Pittsburgh is comprised of 90 neighborhoods with a population of 306,000 people. It’s Pennsylvania’s second largest city in Pennsylvania and is located within 500 miles of more than one half of the U. S. population. It’s not surprising this charming city has received dozens of accolades with an impressive emphasis on culture, technology, food and more. As a resident of nearly 10 years, I’m still exploring everything Pittsburgh has to offer. I would highly suggest it as the the perfect destination for a weekend family getaway.
Tips on Saving Money
You’ll want to plan a summer trip packed with fun (without dropping a boatload of cash). Luckily, Pittsburgh is a city filled with businesses who value patrons and their families by providing them with all kinds of money saving deals… you just have to know where to find them!
Websites such as Amazon Local, Groupon Pittsburgh and ‘Burgh Bargains have tons of great offers. You can find great deals on hotels, restaurants and entertainment. Make sure you read the fine print to ensure you’ll be able to cash in your purchase during the time you’ll be visiting. It’s totally worth planning and purchasing the deals ahead of time as you can save upwards of 50% off regular prices.
Tips on Travel
Ride The T: The Port Authority’s light rail system, aka “The T,” is a great/free way to travel to places in Downtown and the North Shore. It also services southern suburbs for additional fees. There are 6 stations that will allow you to catch the T downtown.
PAT Bus: Pittsburgh does have a public bus system but I wouldn’t suggest visitors giving it a try (especially if you’re traveling with children). It took me a couple months to learn my way around the busing system- routes, times, stops, etc. Nonetheless, if you’re feeling adventurous, it is a cost effective way to get around Pittsburgh.
Lyft: Do NOT rely on a taxi service in Pittsburgh. They’re known for either A.) not showing up on time or B.) not showing up at all. If you are looking for a ride, I would suggest trying Lyft: an on-demand ride service available 24 hours a day/7days a week. The drivers are independent users of the platform and can be spotted by large pink mustaches on the front of their cars.
Zipcar: Zipcar is a car sharing service that allows you to have wheels when you need them. It’s a great alternative to renting (and parking) a car in the city.
Where to Stay
If you’re visiting the city, I’d suggest staying in a hotel downtown Pittsburgh or in Station Square. By staying somewhere central, you’ll have easy access to the city and the neighborhoods that surround it. Not to mention, there’s always something going on downtown! The Omni William Penn Hotel is Pittsburgh famous and has a beautiful, old world charm to the grand lobby. There’s also a Courtyard Marriott with great reviews in the heart of the cultural district.
Places to Explore
There’s no way you’ll get to experience everything this town has to offer, but at least there will be no shortage of places to explore. I know it’s hard traveling with small children so make sure you plan your days accordingly (i.e. afternoon naps). The following areas of Pittsburgh can each be explored in one or two days depending on how many places you choose to visit.
Just Ducky Tours offers a wonderful 1 hour sightseeing and informational tour of the city both on land and in the city. The tour guides are insightful, entertaining and friendly and the kiddos will probably even get a chance to steer the boat! The tour begins as you board in Station Square. The tour will take your through the heart of downtown, the cultural district and past the feet of amazing skyscrapers. You’ll see historic landmarks, world famous art and even get to “quack” at the locals. Next, you’ll plunge into one of three rivers for a scenic look at Pittsburgh’s skyline. Venture past the Point, check out Heinz Field and get a view of the city you can’t find in many places!Explore Downtown & The Strip and Station Square: You’ll certainly want to set aside time to just walk around tour downtown Pittsburgh.
You’ll return back to Station Square where you’ll find an entertaining atmosphere with tons to see and do. Be sure to check out the state-of-the art Fountain at Bessemer Court which features hundreds of multi-colored water jets soaring in the air as they dance to music. There’s also a shopping mall and tons of places to get great food. Across the street you’ll definitely want to take a ride on the Monongahela Incline. The Monongahela Incline, built in 1870, is the oldest functioning incline in the United States. It connects from the top of Mt. Washington to Station Square below complete with a breathtaking view of Pittsburgh at top! At night you can see the blue lights of the Incline from downtown as they stretch up the nearly 700 ft length of track.
If you have time, you’ll also want to venture over to the Strip District. The one-half square mile shopping district is chock full of ethnic grocers, produce stands, meat and fish markets and sidewalk vendors. That’s where you’ll also find the Heinz History Center, Pennsylvania’s largest history center. It’s adjoined to the Western PA Sports Museum: a 20,000 square-foot space with 70 hands on interactive exhibits and 20 audio-visual programs that present the history and growth of sports around the Pittsburgh region.
When you get hungry (and you will with all this running around), you might want to consider stopping at the home of the original Primanti’s Sandwich. It’s Pittsburgh’s signature sandwich complete with coleslaw, fries and Mancini’s bread (it’s a Pittsburgh MUST!).
Explore Oakland: Wake up bright and early for a trip to Oakland! Start with a trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Art. It’s an award winning museum with family friendly exhibits and play spaces. Up the road you’ll also find Phipp’s Conservatory: a botanical garden in a Victorian greenhouse that showcases plants, flowers and amazing glass artwork. There are themed exhibits that change seasonally but always include child friendly play spaces.
While you’re in the neighborhood, you’ll want to stop by the infamous Blue Slide Park in Schenley Park and the PNC Carousel in Schenley Plaza. I highly suggest eating at Porch for lunch or dinner.
Oakland is also home to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. You’ll want to take time to walk around and take in the sights and sounds. If you have time, I’d also recommend Soldiers and Sailors History Museum and the Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning.
Explore North Shore and/or North Side: If you’re planning on a trip the the Carnegie Science Center, chance are it’s going to take up the majority of your day (and that’s OK!). The four floor space is filled with educational and entertaining exhibits the entire family will enjoy. Next door you’ll also find the Sports Works building (included with admission). I suggest taking a walk along the river. The view is beautiful and there’s tons to see and explore (the Watersteps, Fred Rogers statue, Heinz Field, the Point).
The Children’s Museum and National Aviary are within walking distance of each other and are located on the North Side. You may be able to venture to both in the same day, but if you are only going to do one I suggest the Children’s Museum. It’s been an absolute favorite destination of ours since my son was little.
While many people will plan long weekends to Pittsburgh during the summer months, there’s certainly things to do and see all year long! Be sure to check out our event calendar with tons of highlighted family happenings around the city. There are also events that occur annually.
- March: St. Patricks Day Parade
- April : Art All Night
- May : Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival
- June: Three Rivers Art Festival
- July: Regatta
- July : Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
- August / September: Renaissance Festival
- November: Light Up Night