Things To Do This Weekend in Pittsburgh

Top Picks: Uniting authors and readers worldwide through a Pittsburgh event and a remarkable train tour through a national park.


Last week, a certain local bookstore owner — you’ll have to wait for our upcoming Best of the ’Burgh feature to find out which — said to me, “Pittsburgh is a treasure trove of independent bookstores.” A key part of that ecosystem can be found on the North Side, as City of Asylum — the nonprofit that hosts (and houses) writers in exile — has become an ever-increasing force in the city’s literary community, using its excellent Alphabet City bookstore as a home base.

This week, City of Asylum virtually hosts the first Pittsburgh International Literary Festival, with a lineup of online readings and talks from writers around the world. Among the events: Lauded nonprofit publishers Autumn House Press will host a talk on multiculturalism and immigration with writers Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Michael X. Wang and Dickson Lam; novelist Mieko Kawakami (“Breast and Eggs,” the forthcoming “Heaven”) joins, live from Japan; and Rwandan author Scholastique Mukasonga discusses her autobiographical stories with Johns Hopkins professor Jeanne-Marie Jackson.

Later in the month, Nobel Prize-winning author Olga Tokarczuk will discuss her award-winning book “Flights” as well as her forthcoming  “The Book of Jacob.”

These are, to put it mildly, excellent literary events; that they are organized and presented by a Pittsburgh nonprofit is, to put it even more mildly, a really big deal. Registration for the events is free. (And, hopefully next year, there will be an in-person second round.)

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More This Weekend
A few years back, I took a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, a remarkable train tour through the national park of the same name. For those freshly vaccinated folks looking to stretch a bit beyond the immediate area, the two-hour journey to the track’s southern station is an alluring option. The tranquil, picturesque journey through beautiful forest is its own attraction, but they’ll sweeten the deal with dinner trains, beer tastings and more. Make the drive and see if you can spot a bald eagle as the train ambles through the Buckeye State. (Time it right, and you can visit the Ernest Warther Museum in Dover on the same day.)

Sunday, you can drive through Hartwood Acres, and people will hand cookies to you as you pass. Who needs to know the details? That’s a fantastic afternoon all on its own. Fortunately, it’s for a good cause, too. The Black and Gold Cookie Table Drive-Thru benefits Dress for Success Pittsburgh, and for a $100-per-car donation, attendees will receive two dozen cookies and much more — including a picnic blanket, in case you want to enjoy the park with a fistful of cookies. You’ll also be entered into an eye-popping raffle — again, the cookies were all I needed, but they just keep making it better.

After last weekend’s demoralizing weather, you need to schedule an outing. Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village is now open for the season; visit the (pre-)historic site, regarded as the earliest location in North America to have served as a home for human beings, to get the long view of local history. Folks were living at Meadowcroft about 19,000 years ago — considering time on that scale, George Washington was kicking around Pittsburgh sometime around last Tuesday.

Watch Sean Collier talk about this weekend’s events on KDKA’s “Pittsburgh Today Live” here:

Looking for more ideas? Check out our events calendar.

Categories: Things To Do