Last Updated on January 15, 2020 by Jeremy
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For reasons unknown to us, Pittsburgh is crazy about fireworks.
Fourth of July? Massive fireworks. Randomly scheduled nights during Pirates games? Fireworks. When the Pirates get a home run? Mini-fireworks. A mega-band playing at Heinz Field? There will probably be some fireworks. A celebration to welcome winter and the Christmas season? It's freezing outside, but sure, let's have some fireworks anyway.
If you are wanting to check out these festivities, Pittsburgh will give you a chance to see some good shows roughly ten times per year (give or take based on the Pirates schedule). The only question from there is where you must be in order to have the best view. After exploring the city for several years, we have come up with a list of our favorite spots.
The Locations of Pittsburgh Fireworks
Depending on the show, the fireworks in Pittsburgh are typically launched in three different places.
- On Pirates fireworks nights it is right behind the stadium on the water (A in the image above).
- Fourth of July is just off of Point State Park (B).
- Light Up Night (historically the Friday before Thanksgiving) is actually three fireworks in one evening with a brief show at Fifth Avenue Place downtown at 7 pm (not pictured), an often less publicized show at around 7:45pm in front of Point State Park (C) and the finale at 9:30 near the Clemente Bridge on the Fort Duquesne side (west) (A)!
Although these are prone to changes, they are often quite reliable. Note, during some Light Up Night festivities in the past the fireworks have taken place between the Warhol and Clemente Bridges (second C above by the bridges). In recent years they have taken place across from PNC Park (A). However, we are illustrating both as this could change in the future.
So the most important question for you is this: where is the best place to watch them at? Well, we've got eight great options for you to watch Pittsburgh fireworks from various angles!
Mount Washington Overlook
Mount Washington (#1 on the map above) is perhaps the best place to be for all of the fireworks in the city as you can enjoy them with the iconic view of the city with all three rivers visible. Top spots to view fireworks here include at the Point of View Sculpture in front of Monterey Bay (a personal favorite), inside Monterey Bay (if you can get a reservation), and at the Duquesne Incline.
We've tried watching fireworks closer to the Monongahela incline and, although they were alright, it is not the best view and especially poor on Pirates fireworks nights as they are launched behind the skyscrapers. Parking on Mount Washington isn't impossible; however, you're going to want to get there very early if you want to get a spot without having to walk a significant distance- especially on the 4th of July and Light Up Night.
The West End Bridge and West End Overlook
A bit further out from the city is the West End Bridge as well as the West End Overlook (#2 on the map above). These two spots offer roughly the same view of the city but one at ground level (the bridge) and one higher up (West End Overlook).
We cannot personally attest to the crowds at these spots on fireworks nights and we imagine that parking may be somewhat tricky at both locations. An alternative spot on the Fourth of July specifically is Heinz Field which is home to numerous activities during the day and offers front row seating for the fireworks show at night.
Pirates Stadium on Game Night
This one seems a bit self-explanatory as the Pirates fireworks are designed for those attending the game at PNC Park! Pick up a ticket for a Pirates home game during one of their promotional firework nights, grab a few beers, and stick around for a great fireworks show with one of the best backdrops in the country- Pittsburgh! (#4 on the map above)
The North Shore River Trail
Can't get inside the stadiums to view fireworks? Don't worry! The North Shore River Trail is one of the best spots to view fireworks near downtown as there is always ample room to get a great view.
We especially love this one for Light Up Night and Pirates game fireworks for being able to view the later show with the city in the background! (But if we are to be honest, we hit this one up the most for all shows for its accessibility alone.)
Point State Park
Point State Park is a great choice for watching the 4th of July and Light Up Night fireworks (the 7:45pm show specifically for the Santa Spectacular, not the 9:30pm one near the Clemente Bridge) because it is one of the closest spots you can get to them (#5 on the map above). So if you want to be as close as possible, this one is for you. This location is also home to the festivals that go on for each event so those who want to make a day of it will have many options at this spot.
There are two downsides to this viewing location that must be said. First, the events during the day are quite popular, which means that the park will be absolutely crowded come fireworks time. Second, you won't get to see the city at all as your back will be facing the buildings. As we are ones who like to enjoy the city skyline with our fireworks, we tend to avoid this one.
A compromise for those who want to be close to the fireworks while also seeing some of Pittsburgh's skyline is to enjoy the fireworks from one of the many bridges (#3 on the map above)- especially those on the north side of the city on the Allegheny river.
Depending on the event, some of the bridges may be closed to vehicle traffic and will be pedestrian-only, and others have been closed off altogether due to being a bit too close to the festivities.
In any event, the view of the fireworks from the bridge is a great spot to enjoy a unique city view and the beautiful fireworks. Keep in mind, however, that depending on the bridge you stand on and the event in particular you may have a partially restricted view of the action (but that being said, it is still pretty cool).
As its name suggests, Fineview has a pretty incredible view of the city, and is one neighborhood that doesn't get that much foot traffic from local Pittsburghers and visitors.
Note, the Fineview lookout is not illustrated on the map above as it is a bit further out.
Discover the Burgh's Webcam
Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. Our headquarters has a pretty incredible view of the city and we feel incredibly fortunate to have discovered one of the last remaining “unknown” views of Pittsburgh. The downside to this is that you can't access our view publicly. Sorry.
To make up for it, we're doing the next best thing- live streaming our view from a webcam! Check out our Pittsburgh webcam at the previous link to watch our city's fireworks shows, unique weather, or just watch the skyline at any time of the day!
Not bad, huh? We told you Pittsburgh fireworks are a sight to see!
Do you have a favorite place to watch Pittsburgh fireworks that is not mentioned here? Comment below to let the world know about it!
Looking for more Pittsburgh events? Click the previous link to check out our directory of the region's best that take place throughout the year!