2024 Pittsburgh Vacation Guide
One of the country’s most vibrant and historic cities, Pittsburgh is rich with cultural attractions, exceptional museums, idyllic parks and much more to discover. Visitors can explore the city’s wealth of shops, restaurants and art galleries as well as uncover its flourishing theater and nightlife scenes. Boasting some of Pennsylvania’s top attractions and must-see landmarks, this dynamic city has plenty to offer visitors.
Pittsburgh, the second-largest city in Pennsylvania, is located in the southwest corner of the state. It is known for its beautiful riverside and hills as well as its diverse population and rich cultural attractions. The city can be accessed by Pittsburgh International Airport, bus services, Amtrak, and by car. The city also boasts a robust public transportation network, making getting around quick and convenient.
The city is home to a multitude of great attractions that range from acclaimed theaters to some of the most celebrated museums and cultural attractions in the United States. Among the city’s premier attractions are its world-class museums and galleries. The world-renowned Carnegie Museums such as the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Science Center, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, three of the most acclaimed museums in the United States and among the city’s top destinations for visitors. The Frick Art and Historical Center is another top museum worth visiting, home to an impressive collection of artwork and artifacts to discover. The Andy Warhol Museum boasts the largest artwork collection of the famed Pittsburgh native while the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is a top destination for families with children.
Pittsburgh Visitors Guide
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Pittsburgh is also home to a wide range of beautiful parks and public spaces to explore. Point State Park offers stunning riverside views while Highland Park is among the city’s largest and most idyllic. Frick Park, Riverview Park and Schenley Park, known for their extensive greenery and peaceful charm, are great places to relax and unwind as well. The Phipps Conservatory ranks among the finest botanical gardens in the region while the Pittsburgh Zoo and the PPG Aquarium are fun for the whole family.
The city also boasts a thriving theater and music scene anchored by renowned institutions like Heinz Hall, the Quantum Theater and the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre. In addition, the city sports a wide range of shops, galleries, restaurants, and nightlife destinations for visitors to enjoy.
A city that offers world-class cultural attractions and plenty of history to explore, Pittsburgh is one of the top visitor destinations in the United States. Its exciting blend of acclaimed museums, fine shops, and endless entertainment options is very hard to match.
Pittsburgh Downtown Hotels
Downtown Pittsburgh is a vibrant area that is officially known as the Central Business District. It is also sometimes known as the Golden Triangle. It got this nickname due to its location at the joining of the Allegheny River with the Monongahela River. These two rivers come together to form the Ohio River. Downtown Pittsburgh has long been a center of industry. This is where the great steel empire of the United States was formed by Andrew Carnegie. It also has been a center of banking. Andrew Carnegie started his banking empire here. It is also famous as the home of Heinz 57 Ketchup. There are many wonderful attractions and things to do in downtown Pittsburgh. There are lots of art museums and galleries to enjoy. There are also many theaters to catch a show, lots of fine dining establishments and many pubs and bars to enjoy. Visitors will find a number of hotels to stay in downtown Pittsburgh, and it is easy to get around. There are many parks and an abundance of great shopping to enjoy as well. Downtown Hotel Service offers Hotels near Downtown Pittsburgh that are quality hotels at an affordable price. Use our Search box above or click here to see available hotels!
About Downtown Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh has many points of interest but there is plenty about Downtown Pittsburgh area to know before your visit. Downtown Pittsburgh also referred to as the Golden Triangle and the Central Business District.
Not only is downtown Pittsburgh the business center of the city, featuring many banks and steel companies, but it is an emerging residential area. As the city recently celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2008, the downtown area looks to add daily living and family activities to its preponderance of major corporations. The number of downtown citizens grows each day, with approximately 3,000 people living in the area.
Downtown Pittsburgh is located at the confluence of the city’s two major rivers, the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. The downtown area enjoys the lenient definition that allows it to include exciting market and residential areas to increase the flow throughout the area and offer out of town business visitors to easily experience the charms of the city. The Strip District, the Southside, Uptown and North Shore are a few of the spots that Downtown Pittsburgh happily adopts.
The city’s transportation needs are met by a light rail system, an extensive bus service, taxi cabs and an infrastructure that allows for easy navigation for drivers.
The reason why Pittsburgh is dubbed “The City of Bridges” will not be lost on you as you can easily spot them peppering the city to make way for commuters of all kinds throughout the river-dominated city.
The Pittsburgh Central Downtown Historic District is listed with the National Register of Historic Places. Some points of interest during your stay in Pittsburgh include Point State Park that features a large fountain and the Fort Pitt Museum.
The downtown area also houses the city’s government entities and buildings in the Grant Street area. Here you can see the city’s tallest and most impressive skyscrapers up close.
For entertainment and cultural activities, visit the Cultural District for theatres, concert venues, and galleries to satisfy your curiosities and taste for fine arts.
There is more to learn about the downtown Pittsburgh area that you can learn on your visit.
If you’re traveling to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you’ll probably want to bring an umbrella, though you might – or might not – end up using it.
The city known for its steel is also known for its clouds. In fact, Pittsburgh ranks as the fourth cloudiest city in the U.S., behind Seattle, Portland, and Buffalo. It has what is considered heavy cloud coverage or “mostly” cloudy skies for roughly 84 percent of the year.
Overcast skies, however, don’t always turn to rain. Pittsburgh’s wettest month is typically May, but its precipitation levels are pretty moderate, with most months falling between two and a half and three and three-quarters inches of precipitation.
If you want to avoid temperature extremes, you may not want to travel to Pittsburgh in January or July, its coldest and hottest months. January temperatures average around 38 degrees Fahrenheit, with July’s high averaging about 85.
The months in between can be moderate and pleasant, despite cloudy skies. The heat index can get high in the summer, and the city does average close to 10 days with a high of at least 90 degrees. However, it’s rare that a summer day tops 100, and unusual, though not unheard of, for the cold to dip below zero.
Pittsburgh’s “comfort index,” which factors in heat and humidity, is actually slightly higher than the national average. Its UV index is lower, partly due to the heavy cloud coverage. Remember that cloudy skies, however, do not mean you can dispense with a good sunblock. Good skin protection is important to travelers at all times of the year, even to locales that aren’t incredibly sunny.
Wintertime travelers to Pittsburgh will want to pack plenty of warm clothing, though you might want to throw a t-shirt into the luggage as the steel city can sometimes surprise its inhabitants with a balmy day, even in the midst of January.
That means snowfalls, even when they accumulate, don’t always tend to stay on the ground long. The average annual snowfall in Pittsburgh is around 40 inches, much less than the neighboring city of Erie, which is two hours north and part of the snow belt by the Great Lakes. Snowfalls in Pittsburgh tend to be moderate, though blizzards have been known to dump up to two feet of snow on the region. Hail is not a common occurrence, though you will sometimes see graupel, a kind of soft hail. These odd-looking snow pellets are actually snowflakes covered in an ice crystal coating.
As Pennsylvania’s second-largest city, Pittsburgh has a great transportation system for local residents and visitors from all over the United States and overseas. Interstate 76 links the Pittsburgh area with Akron, Ohio to the northwest and with Philadelphia to the east. Interstate 79 connects runs as far north as the city of Erie along Lake Erie and as far south as Charleston in West Virginia. Both of these major highways do not actually pass through the city boundaries of Pittsburgh. However, I-376 merges with I-76 and I-279 merges with I-79. Interstate 376 and Interstate 279 are much shorter highways that pass directly through the heart of Pennsylvania’s second-biggest city. Drivers navigating Pittsburgh should be prepared to cross some of the bridges over the Ohio River and Allegheny River.
The Port Authority of Allegheny County provides public transit services in Pittsburgh and the neighboring communities. PAT operates more than 100 total bus routes that offer convenient transfers in nearly all major areas of Pittsburgh and nearby suburbs. The Port Authority of Allegheny County also invites passengers to take advantage of the light rail system.
Pittsburgh Light Rail
The Pittsburgh Light Rail, also known locally as The T, consists of two lines. The Red Line runs between Overlook Junction in Castle Shannon and Allegheny Station in the North Shore neighborhood of Pittsburgh. There is also a Red Line extension that runs down south to South Hills Village in Upper St. Clair. The Blue Line service also begins at the Allegheny Station but branches out into two extensions. One Blue Line extension runs to Library Station in South Park Township and another extension runs to South Hills Village. The T Red Line and Blue Line both stop at major stations within Downtown Pittsburgh such as North Side, Gateway Center, Wood Street, Steel Plaza, First Avenue, and Station Square. Light Rail service within Downtown Pittsburgh is free to the public.
Union Station in Pittsburgh
Union Station in Pittsburgh is served by two long-distance Amtrak lines. The Capitol Limited service runs between Union Station in Washington D.C. and Union Station in Chicago. The Pennsylvanian trains operate between Pittsburgh and New York City and stop in Harrisburg and Philadelphia along the way. The Pittsburgh Union Station is conveniently located only several blocks north of the Steel Plaza light rail station in the Downtown district.
More than 8 million passengers each year pass through Pittsburgh International Airport. This airport accepts flights from more than a dozen major cities in the United States thanks to major American carriers such as Delta Air Lines and US Airways. The PAT Bus Route 28X (Airport Flyer) offers direct service to Pittsburgh International Airport.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a beautiful city at any time of the year, but the warmer months of spring, summer and fall lend themselves to greater activity. If you happen to be a person who loves winter vacations, Pittsburgh at Christmas is an amazing sight. More people tend to shop in the downtown when the stores and the city itself are beautifully decorated for the holiday. Wintertime views of the Point, where three rivers meet, in all of its glamorous lightings are scenes that create wonderful memories of Pittsburgh.
Travel the Mount Washington Incline on a historical tram. When reaching the observation deck above, you will be able to see out and across the city, see the Point and view the three rivers; the Monongahela, the Allegheny and the Ohio Rivers. It is suggested that this particular view is one of the more spectacular views across the entire United States.
Gateway Clipper Fleet
The Gateway Clipper Fleet is known for its history, its trips along the three rivers and the magnificent dinner cruises offered by the Fleet’s five boats. The Fleet sails year-round and is sure to delight you. Certain tours are classed as sight-seeing tours, some as dinner cruises and others are slated as entertainment experiences. The historic Station Square is where the Fleet docks and cruises leave. If traveling with children, The Good Ship Lollipop might be a good cruise for the entire family.
“Sporting News” awarded Pittsburgh the title of “The Best Sports City.” If you are an avid sport’s fan, then you will appreciate the Steelers, the Pirates, and the Penguins. Playing at new stadiums coupled with entertainment centers and more, you will find much to do after the games. The Steelers have won 6 Super Bowl titles and continue to draw a lot of attention. Football and hockey are played at the nearby CONSOL Energy Center and the Pirates can be found at PNC Park.
Kennywood Amusement Park
Kennywood Amusement Park is near Pittsburgh and has some of the newest and best rides, including new roller coasters. There is also a nearby water park, the Pittsburgh Zoo, the Aviary and Phipps (flower) Conservatory that are all appropriate for your children, or “the kid in you.”
Benedum Center for the Performing Arts
Pittsburgh is the home of the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the Pittsburgh Symphony, Opera and Ballet performances throughout the year. Beautiful hotels, restaurants, and lounges can be found in the city and on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. Elegance, comfort and good pricing are all-inclusive of a great vacation in one of the country’s most beautiful cities.
When you eat at this corner café, you will not leave hungry. It is open for breakfast, and you are served large portions of food. The wait time to be seated is not long, and you have an amazing view of the city streets while you eat. The stuffed French toast is decadent, and it is sprinkled with powdered sugar. The bacon is crisp, and the hash browns are cooked to perfection. If you visit in the fall, try the pumpkin pancakes with maple syrup.
This is a restaurant that serves fresh food such as salads and beans. The lamb with lentils is a great option if you are trying to eat something with fewer calories. The hamburgers are large and served with lettuce, tomato, and almost anything else that you can imagine on a burger. For dessert, you should try the gingerbread with whipped cream. It has just the right amount of spices that fit well with the cream.
Be prepared to wait in line, but the food is well worth it. The onion rings at this local burger establishment are huge, and the outer covering is crunchy. The milkshakes are made with fresh milk and topped with a huge scoop of whipped cream that is sprinkled with cocoa powder. A bar is located at the back of the restaurant. The Crab Shack is a unique sandwich that has tons of crab meat on it, and there are hamburgers that might be a little bit too big to swallow.
Any time you visit the northeast, you should try seafood. This restaurant has fresh seafood that is cooked to perfection. It is not oily or too hard like some other seafood that you might find. There are live fish swimming in tanks all around the building, and there are trains that run on tracks near the ceiling. The fish sandwich has at least three large pieces of fish on a warm bun with a side of tartar sauce.
Union Pig and Chicken
If you like BBQ, then you are sure to like the food here. It is located on the corner of one of the busiest streets in the city, and you can get a meal that is prepared quickly. The ribs fall off the bone, and there is a wide variety of side dishes including corn, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese.
Pittsburgh is a vibrant city, alive with events to engage visitors at any time throughout the year. Whether you are trying to plan your complete itinerary or supplement plans you have already made for your visit to the “City of Bridges,” you will find plenty of memorable events to keep you entertained and satisfied.
For gourmands visiting Pittsburgh, you will find different food-oriented events spread throughout the year. Enjoy the joy of learning more about Italian homemade pasta and cooking your own sauces at “Bella Cucina” where this cooking event will be as much a tour of Italy through mouth-watering pasta, sauces, and wines.
Athletes may enjoy a springtime visit to take in the ambiance or even to run the Pittsburgh Marathon or Half Marathon. Discover the city on foot with this annual celebration of health, fitness, and endurance with other athletes from around the country and the world. This weekend-long festival has the entire city alive and brimming with fun for the whole family.
Take in the exciting spectacle of the Laser Shows where each show is unique and new to the audience. This choreographed light show at the Buhl Digital Dome is a flurry of dazzling lights and pulsating music.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Visit the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for a performance or two to experience a beautiful part of the city’s arts and culture that runs throughout the year.
Penguin lovers will enjoy a visit to the National Aviary to see these fine tuxedo-adorned birds. This rare opportunity is a true event for the whole family since you can touch these African penguins and learn about their history.
Pittsburgh RV Show
For those interested in camping and outdoor recreational pursuits may choose to visit the David L. Lawrence Convention Center for the Pittsburgh RV Show. With various vehicles and accessories on display, you can gather new ideas for your next road adventure.
Carnegie Science Center
The Carnegie Science Center features the Miniature Railroad & Village that is a family-friendly event. The realistic installation follows a train throughout an intricate and realistic replica of western Pennsylvania with landmarks along the way that include Falling Water, Leap-the-Dips and Forbes Field. This exhibit is as much a long-standing Pittsburgh tradition as it is an event.
Pittsburgh Festival Opera
Pittsburgh Festival Opera presents innovative opera, producing American works, reinterpretations of older works, and new works, for the widest possible audience. The company focuses on diversity in programming and casting, on crossing boundaries and bringing together talents from all the arts, on encouraging new talent, and on broadening audiences through outreach and education, to create a body of work that is original, entertaining, contemporary and relevant. Pittsburgh Festival Opera brings the power of world-class performances to humanize, energize and re-define opera as an experience that is up-close and personal, approachable, and relevant to today’s audiences. We break boundaries in the arts, bringing together audiences and artists of all backgrounds to engage in experiences that inspire and enthrall.
Take advantage of the various types of public transportation such as the light rail, the many buses or taxi cabs in the city to get from one event to the next in case you did not drive into the city. Plot out your events so you catch a lift and arrive in time to enjoy every moment of your chosen events.
Family Fun near Downtown Pittsburgh
A trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a wonderful destination and perfect for the whole family. After all, it is a city full of child-friendly activities. The list below outlines a few attractions that are worth experiencing in the Pittsburgh area:
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
This Pittsburgh museum recently completed a huge expansion with the opening of Dinosaurs in Their Time. The exhibit is perhaps the most unusual dinosaur experience in America. In addition to this amazing exhibit, Carnegie Museum houses more than 20 galleries and contains around 21 million objects and scientific specimens. This is a great activity for all, “Night at the Museum” fans as this truly is where history comes to life.
Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium
Enjoy this 77-acre zoo and aquarium complete with learning opportunities that allow kids to touch and participate in the animal world. The zoo hosts programs for children as young as 2 making the zoo and aquarium a wonderful way to spend a day together as a family.
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
The museum’s theme, “Play With Real Stuff” says it all when it comes to what makes this museum a must-see attraction. The purpose of the museum is opening children’s minds to challenges they will face in the real world. These generated scenarios include how to build a boat and how to change a tire. In addition, fun exhibits such as play in the mud make it fun for all ages.
A visit to this exceptional aviary is a treat for any bird-lover. Opportunities abound for hand-to-beak interaction. At certain times during the day, children can aid workers as they feed the birds. There are also several shows performed on a daily basis for those children who would rather observe the birds instead of interacting with them.
Sandcastle Water Park
A trip to Pittsburgh during the summer calls for a trip to the water park. The Sandcastle Water Parks boasts of 14 different water slides and the world’s biggest hot tub for those who prefer to remain sedentary. It even has a special area just for little children called Wet Willie’s Water Works. For older kids and teens, there is a pool only open to them. Available to all ages is the relaxing Lazy River. The Sandcastle Water Park is a summer paradise within Pittsburgh city limits.
Carnegie Science Center
This is the perfect activity for those kids who want to know how things work. Created to make science accessible and fun, Carnegie Science Center is one of the best around. It even has an amazing submarine walk-through area that is sure to pique the interest of even the most disinterested kid.
The above list highlights some activities that are perfect for families to try when visiting Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Shopping near Downtown Pittsburgh
While visiting Pittsburgh you will want to make sure that you set time aside to do some shopping. You will find that Pittsburgh offers a large variety of places to shop such as malls, retail stores, mom and pop stores and stores that sell those hard to find collectibles that you love so much.
Ross Park Mall
Ross Park Mall has all of your favorite anchor stores such as Sears, GAP, Penny’s Macy’s and Pottery Barn but you’ll also find Nine West, Lids, Journey, The Body Shop and so much more. You’ll be able to get your latest fashion needs as well as the bath and shower products that you love. Should you get hungry while shopping, visit the food court or one of the many restaurants located within the Mall.
Station Square is filled with great places to shop. You can shop for fashion apparel at places such as Hard Rock Shop, Hometown Sports and New York. If jewelry and accessories are your weakness, you’ll want to visit Morini, Debwal and New York City where you’ll find great selections to fit your style. To get your fair share of Pittsburgh souvenirs you can shop at the Hard Rock Shop, Ends N Odds and Bradley’s Books to find a large variety.
Pittsburgh Public Market
The Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip is also a great shopping place that offers a ton of local items in a warehouse setting that has tables set up with people selling their goods. You’ll find that you can purchase things like homemade jellies, art, Alpaca goods, hot sauces and so much more. The shopping at the public market is a surprise with each vendor.
Shadyside is also a great shopping area that offers some one of a kind stores that offer everything from artwork to clothing. You’ll find that there are many great little places to eat here as well. You might choose to shop at Banana Republic, Williams-Sonoma, The Apple Store or even Prantl’s Bakery that is worth standing in line for.
Mall at Robinson
The Mall at Robinson is another great Mall that you will find shopping to be plentiful. You can shop at Abercrombie and Fitch, The Children’s Place, The Buckle and so much more. This mall also offers a lot of great places to eat as well. On the way to the mall, you’ll find shopping places that offer everything from the latest styles in handbags to hardware.
Map of Hotels in Pittsburgh
- Pittsburgh International Airport – Find hotels Near Imperial and Robinson TownShip.
- Pittsburgh Downtown – Find hotels Near Filter Square and Society Hill
- University of Pittsburgh – Find hotels Near Wilkinsburg and Swissvale.
- Sandcastle Waterpark – Find hotels Near West Homestead and Munhall.
- Carnegie Museum of Art – Find hotels Near Homewood and East Liberty.
- Shaler Township – Find hotels Near Sharpsburg and Reserve Township.