from the car; the Incline gets busy around rush hour, and will be packed with tourists on most weekends. Can’t get enough of vertical rail travel? Add in the Duquesne Incline, a bit farther down the mountain; it’s not as central, but offers an in-house history exhibit and as-good-or-better views.

Know Before You Go

West Carson Street (near Smithfield Street Bridge), Station Square; 412/442-2000
Operates continuously from 5:30 a.m.-12:45 a.m., Mondays through Saturdays, and 8:45 a.m.-Midnight on Sundays.  Round-trip fare is $5.50 for adults and $2.70 for children. Pay at the upper station.


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National Aviary

The nation’s premier bird zoo — and yes, that’s an official designation, as enacted by Congress in 1993 — will introduce you to species from all around the world, from the massive Andean condors outside the main building to tiny finches and sparrows inside the tranquil Grasslands exhibit. Leave plenty of time for the slapstick antics of the African penguins, and make sure you visit with the supremely chill Linnaeus’s two-toed sloths (bonus points if you actually observe sloth movement). Inquire at the front desk about encounters and feedings on the day of your visit; you may find yourself providing lunch to a bird from the other side of the planet.

Know Before You Go

700 Arch St., Allegheny Center; 412/323-7235
Regular hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.  Most tickets are $16-17.


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Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Its 125 years of history have only buoyed the offerings — and the size — of Phipps, the multifaceted ode to nature nestled in Schenley Park. From the marvelous architecture of the original structure to the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes (a holder of the “Living Building” certification), the facility itself is a marvel; you’re here, however, for what’s inside. Flora from around the world, one-of-a-kind art installations, dancing butterflies and the infamous corpse flower (once every few years) are the reasons to make a stop at Phipps. Plan to linger.

Know Before You Go

One Schenley Park, Central Oakland; 412/622-6914
Regular hours are 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. Adult tickets are $19.95. Senior citizen and student tickets are $17.95. Tickets for guests under 18 are $11.95.


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Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

You’ll find much of the expected fauna at Pittsburgh’s historic, hillside zoo — lions, elephants, giraffes, great apes — but with the addition of two recent expansion areas, you’ll also likely meet a new favorite. The Islands spotlights endangered animals from island habitats around the world, including Philippine crocodiles, siamangs and the surprisingly charming Visayan warty pigs; Jungle Odyssey features giant anteaters, capybaras and a downright adorable pygmy hippo. Leave plenty of time for the indoor tropical forest exhibit, home to an impressive variety of ape and monkey species. Younger guests will love the walk-through (and climb-through) Kids Kingdom area.

Know Before You Go

7370 Baker St., Highland Park; 412/665-3640
Hours vary by season. Check website for daily hours of operation.  Adult tickets are $17.95. Senior citizen tickets are $16.95. Tickets for guests ages 2-13 are $15.95.


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PNC Park

Heinz Field — for two decades the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers — is a fine stadium. PPG Paints Arena is a raucous home for one of hockey’s most storied franchises. Even Highmark Stadium, the Station Square site for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, is a gem. But Pittsburgh’s must-see sporting ground is PNC Park, an architectural marvel on the North Shore. While the Pirates have provided precious few postseason moments in the park’s lifespan, it hardly matters; few places in the world offer a more picturesque trip to the ballyard. As a bonus, the Pirates’ so-so performance usually means fairly affordable tickets. (See p.56 for tips on where to sit.)

Know Before You Go

115 Federal St., North Shore; 412/321-2827
Check the Pirates’ website for game schedules. Ballpark tours are also available.  Ticket prices and availability vary.


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Point State Park

Are you here mostly for the selfies? Maybe. But those selfies will make even your most social-media-savvy friends jealous. The iconic fountain at the confluence of the three rivers — fed by the secret fourth river, a geologic distinction too detailed to get into here — is a must for proper Pittsburgh sightseeing and river views; the picturesque park around it is a great place for a morning stroll. While you’re here, consider a visit to the Fort Pitt Museum and Block House to brush up on your very early local history. (For more ideal Instagram locations around town, see p.44.)

Know Before You Go

601 Commonwealth Place, Downtown
Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset.


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Saint Anthony Chapel

As you gaze at the multiple human skulls framing the altar, it hits you: This is a lot more spooky than most trips to church. At Saint Anthony Chapel in Troy Hill, more than 5,000 Catholic relics — bones and other physical remains from saints, as well as items believed to be associated with the life of Jesus — are displayed in ornate, century-old reliquaries. It’s the work of Suitbert Godfrey Mollinger, a physician-turned-priest who collected the relics (and an impressive, hand-carved German Stations of the Cross series) in the 1800s. Whether this is a place for religious reverence or macabre thrills depends largely on your personal faith — but we’re here to suggest that it can absolutely be both.

Know Before You Go

1704 Harpster St., Troy Hill; 412/999-4401
Visitation hours are 12-3 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and Saturdays. Docent-led tours are available on weekends; check website for tour and mass schedule.  The chapel is free to visit, but a $5 donation is suggested.


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Schenley Park

More colleges should situate themselves around 456-acre parks. Students attending classes in Oakland and Squirrel Hill have easy access to this sprawling city park; when classes are in session, you’ll see joggers, bikers and walkers on its trails nearly around the clock. There’s much more to Schenley Park than green space, however, including the Bob O’Connor Golf Course, a popular ice-skating rink, a swimming pool and a cafe. Want some fresh air but not feeling too limber? Relax on picturesque Flagstaff Hill. Need to stretch? Check the event calendar; yoga in the park is never far off. (See p.52 for a perfect spot for a tranquil moment.)

Know Before You Go

Visit for park maps and event schedules.
Park hours are 6 a.m.-11 p.m.; check the website for hours of operation for sporting facilities. Some facilities may be unavailable after sunset.


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Sen. John Heinz History Center

There are certainly a few attention-grabbing exhibits that will get you in the door at this Strip District attraction. The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, a recreation of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” (with some of the original props from the show) and a detailed history of Heinz Ketchup will likely fill up a good portion of your trip. Don’t miss the details — and there are plenty here — particularly in the Special Collections Gallery and Visible Storage sections. Look also for touring exhibits; as an affiliate of the Smithsonian, the Heinz History Center garners some jaw-dropping temporary attractions.

Know Before You Go

1212 Smallman St., Strip District; 412/454-6000
Regular hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Adult tickets are $18. Senior citizen tickets are $15. Tickets for guests under 18 and students are $9.


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Squirrel Hill

Park as near as possible to the intersection of Forbes and Murray avenues — which, admittedly, may not be very close — to explore one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Stroll the streets, ideally with a macaron from Gaby et Jules, and struggle to select just one spot for dinner; several of the city’s best restaurants, representing a number of different cuisines, can be found here. Wherever you decide to eat, plan to finish the night with tiki drinks at Hidden Harbor, an old-fashioned tiki bar with unparalleled cocktails and the perfect amount of faux-island decor. Those are just a few of the countless small businesses around these thriving intersections.

Know Before You Go

Some parts of the neighborhood are metered and some aren’t, and those that are may have free-parking hours. Read your meter carefully.


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Strip District

Think of it as the best grocery trip you’ll ever make. Wander down Penn Avenue through Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District — formerly the city’s center of warehouses and shipping — and you can follow your nose to iconic small groceries and specialty-food stores including Reyna Foods, Salem’s Market and Grill, the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, Lotus Food Co. and Wholey’s fish market. If you’re in pursuit of a great meal, try DiAnoia’s or Savoy; if you want the legendary Pittsburgh sandwich in its ancestral home, head to Primanti Bros. flagship location. Looking for something to take back home? Pop over to Wigle Whiskey or Maggie’s Farm Rum for locally distilled liquors.

Know Before You Go

Parking is limited. Consider arriving via rideshare services, bike or public transportation.


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The Three Rivers (via Kayak Pittsburgh)

Pittsburgh’s rivers — we have three of them, as you may have heard — dominate city vistas and trace the layout of the city’s most thriving neighborhoods. The city looks different, however, once you’re gazing at it from the water. Rent a kayak via the North Shore location of Kayak Pittsburgh, a program of Venture Outdoors, and paddle around the Point for striking views of Downtown and beyond. If you’re a novice, staff will be happy to show you the ropes (and make sure your life jacket is fastened tight). With the right timing, you can float by a game in progress at PNC Park; with statistically absurd luck, you can even paddle after a home-run ball when it plops into the river.

Know Before You Go

1 Federal Street (Beneath the Roberto Clemente Bridge), North Shore, 412/337-1519
Check website for operating hours, which may vary by season.  Solo kayaks are $16/hour on weekdays and $19/hour on weekends and holidays. Tandem kayaks are $23.50/hour on weekdays and $26.50/hour on weekends and holidays.


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Three Rivers Heritage Trail

Downtown sits at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers. That means a lot of waterfront territory winding through Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods; fortunately, much of it has in recent decades been tied together with a series of welcoming trails. Many of the other entries in this guide can be accessed via these trails, which are best experienced by bike; rent a cycle via the Healthy Ride bikeshare program and you’ll be able to go from the North Side to the South Side, and into Oakland and beyond, in less than an hour. Just looking for a morning run? You’ll pass landmarks and quiet spots alike, particularly on the dramatic stretch of the trail along the North Shore.

Know Before You Go

A full trail map can be found at
Be alert. There are some winding spots and blind corners in certain areas; if you’re on a bike, make sure you yield to those on foot. If taking a Healthy Ride bike into city streets, remember to obey all traffic laws and signs — and always wear a helmet.

Categories: From the Magazine, Hot Reads, Visitors Guide