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The 20 Best Things to Do in PIttsburgh for First-Timers


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is an amazing city to visit as there is such a diverse range of things to enjoy during your stay. It is particularly well known for its history, culture, and the arts. This city is also associated with many major successful sports teams. If you are visiting this city for the first time, it is important to plan your itinerary carefully to make sure you have the best experience possible while you are there. With so many things to see and do, this is a more difficult task than you may imagine. To help you get the most out of your stay in this wonderful city, here are the 20 best things to do in Pittsburgh for first-timers.

20. Watch a Game

Participating in sports and watching sporting events are two of the most popular pastimes in Pittsburgh. Even if you are not a sports fan, you should try to catch a game during your visit as the atmosphere in the crowds is amazing. Time Out says that one of the best places to watch a game is PNC Park. Although it is one of the smallest stadiums in the country, many people believe that it is the most beautiful ballpark. There isn’t a bad seat in the house and you can enjoy cityscapes in all directions when the game is not in play.

19. Brewery Tours

There are more than 60 breweries in Pittsburgh, all of which offer tours of their production facilities. Take your pick of these or visit several to sample some of the best beers in the city. You will need no more than a couple of hours, regardless of which of the tours you choose, and each will show you the brewing process. After the tours, most breweries offer the chance to sample the goods and to buy some of their wares to take home. It is important to note that some brewery tours are free, while others have a fee.

18. Go Ape North Park

If you are visiting Pittsburgh as a family and you enjoy outdoor events, then one of the best attractions to visit is Go Ape North Park. This is an attraction that is lots of fun for all the family. It is a forested area with an aerial adventure obstacle course that consists of rope swings, rope bridges, climbing nets, and zip wires. There are various course options to suit different abilities, and each offers different challenges.

17. Carrie Furnaces

The history of Pittsburgh has strong links with the steel industry, which is why Pittsburgh is often referred to as the Steel City. One of the most important locations for this industry was the Carrie Furnaces, and these now-abandoned buildings are open to the public for guided tours. It is a fantastic place to learn about the industrial history of Pittsburgh along with how steel was produced.

16. Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

A great option for a family day out is a trip to Pittsburgh zoo & PPG Aquarium as this is both educational and fun. Discover the Burgh recommends this as one of the best family attractions in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. It is also one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city. The zoo is divided into themed sections that are home to thousands of animals, although the big cats are the highlight for many visitors. In 2015, the zoo opened The Islands exhibit, which features a range of endangered species. A visit here is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the different species and how they live in their natural environment. Visitors can also enjoy a range of talks, displays, and exhibitions. You enter the aquarium via the zoo. The aquarium boasts a dozen installations that feature various aquatic species. Just like the zoo, this is both educational and fun as there are displays, talks, and interactive activities to enjoy.

15. Inventionland

One of the more unusual places to visit in Pittsburgh is Inventionland. Many people are surprised to learn that Pittsburgh a city from which many inventions originate, including the Polio vaccine, Heinz ketchup, and the Big Mac. This attraction boasts a fascinating collection of some of the inventions and exhibitions include photographs and printed information. There is also a warehouse that is used for inventors to work. Wherever you go in this attraction, the creativity involved in inventing things is apparent. Thrillist has described this attraction as the closest thing you will get to Willy Wonka’s factory.

14. Grandview Park

As its name suggests, this park is known for the excellent views that it offers over the city. However, that is not the only reason that you should visit this beautiful spot. It is also a place away from the busy streets to enjoy the outdoor space. Simply take a walk around admiring the pretty surroundings. Depending on when you visit, you may find other things going on at this location. During the warmer months, there is an outdoor movie theater and open-air shows. It is also used as a venue for various events throughout the year. Historic Pittsburgh says that visitors can also enjoy riding the merry-go-round.

13. Big Mac Museum

It seems that there are museums around the world that cover almost every topic. One subject that you may not have expected to become the focus of a museum is the Big Mac, yet that is exactly what this Pittsburgh museum is all about. This city is where the burger meal was invented, and the museum has exhibitions relating to the history of McDonald’s. It is likely that you will start to feel hungry on your way around. Fortunately, there is a café where you can enjoy a Big Mac after touring the museum.

12. Heinz History Museum

Thrillist recommends a trip to the Heinz History Museum. Although much of the exhibitions are related to the history of Heinz, this is not the only topic covered at this interesting and diverse museum. Many other aspects of the history of Pittsburgh are covered, including industry and local inventions. There is something for everyone at this attraction, and many exhibits have interactive elements. This is a little more different than the other museums you will find in Pittsburgh, which makes it all the more appealing to tourists.

11. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

If you have children with you during your trip to Pittsburgh, one of the top attractions that is targeted at the younger traveler is the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Every exhibition and interactive activity at this attraction is aimed at children and it is all about learning through play. However, adults can feel free to get involved as there is plenty to entertain everyone. This is a fantastic option to keep the children entertained if it is raining during your visit to the city.

10. Carnegie Science Center

Science is the focus of this Pittsburgh museum, and the exhibitions and activities are divided into sections that relate to the different science disciplines. There are many interactive elements to these exhibitions, so it is a fun learning expereince. One of the highlights of a visit is the Rangos Giant Cinema which is an IMAX screen that shows both documentaries and Hollywood movies. People of all ages will enjoy a visit to the Carnegie Science Center, as there are things that appeal to all ages.

9. The Andy Warhol Museum

For art enthusiasts, one of the most fascinating places to visit is the Andy Warhol Museum. Although many people associate Andy Warhol with New York, he was originally from Pittsburgh. At this museum, you can enjoy many examples of his pop art, which is the style of art for which he is most famous. There are seven floors devoted to the talented artist, and the exhibitions include sketches he made while he was a student and the famous screen prints of Jackie O.

8. Frick Park

While many areas of Pittsburgh are urban, commercial, or industrial, there are also some pretty open spaces for you to enjoy the outdoors, and one of these is Frick Park. This boasts 151 acres of woodland and a nature reserve. People head to this park to explore the miles of hiking and bike trails, which include the mile-long Tranquil Trail and the Lower Riverview Trail.

7. Allegheny Observatory

You will find the Allegheny Observatory in Summer Hill sat atop Observatory Hill in Riverview Park. This is one of the most important astronomical research institutions in the world, and it is owned and operated by the University of Pittsburgh. Opening times are limited, and this is something you need to book in advance. If you are lucky enough to get tickets, you can enjoy a two-hour tour of the building and view the night sky through the Fitz-Clark refractor telescope. This attraction will interest people who are passionate about astronomy, and it is a great option for something to do in the evenings if you are not a fan of hanging out at the bars.

6. Cathedral of Learning

The architecture of the Cathedral of Learning is an impressive sight. It is a 42-story Gothic Revival skyscraper that is now a National Historic Landmark. University students take classes at this venue, but you can explore the elaborately designed rooms when there are no lessons in session. This attraction is the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus.

5. Wigle Whiskey Tour

Although Pittsburgh is better known for its production of beers, there are also many exquisite spirits produced in this city. One of the best is Wigle Whiskey, and you can tour the distillery to learn more about the whiskey-making process. There is also the opportunity to sample the products and to buy some whiskey to take home.

4. Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Carnegie Museum of Art

History and art enthusiasts visiting Pittsburgh should make time in their vacation itinerary to visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Carnegie Museum of Art. These are actually two separate attractions but as they are neighboring, most people visit them together. The natural history section of the attraction boasts a dinosaur exhibition, while the art museum section includes 140 plaster casts of architectural marvels.

3. Point State Park

There are many parks in Pittsburgh, but one of the best to visit during your stay in this city is Point State Park. This land was once Fort Pitt, and the Fort Pitt Brickhouse is a structure that remains in the park. The park has an eye-catching fountain and beautiful gardens. It is a lovely place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas in Pittsburgh. The park covers 30 acres and is located in Downtown Pittsburgh.

2. Monongahela Incline

Pittsburgh is known for being a rather hilly city. An interesting way to climb one of the inclines is the Monongahela Incline in South Shore. This is a National Historic Landmark that was built in 1870 by John Endres. Riding to the top of this almost vertical tramline will give you spectacular views across the city and the three rivers. An alternative is to ride the Duquesne Incline, which offers a similar experience and equally as impressive views.

1. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

According to Time Out, the top attraction to visit during a visit to Pittsburgh is the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Constructed in 1893, the conservatory is home to the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, which is a botanical research facility. Visitors can enjoy meandering through the grounds, which boast stunning plant collections. The gardens are divided into sections, such as the Gardens of Sound and Motion, the butterfly forest, and a dessert exhibition.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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