Orange fall foliage at Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh

Autumn in Pittsburgh is the most beautiful time of the year. As soon as October rolls around, city parks begin to transform into a medley of golden hues. Temps are cooler and drier with daytime averages hovering in the mid 60’s (although early snowstorms are not that unusual!). It’s sweater weather and there is plenty to do outdoors. From picking your own pumpkins or apples at a local orchard, to sipping a pumpkin spice latte on the patio of a local coffeeshop, to taking a brisk leaf peeping walk at a local park, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the best season in Pittsburgh.

Here are a few fun & budget friendly ways to enjoy the fall season in Pittsburgh

Leaf peep at a local park

Pretty fall foliage at Falls Run park

Most of the parks throughout the Pittsburgh metro will be alive with the colors of the season sometime around mid-October. Not only are the leaves gorgeous, but the weather typically is too. Some of my favorite parks for leaf peeping include:

Frick Park – Large historic city park. Great hiking…amazing foliage.

Beautiful fall foliage at Frick Park in Pittsburgh, PA
Views of the pretty fall foliage at Frick Park in Pittsburgh, PA

Tom’s Run Nature Preserve – Hidden gem located in Sewickley. Moderate 3 mile trail meanders amongst maple, oak and American beech trees. Gorgeous fall foliage and super peaceful!

Scattered fall leaves along the trail at Tom's Run Nature Preserve in Sewickley, PA
Vivid yellow foliage at Tom's Run Nature Preserve in Sewickley, PA

Allegheny Commons – Dating back to 1867, this is the oldest park in Pittsburgh. This park features a pretty lake and plenty of mature trees, and thus, the setting is perfect for fall photography. Lots of vivid foliage at peak. Bonus – it’s located adjacent to the historical Mexican War Streets neighborhood. Stop by Commonplace for a delicious cup of locally roasted coffee before your walk.

Red fall foliage at Allegheny Commons Park in Pittsburgh
Golden fall foliage at Allegheny Commons Park in Pittsburgh
Beautiful fall foliage at Allegheny Commons Park in Pittsburgh
Autumn fall colors at Allegheny Commons Park in Pittsburgh

Point State Park – This urban park marks the joining point of the 3 rivers (Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers). Most notably, this park is known for its’ iconic 150 foot fountain. Point State is a great place to take in fantastic city views and leaf peep. If you are up for a workout, consider biking a portion of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

Leaf peeping at Point State Park in Pittsburgh
Golden foliage at Point State Park in Pittsburgh
The iconic fountain at Point State Park in Pittsburgh

Moon Park – Suburban park in Moon Township offers several miles of wooded trails. Also on-site: basketball and tennis courts, picnic facilities, as well as pickleball and volleyball courts.

Gorgeous fall foliage at Moon Park near Pittsburgh
Bright red fall foliage at Moon Park near Pittsburgh
Autumn leaf peeping at Moon Park near Pittsburgh

Robin Hill Park – Beautiful underused park features a short, yet gorgeous wooded trail. Great terrain for a nice workout, never crowded, and especially beautiful in autumn! Located in Coraopolis.

Autumn walk along the Log Cabin trail at Robin Hill Park in Coraopolis, PA
Leaf peeping at Robin Hill Park in Coraopolis, PA
Bright autumn foliage at Robin Hill park in Coraopolis, PA

Falls Run Park – 1 mile nature trail takes you past a small waterfall. The trail is quiet and features nice creek views.

Fall foliage at Falls Run Park near Pittsburgh, PA
Bright yellow foliage at Falls Run Park near Pittsburgh, PA
Waterfall at Falls Run Park near Pittsburgh, PA

Enjoy local fall treats

Seasonal fall pastries at Mediterra Cafe in Sewickley, PA

Many local restaurants and coffeeshops will be introducing a special fall menu this time of year. Coffeehouses oftentimes offer pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scones, their own version of the popular Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, and other seasonal drinks and goods. Restaurants may feature pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli on the fall menu.

Homemade pies at Soergels Orchard in Wexford, PA
Fresh homemade seasonal pies at the farm store at Soergels

One fabulous choice is Mediterra Cafe, a wonderful Mediterranean inspired bakery with locations in Pittsburgh and Sewickley. The coffee/espresso here is always amazing and they offer a number of specialty drinks. While their bakery treats are always amazing, you may want to splurge on a Pumpkin Crumpet, croissant (pictured below), or cheesecake in October. And do pick up a loaf of homemade bread while you are here! (the red fife, sprouted spelt, and sourdough are all delicious!).

Pumpkin croissant at Mediterra Cafe in Mt. Lebanon, PA

Pick apples /pumpkins at a local orchard

The pumpkin patch at Soergel's Ochard in Wexford, PA

There are a number of fall festivals taking place at orchards and farms around the Pittsburgh metro area. Soergels is one of your best bets. First off, there is no entrance fee (although some activities do require a separate fee). Second, there are plenty of fresh fall treats to enjoy including delicious homemade cider (hard cider available at Arsenal), candy apples, and pumpkin ice cream. And third, the fall festival (held weekends late Sept-October) offers opportunities to take tractor rides, pick apples and pumpkins, and enjoy great seasonal foods.

Fall festival at Soergel's Orchard in Wexford, PA
Bright fall foliage at Soergel's Orchard in Wexford, PA

Other top rated U-pick farms include: Trax, Triple B, and Simmons.

Take a walk around the zoo

Giraffe exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo

Fall is the best time to visit the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. While the zoo is packed to the brim almost daily during the summer months, the crowds begin to dwindle down in the cooler fall months (exception – Boo at the Zoo). The temps are so much more comfortable, the animals are out and about more, and you can freely explore the exhibits minus large crowds. And, because there are so many trees, it’s also a great place to leaf peep. Several days in October a special Zoo Boo (featuring trick or treating stations) festival takes place. Although the zoo no longer offers a nighttime Halloween event, there is a pretty cool Asian Lantern festival to enjoy.

Beautiful autumn day at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium
Fall color nature walk at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium
Tiger at the Pittsburgh Zoo
Elephant exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo

Take a ride on the Duquesne Incline

Scenic views of Pittsburgh from the Duquesne Incline

Fall is the best time to take the scenic 400 foot ride up to Mt. Washington. The temps have finally cooled down, crowds are non existent, and a hint of fall foliage can usually be enjoyed. While you can enjoy the fabulous view from the Incline viewing area without paying for the ride, the Duquesne Incline is an iconic Pittsburgh experience worth enjoying at least once. Tip – Drive to the top (the Upper Station) on a Sunday to avoid both the incline parking lot fee and the parking meters on Grandview Ave. The ride is $10 round-trip. Address: 1220 Grandview Avenue.

Take in the stunning views via the Grandview Overlook

Autumn foliage at the Grandview Overlook in Pittsburgh

Just down the street from the Duquesne Incline lies the beautiful Grandview overlook. Because they are both located in the same region, you can easily incorporate a quick stop here into your itinerary. While the views are not as grand as those found at the Incline overlook, it’s another fabulous city viewpoint to take in. During the fall season, you may get to enjoy a little bit of leaf peeping as an added bonus. Tip – Visit on Sunday to enjoy free metered parking. Address: 136 Grandview Ave.

Cozy up with a bowl of warm soup

Tomato bisque soup and veggie panini at Zuppa's Deli in Wexford, PA

Fall is the best time to enjoy a bowl of delicious soup. When the weather is brisk, a bowl of minestrone, broccoli cheddar, or seasonal butternut squash just seems to taste that much better. While you could enjoy a predictably decent bowl of soup at chains like Panera Bread and The Olive Garden, there are a number of great local establishments to support. One of these is Zuppa’s Deli with cafes in Wexford and Cranberry Township. Enticing options include tomato bisque, Italian wedding, lobster bisque, and spicy shrimp and corn chowder, along with fall seasonal specials like butternut squash. They also offer a big menu of specialty sandwiches and delicious deli sides.

Attend a fall festival

Monster Pumpkin Festival in Pittsburgh's Strip District

Fall is a great time temperature-wise to attend a festive event. A few of the special festivities you can look forward to include fall festivals at local orchards and farms, farmer’s markets, food festivals, Octoberfest, movies in the park, concerts, and more. One popular Halloween event to check out is the Monster Pumpkin Festival in the historic Strip District. The highlight of attending this event is seeing the Atlantic Giant Pumpkins which weigh up to 2500 lbs! Other activities/attractions include artistic pumpkin displays, seasonal food and drink, carriage rides, glass blown art demonstrations, pie eating contests, and more. Admission is free (extra cost for food and certain activities) and there are plenty of fun photo opps.

Monster Pumpkin Festival 2022 in the Strip District of Pittsburgh
Monster Pumpkin Festival 2022 in the Strip District of Pittsburgh
Monster Pumpkin Festival 2022 in the Strip District of Pittsburgh

Take a haunted boat ride

Gateway Clipper cruise in Pittsburgh

Gateway Clipper is a popular riverboat cruise company which offers sightseeing as well as specialty cruises. From this 2 story paddleboat, you will take in beautiful views of Pittsburgh’s incredible skyline and many bridges via a relaxing ride along the 3 rivers (Alleghany, Ohio, and Monongahela). Fall is a great time to schedule a cruise as you will get to see a bit of fall color. A number of seasonal Halloween cruises are available. Pick between a spooky dance party, haunted history tour, or a kid’s costume party. Highlights include spirited decor, roaming ghosts, and tarot card readings. Don’t worry if you cannot handle the cold as the boat is climate controlled. On one negative note, the cruise allows outdoor smoking 🙁

Gateway Clipper Halloween cruise in Pittsburgh
Scenic view of Pittsburgh bridges via the Gateway Clipper
Pretty view of the Pittsburgh skyline via the Gateway Clipper
Amazing night views of the Pittsburgh skyline via the Gateway Clipper

Explore PA state parks

Small waterfall at McConnells Mill State Park in Pennsylvania

Escape the city for a peaceful day of hiking, photography, and rejuvenating in the beautiful woods of western Pennsylvania. There are a number of great parks within a reasonable drive of the city. Most notably, McConnells Mill State Park is known for its’ beautiful covered bridge, historic Grist mill, waterfalls, amazing fall foliage, and wonderful trail network. This natural gem is located just 45 minutes from the city. It’s a wonderful place to leaf peep, get back to nature, and enjoy some time in nature away from the congestion, traffic, and pollution of the city.

Fall foliage at McConnells Mill State Park in Pennsylvania
Bright yellow fall foliage at McConnells Mill State Park in Pennsylvania
Tranquil creek view at McConnells Mill State Park in Pennsylvania
Covered bridge at McConnells Mill State Park in Pennsylvania
Hells Hollow waterfall at McConnells Mill State Park in Pennsylvania

Check out more great state parks in Pennsylvania

Go back in time at a historic covered bridge

Covered bridge at McConnells Mill State Park in Pennsylvania

Today, it is estimated that between 500 and 600 covered bridges remain in the US. It is crazy to think at one point in history that number was more than 10,000! Pennsylvania leads the pack with 200+ standing covered bridges. Venture back in time to “the simpler days” with a visit to one of Pennsylvania’s remaining covered bridges. Washington County alone is home to 23. Autumn is one of the best times to take a covered bridge sightseeing roadtrip as the colors of the season add a special photo worthy backdrop. Take a look at this full guide to PA’s covered bridges.

Splurge on a Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin spice is now the iconic flavor of fall. Walk into any grocery store and you will find shelf after shelf of pumpkin flavored goodies. While Starbucks started the trend in 2003 with the ever popular Pumpkin Spice Latte, many local coffee shops now make their own version of fall’s favorite beverage. The drink, made using espresso, milk, sugar, and pumpkin pie spices, really is autumn in a cup. Whether you go with the classic that started it all at Starbucks or prefer to keep it local, nothing starts fall off on a tasty note quite like a delicious PSL.

Attend Halloween events

Haunted mini golf in Pittsburgh

As soon as October rolls around, you can expect to find a number of festive Halloween celebrations. While Pittsburgh’s Halloween season does not compare with hotspots in New England, a few fun frights are to be found. The most famous of these is Phantom Fest, an annual Halloween celebration held at Kennywood amusement park. Along with enjoying all the regular rides, coasters, and attractions, you will get to scare yourself silly via several haunted houses, indulge in festive treats, and enjoy special seasonal decorations. A few more Halloween events to add to your bucket list:

Haunted mini golf at Hopewell Windmill – Enjoy a 18 hole course with the addition of spooky decorations and music, plus glow in the dark balls. Buy one- get one on Thursday nights!

Haunted mini golf in Pittsburgh
Haunted mini golf in Pittsburgh
Halloween mini golf at Hopewell Windmill near Pittsburgh

Scare House – Featured on the Travel Channel as “one of America’s scariest haunted houses.”

Haunted acres manor – Ranked as one of America’s top haunted houses. Unique features includes a Buried Alive simulator voiced by horror icon Tom Savini.

Zoo Boo – Family-friendly annual event featuring trick or treating stations, spooky craft stations, Halloween parade, and costume contest. A bit too family-friendly, but a nice place to leaf peep and enjoy the fall ambiance.

Halloween aquarium display at the Pittsburgh Zoo