Back in the Burgh!
April 6, 2010 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Brief homecoming to Pittsburgh: what fun, awesome things have I missed?

I grew up in Pittsburgh but haven't lived there for six years. I'll be home for a week with my boyfriend from May 18-26, and need wonderful, cheap suggestions of things to do. Since I left when I was 18, I didn't really get to experience all of the out-of-the-way things that the city has to offer - didn't go into a ton of neighborhoods except the South Hills, no drinking, no clubs.

What I have done are the basic Carnegie museums and Oakland explorations. What I want to know is: what have I been missing? I've only been back for short stints and I am sure there is much to be seen! Driving up to an hour is okay.

Things I've already liked:

- Fallingwater
- Those free art galleries downtown
- Brillo Bar
- Charlie Murdoch's
- Tour-Ed Coal Mine

Things I would like, ideally:

- are there any neat farms or vineyards near Pittsburgh that do tours, or are generally awesome and worth visiting?
- how about the best bars? I love cheap drinks and funky decor (we're coming from NYC so really anything is cheap)
- horseback riding? Animal farms? Bison pens? We plan on going to the zoo and seeing the new aquarium
- we're both fairly athletic and would be up for nature stuff or bike riding

Any suggestions welcome, even potentially lame ones! We don't have a ton of money but are willing to spend for fun experiences.
posted by amicamentis to Travel & Transportation around Pittsburgh, PA (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Not necessarily cheap drinks, but if you've not been to The Sharp Edge Beer Emporium and you really like beer, you ought to go.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:47 PM on April 6, 2010

posted by Brennus at 4:50 PM on April 6, 2010

Sharp Edge is the one thing I miss the most about Pittsburgh, sigh. A close second is wandering around the Strip District in the morning and buying olive oil and chocolate and espresso and looking at gigantic fish in tanks at Wholey's Seafood and such.

I liked Point Brugge and Kaya too, although I haven't been to Pgh in years and I don't know if the restaurant recommendations stand the test of time.

Arts stuff: the Society of Contemporary Craft, the Warhol, and the Mattress Factory are all great. Make sure you see the balloon installation (Silver Clouds) at the Warhol - it's very joyful.
posted by soleiluna at 5:09 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Welcome back! If you haven't done the Mattress Factory, that's my favorite of our museums and sadly overlooked by a lot of people. The Mattress Factory, a stopoff at Penn Brewery for lunch, and then the National Aviary in the afternoon is one of my favorite ways to spend a day off in the city.
posted by Stacey at 5:37 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Take a tour of the Allegheny Observatory!
posted by that girl at 5:54 PM on April 6, 2010

soleiluna has it. Those are all great things to do.

Have you looked these threads?
posted by buttercup at 6:00 PM on April 6, 2010

The Pirates are undefeated! Why not go check out a game?
posted by elder18 at 6:08 PM on April 6, 2010

Specific to your weekend:
The Pittsburgh Pirates are again holding Beer Passport nights. For a "six pack" of games, 250 fans per game can purchase $35 tickets that include a 1 1/2-hour pre-game craft beer sampling in Club 3000, a seat in the Pittsburgh Baseball Club (normally $47), plus $5 to spend on concessions. The games (all 7:05 p.m. starts) are April 16, May 22, June 18, July 16, Aug. 21 and Sept. 17 (412-325-4915 or

I'm not wild about bars, but there is one on the South Side, I believe called the Tiki Bar where you have to walk through a giant Tiki Head to get in. I think the South Side has changed enormously in recent years, so you might just want to park one night and take a walk up and down. I'm a big big fan of Piper's Pub, but that's because their food is pretty darn tasty and the wait staff has always been great. Also if you're interested in interesting decor, I'd say a swing by ChurchWorks for a pint would be worth the stop - I think it's really beautiful in there.

A coworker was just raving about Rolling Hills Ranch for horseback riding. That's your traditional neck of the woods, in Bridgeville.

For vineyards, there are a surprising number of them down in the Laurel Highlands. If you went back down to Fallingwater, you could easily kill a day driving through the countryside visiting them. If you were at Fallingwater for the architecture (versus being out in nature) I'd recommend doing a companion tour at Kentuck Knob - less crowded and includes my favorite part - an extensive outdoor art collection that you can hike back across the grounds and view. (Including an Andy Goldsworthy.)
posted by librarianamy at 6:25 PM on April 6, 2010

Sharp Edge is a great bar!

Phipps Conservatory

The strip district markets on the weekend.


Mattress Factory

Frick Park

Warhol Museum

Also there is a great farmers market right off friendship park on thursdays from 3-6 pm which i think should start by then...

I say don't go to Hofbrauhaus...
posted by unreasonable at 7:38 PM on April 6, 2010

librarianamy, the bar you are talking about is called The Tiki Lounge and it's on the 2000 block of East Carson St.

If you like outdoor events, I would look at Venture Outdoors, a local outdoor activity group that sponsors tons of summer events.
posted by Raichle at 7:40 PM on April 6, 2010

Gooski's in Polish Hill is the bar with the best juke box in the city.
posted by chinston at 7:43 PM on April 6, 2010

Udipi for destination Indian food, super-cheap. Decor approximates a dingier-than-usual Denny's.

East End Brewing
, if you find yourself in the East End -- maybe after your zoo trip? -- during their limited "growler hours." A tiny brewery in a warehouse and a fun stop, where you can get free samples of their beers and take home a half-gallon jug of whatever you like best.

Kennywood is open for the season (no, literally) starting May 20. It's probably on the expensive side, at least by Pittsburgh entertainment standards (not by amusement park standards, though), but we got our family of four in for $40 last summer, I think by buying the tickets from Giant Eagle in advance, plus buying a ticket off a random lady in the parking lot. It's such a great, old-timey amusement park, and it's so close in to the city, I'd personally consider it a must-do.

Nthing Kentuck Knob and its sculpture gardens.

As for outdoorsy stuff, I'm not super-well-informed about that myself, but I think people talk about Ohiopyle as a great state park. Then, Bike Pittsburgh is a very active organization, and you can see their calendar of bike-related events in the area here. I don't know if you can post to their forums if you're not a member, but if you can, that might be a way to get some suggestions on good rides. (You can also ask chinston, who posted just above, about that.) We also one morning took our 3-year-old in a rental kayak sponsored by this group; not sure when they're opening for the season, and if you're an athlete, this will not be up to snuff for exertion, but it's kind of fun to be in a boat alongside the city.

Mattress Factory and Warhol are both great -- see what kinds of reciprocal admissions they might have with institutions in New York. (Same goes for the Phipps, the Zoo, and the Aviary, for that matter.) And the North Side itself is so great for a visit, especially in nice weather; if it's hot, you can get yourself a shaved ice from this orange cart.

Yay Pittsburgh!
posted by palliser at 9:12 PM on April 6, 2010

Gooski's has the added benefit of being very, very cheap.

Also, if you like extremely weird entertainment, along with the creepy feeling that your entire tour group may at any moment be dropped via a trap door into some kind of dungeon decorated as a Bavarian beer hall, the Bayernhof Museum is for you.
posted by palliser at 9:16 PM on April 6, 2010

Response by poster: Yay Pittsburgh! Thanks so much for all the suggestions - it's one of the first times that I'll be home without 24/7 commitments or holidays. I really miss the city and appreciate the cool ideas!
posted by amicamentis at 5:23 AM on April 7, 2010

I have no idea if you're at all interested in records...but if you are, you owe it to yourself to swing by Jerry's in Squirrel Hill. He's got roughly a million LPs and an equal amount of 45s - it's somewhat mind-boggling to see.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:50 AM on April 7, 2010

Another great bar: D's Six-Pax and Dogz in Regent Square has probably the best domestic microbrew selection in the entire city, and their hot dogs and chili cheese fries are awesome bar food (if you're veggie, you can get veggie dogs too.)

Nature stuff: Aside from Frick Park and Schenley Park, Riverview Park in Observatory Hill is beautiful and has something like 20 miles of hiking trails. It tends to be less crowded than Frick or Schenley, too. If you want to ride bikes or go for a long run, the North Shore trail is great. (I would recommend a hybrid or a mountain bike for this trail, because a lot of it is dirt or crushed limestone). I like to bike on that trail starting from the Heinz Field end (you can also connect to it via Point State Park, going over the bike/pedestrian lane of the Fort Duquesne Bridge -- you can see how to do it on the western end of this bike tour), and head east. You can go all the way to Millvale and reward yourself with a brioche or other delicacy from Jean-Marc Chatellier's French bakery in Millvale. On the way, you will see a pedestrian bridge across the street from the Del Monte canning plant. If you go up it, you will go to the trails on Washington's Landing -- it's a really beautiful and fun little side excursion with some local history involved.
posted by kataclysm at 5:52 AM on April 7, 2010

Forgot to mention, since you asked about farms in particular, Round Hill Farm is set up for visitors. I've only gone with small children, but I think it would be fun for adults, too, if you're specifically interested in touring a farm. Worth calling, anyway, to see what kinds of things you can see/do there.
posted by palliser at 1:16 PM on April 7, 2010

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