Since founding Discover the Burgh in 2015, we have made it our mission to visit every business, restaurant, attraction, and public space Pittsburgh has to offer. We do this not just through a Google search, but by the two of us personally trying out everything in this great city.
And what a journey it has been so far!
Pittsburgh is one of those places that has enough to keep you busy for years on end, and we've dedicated all of our free time to covering it here and on our social media channels. Even though we've been exploring for several years already, we truly have no end in sight.
As we have published hundreds of articles on Discover the Burgh about all there is to do in Pittsburgh, we wanted to give you a single resource to learn about the city and find your way around some of our favorite and most popular articles.
If you've ever wanted to learn what there is to see, do, eat, and experience in Pittsburgh, this guide is for you.
Navigate This Pittsburgh Guide
We wanted to make this one the biggest and best resource to the city, and we're well on our way to doing just that. But in doing so that means that this guide is long. Very long.
In fact, this guide is nearly 10,000 words and links out to hundreds of our most relevant articles.
To make things easier, we added this navigation feature which jumps to different sections of this guide. To jump to a specific section of interest, click the following links:
- A Brief History of Pittsburgh
- Seasonal Information
- City Map
- Parks and Nature
- Food and Beverage
- Weekend Guides
- Live Performances and Annual Events
- Moving to and Living in Pittsburgh
- Help Us Out!
If you find something you want to read more of, click the link (generally the attraction or business name) to be taken to our full review. We add new articles to our site and this guide weekly as we find more awesome spots in the region!
Note: This guide is meant to be a starting point for those looking to find more information about Pittsburgh on Discover the Burgh. As our site is based on our personal quest to explore everything in the city, it is always to be considered a work in progress. If you have recommendations of things for us to add, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Brief Pittsburgh History
The area that is now Pittsburgh, like most of North America, was inhabited by Native Americans for centuries. Some of the earliest artifacts of human settlement are found at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter located about an hour west of the city and date back 16,000 years!
Fast forwarding to western settlements, we jump to the 1700s when European colonists came into the region. Battles between the French and British ensued and control of the region swapped hands a few times. The British ultimately won, and the area around Fort Pitt, now known as Pittsburgh, grew from there.
Shortly after American Independence, Pittsburgh began carving its way into the history books through a number of events:
- In the 1790s, the famous Whiskey Rebellion took place in which locals staged an uprising against taxation on whiskey production.
- In the early 1800s, Lewis and Clark started their journey from Pittsburgh to explore the western land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase.
- In the 1810s, the city's strategic location on the banks of three rivers, known as the gateway to the west, resulted in a manufacturing boom.
Pittsburgh’s geographic distinction was key its foundation and growth, and over the years that followed the city became one of the manufacturing hubs for river boats, whiskey, glass, iron, and, ultimately, steel.
By the end of the 1800s the greater Pittsburgh region was producing a significant percentage of the world's steel, which can now be found just about everywhere. This boom brought in workers from all over the world including many Eastern European countries. Steel was the city's major industry until its collapse in the latter half of the 1900s.
During its prime, Pittsburgh was known as a city of rich industrialists and a hardened working class who, in many cases, were exploited in the name of profit. The many steel mills along the rivers produced smoke so thick you could not see the sun; the city was aptly described as “hell with the lid off.”
After the collapse of steel, Pittsburgh experienced a significant depression that displaced over 50% of its population who could no longer find work. The city has spent the last several decades reinventing itself and diversifying its economy with new and thriving industries like health care and tech.
Throw in a strong sports and tourism market, a nationally recognized up-and-coming dining scene, and the distinction of being one of the USA's most livable cities, and it should be no surprise that Pittsburgh is becoming a new force to be reckoned with- all without a single steel ingot.
Yes, some people still think of Pittsburgh as the dirty and pollution-rich monstrosity it once was. But all those who decide to visit Pittsburgh leave with the same thought: “I had no idea about the real Pittsburgh!”
And thankfully for us, the city's best days are yet to come.
Our goal at Discover the Burgh is to enable you to experience this great city and the rest of southwestern Pennsylvania first hand. This guide is our way to help you dig deeper and find a new spot to explore!
- To learn more about Pittsburgh's rich history, we recommend Pittsburgh: The Story of an American City. This is one of the most impressive books we've ever come across because it details local history from the frontier days all the way through the 1990s. At nearly 800 pages it provides a wealth of facts, photographs, and details we haven't seen anywhere else. But be warned- this one will take you months if not years to get through (it did for us)!
- For other Pittsburgh books, click our previous link to read about the books found in our own home library!
Pittsburgh is the kind of city that has all four seasons in any given year, but also in any given week (and who are we kidding, many times in a single day, too).
Between October and April, one day might be a perfect 75°F and sunny, the next could be snowing with horrible road conditions, and the next could be 75°F again. It isn't unheard of to have weeks of below freezing temperatures then a string of gorgeous 60°F days right in the middle of February, followed up by a deep freeze with a foot of snow shortly thereafter.
Between May and September, temperatures and humidity rise, but so does the frequency of sunny days that helps encourage everyone to get out and explore. The height of summer can be hot and humid to the point of being uncomfortable (80°F+ and humid is normal), but the weather is not as extreme as you would find going just a few hours south.
It isn't unheard of for the city to experience extreme temperature swings like you'd find in the south (hot in the summer to the tune of 100°F+) or north (cold in the winter to below 0°F). But overall, Pittsburgh experiences these conditions on a limited number of days of the year and not for extended periods like you would find elsewhere. All good things in our book!
The only real downside when it comes to Pittsburgh weather? We have fewer sunny days than Seattle, so Pittsburghers soak it up whenever we can get it. A sunny day on a weekend is a cherished thing, and the city is abuzz with activity when mother nature smiles upon us.
If you are a visitor looking to explore Pittsburgh, the city presents several great opportunities year-round; however, it is worth noting that many people in Pittsburgh (especially those who don't ski) tend to hibernate in the winter months while being more active in the spring, summer, and fall due to the weather patterns outlined above.
Personally, we find great things to do in the city any day of the year, but these are important things to consider when reading the rest of this guide.
Explore Our Pittsburgh City Map
Our interactive city map is found at the end of every post of our site and features every destination we have written about to date.
The map pins are organized by article type and geographic location, and they are a great way to navigate around our site when you are looking for businesses and attractions in a specific neighborhood. Be sure to zoom out to find more things to do in southwestern PA, too!
Take our map to go! Click here to open our interactive map on Google Maps and star it to save in your favorites.
Map pins used via Creative Commons by Maps Icons Collection
Pittsburgh is home to 90 unique neighborhoods which can be found across all sides of the city's three rivers. Our neighborhood guides describe each neighborhood in the city while sharing our personal favorite attractions, restaurants, and businesses.
Some neighborhoods have been combined into larger guides for simplicity's sake as several neighborhoods are quite small and/or primarily residential.
Our current guides are outlined below:
- Downtown Pittsburgh Neighborhood Guide – Consisting of the Central Business District.
- Mount Washington Neighborhood Guide – Consisting of Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights
- North Side Neighborhood Guide – Consisting of the North Shore, Chateau, Manchester, California-Kirkbride, Allegheny Center, Central Northside, and East Allegheny
- The neighborhoods farther north and on the hilltops will be featured in a later guide.
- Strip District Neighborhood Guide – Consisting solely of the Strip District.
- Squirrel Hill Neighborhood Guide – Consisting of Squirrel Hill North and Squirrel Hill South.
- Lawrenceville Neighborhood Guide – Consisting of lower, center, and upper Lawrenceville.
It is our goal to publish guides that cover every one of the 90 neighborhoods in the city as well as the neighboring villages, boroughs, and townships.
Although we are not there yet, we will be soon so check back as we add more neighborhood guides onto this list! Current guides in the works are Oakland, Shadyside, East Liberty, and South Side.
Looking for the best thing to do in each of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods? Check out our Quest to Explore Pittsburgh's 90 Neighborhoods guide which features our attempt to find a cool spot to visit in each neighborhood of our city! We have just a few more to go to hit all 90!
Or if you're looking to enjoy Pittsburgh's skyline, click the previous link for our favorite public viewpoints! Can't go out and explore? Check out our Pittsburgh webcam which stream's our own view 24/7 or watch some of our favorite Pittsburgh time-lapse videos we've shot, too!
Attractions in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh may not be on the national radar for its museums, attractions, and other fun activities just yet, but we really think it should be as the city has far more to offer than just sporting events!
No matter where you go around the region there is always a new museum to check out- perfect for any day, in any season.
In fact, we’ve been exploring the region’s attractions nonstop for nearly three years and are just scratching the surface- there’s still so much more to see!
A list of the museums we've featured to date is outlined below, starting with museums inside the city limits organized by relative popularity/name recognition. Most of the following charge admission, but some are free with recommended donations:
- Phipps Conservatory – Oakland – A 100+ year-old botanical gardens featuring over a dozen rooms and many themed flower shows throughout the year.
- Heinz History Center – Strip District – A large museum dedicated to the history of Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania.
- Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium – Highland Park – A combination zoo and aquarium with a wide range of exhibits from around the world.
- The Duquesne Incline – South Side / Mount Washington – A historic, 100+ year-old funicular that takes visitors and residents up and down Mount Washington to enjoy the stunning skyline view.
- Carnegie Museum of Art – Oakland – A premier art museum that rivals some of the world's greatest museums.
- Carnegie Museum of Natural History – Oakland – A natural history museum with many unique features. Housed in the same building as the art museum and included with the same ticket.
- Carnegie Science Center – North Side – Pittsburgh's premier science center with many exhibits ranging from life sciences to sports, including a western PA's largest IMAX screen.
- Andy Warhol Museum – North Side – One of the largest museums ever built for a single artist, celebrating Pittsburgh's famous son- Andy Warhol.
- The National Aviary – North Side – Recognized by Congress as the National Aviary of the United States- featuring many themed rooms with birds from around the world.
- Pittsburgh Children's Museum – North Side – A popular museum for children in the North Side.
- Mattress Factory – North Side – A contemporary art museum spanning three buildings in the Mexican War Streets.
- The Clayton (Henry Clay Frick House) – Point Breeze – One of the last remaining mansions from the steel industrialists; once home to Henry Clay Frick.
- Fort Pitt Museum – Downtown – A smaller museum dedicated to the early settlement days in the region, located at Point State Park. (Go to Heinz History Center on the same day and show your ticket for a discount)!
- Randyland – North Side – Often described as Pittsburgh's most colorful spot, Randyland is an art installation that features two houses and a courtyard that must be seen to be believed. Free but donation requested.
- Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning – Oakland – Internationally themed class rooms on Pitt's campus from different time periods.
- Bicycle Heaven – North Side – The world's largest collection of bicycles (3,000+) in a two-story show room. Free with donation requested.
- Roberto Clemente Museum – Lawrenceville – A by-appointment museum in Lawrenceville dedicated to the Pittsburgh Pirates legend, Roberto Clemente.
- Johnny Angel's Ginchy Stuff – North Side – A music museum and storefront celebrating local musician Johnny Angel (run by the man himself). Located right next door to Bicycle Heaven. Free but donation requested.
- Pittsburgh Botanic Gardens – Oakdale – An outdoor botanical garden with themed zones along many trails.
- Soldiers and Sailors Memorial – Oakland – A museum dedicated to the soldiers and sailors who have given the ultimate sacrifice in this country's many wars. Emphasis on local participants and achievements.
- Saint Anthony's Chapel – Troy Hill – A Catholic chapel that contains the second largest collection of relics in the world- just behind the Vatican!
- The Photo Antiquities Museum – North Side – Dedicated to the history of photography, featuring many historical cameras, photographs, and more. A rotating exhibit is available for private tours on a separate ticket.
- Center for PostNatural History – Garfield – An unusual, two-room museum that focuses on all things genetic engineering. Go down the rabbit hole here!
- The Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology – East Liberty – Two-room museum located at the Pittsburgh Seminary focusing on the museum's many archaeological digs in the Holy Land as well as other themed exhibits.
- La Hütte Royal – Troy Hill – What is La Hütte Royal, you may ask? Well, we're technically not allowed to tell you. But this unassuming house in Troy Hill holds several secrets that are waiting for you to discover!
Museums found in the greater Pittsburgh area that we've featured to date include the following:
- The Bayernhof Museum – Formerly the residence of eccentric businessman Charles Brown, this museum features elaborate designs and secret passageways as well as a large collection of self-playing music machines. Located in O'Hara Township about 10 minutes north of Pittsburgh.
- Carrie Furnaces – The remaining blast furnaces from a steel mill that are preserved by the Rivers of Steel Heritage Foundation; open for tours in the summer months. Located in Rankin about 15 minutes east of Pittsburgh.
- The Western PA Model Railroad Museum – A scale model railroad museum that features the journey from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, as it was in the 1950s; opens only during the Christmas holiday season. Located in Gibsonia about 20 minutes north of Pittsburgh.
- Fallingwater – Often considered to be Frank Lloyd Wright's crown jewel, Fallingwater is a beautiful house built on top of a waterfall and is open for tours year round. Located in the Laurel Highlands about an hour southeast of Pittsburgh.
- Flight 93 Memorial – A somber memorial located at the crash site of Flight 93 where passengers sacrificed their lives by standing up to the 9/11 hijackers and preventing them from reaching their intended target. Located in Somerset County about 90 minutes southeast of Pittsburgh.
- Trundle Manor – A private house curated by Mr. Arm and Velda von Minx that is a mix of just about everything goth, steampunk, taxidermy, oddities, and more. Located in Swissvale about 10 minutes east of Pittsburgh.
- The Living Dead Museum – A small museum and store dedicated to the cult classic Night of the Living Dead which was filmed just outside of the city. Located in Evans City about 30 minutes north of Pittsburgh.
- The Maxo Vanka Murals – Historical murals painted inside St. Nicholas Catholic Church by the acclaimed artist Maxo Vanka. Recently restored and looking stunning! Located in Millvale just across the Allegheny from Lawrenceville.
As we visit more museums and attractions in and around southwestern Pennsylvania, we will update the above list. Our short-term goals have us expanding our museum list to the greater Pittsburgh region and we're really looking forward to it!
Pittsburgh also has quarterly gallery crawls in downtown Pittsburgh and First Friday events in many neighborhoods around the city (we love Garfield's First Fridays)! These events are great opportunities to explore lesser visited and independently operated galleries.
Parks and Nature in Pittsburgh
We are very fortunate in Pittsburgh to be home to numerous parks and green spaces. There are hundreds of acres of parks within the city limits and over 12,000 acres of parks within Allegheny County alone. Drive just 10-20 minutes outside of the city and you can be completely surrounded by nature.
All these parks mean hundreds upon hundreds of miles of trails, such that you could go for a hike every weekend for years and not get close to hitting them all.
This is truly one of the best perks of living in southwestern Pennsylvania!
As such, Pittsburghers love to explore the great outdoors whenever the weather is nice, and in some cases even when it is not so nice. For some of our favorite spots, check out the following (organized regionally):
- Inside Pittsburgh: Emerald View Park, Frick Park, Highland Park, Riverview Park, Schenley Park, Seldom Seen Greenway, Point State Park, and Mellon Park
- Inside Allegheny County: Boyce Park, Deer Lakes Park, Harrison Hills Park, Hartwood Acres, North Park, South Park, Settlers Cabin Park, Round Hill Park, White Oak Park, Fall Run Park, Beechwood Farms, Trillium Trail, Boyce Mayview Park, Robin Hill Park, Montour Trail, Panhandle Trail, and Thornburg Conservation Area
- In winter a return trip to Boyce Park's ski resort is a must for skiing, tubing, and more.
- North: McConnells Mill State Park, Moraine State Park, Todd Nature Reserve, and Buttermilk Falls
- South: Kane Woods Nature Area, Mingo Creek County Park, and Ohiopyle State Park
- In winter a special addition of the ski resorts near Pittsburgh: Seven Springs, Laurel Mountain, and Hidden Valley.
- East: Cedar Creek Park, Braddock's Trail
- West: Raccoon Creek State Park, Cross Creek County Park, and Hillman State Park
All parks and green spaces featured above are located within an hour drive of downtown Pittsburgh. Most all can be explored in an easy day trip; however, spots like Ohiopyle State Park, McConnells Mill, Moraine State Park, and Raccoon Creek State Park are so large that multiple visits are required to even make a dent due to their sheer size.
Keep an eye out for the wildflower blooms at Raccoon Creek State Park's wildflower reserve (home to the most diverse collection of wildflowers in the state) as well as the Trillium Trail each spring- they are truly must-see events. The large wildflower bloom typically occurs in April, and Raccoon Creek State Park has a second, significantly smaller bloom each August.
Don't forget your furry friend when exploring the great outdoors, too; be sure to check out some great Pittsburgh dog parks as well!
Food and Beverage in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh's food scene has evolved from two major objectives from the steel era:
- To feed hungry steel workers massive, easy-to-eat portions (mainly meat and carbs).
- To feed hungry steel workers food from their own heritage (often Eastern European).
The first objective gave the city the likes of Primanti Brothers (founded in 1933), the famous sandwich shop that is known for putting coleslaw and french fries on their rather large sandwiches. A hearty meal, easy to eat with one hand, and perfect for a steel worker coming off shift all hours of the day (the original location in the Strip District remains open 24 hours to this day).
The second objective gave the city a love affair with pierogi, haluski, cabbage rolls, and other hearty dishes of Eastern European origin. Many of these can be found on menus all over the city, even if the establishments do not serve anything remotely European. Pierogi on burgers? Check. On pizza? Check. On hot dogs? Check. You name it, you can probably put a pierogi on it in Pittsburgh (and when you can’t, putting french fries on it will do the trick, too- thanks to the first case above).
But since the collapse of the steel industry, Pittsburgh's food scene has evolved far beyond sandwiches and French fries. Just as the city’s industries have diversified, the city’s chefs have diversified and innovated.
In recent years Pittsburgh has been fortunate enough to be called one of America's top food cities, and those who eat their way around the region are sure to tell you why we earned that distinction: the dining options are near endless, creative, and delicious.
We now have cuisine styles from countries all over the world, and just when you think you've gotten through the bulk of the city's restaurants dozens more have opened that are worth a try.
At Discover the Burgh, eating and drinking our way through every bar, restaurant, and street food vendor in the city is one of our most ambitious goals, and it’s one we're constantly working on thanks to many new establishments opening up each and every week. (As such, our list of places to go only gets longer- never shorter.)
To help you tackle this, we've put together a few comprehensive guides to eating, drinking, and snacking around Pittsburgh:
- For a complete list of every restaurant we've reviewed on our site, ranked in order of our preference, check out our Pittsburgh restaurants guide. When reading, click on the restaurant name to be taken to a more detailed review from there!
- For a breakdown of every craft brewery we've visited (40+ strong), check out our craft breweries in Pittsburgh guide.
- For the best happy hours in the city, check out our Pittsburgh happy hours for local beer and Pittsburgh happy hours for cocktails guides. Only the best menus and prices are featured here!
- For a compilation of local coffee shops, check out our coffee shops in Pittsburgh guide.
- For a directory of every ice cream vendor we've visited, check out our ice cream in Pittsburgh guide.
- For a summary of every street vendor and food truck we've enjoyed, check out our Pittsburgh street food guide (note that only our favorites make this one!).
- For a collection of every local winery we've sampled, check out our Pittsburgh wineries guide. Keep in mind that Pennsylvania is known for predominately sweet grapes and fruit wines!
We are also on a quest to find the best of specific food styles in the city. For more information on these, check out our guides to the best Reubens, tacos, and pizza in Pittsburgh. These posts rank all the spots we've visited to date as we try and find the city's very best of each cuisine style (and we have new quests coming soon)!
Please keep in mind the above links are considered works in progress, so if your favorite is not in any of the above articles, it is likely we have not visited yet but are planning to visit soon. Shoot us an email at email@example.com so we add it to our list!
Pittsburgh Weekend Guides
Are you only visiting Pittsburgh for a weekend? We've got you covered with our Pittsburgh weekend guide series. This series covers in-depth weekend itineraries for those who want to fill up nearly every minute of the day from Friday evening until Sunday night.
Check them out at the following links:
Much like our neighborhood guides above, we have dozens of weekend guides in the works that we will be rolling out in the coming months. Check back for more soon!
Looking for more weekend recommendations but do not want to pack it all in on a full itinerary?
Check out our Things to do in Pittsburgh guide which gives one recommendation of something to do for each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the year without repeats!
Live Performances and Annual Events
Pittsburgh has am outstanding performing arts scene, with many types of performances ranging from the opera, the symphony, the ballet, to live jazz, touring Broadway, or even your favorite mega-musician rolling through to play at one of our many arenas.
The venues, music experiences, and performances we've reviewed to date include the following:
- The Pittsburgh Opera at the Benedum Center and CAPA Theater
- MCG Jazz at the Manchester Crafstmen's Guild
- Major artists touring at Key Bank Pavilion
- Major artists touring at PPG Paints Arena
- Rising artists touring at Club Cafe in South Side
- Rising artists touring at Mr. Small's Theater in Millvale
- Performances by the Pittsburgh CLO at the Byham Theater
- The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall
- The Pittsburgh Banjo Club practices at the Elks Lodge in the North Side each Wednesday
- …and more are coming soon including PNC Park, Heinz Field, Stage AE, the Palace Theater, and smaller venues you may not even know exist!
Pittsburgh is also home to many annual and seasonal events that take place in and around the city. Whether you're looking to eat a great meal at Restaurant Week, drink a few beers at Beerfest, watch a load of fireworks shows, meet a furry at Anthrocon, or spend time on the rivers during the Regatta, Pittsburgh has an event for you.
The following list is a collection of some of the most popular Pittsburgh events and seasonal activities (organized by month that they historically have taken place):
- January: Winter Restaurant Week, Downtown Gallery Crawl, Messfest
- February: Winterfest, Pittsburgh Beerfest Winter, Imbibe North Side
- March: Phipps Spring Flower Show, St Patrick's Day Parade, Fish Fries
- April: Craft Beer Week, Art All Night, Fringe Festival, Downtown Gallery Crawl, CMU Carnival, Farm to Table Food Show, Banff Mountain Film Festival, Pirates Fireworks Nights
- May: Pittsburgh Marathon, Maifest, Pittsburgh Wine Festival, Open Streets, Kayafest, Wings Over Pittsburgh, North Side Sandwich Sampler, Zoobrew, Pirates Fireworks Nights
- June: Pirates Fireworks Nights, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Beers of the Burgh, Pittsburgh Magazine's Best Restaurant Party, Three Rivers Film Festival, Open Streets, PrideFest, AllClad Seconds Sale, Jazz Fest, Cinema in the Park
- July: Fourth of July, Anthrocon, Deutschtown Music Festival, Vintage Grand Prix, Picklesburgh, Open Streets, Best of the Burgh, Pittsburgh Beerfest Summer, Downtown Gallery Crawl, Ukrainian Fest, Night in the Tropics, Cinema in the Park, Imbibe North Side, Pirates Fireworks Nights
- August: Three Rivers Regatta, Summer Restaurant Week, Little Italy Days, Renaissance Festival, Millvale Brew Fest, Corks & Kegs, Cinema in the Park, VegFest, Fresh Fest Beer Fest, Pirates Fireworks Nights
- September: Renaissance Festival, Downtown Gallery Crawl, Thrival, Great Race, Pierogi Fest, Rock All Night Tour, Oktoberfest, Steel City Big Pour, Reyna's Pepper Festival, Lebanese Festival, Pirates Fireworks Nights
- October: Zombie Fest, Step Trek, Whiskey Festival, Doors Open, Maker Faire, Zoo Boo, Hundred Acres Manor, ScareHouse
- November: Light Up Night, Dirty Dozen, Ten Miler, Next 3 Days
- December: Christmas Market, Phipps Christmas Flower Show, Highmark First Night, Christmas in Pittsburgh, Kennywood Holiday Lights, Overly's Country Christmas, Shadrack's Winter Wonderland, AllClad Seconds Sale, Joy of Cookies Tour, Handmade Arcade, Cathedral of Learning Open House, Pirates Fest
Click the links above to read our full reviews (when applicable). New event reviews are added each month as we check them out!
Transportation in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is a driving city, there is no question about that. But the city is full of hills, rivers, tunnels, a triangular city center, highways built on top of highways, home to more bridges than Venice (and more staircases than any city in the world!), driving in the city is complicated at the best of times.
It takes years of driving here just to become familiar with the roads, and even longer to become an expert.
The nuances of why people slam on their brakes when entering tunnels, how the Pittsburgh left works (turning left into oncoming traffic at a light as soon as it turns green), why traffic jams occur because drivers are too polite, and how in the world you ended up on one road but you wanted to be on another road that is located directly below you takes years of experience to figure out.
We still get confused at times and we've driven on almost every road in the city.
As such, we recommend never leaving home without your phone's GPS ready to go- it will help in the long run because if one thing is certain, it will be that you'll get lost.
There are a few important things to know if you're exploring the city using your own car:
- Public parking garages typically charge hourly rates during the week and flat rates on nights and weekends (often $6-$7).
- Meters vary in price based on the neighborhood you are in and are most often kiosk stations found once on every block.
- If you are approaching a tunnel, do not be surprised if the person in front of you slams on their brakes for no reason, thus creating traffic out of nothing.
- Finally, many residential streets are permit parking with limited free parking for visitors- generally 1-2 hours during enforcement periods (typically 7a-7p but can be as late as midnight in places like the South Side).
- Keep an eye out for signs about street cleanings as they typically occur once per month on each side of the road.
The city also has numerous public transportation options operated by the Port Authority, including the bus, light rail (known as the T), and two working funiculars (known as the Inclines). In addition, car sharing services like Uber are quite popular in the city as an alternative to public transit.
A few details you should keep in mind include the following:
- Fares for all public transit are $2.75 each way with cash and $2.50 for ConnectCard holders, regardless of distance traveled. Card holders who transfer are charged $1 while non-card holders are charged full price for a new ride. Credit cards are not accepted.
- Bus service is the most widespread public transit option, but many routes end up at a hub in downtown Pittsburgh and require a transfer if you want to go elsewhere.
- Payment is upon entry with cash (exact change).
- The 28X Airport Flyer is a rapid bus to the airport with a few stops in the city and costs the same as a base ticket. At this time there are no other public options to reach the airport from downtown Pittsburgh. Buses depart every 30 minutes throughout the day starting at 3:25 am going and 4:30 am returning.
- Unlimited daily, weekly, monthly, and annual passes are available. For more information, check out information at the Port Authority website.
- The light rail “T” travels between the North Shore, downtown Pittsburgh, and the South Hills. Transit within downtown and the North Shore is free; fares are charged for anyone traveling south of the Monongahela River (Station Square and beyond).
- Due to the ease of walking in downtown Pittsburgh, we've ridden the T precisely once in the free zone when it was raining. Had we had an umbrella, we probably would've walked. The triangle shape of downtown really helps when it comes to walking around!
- The two funiculars, the Monongahela Incline and the Duquesne Incline, are used for transit up and down Mount Washington. The Monongahela Incline is closer to downtown Pittsburgh and is primarily used by commuters, while tourists and locals alike enjoy the Duquesne Incline with its beautiful views. Both inclines are owned by the Port Authority, but the Duquesne Incline is operated by an independent non-profit.
- Pittsburgh is embracing bike culture, and the local rental company Healthy Ride will have over 175 stations in the city by the end of 2018. Rentals are $2 for 30 minutes while ConnectCard holders get free 15-minute rides- perfect for a stroll on the river trails or for getting from point A to B!
- Ride sharing services like Uber are prevalent throughout the city and rates vary depending on time of day. To cross Pittsburgh in its entirety or to go to the airport, expect prices to be around $30 before surge pricing. To traverse one or two neighborhoods, $8-$10 is a typical rate outside of surge times.
- Be on the lookout for Uber's self-driving cars!
For all transportation logistics while visiting the city, check out our Pittsburgh transportation guide here.
Hotels in Pittsburgh
In addition to our quest to visit every local attraction and restaurant in the city, we've also set a goal of sleeping in every single hotel in the greater Pittsburgh area. This guide is expanding rapidly as we visit the remaining hotels on our list.
Our current selection of hotel reviews includes the following (organized by distance to downtown proper):
- Embassy Suites Downtown (Book Here) – Downtown – A comfortable suite in downtown Pittsburgh located on the top floors of a skyscraper (~20-25th floors). Great views and one of our overall favorite hotels!
- Westin Convention Center (Book Here) – Downtown – Connected to the convention center via a walkway, comfortable rooms, a great burger restaurant, and one of the largest fitness centers in the country.
- Hilton Garden Inn Downtown (Book Here) – Downtown – Located just steps from Market Square; select rooms have stellar city views.
- DoubleTree Downtown Pittsburgh (Book Here) – Downtown – A large hotel with modest rooms located a short walk from PPG Paints Arena.
- Distrikt Hotel Downtown Pittsburgh (Book Here) – Downtown – A modern, trendy hotel in the heart of the city with a fantastic cocktail bar and seafood/chop house restaurant.
- Homewood Suites Downtown Pittsburgh (Book Here) – Downtown / Strip District – A newer hotel located at the border of two neighborhoods; modern rooms and decent amenities.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Pittsburgh (Book Here) – Downtown / Strip District – Located across the street from Homewood Suites; comfortable suites and free parking! One of our favorites as it is the only hotel to offer free parking in downtown Pittsburgh!
- SpringHill Suites North Shore (Book Here) – North Shore – Large suites located right next door to PNC Park.
- Holiday Inn North Shore (Book Here) – North Shore – Modest hotel rooms; located steps from of PNC Park. Select rooms have stunning city views!
- Sheraton Station Square (Book Here) – South Side – Modest hotel rooms located in Station Square next to the docks of the Gateway Clipper and Just Ducky Pittsburgh fleets. Premium river view rooms have the best view (from a hotel) in the city!
- Hampton Inn University (Book Here) – Oakland – A comfortable option near the universities with smaller than average rooms.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Greentree (Book Here) – Greentree Hill – A standard Hampton Inn with plenty of space; dog friendly with free parking. Located just minutes from the city by car- pending tunnel traffic of course. A great option for those who want to save money yet still be close!
- Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh Airport (Book Here) – Airport – The only hotel attached to the airport, allowing you to be at your gate within minutes- all without going outside. (No dedicated parking; only airport parking is available.)
- Marriott Pittsburgh Airport (Book Here) – Airport – A comfortable Marriott with large rooms, a delicious hotel restaurant, and a park and fly option to leave your car at the hotel while you travel (extra charge).
- Hilton Garden Inn Airport South (Book Here) – Airport – A fairly standard Hilton Garden Inn located in Robinson Township. Better suited for those doing business in the area as they do not offer an airport shuttle (the 28x has a stop about 5-10 minutes away by foot, however).
Would you rather search the best hotels around different areas of the city? We've got you covered with our hotel guide series that includes the following:
- 5 of the Best Hotels Near Pittsburgh Airport
- 5 of the Best Hotels in Pittsburgh with a City View
- 5 of the Best Hotels Near PNC Park
- Choosing Where to Stay in Pittsburgh (By Neighborhood)
We also have a selection of other hotel related articles you may enjoy:
- For a brief summary of every hotel we've stayed at in the city, check out our Pittsburgh hotels guide here.
- To learn more about the local Airbnbs in Pittsburgh, check out our Airbnb in Pittsburgh guide (click here to claim a registration credit for your first booking from us! Credit varies based on current promotions but is typically $25-$35).
Or, if you want to look for hotels directly, head over to Booking.com to find the best deal today!
Moving to and Living in Pittsburgh
Thinking of moving to Pittsburgh? We're a bit biased in our opinion, but we really think you should just do it.
If the above list of spots to explore hasn't convinced you yet, you probably need a few more details about the practicalities. Check out our guide to moving to Pittsburgh at the previous link and more about local Pittsburgh laws and taxes here.
While Discover the Burgh is primarily oriented as a Pittsburgh travel blog, we just can't help ourselves and we periodically write more focused articles targeting people who live here, such as our posts about Pittsburgh birthday discounts, pick-your-own fruit farms in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh farmer's markets and artisan pop-ups, and short term rentals in Pittsburgh to name a few.
Check out the articles in our “Living Here” guide for more! We're always happy to answer questions from potential new residents as well, so shoot them over to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Have a question, comment, or recommendation about something to see and do in Pittsburgh? Comment below or email us at email@example.com!
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Book a Pittsburgh Hotel
Looking for a Pittsburgh hotel? Check out the following!
- Hampton Inn - Free parking in Downtown
- Embassy Suites - Stellar views in many rooms
- Sheraton Station Square - Great city view in premium river view rooms
- Hotel Monaco - Highly rated on TripAdvisor
- Hampton Inn Green Tree - Great value option!
Looking for more? Search for a great deal on Booking.com!
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