Last Updated on March 31, 2021 by Jeremy
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If you are looking to visit Pittsburgh from out of town, one of your first thoughts is likely “where do I stay?”
In a city of 90 neighborhoods, figuring out where to stay in Pittsburgh could make or break your visit almost entirely. So finding a spot that fits your style, budget, and interests is key.
As with most of our guides, we want to take a detailed dive into the best neighborhoods to stay in for your Pittsburgh visit.
But not only are we going to dive into our favorite aspects of each neighborhood (both in general and from a visitor's perspective), we also want to provide the reasons why you may not want to stay in the neighborhood as well!
Because as awesome as these neighborhoods are, none are perfect. Depending on your style, budget, and trip goals there may be some things you need to keep in mind before booking.
With that, let's jump into it!
Looking to Visit Pittsburgh? Pick the Right Neighborhood
We couldn't help ourselves and made this guide fairly massive. So if you're wanting to jump to a specific neighborhood to read more, use the links below!
- North Shore
- Strip District
- East Liberty
- South Side
- Green Tree
- More Neighborhoods via Apartment Rentals
A few quick notes before we get started: Almost every hotel in Pittsburgh charges an extra fee for parking. These can be anywhere from $10-$30+ per day and some allow for in-and-out privileges while others do not. We recommend confirming all parking fees before you book. Hotels with free parking are highlighted below; however, we also recommend reconfirming this before booking as well as perks may change. Likewise, many hotels also offer a free shuttle service to either set destinations or within a one, two, or even three mile radius.
Downtown Pittsburgh proper (also known as the Central Business District), is the economic core of the city. It is home to a number of beautiful skyscrapers, the theaters of the Cultural District, historic Point State Park, several restaurants and bars, and river trails.
As a visitor, odds are good you'll be spending at least some time downtown as there is truly a lot to see here, so if it works within your budget staying in the heart of it all could be a good idea.
The Pittsburgh hotels here are also the most historic, and range from the ornate to ultra modern, and we even have some on the higher floors of some of the taller buildings in the city (with great views to match)!
Why Stay in Downtown Pittsburgh
One of the best reasons to stay in downtown is if you want to be in the middle of it all. Downtown is bustling, walkable, has a number of things to experience, and provides good access to public transit for those looking to go further out (namely the bus system and the ‘T' light rail- which is free downtown and in the north shore but begins charging fares once you cross the Monongahela River to Station Square and on southward).
If you are coming to the city for a show, a sports game, or have your eye on eating at a few of the restaurants in the Cultural District (with advanced reservations a few weeks out, of course), using a downtown hotel as a hub is a great option.
Why Avoid Downtown Pittsburgh
There are two main drawbacks to staying in downtown Pittsburgh proper. The first is parking. On nights and weekends city lots tend to be flat rate of $6-$8 per day (per entry), but if you are visiting on a week day (starting early Monday morning to Friday evening), hourly rates can push your parking fees up considerably.
In fact, a day rate at most downtown hotels often exceeds $30, some without in-and-out privileges, so this is something that is worth researching if budget is a concern as Pittsburgh is truly a driving city through and through (this is a recurring issue for most hotels in any neighborhood).
The second is that driving in Pittsburgh is chaotic at the best of times, and is often gridlocked during rush hour (4 to 6 pm). If you can avoid driving downtown during this time you'll have a much more enjoyable experience as even we, locals who have been doing this for years, still get annoyed by it.
Hotel options in downtown Pittsburgh include:
- Embassy Suites Downtown – Located on the top floors of the Oliver Building. Comfortable rooms and most have great views regardless of direction. Stellar cocktails at the bar with views right into PNC Park.
- A Discover the Burgh favorite!
- Hilton Garden Inn Downtown – Found just steps away from Market Square. Select rooms have views of Market Square and PPG Place.
- Westin Convention Center – Located adjacent to the convention center. Comfortable rooms and a massive fitness center/program. A 15-20 minute walk to the Strip District as well.
- Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh – Closest hotel to Point State Park. Select rooms have views of the Point, fountain, and rivers. Other rooms have city views as well.
- DoubleTree Downtown – Perfect for those coming in for a Penguins game as the hotel is located just feet away from PPG Paints Arena. A bit longer walk to downtown attractions.
- Renaissance Hotel – A historic hotel located right along the banks of the Allegheny River. Select rooms have views of PNC Park and is just steps away from the stadium. Great bourbon bar on site as well.
- Omni William Penn Hotel – A historic and opulent hotel located in the heart of downtown, created by steel magnate Henry Clay Frick in the early 1900s. Be sure to visit Wigle Whiskey's tasting room for a happy hour build-your-own Old Fashioned.
- Fairmont Hotel – A high end hotel located just steps away from Market Square, the Cultural District, and a few more from PNC Park. Many rooms also have city views.
- Hotel Monaco – A boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown. Often rated #1 on TripAdvisor in the city. A robust restaurant and bar on-site as well as a rooftop beer garden.
- Distrikt Hotel – A trendy hotel on the south east side of downtown. Modest rooms but home to a stellar seafood and chop house (Or, the Whale) and cocktail bar- two of our favorites in the city (but come at a high price point).
- Sheraton Station Square – While not technically in downtown proper, this hotel is located across the Smithfield Street Bridge in Station Square. Modest rooms are available with only minor comforts, but premium river front rooms have what is perhaps the best view of the city available. Worth the upgrade. Hotel is also located near the departure point for the Gateway Clipper boat tours.
For more on downtown Pittsburgh, check out our neighborhood guide at the previous link!
Pittsburgh's North Side has come a long way over the last few decades, and the neighborhood along the banks of the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers, the aptly named North Shore, is at the forefront of the growth. This neighborhood is home to Heinz Field (Steelers) and PNC Park (Pirates), features the iconic Warhol Museum and Science Center, has our favorite section of the city's vast network of river trails, and boasts a number of restaurants, bars, and breweries to name a few.
If you are coming to the city for a game, or are simply wanting a slightly cheaper option than those in downtown proper (which is quite literally just steps away across the sister bridges), the hotels in the North Shore are a wonderful option.
Why Stay in the North Shore
The North Shore is a great location because of its accessibility. Located just across the Allegheny River from downtown proper, everything moves at a more relaxed pace while still remaining close. Within a 15 minute walk you can stroll past both stadiums, see the Mr. Roger's Memorial, pass two breweries, and still cross the bridge into downtown.
For those coming in to a game, you can avoid the parking traffic completely and be back in your hotel room all before most guests reach their cars as well.
Why Avoid the North Shore
The biggest drawback on staying in the North Shore is the flip side of one of the perks. You can come in for a hotel here in order to access the stadiums quickly by foot, but it is also worth keeping in mind that vehicle traffic presents a fair bit of gridlock in the area before and after games.
This is fairly easy to time, we have to admit, but we always like to caution visitors to plan their arrival and departures around the game schedules to avoid a potential (albeit short) traffic jam.
Furthermore, the restaurant scene in the North Shore is decent, but features a number of local and national chains in addition to independent dining options. If dining in this neighborhood, it is best to do a bit more research here (such as on our Pittsburgh restaurants page) to find a favorite, or head further into the North Side (north) or downtown (south) for better options easily accessible by foot.
Hotel options in the North Shore include:
- Hyatt Place North Shore – Offering modest, budget friendly hotel rooms and is located just steps from both Heinz Field and PNC Park.
- Residence Inn North Shore – One of the more budget friendly suite options in the city. Located just across the street from PNC Park.
- SpringHill Suites North Shore – Budget friendly suites just across the street from PNC Park. Rooms are a bit loud, but spacious and fairly comfortable. No appreciable views from any room as far as we could tell.
- Holiday Inn Express North Shore – Comfortable mini-suites near PNC Park. Select rooms on the higher levels have fairly stellar city views but are limited in number, and rooms on the back side of the hotel are adjacent to a highway.
For more on the North Side, check out our neighborhood guide at the previous link!
The Strip District is one of the more vibrant neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and features a fascinating history as well. As with most neighborhoods, it began as an industrial hot spot thanks to its prime location on the banks of the Allegheny River. As foot, rail, and boat traffic came in, so did other industries including metal works, produce terminals, ship building, and more.
When steel collapsed the main industries moved away, but the food markets remained. They thrived, boutique shops moved in to compliment these staples, and the neighborhood reinvented itself as a market district for produce, international grocery stores, many of the city's best restaurants, distilleries, breweries, and so much more.
Suffice it to say, if you like to eat or shop local, the Strip District is without a doubt the place to do it in Pittsburgh. (And while you're there, don't skip the Heinz History Center– it is a wonderful and massive museum featuring Pittsburgh's rich history.)
Why Stay in the Strip District
Accessibility is the name of the game for the Strip District hotels, as the properties in this neighborhood are actually located on the western edge of the neighborhood- which borders downtown proper. This means that with less than 10 minute walk you can be at all of the best shops, restaurants, and bars in the Strip District but you are also within a 10-20 minute walk of everything in downtown Pittsburgh in the opposite direction.
Not bad at all!
Why Avoid the Strip District
As we absolutely love the Strip District, we may be a bit biased in saying there are few reasons to avoid this one. That being said, most of the businesses in the Strip District are only open in the morning through late after noon (2-3pm at the latest) such that the foot traffic in this vibrant neighborhood dies down later in the day.
Most restaurants and bars remain open for dinner and clubs even open up at night on weekends. But this neighborhood is best enjoyed in the morning and early afternoon to get the true experience (and yes, that means you'll be there with the crowds- there is no middle ground here).
Hotel options in the Strip District include:
- Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown – A comfortable hotel located on the edge of the Strip District next to the Heinz History Center. Only hotel near downtown proper to have free parking, but one side of the hotel faces a highway.
- A Discover the Burgh favorite!
- Homewood Suites Pittsburgh – A recently constructed hotel with the shortest walk to shops in the Strip District. Quite comfortable rooms but once side of the hotel is near a highway.
- AC Hotel by Marriott – A recently constructed hotel in the Strip District located quite literally on the edge of the neighborhood with downtown proper.
For more on the Strip District, check out our neighborhood guide at the previous link!
Just a bit further out from downtown and the Strip District is Lawrenceville, a collection of three neighborhoods that have changed quite a bit in the last decade that is now home to numerous trendy restaurants, bars, and breweries along the nearly two-mile stretch of Butler Street.
Why Stay in Lawrenceville
At its core, Lawrenceville is a neighborhood known for its boutique shops, restaurants, and drinking options (the neighborhood is home to no fewer than six breweries, after all). If visiting modern restaurants that are highly rated are on your menu, odds are good you'll find yourself in Lawrenceville during a visit to the city. For those who want to visit several of these, making the neighborhood a base is something to consider!
Likewise, Lawrenceville is in a convenient location for visitors with cars as you can access downtown, the Strip District, North Side, and East Liberty within minutes (pending traffic)
Why Avoid Lawrenceville
Lawrenceville's quick rise in popularity in recent years is also one of the reasons some may want to shy away from making this neighborhood a base. With its many shopping and dining options also comes a fair bit of traffic, and street parking logistics could be improved significantly. As such, it would not be surprising to be stuck in traffic if you plan on going out or returning during rush hour. Likewise, beyond food and shopping options traditional attraction options are limited in this neighborhood.
Hotel Options in Lawrenceville include the TRYP Hotel. There are no alternative hotels in the neighborhood, and as such you may want to look into apartment rentals as alternative accommodations here (more on those below).
For more on Lawrenceville, click the previous link to read our neighborhood guide!
Out of all the neighborhoods in this guide, East Liberty (located on the East side of the city, naturally) may perhaps be the definition of city gentrification- with all the good, bad, and otherwise that comes with it.
We will only speak on what East Liberty is currently in this one, and the neighborhood is growing rapidly for tech based businesses, luxury apartment and condo rentals, as well as many restaurants with a new one popping up seemingly every month.
Why Stay in East Liberty
If hip and trendy is what you seek, East Liberty is the place to be. There are no shortage of options for eating and drinking, and the neighborhood is in close proximity to other popular neighborhoods such as Squirrel Hill (a great restaurant neighborhood with Asian and Jewish focus) and Shadyside (a more affluent neighborhood with several restaurants, coffee shops, and more).
Why Avoid East Liberty
To us, East Liberty has lost a lot of its character from the construction boom in recent years. Yes, many of the historic buildings and churches remain, but are shadowed by luxury housing that is, to be quite honest, ugly.
Restaurants in this neighborhood are also a bit hit or miss, as the rush to be “in” around the neighborhood has produced some less than stellar options. However, as dining is a personal preference this thought is mostly our opinion only as many restaurants in the neighborhood have great reviews overall.
Hotel options in the East Liberty include:
- Ace Hotel – A trendy hotel in a renovated YMCA building in the heart of the neighborhood. Has a delicious on-site restaurant and bar, converted gym into an activity room, and more.
- Hotel Indigo – Often a decent value location with modern rooms and an on-site whiskey bar.
- SpringHill Suites Bakery Square – Generously sized suites located right next to Bakery Square- home to Google, many shops, and chain restaurants.
South Side is Pittsburgh's bar hot spot, there is no other way to say it. And in a city that is said to have more bars per capita than any other in the USA, this distinction is truly saying something. (Some reports say that Carson Street has the densest collection of bars anywhere as well, and we would believe it.)
Suffice it to say, if you're planning to come to Pittsburgh for a party that involves bar hopping, a hotel in South Side is for you.
But the neighborhood itself is also slowly diversifying, and many restaurants, coffee shops, and businesses call the neighborhood home in addition to the bars. So don't worry- there are things to do in this one any time of day!
Why Stay in South Side
As South Side is known for its bar hopping culture, we recommend this neighborhood for those who are looking for a nightlife experience without having to drive or Uber very far.
Most businesses are open later than anywhere else in the city, and is where everyone heads to if they want a drink past the more conventional 10pm and 11pm last calls found elsewhere (although this is slowly changing).
The hotel options here also tend to be a bit cheaper than other neighborhoods (but are a bit more of the cookie cutter variety), and many are also strategically located near the highway such that you can be almost anywhere within the city limits in 10-15 minutes by car.
Why Avoid South Side
As far as neighborhoods are concerned, the pros and cons of South Side are one and the same. You get access to a lot of bars to drink, but with that comes the crowds of people who want to drink (a good chunk of which are college students).
South Side has higher incidents of accidents, petty crime, and public intoxication, and is generally a bit louder and more rough around the edges than other neighborhoods in the city. Most of this is nothing to truly be concerned about, but in being a bar hopping neighborhood you get all of the things that go with it.
Most of the hotels in South Side are located in an area known as South Side Works, a walking / shopping area that features many chain restaurants and national stores. While popular, these do not add to what makes Pittsburgh a unique city to visit.
Hotel options in South Side include:
- Holiday Inn Express South Side – Modest rooms located closer to all the action in central South Side. Offers a complimentary shuttle up to three miles and budget friendly rates.
- Hyatt House South Side – A budget friendly hotel in South Side closer to South Side Works.
- SpringHill Suites SouthSide Works – Offering more conventional suites at a slightly higher price point for the neighborhood.
Oakland is the college neighborhood in Pittsburgh, and both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University call the neighborhood home*. As such, when exploring this one you'll find a large concentration of college students at any time of year- even summer.
The neighborhood also features a number of attractions including the Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning (Pitt's skyscraper of higher education), Phipps Conservatory, and the Carnegie Museums of Art and National History– all world class Pittsburgh museums that are high on the list of visitors to the city.
Many of the restaurants that are found in Oakland tend to be budget oriented and of the gastropub variety- perfect for a college student's budget but not necessarily winning any local awards.
Why Stay in Oakland
We recommend the Oakland hotels primarily for those who are visiting Pittsburgh for the universities. If you are looking for a quick walk or shuttle to the campuses, there are many hotels located on the outskirts of the neighborhood that make access a breeze.
Like South Side above, the hotels in this neighborhood are often on the more cost effective side for hotels inside the city limits itself and are also fairly generic. So if you are looking for a deal, a few of the hotels here may be for you.
Why Avoid Oakland
Oakland is a popular neighborhood for students, workers, and commuters, and has a fair bit of traffic throughout the day- not just at rush hour. As the universities also have a lot of events (move-in weekends, graduations, etc) the traffic can be unusually heavy beyond what would be considered the “normal” times as well.
Depending on how you look at it this could be a sell for staying the neighborhood itself. But unless you are visiting the neighborhood for the entirety of your visit, staying elsewhere may be a good idea for transportation logistics alone.
Hotel options in Oakland include:
- Hampton Inn University Center – Rather small rooms offering a modest amount of comfort. Select rooms on upper floors have a great city view. Furthest from the universities.
- Residence Inn Oakland – Modern rooms located just on the outskirts of Oakland (about a half mile from Pitt and mile from CMU).
- Quality Inn University Center – Extremely bare bones rooms and mostly dated, but often the cheapest hotel in the entire city (frequently < $100). Free parking on-site as well.
- Hilton Garden Inn University Place – A conventional Hilton Garden Inn located just a few blocks away from Pitt's campus and just over a half mile from CMU.
- Wyndham Pittsburgh University – Decently sized rooms with modern designs. Located right next to Pitt's campus allowing for the shortest walk to both universities.
*Officially most of Carnegie Mellon is in Squirrel Hill, but because Oakland is known for the colleges it generally gets lumped in.
Stay Outside the City in Green Tree
Green Tree is a small borough located just south of Pittsburgh and is primarily residential in nature. The hotels here make this guide for one reason, and one reason only: the cost.
Why Stay in Green Tree
By and large, the hotels in Green Tree are featured here because they are likely the most affordable options in the region while still being quite close to the city itself. These are conventional, chain hotels that offer comfortable rooms, modest amenities, and free parking on top of it all.
All you have to do is hop on the highway a few blocks over, ride down the hill, and you'll be back in Pittsburgh for another day of exploring.
As an added perk, Green Tree is quite close to Antney's Ice Cream as well- one of our favorite local ice cream shops in Pittsburgh. Does it make up for being just outside the city limits? Maybe not. But we'll never say no to good ice cream.
Why Avoid Green Tree
We can't talk about driving in Pittsburgh without mentioning traffic issues, and you'll have them here as well.
The main highway running through Green Tree, I-376, empties out through the Fort Pitt Tunnel (which offers a fairly iconic view of the city that we love) that has frequent slow downs especially at rush hour and on game days.
So while the hotels in Green Tree will be the most budget friendly in this list and also offer free parking on top, you may have to deal with some traffic in order to drive what would otherwise be just a few minutes on a good day.
Hotel options in Green Tree include:
- Holiday Inn Express Green Tree
- Hampton Inn Green Tree
- Crowne Plaza West Green Tree
- DoubleTree Green Tree
Many of the hotels in Green Tree are conventional iterations for each hotel brand. All offer free parking, and most offer decent amenities like free breakfast, an indoor or outdoor pool, and more.
More Neighborhoods to Stay in With Apartment Rentals
One of the downsides to Pittsburgh's hotel scene is that we do not have offerings in all of the neighborhoods we recommend on this site. The above neighborhoods are our favorites that have readily available accommodation options with plentiful rooms and (albeit likely paid) parking.
But there are other neighborhoods that are worth staying in as well if you are willing to move to alternatives like boutique B&Bs or checking out one of our many Airbnbs in Pittsburgh. These may be much smaller and have more parking considerations to name a few.
If you are open to these style accommodations during your visit, a few more neighborhoods we absolutely love are the following:
- The Mexican War Streets: A historic neighborhood in the North Side (just a short walk from the North Shore, above) that features stunning row houses, murals in back alleys, and the most colorful spot in the city- Randyland. The neighborhood is also a short walk away from West Park (the city's oldest park), the Children's Museum, the Aviary, as well as many delicious restaurants.
- Squirrel Hill: As mentioned previously, Squirrel Hill is a neighborhood featuring a two streets full of boutique shops and restaurants (predominately Asian and Jewish in nature). This neighborhood is great for walking, both in the business district and through the neighborhood street to check out the beautiful, large homes. Squirrel Hill is also sandwiched between two of the city's largest parks- Schenley Park (to the west heading towards Oakland) and Frick Park (to the east heading towards Regent Square). Great for those who love to eat and then walk it off in nature!
- Shadyside: Shadyside is a quiet neighborhood near East Liberty and Squirrel Hill that has several shopping districts with options ranging from boutique to high end clothes sellers, gastropubs to fine dining, coffee shops to ice cream joints, and more. In a way, this neighborhood feels more suburban compared to most in the city, and moves at a more relaxed pace compared to others on this list.
Please note: Many of the above neighborhoods are permit only for long-term street parking (generally anything more than 1-2 hours most days). If visiting these neighborhoods, please confirm with your host if a visitor permit is available or the best place to park nearby that is non-permitted / non-metered. This unfortunately varies too much for us to make general recommendations.
If you're ready to book, head over to VRBO and check out the options!
Ready to book a hotel? Find a deal on Booking.com today!
Looking for more about Pittsburgh to help plan your visit? Check out our first timer's weekend guide, the top things to do in Pittsburgh, the best Pittsburgh restaurants, and local Pittsburgh breweries and wineries to start planning your visit today! Or if really don't know where to begin, check out our ultimate guide to Pittsburgh here!
Now that you are prepared to visit Pittsburgh, we have to ask: What will you be doing and where will you stay? Comment below to let us know!
For frequently asked questions about visiting Pittsburgh, check out the following!
What are the best neighborhoods to stay in when visiting Pittsburgh?
Popular neighborhoods with hotels include downtown Pittsburgh, the North Side, Lawrenceville, the Strip District, and East Liberty.
How much are hotels in Pittsburgh?
Generally speaking, hotels run between $100 and $250+ per night. An average price of $150 per night is a good estimate for most properties pending dates, occupancy, and events.
How many days do I need in Pittsburgh?
We generally recommend a long weekend for visiting Pittsburgh, although if you want to explore southwest Pennsylvania you could visit for a week or longer and just scratch the surface.
What are must-see highlights in Pittsburgh?
We love walking through the Strip District, visiting Point State Park, exploring Phipps Conservatory, and of course riding the famous Duquesne Incline!