The second-largest city in Pennsylvania has developed from a gritty industrial hub to a sophisticated urban centre.
Outstanding cultural attractions and award-winning restaurants are among the biggest draws. Add to this, the friendly people and walkability of the city and you have the perfect ingredients for an interesting visit.
Not quite sure what to see and do in Pittsburgh? Here’s a selection of some of the experiences you won’t want to miss:
Where to go: The Carnegie museums
Carnegie is a big name in Pittsburgh. Scottish-born Andrew is famed for modernising the city’s steel production and his legacy lives on in many of Pittsburgh’s cultural and educational institutions which he founded.
Andy Warhol Museum (Carnegie)
This is the biggest museum in the USA to be dedicated to one artist. The world-famous pop art master once said: “Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes” but Warhol’s legacy has lived on well after his death in 1987.
The six-floor museum is where Pittsburgh’s coolest native son began his journey to fame in the art world. Over 4,000 exhibits include Warhol’s drawings and media illustrations, sculptures and photographs, along with the entire Andy Warhol video collection which features 228 screen tests, and 45 other films by Warhol. Although Warhol is the main attraction, you can also view exhibits from other like-minded artists who have pushed the boundaries of art, just as Warhol did.
Carnegie Science Center
A favourite with all inquisitive minds, the Science Center is a cut above the rest: It is in fact the most visited museum in Pittsburgh thanks to exhibits covering anything from outer space and digital technology to a planetarium and the history of robots.
Roboworld is touted as the world’s largest permanent robotics exhibition and contains more than 30 interactive displays, while the E-motion cone is a white inverted cone sitting atop the Science Center building and lighting up the night sky with different colours to signal the weather forecast.
Carnegie Museum of Art
The Carnegie Museum of Art is home to one of the greatest contemporary art collections in the United States. Here you will find over 30,000 objects featuring a wide spectrum of visual arts so you can take your pick from: paintings and sculptures; prints and drawings; architectural casts and models; photographs; decorative art and design; and film, video and digital imagery.
Wind your way through a wide range of eras and styles, starting with baroque and renaissance, moving on to the impressionists and American realists, then onwards to modern and contemporary works – you will get a true sense of how art has changed over the centuries. The collection is huge, so make sure you factor in enough time to make the most of your visit.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
This museum is completely packed with the Earth’s natural wonders past and present, all beautifully exhibited to wow people of all ages. It’s so well stocked that you may well find it hard to decide where to begin.
The dinosaur exhibits are extremely realistic and much loved by the younger members of the family, while the Egyptian and Native American displays and the minerals and precious stones are equally popular. In terms of interactive exhibits, kids love to strap on the goggles and ‘dig’ for fossils as the palaeontologists do, while a number of other hands-on exhibitions like the Bonehunters Quarry keep them equally busy.
Where to eat
Traditional Pittsburgh cuisine reflects the city’s multicultural heritage, particularly that of the European immigrants of the 20th century who introduced dishes like pierogis (a Polish dish of pasta filled with potato and cheese, onion or sauerkraut), Other typical treats to try include: Halupki (cabbage rolls); city chicken (pork and/or veal baked or fried on a skewer); Halusky (Polish noodles with fried cabbage); and Kielbasa (eastern European sausages).
Pittsburgh Restaurant Week celebrates Pittsburgh’s culinary variety and brings together foodies from surrounding areas who come to the city to enjoy a meal at participating restaurants at a discounted price.
What to do
The 2 cable cars at Duquesne Incline
Constructed in the late 19th century, the funiculars of the Duquesne Incline constantly zip up and down the steep slopes of Mount Washington. For commuters, they are a quick connection across the city and for visitors they provide fantastic city views, especially at night. At the top, you can pay 50 cents to see the cables and gears at work. Go up one, walk about one mile along the aptly named Grandview Avenue, and go down again on the other.
A paddle up the Susquehanna River might be just what you need after taking in the city sights. Pittsburgh’s location and its many yellow bridges have earned Pittsburgh the nickname of the ‘Golden Triangle’. River boat tour companies abound here, offering a variety of cruises to suit all tastes.
Take a bike ride along over 640 kilometres of stunningly scenic routes in the Allegheny Forest for the views and lungs full of invigorating Pennsylvania air. Mapmyride gives information and maps on a wide variety of cycling tracks crossing Pittsburgh and its immediate surroundings. And if you’re in the area without a bike, there are plenty of cycle rental companies to choose from, some of which provide guided tours.