The Joy of Cookies tour in the Lawrenceville neighborhood has been an annual tradition for over fifteen years.
This event takes place the first weekend in December and is basically an open house for Lawrenceville businesses and restaurants complete with free cookies at each stop.
If you want to support local businesses with your holiday shopping, or if there are shops you've always wanted to check out but always seem to pass by, the Joy of Cookies tour is a perfect event for you to explore this buzzing neighborhood.
A Self-Guided Trip Around Lawrenceville
Although this event is dubbed as a “tour,” it's completely self-guided. Hop on the event's website to download a map of participating businesses, or pick up a map at one of the stops during the event. If you don't you needn't worry as each participating shop has a giant numbered gingerbread man signifying participation (and are hard to miss)!
The businesses are generally open from 10AM-6PM on Friday and Saturday and 10AM-5PM on Sunday, but each individual shop is free to set their own hours for the event.
With dozens of participating shops over a 2-mile stretch, it's possible to make an entire day out of the cookie tour. Or you can choose to focus on just a few blocks or a specific kind of shop in particular if you're limited on time.
We checked out the cookie tour in 2017 and what we loved the most was that it gave us a chance to go into businesses that we'd never been in before. Lawrenceville is full of odd little shops that sometimes you may feel awkward going into if you're just browsing and not really sure what you'll find.
The open house feel of this event means that there's always lots of people coming and going into all the shops, so you don't need to feel awkward about just popping in somewhere quickly.
Too Many Great Spots to Visit on the Joy of Cookies Tour
Here are some of the cool businesses that we found during the event that we had never been in before but absolutely loved:
Beer on Butler: This is a great beer distributor with lots of craft beer options including bottles and cans from local breweries as well.
Riverside Design Group: Although this shop is moving out of Lawrenceville, we had to mention it. They offer beautiful glass plates, bowls, platters, and other items for your table settings, and the majority of the products are made right here in Western PA!
Cinderlands Beer Co.: This brewery opened just shortly before the cookie tour in 2017, and we just had to check it out. While we've found most new breweries seem to take a few months to hit their stride, we were pleasantly surprised with the creativity of the beer offerings here like the Test Piece NE IPA and their coffee milk stout.
Asian Influences: If you're looking for some Asian-inspired artwork, furniture, or home decor, this shop should be on your radar. The Asian attributes in their pieces range from overt to subtle, meaning there's something for everyone.
We should note that we went on a Sunday late morning and early afternoon, and by that time some of the shops had run out of their free cookies. So if you're really banking on cookie-hopping through Lawrenceville, it's best to hit up the event on Friday or Saturday- you won't regret it!
The Joy of Cookies tour typically occurs the first weekend of December. The Lawrenceville Corporation publishes up-to-date information on each year's tour in advance.
Looking for more things to experience during Christmas in Pittsburgh? Click the previous link for some of our favorites!