What should I do in Pittsburgh this month?
March 26, 2019 6:25 AM   Subscribe

I'm in Pittsburgh for a month, on an art residency! At least for now, I have a fair amount of spare time during the day on weekdays. What should I do with it?

I'm staying in Garfield right off of Penn, with no car, so I prefer things that are reachable by foot, bus, or (when the weather gets nicer) bikeshare - but I can spring for a taxi or ask friends for a lift now and then. I like cheap interesting food, indie and experimental music, parks and botanical gardens, contemporary art, friendly eccentric bars and cafes, historic sites, nice views, local weirdness.

I already know about the big museums and the Phipps, though any hints about the best times to visit or secret free days would be good!

Are there resources for finding out about interesting lectures and stuff at the universities that are open to the public (and preferably free)?
posted by moonmilk to Travel & Transportation around Pittsburgh, PA (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
We were just there in December and absolutely loved it! We spent most of our time wandering around the north shore/northside. The trifecta of quirk is Randyland, Bicycle Heaven and Johnny Angel's Ginchy Stuff. Fun fun fun! Near Randyland is also City of Asylum which you probably already know about - their River of Words project was supposed to be a temporary installation but has remained and is a great walking tour on its own. Check in with the City of Asylum folk - we lucked into an alleyway meeting with a woman there who told us such passionate, rich stories about the various projects and artists.

The Mattress Factory is right there too, which again you probably already know about but you could easily spend a day there. And of course Warhol is walkable. And finally, I can't remember the name but there was a jerk chicken place on Federal Street that my son raved about.
posted by headnsouth at 6:58 AM on March 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Trundle Manor, in Swissvale (by appointment only, I believe)
St. Anthony's Chapel, in Troy Hill
Bayernhof Music Museum (probably a little harder to get to by public transport - overlooking Sharpsburg)
Center for Postnatural History, which is right near where you're staying
Bicycle Heaven
posted by chinston at 7:00 AM on March 26, 2019

I am new-ish to Pittsburgh, so I'm still hitting up a lot of the general tourist recommendations. I'll think on this and add more, once you get some other responses, but here are a few things that stand out to me, so far:

I went to the Troy Hill Art Houses and the Bayernhof Museum last week and I would highly recommend them! Both are reservation only. Troy Hill Art Houses only has reservations on the weekends, but it's free. Bayernhof has week day reservations, which was great for me since our tour group was only 4 people, and costs $10.

For food, I love Apteka, which is right in your neighborhood. Nearby is Mixtape if you want an excellent cocktail.

Phipps is beautiful. I've been there twice, each time in the afternoon on a week day, and it was totally empty. So I think your flexible schedule is going to be very favorable.

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Science, and the Andy Warhol Museum make up the four Carnegie Museums. I've been to all of them now and ended up getting a membership. If you think you'll be going to any of these museums on different days, or more than once, it might be worth considering buying a membership, for the extra flexibility. I bought one and was glad I did, since it's let me pop back in when I'm in the neighborhood for an hour or so at a time. That being said I did buy a dual membership that lets me bring in a friend for free so if there is any easy way to coordinate this I'd be happy to let you visit using my membership for the day. If you're going to be paying per museum, you'll want to note that Andy Warhol also has Good Fridays, where they are open until 10pm. I haven't been to one of those but it offers half price admission if you pay after 5pm.

Also, this month is pretty busy for me, but I'm mostly free on the weekend of May 12th. If you're interested and want a buddy to join you for anything, message me! I'd be down to get a meal or to try and cross some of the tourist-y stuff off the to-do list.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 7:04 AM on March 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Drive outside the city and visit Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece house.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:59 AM on March 26, 2019

If you'll be there by the first weekend of the month, there is a great gallery crawl called Unblurred on Penn Ave in Garfield. Even if Unblurred isn't going on, you can still check out Bunker Projects and Mr Roboto.

Near by tasty food options:

Spak Bros (great vegan options, setian wings!)
Constellation Coffee

Take a #brilloselfie in the pink bathroom at Brillobox

If the weather gets decent while you're here, Arsenal Cider House is nearby, has a great outdoor seating area, and it's BYOFood. Great place to relax with a book or with friends. Gets crowded on weekends, tho.

You may be into the events happening at Spirit - check out their calendar. (If not, at least go for brunch)

Farther down Penn --
Zeke's Coffee (ask for a Leona's ice cream sandwich while you're there)

posted by nuclear_soup at 8:28 AM on March 26, 2019

Response by poster: I'm in Pittsburgh now and will be here until about April 20.

I've already been to the Carnegie Museum of Art, Noodlehead, Brillobox, and the Center for Postnatural History, which just means that you're all giving exactly the right kind of recommendations!

My dog and I discovered Healcrest Urban Farm today while wandering around the neighborhood, though it seems to still be asleep for the winter, and some neat mini-parks that looked like they were designed to absorb rainfall runoff. I'd love to know about more interesting bits of adaptive land use around here.

Oh yeah, I have my dog with me! Please recommend dog-friendly places and doggy events!
posted by moonmilk at 9:24 AM on March 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Union Project's big pottery sale is coming up on April 14

Dog-friendly places nearby:

-Aforementioned Zeke's coffee has a dog-friendly patio (and homemade dog treats you can buy inside). Arsenal Cider House's outdoor area is also dog-friendly.

-East End Brewing Co and Wigle Barrelhouse are both great dog-friendly drinking joints. (Wigle Barrelhouse is currently closed for the season, but the website says it re-opens late April, so you still might be able to make it out there.)

-Nearby Frick Park has a fenced dog-park area and lot of trails for good dog-walking.
posted by nuclear_soup at 10:55 AM on March 26, 2019

Oh, fun—congratulations on your art residency! The Penn Ave Arts District is such a neat area (as you've probably already discovered for yourself!) and you're in a really great area for exploring nearby neighborhoods on foot or catching the bus.

Kelly's Bar & Grill in East Liberty is one of my FAVORITE places. Their mac & cheese is SO GOOD and they always have a $4 cocktail of the day. Tram's Kitchen on Penn Avenue (keep on walking past brillobox, it's just a little further) has KILLER Vietnamese food. It's cash only, but super reasonably priced and SO TASTY. Ritter's Diner is also cash-only, but it's a great old school diner and is open late (even 24-hrs some days). And this place is a little bit spendier, but if you want to check out a great neighborhood coffee shop/bar/tasty restaurant, Friendship Perk & Brew is really close to that area.

Garfield's urban farm setup is pretty unique, but there's a cute little community garden in Friendship called the Octopus Garden that might be worth checking out. I think there's an urban farm on the South Side somewhere also, but the South Side is kind of a mixed bag to visit.

Squirrel Hill is a neat neighborhood to investigate on foot if you find yourself with a free day. Commonplace Coffee is solid, Avalon Exchange is a great consignment shop, Jerry's Records is a great place to spend an afternoon if you're into collecting vinyl, and the Pink Box bakery has so many super tasty Taiwanese-style baked goods! It might be a little far to walk from Garfield unless the weather is glorious (plus there's a giant hill), but the 64 bus will take you straight there from the Friendship/Garfield area.

If you're okay with smoky, dive-y bars, Polish Hill is home to both the Rock Room and Gooski's. They have a fair amount of live music scheduled, plus very cheap beer and surprisingly great bar food. This would be a little bit of a hike on foot, but if the weather is nice and you've got the time, they're worth checking out! (Also: If you end up in PH and don't want to drink alone, feel free to MeMail me—this is my neighborhood!)

Like headnsouth said, the North Side is a fun place to spend some time if you don't mind taking the bus (the 54 will take you straight to the North Side). Some of my favorites in that area are the Modern Cafe or Bier's Pub on Western (half-priced drafts at MC happy hour WHAT and Bier's Pub has GREAT food), the Park House on E. Ohio Street (you wouldn't know it to look at it, but they have some of the best Middle Eastern food I've EVER had), the Monterey Pub on Monterey Street if you like Irish bars (their food is AMAZING), and El Burro for tacos.

There's a lot of newer stuff on the North Side like Siempre Algo, Badamo Pizza, The Government Shop, Allegheny Brewing Co., and Threadbare Cider that I haven't tried yet, but I've heard good things about. Also: if you find yourself on the North Side on a Wednesday evening, check out Banjo Night at the Elks Lodge! (Also bluegrass night at the Park House, but c'mon—BANJOS.)

Also: if you're up for a LONG walk with your pupper, the Grist House in Millvale is super dog-friendly. There's also just a lot of great stuff in Millvale. I won't even bother plugging too much in Lawrenceville here because every single breathless "OMG did you know Pittsburgh is actually kind of cool??" article has already done it, but if you're around there, Belvedere's is a fun bar with a lot of dance nights and there's actually a lot of really fun street art around there, a lot of it by a muralist named Jeremy Raymer.

Holy heck, sorry about the small novel. Have fun in Pittsburgh this month!
posted by helloimjennsco at 11:47 AM on March 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

fort pitt
posted by brujita at 11:56 AM on March 26, 2019

There's an amazing exhibit of 20th century French photography at the Frick Museum for free. I've been to it twice so far and plan to go back before it closes in May.
posted by octothorpe at 2:20 PM on March 26, 2019

The National Aviary. I was lucky to visit a cousin in the last couple of years, and I had time to wander the city on my own (man, am I impressed with their public transportation!). This Aviary was one of my highlights! I was there in the month of April, so some of the outdoor birds were not outdoors yet, but it didn't matter.

Also, I am one of the odd people who love old cemeteries. And Allegheny Cemetery was absolutely fascinating. From the Gothic mausoleums, to the historical persons who lie buried there; it was a favorite and I wish I'd had more time to explore.

You're so lucky! I loved Pittsburgh! (Also, great Thai food at a place called Nickys or Nellies, I can't remember the name)
posted by annieb at 4:09 PM on March 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

We should have a Metafilter Meetup while you're in town.
posted by octothorpe at 6:06 PM on March 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you don't have it already, the Transit app can really help you get where you need to go by bus.

The murals of Maxo Vanka (previously) are a must see. You can actually walk it from where you are (Penn to 40th, then across the 40th St. Bridge to Millvale). Millvale has other interesting stuff to do, too. There's a French bakery that's excellent, a record store, a great old timey hobby shop, Mr. Smalls live music venue, and some craft breweries.

And Tram's on Penn for Vietnamese food.
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:59 AM on March 27, 2019

I'm loving all of these Pittsburgh questions popping up as of late. They're helping me add to my very own personal...
...that I created in advance of moving there (in less than 3 weeks!)

In Garfield specifically, (in addition to other solid suggestions above,) don't snooze on People's Indian Restaurant.

> We should have a Metafilter Meetup while you're in town.
I'd be down if it were during the last stretch of moonmilk's residency, after April 18th.
posted by D.Billy at 7:53 AM on March 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I went to see the show at the Frick today, and it was just as good as octothorpe said. The Frick and the park around it are beautiful too!

A meetup would be great - I'd prefer sooner rather than later, both because I'm likely to be much more busy at the end of my residency, and because I'm impatient to meet you nice people - but that's probably something to discuss on IRL?
posted by moonmilk at 6:31 PM on March 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

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