The Southern Suburbs
With their abundance of green spaces, thriving business districts and walkable sidewalk communities, Pittsburgh’s southern suburbs offer plenty of incentive for families looking for a peaceful place to call home. Though mere minutes from Downtown, these neighborhoods make residents feel as though they are worlds away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
photos by kristi jan hoover
Adjacent to the city’s southern border, Dormont features high-traffic thoroughfare West Liberty Avenue and busy Potomac Avenue, both home to an array of unique small businesses.
With its tree-lined streets, well-maintained properties and boutique-shopping options, it’s no wonder families flock to this upscale suburb. The nationally recognized, award-winning school district doesn’t hurt either.
Upper St. Clair Township
Residents of this township love it for its stellar schools and many recreational programs. Others have taken notice as well. Upper St. Clair is nationally recognized as one of the country’s best places to live.
The bulk of Baldwin Borough — 90 percent to be exact — is zoned for residential or agricultural uses. It’s home to an active library, several athletic associations and a community pool.
Baldwin Township might be small, but the love its residents have for their hometown is big. Most of the township is devoted to homes, although McNeilly Road does feature several well-established businesses.
Affordable housing, convenient location and a close-knit community make up this borough, bisected by Route 88. The volunteer fire department’s annual carnival draws visitors from all over the area.
Home to several neighborhood parks, a community center and municipal recreation department, there is no reason ever to be bored in thriving Bethel Park.
The borough stages one of the region’s biggest Fourth of July celebrations, complete with a 5K race and parade. With a post office, Giant Eagle grocery and variety of other shops, Brentwood Towne Square is an errand-runner’s one-stop spot.
Home to the South Hills Country Club, a busy library and the Caste Village Shopping Center, Whitehall has a little something for everyone.
The aptly named borough offers its residents access to shopping, one of the coolest playgrounds around — the Pleasant Kingdom (410 East Bruceton Road) — and plenty of peace and quiet.
South Park Township
Whether tackling the trails winding through the woods or sticking to the straightaway of Corrigan Drive, runners and walkers will find an idyllic setting for their workout at the county park in this township. Stop by the park game preserve on Buffalo Drive for a visit with its resident geese, peacock and bison.
Looking for a great place to raise a family? Consider the suburb NerdWallet named the best town for young families in Pennsylvania because of its affordability, excellent school system and projected growth.
No matter where you’re going, you can get there from Overbrook. The quiet, family-friendly neighborhood is conveniently located along the Route 51 corridor as well as the Port Authority South Busway and the light-rail line.
Known mainly for the thoroughfare sharing its name, Banksville bustles with commerce and shares a border with Green Tree Borough.
With a unique mix of abundant green space and a busy main drag, Beechview offers the best of both worlds for families looking to live near (but not in) the city. Check out the newly remodeled Carnegie Library branch at 1910 Broadway Ave.
The growing business district of Brookline Boulevard is home to well-loved, longstanding shops — grab a treat at Party Cake Shop (706 Brookline Blvd., partycakeshop.com/brookline) — as well as popular eateries such as Smoq Pitt BBQ (600 Brookline Blvd., smoqpitt.com).
Anyone in Brookline seeking a taste of authentic Mediterranean fare can stop by Pitaland. Its cafe offers up an array of flatbreads, hummus, baba ghannouj and much more. Be sure to pick up homemade pita bread from the bakery while you’re there. 620 Brookline Blvd., pitaland.com.
Diners don’t come more, well, diner-y than Dormont’s Dor-Stop. Its home-style cooking earned it a mention on the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” 1430 Potomac Ave., thedorstoprestaurant.com.
Bistro 19 is an intimate spot featuring high-end American fare great for a business lunch or date night. A folding window wall allows for great people-watching along Mt. Lebanon’s business district. 711 Washington Road, bistro19.com.
At Spoonwood Brewing Company in Bethel Park, guests can sip on craft beer, enjoy a meal created in the wood-fired oven or take a brewery tour. 5981 Baptist Road, spoonwoodbrewing.com.
BREW on Broadway in Beechview is a nonprofit, community-owned coffeehouse offering lattes, cappuccino, teas, pastries and paninis. It also hosts events such as game nights and live performances. 1557 Broadway Ave., brewonbroadway.org.
Seeking something sweet? Swing by Brookline’s Scoops on the Boulevard (719 Brookline Blvd.) or Mt. Lebanon’s Scoops (311 Beverly Road, scoopspittsburgh.com) for shakes, malts, soda and floats.
South Hills Village Mall (301 South Hills Village, simon.com) in Bethel Park offers big-name retailers Macy’s, Target and Barnes & Noble, among many others, and the Galleria at Mt. Lebanon (1500 Washington Road, galleriapgh.com) features specialty shops such as Anthropologie, Restoration Hardware and Williams-Sonoma.
Take home a piece of country living from Old Allegheny Shoppe in Whitehall. Family-owned and operated since 1975, the shop features traditional and country furniture, window treatments, quilts, area rugs and much more. 4755 Clairton Blvd., oldalleghenyshoppe.com.
Swing by Bedner’s Farm Market in Upper St. Clair for fresh fruits and vegetables, annual and perennials, hanging baskets, herbs, gardening supplies, honey and pasture-raised beef. 1520 Bower Hill Road, bednersusc.com.
Strike! There are plenty of entertainment options to chose from at the newly remodeled Legacy Lanes and Crafthouse Stage & Grill in Baldwin Borough, where patrons can bowl, try a craft beer, get in a game of laser tag or enjoy live music. 5024 Curry Road, crafthousepgh.com.
At Pleasant Hills Arboretum, you can leave the noise of everyday life behind as you listen to the call and answer of birds and check out the markers differentiating the species of trees. Intersection of Arbor Lane and East Bruceton Road; pleasanthillsarboretum.org.
FullBody Fitness Club offers a fun way to take your workout to new heights with its aerial silks class. Participants of all skill levels dangle in the air as they learn flexibility and core-enhancing moves. It also offers an aerial hoops and trapeze class. 4070 Brownsville Road, Brentwood; fullbodyfitnessclub.com.
Food Critic's Pick
It’s a near-certainty that if you get a couple of people in a room and ask them to name the best pizza in Pittsburgh, it’ll prompt a spirited debate. My choices are clear, though. Along with Della Terra (see: The Northern ’Burbs), Mt. Lebanon’s Il Pizzaiolo is the top of the ticket. The pizzas start with meticulously sourced ingredients, and they end by bringing a sweet smile of satisfaction to your face. Added bonus: an excellent wine list. (703 Washington Road, ilpizzaiolo.com) — Hal B. Klein
Pack a picnic, get out under the stars and get ready for a lineup of concerts that range from opera to rock to country to jazz. The annual South Park Summer Concert Series, hosted by the Allegheny County Parks Department, is free except for occasional benefit concerts (as is the sister series at Hartwood Acres). They’re popular events, so arrive early to claim your spot. (alleghenycounty.us/special-events/summer-concert-series.aspx) — Lauren Davidson