Public Lands in Cranberry Helps You Enjoy the Great Outdoors

If you explore outdoors as we do, odds are good you've shopped in outdoor specialty stores from time to time to pick up gear and supplies. One such chain you have likely visited is DICK's Sporting Goods as their stores are, well, seemingly everywhere.

But what you may not know is that DICK's Sporting Goods is now a Pittsburgh company as their headquarters can be found in Coraopolis (the company relocated their headquarters to the area in 1994).

As such, when DICK's decided to launch a new outdoor-oriented specialty store known as Public Lands, it should be no surprise that the very first location was announced to be right here in southwest Pennsylvania. We were fortunate enough to visit the store during its soft open in September 2021 and have a chance to share about what to expect when visiting the Cranberry Township location!

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Powdermill Nature Reserve is a Hidden Gem in the Laurel Highlands

One of the fun things about running this site is that we're always discovering new places that were right in front of us but we never noticed. One recent spot we learned about was Powdermill Nature Reserve in Rector, PA (in the heart of the Laurel Highlands), and, naturally, went immediately.

This nature reserve is managed by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and is designed to monitor the wildlife populations found in western Pennsylvania. But beyond their important work, the facility has a few fairly modest exhibits highlighting the animals of the region, a marsh machine to purify wastewater from the facility, periodic lectures and events, and some shorter hiking trails to check out as well!

So while you may not have a terribly long visit at this one, if you are passing by, it is most certainly worth the stop. So let's jump into what you can see a bit more!

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9 Great Pittsburgh Distilleries to Check Out for Libations

We can think back to a time in the not-so-distance past when there were no distilleries in Pittsburgh at all (distilleries in the form we know and love, at least).

Yes, it seems unusual to think that the region known for the historic Whiskey Rebellion from 1791-1794 would somehow ever be devoid of distilleries outright. This all came about thanks to an arcane law that prevented distilleries from having on-site sales and as such only a few operated in the state- mostly for commercial sales direct to bars, the state store, and other indirect consumers.

It wasn't until the founders of Wigle Whiskey lobbied to get the law change that our distillery scene really started to take off with the on-site bar programs we know and love. For reference of time scale, this was only in 2012, and with the change in laws, Wigle became the first distillery to open in the city limits and only the third to open in the state at all!

As such, Pittsburgh's distillery scene can only be defined as young but growing rapidly. Distilleries, like Wigle, that were founded around the start of the rule change are only recently starting to get aged products that rival other regions that have been producing for decades, and not a year goes by that several new distilleries pop onto the scene as well.

In this one, we want to briefly share a bit about all of the distilleries we've been to so far!

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The Asian Lantern Festival Celebrates Animals, Culture, and More

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is known for putting on many events throughout the year, and in fall 2021 they put on one of the grandest yet- the Asian Lantern Festival running on Thursday to Sunday nights through October 30th!

We were fortunate enough to visit the Seoul Lantern Festival when visiting South Korea in 2019 and absolutely loved the large, ornate, and colorful paper sculptures that lined Cheonggyecheon Stream in the heart of the city (see some of our favorites over at our travel blog at the previous link).

Naturally, when we heard that the Pittsburgh Zoo was going to host their own lantern festival, we knew we had to attend.

In this one, we thought we'd share a bit more about what the Asian Lantern Festival at the zoo is like, share a few of our favorite pieces, and give some tips to help you plan your visit for this limited-time show!

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Customized Helicopter Tours of Pittsburgh With Vortex Helicopter Services

It really is hard to beat any view you can get of the Pittsburgh skyline. We've found views of our gorgeous city from just about every angle you can think of from on the hills, along the river trails, on the water, and more.

But there is one view that is hard to get without some extra assistance, and that is seeing the skyline from the air. When we fly in and out of Pittsburgh International Airport, we always hope for a quick flyby of the city to capture some photos, but the quality of which is often hit-or-miss from our cell phones (and of course, a flyby is never guaranteed, either).

Thankfully, in 2021 a new tour company opened offering customized helicopter flights over Pittsburgh- Vortex Helicopter Services operating out of Finleyville Airport. If you are looking to capture a unique vantage point over the city, this tour is a must.

Note: I was invited to fly as a guest of Vortex Helicopter Services as part of a 30-minute media tour over the city. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Touring Birch Creek Farmery Gives an Appreciation for Ethical Farming

As supporters of all things local, it should not be a surprise that we buy our meats and vegetables from area farms as best we can. This includes CSA subscriptions in the summer months, weekly visits to farmer's markets throughout the city, and buying bulk meat orders to fill our deep freezer from time to time as well.

While we are not writing this post to get into the ethical debate on meat-eating outright, we do believe that it is important to know where your meat comes from and that the animals are treated as humanely as possible along the way. By shopping at local farms, we are often able to see all of this first hand!

Naturally, when we started shopping for local meats, Birch Creek Farmery in Burgettstown, PA, quickly came on our radar. It didn't take long after looking at their website to realize that the family who runs the farm have values similar to ours in this regard, and we've become devoted customers ever since (including even visiting the farm for a wine dinner in the past as well).

Cut to a few years later, and the team (now friends) at Birch Creek Farmery invited us out for a proper farm tour to see how they raise their animals. As these tours are open to the public as well, we thought it'd be fun to share a bit more about what the experience is like!

Note: Birch Creek Farmery said that tours can be customized a bit for your interests. Want to spend more time petting and feeding animals? They can do that. Want to learn more of the technical details that go into farming? They can do that too. We opted for a general tour which involved a long walk around the property to see as many animals as possible. Be sure to dress accordingly in long pants and shoes you don't mind getting muddy!

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PedalPGH is a Great Event to Bike Surface Roads in Pittsburgh

PedalPGH is an annual charity bike ride taking place every August (roughly) to help raise money for BikePGH and their local biking initiatives.

For many years, we've watched this one from a distance as we started out primarily as rail-trail bikers who prefer mostly flat rides as opposed to heading out on surface roads. But after building up our experience on bikes, we signed up for PedalPGH and have to admit that this event is a whole lot of fun.

We had so much fun, in fact, that we plan on riding this one yearly!

So in this one, we thought we'd share a bit more about what you can expect from PedalPGH, things to keep in mind, and why signing up is so important outright.

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15 Reasons to Visit Pittsburgh in September – Fall is Coming

September in Pittsburgh often brings about the first signs of fall. The temperatures start to decrease below 80, fall festivals and seasonal attractions open up, school is back in session, and more.

While the looming season change may first be noticeable in this month, there are still plenty of wonderful things to do during the month, and in this one we wanted to share a few of our favorites!

So if you are looking for things to do in Pittsburgh in September, check out the following options.

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Pusadee’s Garden Review – A Dining Experience Worth the Wait

When Pusadee's Garden closed in 2017 for renovations, we thought they'd be open the following year. 2018 came and went, so did 2019, and so did 2020 all without hearing a single update about the project. After enough time passed, we really thought this one was closed for good and were rather sad at the prospect of losing such a great restaurant in Lawrenceville.

Cut to early 2021 and the restaurant announced that they would finally be opening again, and we knew we had to visit as quickly as possible.

It only took about two steps after walking into the door for us to realize we should forget everything we remember about this one. To call the upgrade extensive would be an understatement- it was a complete transformation that was executed flawlessly. The restaurant went from being a good Thai spot to becoming one of the finest restaurants in Pittsburgh– Thai or otherwise.

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Lorelei Review – Bringing Alpine Cocktails and Beer to East Liberty

Lorelei is another stellar bar concept operated by the team behind Independent Brewing Company and Hidden Harbor in Squirrel Hill.

But rather than adding into their collection of bars at the corner of Forbes and Shady Avenue, this one is located in the heart of East Liberty– bringing a much welcomed addition to the neighborhood's drinking scene.

We were recently invited out by the team at Lorelei to check out the new space, and share our thoughts in this full review! (Note that this review has been updated to reflect additional visits that we made on our own as well.)

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