Pittsburgh can’t seem to shake its bad rap as decaying industrial city, but those who’ve visited lately know it is an emerging financial and technological center that also boasts picturesque scenery, a stable and affordable housing market and lots of charm. It’s no mistake that Pittsburgh ranks at or near the top of any “most livable city” list.
The list of great things about Pittsburgh is far too long to cover in its entirety, but here are seven of the Steel City’s best attributes.
Pittsburgh has loads of culture. The Carnegie Museums of Art & Natural History are fascinating, the latter featuring one of the largest dinosaur collections in the world. For those into modern art, the Andy Warhol Museum is a must-see. It’s the largest museum in the world dedicated to a single artist, showcasing more than 4,000 of Warhol’s works. Other popular galleries include the quirky Mattress Factory, the Frick Art & Historical Center, and a lot of small, unique art galleries in Lawrenceville and downtown.
2. Mt. Washington
No visit to Pittsburgh is complete without a Mt. Washington experience. The nighttime view of downtown Pittsburgh and its rivers from the top of Mt. Washington was once ranked as the second most-beautiful place in America by USA Weekend. If you’ve got a bit of disposable cash, check out the high-end restaurants at the top of Mt. Washington that offer great views of the city while you dine. Otherwise, just take the $2 incline to the top of the mountain and enjoy the view.
3. The South Side
Another great thing about the city is the variety of neighborhoods that are distinctly different in their charm. The South Side is an eclectic residential and commercial district sometimes considered the Greenwich Village of Pittsburgh. By day the area is dominated by the locals, which include punks, artists and older long-time residents. On Friday and Saturday nights, the area becomes party central, as the region’s college students converge on the South Side’s dozens of bars and clubs. It can be a fun scene to take in, if that’s your thing. Just don’t expect to find a parking space very easily.
4. Sports teams
Pittsburgh has long been known as one of America’s great sports cities. Residents are passionate about the six-time Super Bowl champion Steelers, the three-time Stanley Cup champion Penguins and the Pitt Panthers basketball and football teams. And though the Pirates have struggled in recent years, fans still keep coming to PNC Park, the nicest stadium in baseball. Like the old Iron City commercial used to go, “Every fan in Pittsburgh is everyone you meet.”
The Oakland neighborhood has one of the highest densities of college students anywhere in the country. Downtown is home to a few schools as well, which are helping revitalize this slumping area. In recent years, both Point Park and the Art Institute have significantly increased the amount of student housing they offer downtown, which has led to more coffee shops and small eateries popping up, and a more vibrant atmosphere in an area that used to be quiet on weekends and evenings.
The city is home to several great parks with numerous things to do. Schenley Park in Oakland, established in 1889, features a golf course, tennis courts, a disc golf course and a winter skating rink. The largest park in Pittsburgh, Frick Park in Point Breeze offers hiking trails and red clay tennis courts. Riverfront walking and biking trails abound along Pittsburgh’s three rivers. Going kayaking on the river is another great way to see the city.
7. The tunnel
It’s been said that Pittsburgh is the only city with a front door. That front door is the Fort Pitt Tunnel, the entry into the city for those arriving at the airport. After traveling for miles on the highway, visitors travel two-thirds of a mile through the tunnel and come out the other side to see the entire Pittsburgh skyline and all three rivers in front of them. The stunning sight at the end of the tunnel is one of the coolest things about Pittsburgh.