Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Pittsburgh
Home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field can pack in more than 65,000 fans on game day. Seats in this stadium on the banks of the Allegheny River offer views of the city skyline and riverfront. The venue also hosts large concerts and University of Pittsburgh football games.
At the center of Pittsburgh just across from its downtown, Station Square is one of the city’s most popular shopping, dining, and entertainment centers. Station Square is also the location from which visitors can take the historic Monongahela Incline, one of two funiculars headed up the hill to Mount Washington.
Over 25 different restaurants call the square home, with a variety of cuisines served. The area also maintains an active nightlife with options for dancing and happy hours and a seasonal fireworks show. The amphitheater holds many festivals, concerts, and events year-round, with other smaller venues such as comedy clubs and sports bars adding to the fun. Station Square is a center of transportation for the city, including the Gateway Clipper Fleet of riverboats. A mile-long walking path along the river tells the history of Pittsburgh’s industrial heritage. The Station Square itself was built into the former Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Rail Station.
The Duquesne Incline is a classic (and entertaining) way to get up to Mount Washington from Pittsburgh. In service since 1877, this pair of historic cable cars shuttles passengers from Pittsburgh’s South Shore neighborhood to an overlook with panoramic views of the city and its rivers.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of America's most historic public gardens, full of exotic plant species since 1893. Its elaborate 15-acre (six-hectare) layout features mostly floral exhibits, as well as steel and glasswork Victorian greenhouse architecture. The conservatory was founded in the late 19th century by local steel magnate Henry Phipps and later given to the city of Pittsburgh. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark, as well as one of the greenest buildings in the country with a LEED-certified visitor center and production greenhouse.
With four floors of interactive exhibits, the Carnegie Science Center is both a museum and research facility with a planetarium as well as educational live shows. Here you’ll find a zero-gravity simulator and the world’s largest permanent collection dedicated to robotics. The center also holds the city’s largest movie theater screen called the Omnimax, a dome screen more than four stories tall showing classic films that change every month.
Learn about Pittsburgh’s three rivers at the H20h! exhibit, or explore the USS Requin, a real submarine from the Cold War. Children can especially appreciate the Miniature Railroad and Village and Exploration Station built for preschoolers. The Exploration Station features classic science exhibits on sound, light, and magnetism.
Want to see what it’s like to be a doctor? Check out the hands-on exhibit that allows visitors to learn about the skills and tools surgeons utilize. How about an astronaut? There is also a unique, real-sized replica of the International Space Station that recreates the experience for those of us on Earth.
Aside from being one of the most visited neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Mt. Washington offers some of the best views of the city skyline, having been named one of the most beautiful vistas in America. Rows of charming homes and Shiloh Street, the main district of shops, bars, restaurants, and boutiques also draw many to the area. Several of the restaurants offer an upscale ambiance with incredible views of the city and the three surrounding countryside and rivers. It is one of the premier neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.
The mountain was once the home of many various coal mines, earning it the nickname of “Coal Mountain.” Grandview Avenue runs the length of the hill with four outlook decks in between homes and restaurants. At the edge of the mountain you’ll find the bronze statue of George Washington and Seneca leader Guyasuta staring at one another, marking the area’s history. Also be sure to check out the library and the city’s newest park, Emerald View, which feels worlds away from the city.
Standing tall on the University of Pittsburgh campus, the Cathedral of Learning is a Late Gothic Revival structure that has become an icon of Pittsburgh listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Corners of the cathedral are decorated with elegant Gothic details. In fact, it is the second largest building with Gothic architecture in the world.
With 42 stories made of Indiana limestone and more than 2,000 rooms, the tower serves as the main university building of both classrooms and administrative offices. 30 rooms in particular remain a draw for visitors; they’re called the Nationality Rooms. Each represents a piece of Pittsburgh’s history, celebrating culture and influence dating back to 1787 when the university was founded.
The Nationality Rooms are themed with international heritage ranging in diversity from Early American and French to Chinese and Greek. They are fascinating to explore, almost like living museums, and often designed by architects abroad to reflect the art and traditions of each culture they represent. Collectively they tell the story of the many cultures that influenced the modern city Pittsburgh is today.
What began as an American cafe in London has spread around the world, and Hard Rock Café Pittsburgh is no exception to the classic food and rock ’n’ roll atmosphere found in the many restaurants. With a industrial interior as well as an outdoor patio, there are many comfortable places to sit and take in the energy. The exposed-brick stage always has some form of entertainment whenever classic rock ’n’ roll isn’t playing on the speakers. Frequently the space holds open mic nights and battle of the bands events.
While the bar features specialty cocktails, the menu has burgers, chicken wings, nachos, and potato skins to start. Entree choices range from fresh salads, sandwiches, and hickory-smoked barbecue specialties. Memorabilia found specifically at this cafe includes costumes from legends such as Elton John, Elvis, and Michael Jackson, or see the instruments once played by The Who and Stevie Wonder. There is even a handwritten draft of lyrics written by Bob Marley.