Visitors and locals alike have always been attracted to Pittsburgh's three rivers, and with good reason- they have influenced the city's growth ever since the first settlers arrived!
Today we may not be using the rivers for a strategic advantage against the French or to start expeditions to the wild west. No, our use includes more recreational and tourism purposes (as well as a robust shipping channel for industry, of course)- as it should be.
We're never ones to turn down the ability to get out on the water, and when our friends at Just Ducky Tours in Pittsburgh invited us out to check out one of their tours, we were in.
In this one, we share what the 60 minute city tour is like!
Land and Water on Just Ducky Tours
Just Ducky Tours use retrofitted amphibious vehicles designed for the military in WWII for land and water missions. By the Korean War these were phased out in favor of the more efficient helicopter and were subsequently re-purposed for tourism.
As their top speed maxes out at a little bit faster than a snail's pace (even when factoring updates to modern standards), these quickly became family favorites to get out on land and water tours the world over.
The Pittsburgh Just Ducky Tour is about an hour long and begins at their office in Station Square.
The first half of the tour is a drive through bustling downtown Pittsburgh and the second half heads into the water for a view of the city from a different angle- a perfect combo to highlight the city's unique history and architecture.
You really need to see both to get a full appreciation of the city!
Roughly 80% of each duck boat is covered with a roof, and six or so seats are open to the elements in the back.
If you are prepared for the conditions (sun, rain, or otherwise), we recommend getting to the meeting point early to snag one of these open seats as they give an unparalleled view of the buildings in downtown Pittsburgh during the land portion of the tour (the roof unfortunately obstructs the views here a bit).
When you are out on the water, however, all of the spots are fantastic due to being a fair distance from the sights.
A Great Narrator and Makes the Tour
As with most tours, we often believe that the guide/narrator is what makes or breaks the entire experience. Yes, the views of the city are fantastic on any day and make the tour worth it on its own, but the guide is what truly brings the city to life.
We really liked our captain and narrator on the Just Ducky tour as they both provided a wealth of information about the city, including facts that we had not heard elsewhere (as well as frequent groan-worthy dad jokes).
Admittedly, we threw our narrator off a bit because they like to ask passengers if they know the answers to Pittsburgh trivia, and we got them all right without hesitation.
He made the mistake of betting his last week's tip money that no one knew how many bridges were in the city (446 depending on if we've blown any up recently), and then did double or nothing if we could name the famous city Pittsburgh has more bridges than (the answer is Venice).
Don't worry, we let him keep his tips and added onto it ourselves.
In fact, the reason the guides are so good on these tours has a bit to do with the size of the boats. Their small nature allows for a much more intimate experience as both the driver and narrator are actually able to interact with all guests rather than simply reading from a script while sitting at the front of the boat.
Want to ask a question? You got it. Want to drive the boat? Sure thing. Want to quack at people passing you by without fear of repercussion? It is encouraged. Want to sit back and enjoy the view as the city passes you by? You can do that, too.
As far as boat tours of Pittsburgh of concerned, we want to do all of those things, and Just Ducky Tours are a great opportunity to do just that.
Just Ducky Tours are located at 125 W Station Square in Station Square. Tours run from April to November. We recommend making advanced reservations as tours tend to sell out. We were invited on a tour by Just Ducky Tours and, as always, all opinions are our own.