10 Experiences You Can Only Have in Pittsburgh

From urban discoveries to natural encounters, Pittsburgh always has a surprise or two up its sleeve
From urban discoveries to natural encounters, Pittsburgh always has a surprise or two up its sleeve | Courtesy of Visit Pittsburgh

Editorial Manager

There’s a long list of must-see attractions and activities in Pittsburgh. From seeing the sights by bike to culinary delights that will make you the envy of your foodie friends, here are 10 things you need to try in Pittsburgh.

Watch Pirates, Steelers and Penguins

You’ve got a lot to live up to if you’re going to adopt the moniker of ‘City of Champions’ but thankfully the major sports teams in Pittsburgh really do compete at an extraordinary level. The Steelers have been adopted by NFL fans around the world thanks to their front-footed style of play and awesome uniforms, whereas local ice hockey team the Penguins have won the Stanley Cup an impressive five times. Finally, we have the plucky Pirates, one of the MLB’s most historic teams who also boast one of the best baseball fields in the country. Be sure to catch a live game to see one of these teams up close. This is an enthusiastic sports city, so there’s no better way to experience the pulsating passion and community camaraderie of Pittsburghers in their most energetic form.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt (90) during a preseason game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022 in Pittsburgh, PA. The Steelers beat the Lions 19-9.

Visit the famous Pickle Festival

When people exclaim “Only in Pittsburgh!”, this is the sort of thing they are talking about. The city is a foodie paradise with high-end cuisine jostling for attention alongside sandwich shops in every neighbourhood, but a festival dedicated to pickles has to be seen to be believed. The wonderfully named Picklesburgh is good, wholesome fun for all the family and, if you want to take it up a notch, why not enter the pickle juice drinking competition?

Picklesburgh is a one-of-a-kind experience in Pittsburgh

Find the inspiration behind a pop art icon

The list of celebrities from Pittsburgh is extensive. Hollywood superstars Gene Kelly and Jeff Goldblum are two of the city’s most famous sons, but arguably the most influential person from Pittsburgh is Andy Warhol. Born in 1928, this innovative personality and titan of the art world became one of the most important artists of the 21st century. The Andy Warhol Museum holds an extensive permanent collection that spans across seven floors. It’s one of many must-visit galleries, museums and exhibitions in Pittsburgh.

Pay a flying visit to the National Aviary

As America’s only non-profit indoor zoo dedicated to birds of all varieties, the National Aviary hosts hundreds of species in purpose-built habitats. The walk-through structure makes this experience feel as natural for the visitor as it is for the birds, who carry on about their business as you observe them. Research and conservation are integral parts of the set up here, with classes and onsite programmes helping to better understand, and ultimately preserve, our flying friends. If you happen to visit on a Sunday, make sure you book yourself into Brunch in the Garden Room, where a delicious meal is served as part of your general visit to the aviary.

The Mattress Factory and other magnificent museums

Pittsburgh isn’t short of interesting museums, with over 30 in the city alone. One of the most fascinating is the Mattress Factory, which displays work from some of the most innovative artists from around the world. These immersive exhibitions are very much in-keeping with the spirit of pioneers like Andy Warhol, and provide a real sense of the artists’ creative vision being put at the forefront. Leaning into the love of pedal power in Pittsburgh, Bicycle Heaven is the country’s largest bike museum with more than 2,000 two-wheelers, from vintage to modern, on display.

Ride the Duquesne Incline

There are two spectacular funicular inclines ascending the slopes (and one hopes descending too!) in Pittsburgh, with the iconic red cars of the Duquesne Incline observable from The Point. For a very reasonable price you’ll get panoramic views of Pittsburgh’s three rivers and the chance to appreciate the city from the observation deck at the top. We suggest you do this as one of the first things on your arrival to get a good sense of where you are, and if you time it just right you’ll also see the changing of the seasons occurring before your very eyes.

Fall views from the Duquesne Incline

Cycle the Great Allegheny Passage

Cycling is a great way to see the city of Pittsburgh but if you want a challenge and a scenic adventure rolled into one then the GAP is the trail to take. Stretching for more than 150 miles and starting at Pittsburgh’s Point State Park, you can do portions of the mainly gravelled pathway, or go all the way and end up in the US capital, Washington DC. There’s no pressure to go at Olympic speeds, either, so if you just want a gentle pedal then that’s fine too. There are various water holes along the route to stop and take in the scenery.

Great Allegheny Passage

Explore Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Bursting with colourful foliage, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a real highlight in Pittsburgh. Seasonal exhibitions and flower shows make it a great year-round option for repeat visitors – you’ll find many locals hanging out here too. The main building is an attraction in itself, with themed rooms in beguiling settings that make the most of natural light. The Orchid Room, Japanese Courtyard and Desert Room are notable favourites but you’ll wilfully end up spending more time than you anticipate here if you give it your full attention.

Walk through diverse neighbourhoods

As one of the most walkable cities in America, one great activity to get into the local spirit is to just go walking through the diverse neighborhoods on all sides of the city. From historical areas like the Strip District to culturally diverse blocks around Lawrenceville, you’ll pick up on the rich history of Pittsburgh by interacting with friendly locals.

Uncover the mysteries of the ‘Gateway to the West’

Speaking of history, there’s a huge amount to learn about the city, which was once proudly known as ‘The Gateway to the West’. Informal walking tours offer a chance to see the architecture of the city, which has evolved and modernised much like Pittsburgh itself. The Heinz Historical Center – part of the Smithsonian family – is an internationally-renowned museum that tells the story of Pittsburgh with experiences suitable for all ages. Pittsburgh isn’t a city stuck in the past, as you’ll see for yourself when you visit, but it does play a big part in the story of America.

Looking to visit Pittsburgh from the UK? You can fly direct from London to Pittsburgh in just over 8 hours with British Airways. There are six flights weekly between London Heathrow (LHR) and Pittsburgh International (PIT) with return fares from £530.

Book now with British Airways britishairways.com/pittsburgh

Find out more about one of our favourite destinations in America: https://www.visitpittsburgh.com/

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