Spring in Pittsburgh is when things truly come to life, and we couldn't be happier to finally be able to shake off the winter cold.
While we think that most Pittsburghers hibernate in winter (us included), spring is the complete opposite. People start going out to explore, leaves start returning to the trees, flowers begin blooming, and many businesses start to open for yet another operating season.
The following are some of our favorite things to do when spring has sprung in southwestern Pennsylvania. Naturally, many involve getting outside!
Go Hiking at the Many Area Parks
One of the things we love about Pittsburgh is its abundance of green spaces. The city is home to a number of great parks in its own right, and if you leave the city and travel just a few minutes in any direction you'll be surrounded by green spaces as far as the eye can see.
Allegheny County itself is home to nine county parks with more than 12,000 acres worth exploring (that's over 70 miles of trails by our count!), and southwestern Pennsylvania is home to several state parks, each many thousands of acres in size (including Raccoon Creek State Park, Moraine State Park, McConnells Mill State Park, and Ohiopyle State Park– all within an hour drive of the city)!
So as the leaves begin to return to the trees, get out for a hike to enjoy the great outdoors!
Looking for shorter hiking options? Check out the Beechview-Seldom Seen Greenway, Fall Run Park, and the Emerald Trail on Mount Washington– three lesser visited spots that are nearby and can be enjoyed in a brief hike.
Explore Nature Reserves for Wildflowers
Although we celebrate spring as the return of the color green to the region, early spring is also when wildflowers explode in the parks.
In Pennsylvania, no place is better to see the spring wildflowers than the wildflower reserve at Raccoon Creek State Park– a 100 acre subset within the park that is home to over 700 unique species of plants (many of which are wildflowers)!
During peak wildflower bloom (typically early-to-mid April), visitors are able to walk the trails and see dozen varieties of wildflowers at every turn. To call this one intense is an understatement, and is truly one of the most wonderful natural resources we have in western Pennsylvania.
When finished, be sure to drive over to Frankfort Mineral Springs Waterfall for the short hike to the falls. During the spring wildflower bloom this trail is covered with beautiful Trillium flowers as well!
If the drive to Raccoon Creek State Park is too far, head over to Fox Chapel to explore the Trillium Trail– a protected nature trail that explodes with colorful Trillium and can be enjoyed in a 20 minute hike.
Note: Due to its layout, the wildflower reserve at Raccoon Creek State Park can be quite muddy, even if it hasn't rained for several days. Take precautions before visiting (but trust us, at peak bloom it is worth it).
Visit Phipps for the Spring Flower Show
The theme of the show changes each year, with 2018's show called Scents of Wonder– focusing on the wonderful smells that come with the spring wildflowers. From the moment you walk in until you leave you'll be enjoying the fragrant aromas of the various rooms.
Going beyond the smells, the show is always a visual treat as spring flowers are always the most vibrant of any season, and is a great way to get you in the mood for the warmer weather and gorgeous scenery to come.
Rent a Healthy Ride Bike for a River Ride
Healthy Ride Bikes are one of our favorite ways to get exercise in the spring as they are super easy to pick up and drop off at many of the bike stations around Pittsburgh.
If you're looking to take a quick ride on these bikes, we love taking them out for a spin on the river trails to get fresh air and exercise along the water. We may not be getting our own bikes any time soon, but these are the next best thing.
The company is also going to be aggressively expanding in Pittsburgh in 2018, giving you more stations to choose from when getting out for a ride!
Go Out to Eat and Drink at Seasonal Favorites
Not all restaurants in Pittsburgh are open year-round, and many operate their business seasonally (much to our sadness).
Luckily, spring is when all these spots begin to open fully for the year, and is the time when we get back out to enjoy some seasonal favorites. Which ones, you may ask? The following are a few:
- Local barbecue joints like Two Brothers Bar-B-Q and Brian's Barbecue start opening for the season.
- Food trucks start rolling out for the year (and Pittsburgh's food truck park has its grand opening!).
- Ice cream shops like Page Dairy Mart and Antney's return.
- Even beer gardens and outdoor seating areas like those at Strange Roots Experimental Ales and Grist House in Millvale, and East End in Larimer begin to open!
- And, of course, Wigle's barrelhouse in the North Side starts the free flow of whiskey in the spring as well!
Whether you simply want to start drinking outside or go find a new favorite barbecue joint or ice cream spot, spring marks the season to do so. For that we can't get enough of it.
Go Find a Skyline View
Everyone knows about the famous skyline view along Grandview in Mount Washington, but did you know that there are over a dozen other awesome spots to check out the Pittsburgh skyline around the city?
From Fineview lookout in the North Side, the West End lookout in Elliot, to the Robert E Williams Memorial Park in the Hill District, you really can get a stunning view of Pittsburgh from just about any angle.
To share some of the most picturesque locations, check out our Pittsburgh skyline guide with information about all the best spots. If you can't get out to explore, check out our Pittsburgh webcam for a 24/7 live stream of the city as well!
Kennywood's Open(ing in May)
Finally, we come to one of the region's most popular seasonal attractions- Kennywood!
This historic, 120 year-old theme park opens for its 2018 season on April 28th for season pass holders and May 5th for the general public, and will be serving up rides for all ages, potato patch fries, and a whole lot of fun.
So whether you want to get out for a hike, settle a craving you've had all winter, hit the roller coasters at Kennywood, or simply get outside to appreciate Pittsburgh's gorgeous skyline, there is truly a lot to enjoy about the city in spring!
What do you like to do during spring in Pittsburgh? Comment below to share your favorites!