In surveys of the best places to live in the USA, Pittsburgh always ranks near the very top. We can understand this. It is a friendly city, and the Downtown is compact and easy to navigate. It is a world class city with major museums, sports teams and Fortune 500 companies. The city is famous for its three rivers, which are the reason Pittsburgh began; the Allegheny flows from the northeast and the Monongahela from the southeast to form the Ohio at Pittsburgh. All three offer recreation, sightseeing and visual beauty. Pittsburgh is a city of hills, and of neighborhoods with delightful character, much of it based upon the people who first settled there. If you have only a long weekend to see Pittsburgh, here are some highlights to put on your list:
Point Park, Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt
This is where it all began, with the small French fort Duquesne (now picked out in foundation only, followed by the more massive Fort Pitt, now represented by the blockhouse and Fort Pitt Museum. Just after WWII wise civic leaders engaged in “smoke abatement” and a complete renewal of the Point, and the park you see today with its fountain and green space as wall at Gateway Center, replace a warren of ancient and crumbling old warehouse buildings.
Explore Downtown Pittsburgh
Downtown is packed with great skyscrapers old and new, historic squares and impressive churches. Mellon Square Park has recently undergone an extensive renovation and is a great place to begin. Park underneath, and enjoy t his oasis amid the grand towering buildings all around. Within eyesight you can see the William Penn Hotel, the Union Trust Building, Kaufmann’s Department Store, the Mellon Bank building, the Oliver Building, the original aluminum skyscraper Alcoa building, and the aluminum steeple on the Smithfield Street Congregational Church. A short stroll can take you to PPG square, Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts and the Benedum Theater. Even nearer is H H Richardson’s landmark Allegheny County Court House. Up on the hill is the Consul Energy Center where the Penguins play. Venture along the Allegheny River to the Strip District, where fresh produce is on sale and where the famous Primanti Brothers started the rage for sandwiches with the French fries on top. A hint of Pittsburgh specialties, almost every restaurant will feature its version of a Pittsburgh salad with fries in the salad, or go with a Devonshire sandwich (open face turkey) and wind up your meal with a pecan ball for dessert.
Ride an Incline to See the Sights
The inclines, Mount Washington and Station Square – begin at Station Square, park and shop and dine there. Take an incline up Mount Washington for the superlative views of the city. Stroll along Grandview Avenue and look into St Mary of the Mount as well as gazing down on the city from on high. There are several restaurants offering view side dining up there. Ride the Duquesne Incline or the Monongahela Incline to enjoy the view.
The North Shore
The Carnegie Science Center, the Andy Warhol Museum, the National Aviary and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh are all just across the Allegheny River from Downtown. Once the separate City of Allegheny, the North Shore is now home to PNC Park where the Pirates play baseball and Heinz Field home of the Steelers. As you stroll along the river you can see the memorial to Roberto Clemente sculpted by Eleanor Milleville, there.
Oakland Cultural District
The Cathedral of Learning (see the grand gothic reading room and tour The Nationality Rooms), the Heinz Chapel, Stephen Collins Foster Memorial, Frick Art Gallery and the Carnegie Library, Museum and Museum of Art, as well as Phipps Conservatory, make the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh worth a long weekend in and of itself. If you have time, venture on to Shadyside’s Walnut Street and be sure to get a slice of almond torte at Prantl’s Bakery. Complete your visit to this east end of town at Highland Park and the Pittsburgh Zoo for a great outdoor venue of, strolling and enjoying a first class collection of animal species from around the world.
See the City from the River
Book a cruise on the Gateway Clipper fleet. This could be the start of your visit or an evening dinner cruise might be the way to complete your time in one of America’s most livable cities.
If you have a bit more time, consider a trip out to the Ohiopyle area where Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater is suspended over a stream. Reserve your tour beforehand, and take in Kentuck Knob in Uniontown to see not one but two of Wright’s residential landmarks in Western Pennsylvania.