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Introduce Us to Pittsburgh, Please

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Introduce Us to Pittsburgh, Please

Hello Pittsburgh experts. My daughter will be starting at Duquesne in a few weeks. We've only been to Pittsburgh once to view the college, so when we come down to move her in mid-August, we'd like to see more of your city. We'll be staying at the Doubletree Hotel & Suites/Pittsburgh Center. Our last stay there was great, and we walked between the hotel and the Benedum Center area where we shopped, ate, and went to a play. Other than that, we've only seen Duquesne. We enjoy just walking around shopping, stopping for drink/food, viewing historical/architectural sights. Are there any "neighborhoods" that we should spend time in, or is the Pittsburgh Center area the main spot for that? Any restaurant suggestions would be appreciated--nothing too expensive ($35+ for entree) or jacket-required. Thanks for any suggestions.

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1. Re: Introduce Us to Pittsburgh, Please

A morning walking through the Strip District, especially on a Saturday morning, is a real Pittsburgh tradition. Ethnic food markets, novelty shops, specialty stores, restaurants, street vendors, and occasionally street performers. People who visit from other cities often say, "I wish we had a place like this in our town" after visiting the Strip District. It is the kind of place that is a feast for all of your senses. You can easily spend 3 or 4 hours wandering through the various shops and browsing the tables and carts of the street vendors. Lots of tacky, but fun, souvenir items. Saturday morning really is the best time to visit the Strip District, because that is when there are the most street vendors (for both food and souvenirs).

Station Square has plenty of stores and restaurants, and is a great place to visit. It doesn't have the same hometown, "real" atmosphere of the Strip District, but is a nice place to go for restaurant options and a little shopping. Also consider the Hot Metal Shops for a similar experience, but newer stores.

Regarding neighborhoods, Squirrel Hill has lots of shops and restaurants and is the thriving home of Pittsburgh's Jewish population, with the specialty food stores to match. Shadyside has nice shopping and restaurants as well, and has been considered the trendy part of town. Bloomfield is another option, and is home to a significant portion of Pittsburgh's Italian heritage. None of these are close enough to walk to from downtown. However, once you get to each one, they are safe places to walk around, and all of the places to visit are easily walkable from wherever you start your journey.

There are very few restaurants in Pittsburgh that would really be considered "jacket-required". It still retains much of its blue-collar sensibility that eschews such nonsense.

Regarding architecture, there is so much to see, but I'm not sure how best to get a good flavor of the architectural highlights of the city - possibly a boat tour on one of the boats of the Gateway Clipper Fleet, or on a Just Ducky Tour (boats that can drive on land). Maybe someone else can help out with suggestions. For history, you can't beat the Heinz History Center, which is not far from the Strip District.

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2. Re: Introduce Us to Pittsburgh, Please

Love the name "Eatsbonbons!" I wish I did more of that.

You already got some good suggestions from ScaldisNoel, here are some more ideas:

Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation offers guided walking tours of downtown Pittsburgh which are interesting, and their website has some self guided tours you might like:


I just recently discovered a several great guides to public art in Pittsburgh; you can get a hard copy at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, and I've seen it other places, but you can get them online here:


(halfway down the page, there are pictures of the various "downloadable resources).

Here is a site giving a wide range of information for visitors:


Here is a site about downtown Pittsburgh, which has a very good map--I'm forever giving these maps to visitors:


Henry Frick's house has been restored and a very interesting tour is offered, the grounds are beautiful and the cafe well worth a meal:


Phipps Conservatory in Oakland is wonderful, a beautiful old glass building with a lot of Chihuly glass pieces which were purchased from a Chihuly exhibit there a couple years ago. And the plants are fabulous too. Pretty good cafe here too.


There have been many restaurant discussions on this forum, just search the forums and you'll get a sense of what's out there. Oakland, Bloomfield, Lawrenceville and South Side probably have the greatest concentrations of inexpensive, non-chain funky little places to eat.

Hope your daughter enjoys Duquesne, and hope you enjoy visiting her in Pittsburgh.

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3. Re: Introduce Us to Pittsburgh, Please

Our daughter just graduated from Pitt and we really enjoyed our visits to Pittsburgh. Since our daughter was at Pitt, we mostly became familiar with the Oakland area. As already mentioned, there are a lot of funky little restaurants and shops in that area that you and your daughter should enjoy. We became big fans of "Joe Mamas" for pizza and pasta, and their burgers/sandwiches are good too. Another popular eatery in Oakland is Pamela's which is well-known for its breakfast menu.

I would highly recommend a visit to the Cathedral of Learning on the Pitt campus (you can't miss it!) and be sure to do a tour of the Nationality Rooms. The Nationality Rooms are particularly good to see after they have been decorated for the holidays, but you'll enjoy them at any time. (I've been through them at least 3 times!) Next to the Cathedral of Learning is the Heinz Chapel and the stained glass windows there are definitely worth a visit!



Finally, outside of Oakland, I highly recommend going to the Warhol Museum. Admission is half-price on Friday evenings.

Speaking of admissions to museums, I don't know about Duquesne students, but the Pitt students get free admission to various museums (Warhol, Mattress Factory, Carnegie, Phipps, etc.) during the school year and free rides on the city buses. Your daughter might want to check into that for herself.

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4. Re: Introduce Us to Pittsburgh, Please

The best place to start if you're new to Pittsburgh and want to learn more about it is the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center. You'll find Pittsburghers love their heritage and history, and I can guarantee you'll enjoy your visit to the museum. There are many other museums in Pittsburgh worth checking out as well if you're into natural history, science, animals, birds, or even pop art. PNC Park even has a mini-museum of its own dedicated to the Negro Leagues.

With regards to architecture, it's best to just grab a map of Pittsburgh and take a walking tour. Some of the buildings here need to be seen up close to truly appreciate their beauty! Many of the true gems are older, something you won't find in other cities who tear down their old buildings and replace them. Historical landmarks are plentiful here, even in some of the suburban locations.

ScaldisNoel is right--Pittsburgh is not a "dress up" town for the most part. There are some fancy restaurants on Mt. Washington where you'd probably want to show up in something other than casual dress, but a polo shirt and khakis are fine for most places around here. Many of the interesting restaurants are in the Strip District, which also has some good food markets. Of course, a visit to Pittsburgh is not complete without a Primanti Brothers sandwich!

For shopping, I'd recommend the downtown Macy's as well as Ross Park Mall, which was renovated a few years ago and has a selection of stores rivaling Mall of America (although it's nowhere as big). Shadyside also has some nice shops.

Station Square is overrated for the most part unless you're into nightlife. Grand Concourse is nice for breakfast, but the rest of it is getting older and the mall is losing tenants.

You'll probably hear a lot about the South Side, especially if you have a daughter in college. This is a haven for 20-somethings in the area and from my understanding it can get wild down there. There are some decent shops and restaurants in the newer section (including the amazing Joseph-Beth Booksellers) but this is an area you'll want to tell your daughter to avoid so she can concentrate on her studies.

If the Pirates are in town, it's worth it to go to a game even if the Pirates aren't your favorite team. The ballpark is amazing, especially the view of the city you'll get if you sit anywhere in the infield.

Finally, a comment on transportation. Parking is expensive in the city. It's best to find a park and ride lot on the outskirts of the city and use the bus system. There are rumors some routes may be altered or cut next year, so if your daughter is without a car, make sure she is aware of possible changes to the system. Additionally, Pittsburgh isn't the easiest city to drive around for a newcomer--we don't have a circular beltway like other cities (Columbus, Minneapolis/St. Paul, etc). Make sure to take a good map with you--I do this sometimes and I've lived in Pittsburgh my entire life. (I recommend the Rand McNally folded street map).

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5. Re: Introduce Us to Pittsburgh, Please

great pointers bump

6. Re: Introduce Us to Pittsburgh, Please

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