Full guide to the best things to do in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, nicknamed “The Steel City,” for its’ prominent role in the steel industry has come a long way since its’ industrial past. Today, you can explore the history of the city while also enjoying many modern amenities. Up and coming neighborhoods and many businesses are sprouting up in former mills and factories. The city is bustling today with many people moving in, as well as tourists coming from all over to enjoy the world-class scenery, grand museums, championship pro sports teams, and beautiful parks.

History aside, the city is quite beautiful. The city’s skyline is amongst the most attractive in the country, ranking right up there with Chicago and Seattle. “The City of Three Rivers,” offers a most unique landscape. The skyline combined with the 3 rivers (the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela) creates a picture-perfect setting for recreation, annual events, and sightseeing. One of the city’s nicknames is “The City of Bridges” as 446 bridges can be found throughout The ‘Burgh. Pictured here is the Warhol bridge, one of the “Three Sisters” (Roger Clemente, Warhol, and Rachel Carson) which stand out due to their bright yellow color.

Andy Warhol bridge in downtown Pittsburgh

From touring the Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood set, to exploring the history of Heinz ketchup, to viewing the largest collection of works by pop art icon Andy Warhol, to cheering on the Steelers, there is a bit of something in Pittsburgh for everyone.

Check out my big list of the best things to do and see in The ‘Burgh!

Magnificent city views

Beautiful views of the Pittsburgh skyline from Mt. Washington

Take in grand views of the mesmerizing skyline via a scenic overlook or cruise!

Duquesne Incline – Historic 19th century cable car ride travels 400 feet up Mt. Washington to an observing deck featuring 360 degree views.

Gateway Clipper Cruise – Sit back and enjoy a narrated cruise while you learn more about the history of the “City of Bridges” while enjoying relaxing views of the skyline, stadiums, and historic Point State Park.

Grandview Overlook – Beautiful free observing area providing a slightly different viewpoint than Duquesne.

West End Overlook – Another wonderful free overlook. Photography hotspot and great place to watch the fireworks.

Great nighttime views of Pittsburgh via the Duquesne Incline
Night views via the Duquesne
Night views of Pittsburgh via the Gateway Clipper
Amazing views via the Gateway cruise
Spectacular overlook of the Pittsburgh skyline at Grandview
Autumn at Grandview Overlook
West End Overlook in Pittsburgh
Tranquil views at West End on an overcast day

Must-visit Museums

Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is home to a surprisingly wonderful collection of museums which do not receive as much press as some of the bigger cities. Add these gems to your bucket list.

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History – Home to one of the best dinosaur exhibits in the country (including the T Rex holotype), an amazing Hall of Gems and Minerals, and over 2 dozen lifelike dioramas depicting wildlife in North America and Africa.

The Carnegie Museum of Art – The impressive permanent collection includes over 35,000 pieces. Highlights include the Hall of Architecture featuring 140 plaster casts of masterpieces from Greece, Rome, and Egypt.

John Heinz History Center – This Smithsonian affiliate is the largest history museum in the state. See the Mr. Roger’s set, learn about the history of ketchup, and explore the history of invention and innovation in Pittsburgh.

The Warhol Museum – 7 floor museum dedicated to the life and works of the pop art icon born in Pittsburgh.

Dinosaur exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh
T-Rex – the holotype of the species
Hall of Sculpture at the Carnegie Museum of Art
Incredible sculptures at the Museum of Art
Mr. Roger's Neighborhood set at the Heinz History Center in the Strip District
Mr. Roger’s set at the Heinz History Center
Judy Garland pop art at the Andy Warhol Museum
Pop art by Andy Warhol

Fitness & Scenic Views

Hiking Loop at Frick Park in Pittsburgh

You will find a lot of great urban parks for recreation. What is more motivating than exercising in the company of a great view?

Three Rivers Heritage Trail – Gorgeous 30+ mile bike trail which lines both sides of the river downtown. Take in incredible vistas of the skyline and bridges while getting in a wonderful workout.

Highland Park – Beautiful place to take a stroll through lovely gardens. Highlights include sand volleyball courts, a dog park, and a beautiful 1 mile loop trail around a reservoir.

Frick Park – The largest park in the city is home to an extensive trail network. Great leaf peeping destination!

Three Rivers Heritage trail in downtown Pittsburgh
Wonderful skyline views via the Three Rivers trail
Views of Warhol Bridge in downtown Pittsburgh
Views of the Warhol bridge via Three Rivers
Fountain at Highland Park in Pittsburgh, PA
The gorgeous fountain at Highland Park
Fall hike at Frick Park in Pittsburgh
Leaf peeping at Frick Park

Amazing Annual Events

Monster Pumpkin Festival in The Strip District
The Monster Pumpkin Festival in The Strict District featuring 2000 lb pumpkins

Pittsburgh offers no shortage of interesting events. No matter what time of the year you visit, you are bound to find something that interests you. From popular summer festivals like Picklesburgh, Little Italy Days, and The Vintage Grand Prix, to winter holiday lights & Christmas festivities, there is something going on in the ‘Burgh no matter the weather outside.

Picklesburgh – Iconic event where you can test all sorts of specialty pickle products, from ice cream to tacos. Try the Pickle pierogies! Great photo opps of the giant Heinz pickle!

Open Streets PGH – Free event where various city roads are closed to vehicles and open to pedestrians and cyclists. Event typically runs from 10am-2pm on Sundays during the summer season.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade – Celebrate all things green at one of the biggest St. Pat’s Day parades in one of the most Irish cities in the country.

Asian Lantern Festival – Colorful zoo event featuring dozens of Asian and dinosaur themed lighted sculptures, plus specialty food and drink.

Picklesburgh event in Pittsburgh
The best summer event
Open Streets PGH event
Open Streets – enjoy car-free biking in the city!
Chinese Dragon at the Asian Lantern Festival at the Pittsburgh Zoo
Chinese Dragon at the Pittsburgh Zoo
Dinosaur at the Asian Lanterns event at the Pittsburgh Zoo
Cool dinosaur exhibit at the Asian Lantern festival

Lace up your skates!

Skating at the South Park ice rink in Bethel Park, PA

One of the best attributes about Pittsburgh is the many affordable ice skating rinks. As the city is cold and dreary for many months on end, ice skating is a wonderful way to get out there, have some fun, and burn some calories. Both North and South Park are home to incredible huge ice rinks and skating is priced at just 5-6 bucks so you can skate all season long without breaking the bank!

North Park – Features a large indoor viewing area.

South Park – Features an NHL size rink and skating trail. Also a cozy fireplace to warm up by!

Skating at North Park ice rink
Skating at North Park
Cozy fireplace at the South Park ice rink in Bethel Park, PA
Cozy fireplace at South Park

The best local food & drink

Chinatown Inn - downtown Pittsburgh

The foodie scene continues to expand throughout the ‘Burgh. Today, you can find many diverse options across the culinary board. Pittsburgh is most famous for pierogies, the Primanti sandwich (now a chain with 40+ locations in PA, WV, and OH), the Pittsburgh salad featuring fries as a topper instead of croutons, and Eat N’Park (a long running family diner).

Primanti Bros. – Iconic sandwich stop which started as a food cart in The Strip District in 1933.

Chinatown Inn – Sole standing restaurant in Pittsburgh’s historic Chinatown. Great food and ambiance.

Iron Born Pizza – The only place to enjoy authentic Detroit style pizza!

Mercurio’s – Excellent wood fired pizza and gelato in a neighborhood setting.

Choolaah – Fast casual Indian restaurant serving specialty bowls. Lots of GF and vegan choices.

Dorstop – Popular diner featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. Great burritos!

Forgotten Taste – Low-key joint serving a variety of homemade pierogies, both sweet & savory.

Pasha Cafe – Delicious Mediterranean fare served in a colorful dining room. Great patio! Amazing falafel!

Primanti Brothers sandwich in Pittsburgh, PA
The iconic Primanti sandwich loaded with fries and coleslaw
Veggie Lo Mein at Chinatown Inn in downtown Pittsburgh
Best Lo Mein in the ‘Burgh at Chinatown
Veggie Supreme at Iron Born Pizza in Pittsburgh
Veggie Detroit style pizza at Iron Born
Mushroom pizza at Mercurio's in Shadyside
Best wood fired pizza in the city at Mercurio’s
Tikka masala bowl at Choolaah in Pittsburgh
Veggie Tikka Masala at Choolaah
Veggie breakfast burrito at Dor-stop restaurant in Pittsburgh
Breakfast burrito at Dor Stop
Forgotten Pierogies in Moon Township, PA
Cheddar pierogies at Forgotten Taste
Great appetizers at Pasha Cafe in Pittsburgh
Delicious hummus & grape leaves at Pasha

More great restaurants in Pittsburgh

Enjoy a cup of joe

Pastries And coffee at Mediterra in Mt. Lebanon, PA

Pittsburgh is one of the nation’s best coffee cities. In fact, it is home to one of the highest number of coffeeshops per capita. Here are a few of the best independent coffeehouses.

Mediterra – Upscale bakery, cafe, and coffeehouse with several locations. Serves delicious pastries (best Danish & cinnamon rolls), coffee, breakfast, and artisan bread. Try the Shakshuka for breakfast.

Defer – Hipster coffeeshop featuring funky artwork and brick walls in The Strip District. Great coffee and pastries (try the Green Tea Matcha bread).

La Prima – Long running Italian roaster in The Strip. Amazing espresso. Located next door to an Italian bakery.

Commonplace – Popular coffeehouse with 6 locations in the metro. Enjoy the beautiful leafy patio at the Mexican War streets cafe. Great coffeecake!

Margaux – Upscale coffeehouse serving top notch coffee and pastries in a big airy modern space.

Coffeetree Roasters – Chain coffeehouse with consistently good coffee at each location. Bonus points for the clean ambiance and free refills!

Shashuka at Mediterra Cafe in Sewickley, PA
Shakshuka at Mediterra
Match green tea bread and house coffee at Defer in Pittsburgh
Matcha green tea bread at Defer
La Prima Espresso in Pittsburgh, PA
La Prima – an Italian classic
Morning Glory Muffin at Commonplace Coffee in Pittsburgh
Morning Glory Muffin at Commonplace
Almond croissant and American at Margaux in Pittsburgh
Amazing almond croissant at Margaux
Coffee and a muffin at Coffee Tree Roasters in Pittsburgh
Terrific coffee at Coffee Tree

For history buffs

Allegheny Commons Park in Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. Roger’s Memorial – Downtown’s North Shore Riverfront Park is home to a Mr. Roger’s memorial. If you were all a fan of the show, you’ll want to stop by.

The Strip District – Former home to factories and mills, now a hotspot for dining and events. Lots of local galleries, coffeehouses, ethnic grocers, and sports stands are found in this thriving district.

Schenley Park – Large city park home to hiking trails, a historic carousel, the Phipps Conservatory, a winter ice rink, and over a dozen tennis courts. Great city views and lots of annual events. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Point State Park – Downtown park marks the joining spot of the Three Rivers. Highlights include natural trails, a gorgeous seasonal fountain, nice river views, and easy access to the bike path.

Mexican War Streets – Historic tree-lined neighborhood lined with row houses. Home to Monterey Irish Pub – the city’s best Irish restaurant and Commonplace Coffee.

Allegheny Commons Park – Est. in 1867, it is Pittsburgh’s oldest park. Located in the beautiful Mexican War Streets neighborhood. Highlights include a lake, various memorials, and public art pieces. Also home to The National Aviary.

Mr. Roger's memorial downtown Pittsburgh
The famous song greets you as you arrive.
Colorful mural in the Strip District of Pittsburgh
Colorful mural in The Strip
Westinghouse Memorial at Schenley Park in Pittsburgh
Memorial to George Westinghouse, inventor of the railway air brake
Fountain at Point State Park in Pittsburgh
The iconic Point State Park fountain
Commonplace Coffee in the Mexican War Streets
Beautiful architecture in the Mexican War Streets
Picturesque fall day at Allegheny Commons - Pittsburgh's first park
Autumn at Pittsburgh’s oldest park

For sports buffs

Western PA sports museum at the Heinz History Center
Western PA sports museum – a must for sports buffs

Western PA Sports Museum – Dedicated to PA sports teams. Great for history & sports buffs.

Steelers games – Cheer on 6 time Superbowl champs, the Steelers, at Heinz Field (now Acrisure).

PIrates games – Cheer on 5 times World Series winners, the Pirates, at beautiful PNC Park.

Heinz Field home to the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have sold out every home game since 1972!

Get back to nature

Autumn walk at Tom's Run Nature Preserve in Sewickley, PA
Autumn at Tom’s Run

The Pittsburgh metro is home to many parks. It’s easy to find a great place to jog, hike, bike ride, snowshoe, cross country ski, and simply relax in nature.

Moon Park – Spacious park in suburban Moon Township. Highlights include multiple tennis and backgammon courts, basketball hoops, picnicking shelters, hiking trails, and baseball fields.

Robin Hill Park – Several miles of quiet rustic wooded trails – little traffic. Great leaf peeping.

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium – Home to 4000 animals. Highlights include a large aquarium and underwater polar bear viewing.

Falls Run Park – Small park in Glenshaw featuring a nature trail and 18 foot waterfall.

Racoon Creek State Park – One of the largest PA state parks. Home to an ancient mineral springs.

Tom’s Run Nature Preserve -The best place to hike in the metro. Gorgeous 3 mile wooded trail (super colorful during autumn).

Leaf peeping at Moon Park near Pittsburgh
Leaf peeping at Moon Park
Hiking at Robin Hill Park in Coraopolis, PA
A leafy walk at Robin Hill
Polar bear swimming at the Pittsburgh Zoo
Underwater polar bear viewing at the Pittsburgh Zoo
Waterfall at Falls Run Park in the Pittsburgh metro
The Falls Park waterfall
Small waterfall at Racoon Creek
Waterfall at Racoon Creek
Leaf peeping at Toms Run Nature Preserve in Sewickley, PA
Leaf peeping at Toms Run

Charming Main Streets

Mercurio's in Shadyside

Pittsburgh is a city of many vibrant neighborhoods (90 in fact!). Many of these historic areas of the city are home to tree-lined shopping & dining districts. Outside of the hustle and bustle of the city, you will find many charming small towns which are still home to an active Main Street.

Downtown Sewickley – Quaint small town located 13 miles NE of downtown features a charming tree-lined Main Street lined with local businesses. Mediterra is a wonderful coffeeshop. The town holds many year-round events including a popular holiday Light Up the Night festival.

Mt. Lebanon – Upscale suburb is rated one of the most walkable towns in Pennsylvania. Downtown is home to a variety of locally owned businesses including Orbis Coffee, Vinyl Remains (great record shop), and Sesame Inn (great Chinese food).

Shadyside – Trendy walkable neighborhood known for its’ abundance of shopping and dining options. The area features a mix of upscale well known brands like Athleta and Lululemon and local boutique shops. A number of great local restaurants (Mercurios and Pasha) and coffeeshops can be enjoyed.

Aspinall – Low-key walkable neighborhood with historic homes. The area is home to a number of parks and local businesses. Check out Spice Affair (good Indian food) and Beans N’ Cream (rock themed coffeeshop).

Cinnamon apple Bostock at Mediterra Cafe in Sewickley, PA
Seasonal Cinnamon apple Bostock at Mediterra
Cheese pizza at Badamo in Mt. Lebanon
Badamo – best pizza in the city
Shopping & dining along Shadysides’ Walnut St.
Bean N'Cream rock themed coffeeshop in Pittsburgh
Cool Beatles decor at Bean N’Cream

Blast to the Past!

Neon sprocket room at Bicycle Heaven in Pittsburgh

If you love anything retro, you are in luck as Pittsburgh is home to a fabulous pinball arcade and the world’s largest vintage bicycle shop. If you wish you had a time machine, definitely add these 2 activities to your list!

Bicycle Heaven The World’s Largest Bicycle museum features over 6000 rare and vintage bikes. Here you will be able to view several rare futuristic looking Bowen Space Landers which today can be worth over $40,000! Also pretty cool is seeing Pee-Wee Herman’s famous ride from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

Pinball Perfection – The region’s largest pinball museum is home to over 300 machines. If you love old fashioned gaming, you can literally spend all day playing old time pinball and arcade machines for one low price!

Bicycle Heaven in Pittsburgh, PA
Pee Wee Herman’s unique ride from Big Adventure
Bowden Spacelander at Bicycle Heaven in Pittsburgh
Vintage Bowden Spacelander
Star Wars pinball machines at Pinball Perfection in Pittsburgh
Nostalgic Star Wars overload!
Arcade bowling at Pinball Perfection in Pittsburgh
Retro bowling!

Holiday cheer

Beautiful Christmas tree in downtown Pittsburgh

Although the city does not rank up there with Chicago or New York or even Philadelphia in terms of America’s best Christmas cities, you will still find a wide range of events to help get you into the holiday spirit. Cold temps, the high chance of snow, and many ice rinks add to the festive ambiance! So, if your visit falls during December, don’t worry there is plenty of festive fun, along with fun winter sports to enjoy!

Christmas Village – Annual German holiday market where you can enjoy specialty foods and shop for handcrafted ornaments and gifts. Conveniently located next to the ice rink.

The Rink at PPG Place – Super festive rink downtown featuring a giant Christmas tree as the centerpiece. Enjoy holiday tunes and a festive choreographed show as you enjoy winter’s best calorie burner.

Spirits of Giving Around the World – This free exhibit takes you on a unique journey where you will learn about holiday traditions throughout the world.

Holiday shows/plays – All season long, you can enjoy a festive lineup of holiday productions. Recent highlights have included A Christmas Story at O’Reilly Theater and Holiday Pops at Heinz Hall.

Santa show on the Christmas tree at PPG Place in Pittsburgh
The festive PPG rink show
Holiday shopping market at Market Square in Pittsburgh
An authentic German village
Spirits of Giving around the world exhibit in Pittsburgh
Christmas around the world
A Christmas Story the Play in Pittsburgh
The famous leg lamp from A Christmas Story!

More holiday & winter activities in the ‘Burgh!

The best shopping

If you are looking for something to do indoors on a cold and rainy day, you could always hide out in the mall for a few hours. Fortunately, there are plenty of great options throughout Pittsburgh.

The Mall at Robinson – This large 2 floor suburban mall features a great mix of over 120 specialty and big name shops. There is a nice sunroof to bring in some light on those dreary days and a big Starbucks right in the center. I Made It Market is a great place to shop for local crafts and goods.

Monroeville Mall – Fun old style mall that feels as if it is straight out of the 80’s. Lots of cool stores to browse through here including Pearl of the Orient specializing in Asian household goods. As a side note, scenes from the Dawn of the Dead filmed here.

The Living Dead Museum at the Monroeville Mall
The Living Dead Museum at Monroeville Mall

More indoor fun!

Bowling at AMF in Mt. Lebanon, PA

As the weather is cold, rainy, or overcast more often than not, indoor attractions are always a plus in cities like Pittsburgh. Here’s a few more fun things to do on a rainy/snowy/cold/overcast day!

  • Bowling – AMC in Mt. Lebanon offers a number of great specials. If you want to get fancy, Arsenal Bowl is the place to be. Unlimited bowling offered although it gets packed on weekends.
  • Movies – A number of movie theaters to choose amongst. Cinemark at Robinson Township offers great matinee deals.
  • Heinz Hall – A wonderful event venue. Check the lineup.
  • PPG Paints Arena – Home to many concerts and athletic and events. Check the lineup.
  • The National Aviary – Explore exotic plants and bird life at the country’s largest aviary.
  • Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. – Strip District staple specializing in Italian goods.
  • Roger Clemente museum -Museum dedicated to Pittsburgh Pirates’ Hall of Famer.
Flamingos at The National Aviary in Pittsburgh
Flamingos at The National Aviary