We felt like a pilgrim in an unholy land as we stepped foot in the beautiful city of Pittsburgh. For you see, we are from Pittsburgh’s arch-nemesis and biggest sports rival, Cincinnati! Pittsburgh is only a hop, skip and four and half hour drive from Cincinnati, which makes this city a great weekend away. There is so much to do in Pittsburgh, but here ten unique things to do in Pittsburgh.
1. Visit the Poetry Houses
Located on Sampsonia Way (almost an alley), these houses are adorned with poems painted by poets who were seeking asylum in Pittsburgh after being exiled from their own countries. There are four houses along the way, each with their own unique meaning and poems.
If you are visiting the poet houses, be sure to swing by Randyland as well, which is only a few blocks away and take in the wonder and art that is Randyland. I don’t want to spoil any of the eccentric art or experience you will have, just bring a camera.
3. Ride the Duquesne Incline
Dig deep into your pockets and be ready to spend the best $5.00 during your entire trip here. BRING CASH AND SOME QUARTERS. The ride itself is a neat experience, but what you are really wanting to see is the view at the top that overlooks all of Pittsburgh. There you can take the perfect selfie, try to figure out which of the million bridges you crossed and pinpoint certain locations through the city. Save $0.50 a person so that you can do the behind the scene tour of the incline. It is a unique experience for those curious how the incline has operated all these years.
4. Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning
I’ve not been one to visit college campuses on vacation, but I am so glad I made a visit to the University of Pittsburgh. The architecture is quite honestly breathtaking and when you step into the Cathedral of learning you feel like you stepped in Hogwarts. Hidden throughout the halls of this Gothic monument you will find 32 classrooms that were designed to represent the culture of various ethnic groups that settled in the region. The cost for a tour is $4.00
per person. To begin your tour you will need to acquire keys and the map from a ground floor room that is labeled Nationality Rooms. I would allocate at least one to two hours to see everything, especially with the audio guide. This was one of my favorite unique things to do in Pittsburgh and highly recommend it.
Bonus: Venture to the neighboring Carnegie University and check out some of the unique public art and museums located around this campus.
5. Take a road trip out to relive The Night of Living Dead
About a 25-minute drive outside of Pittsburgh you will find the cemetery and town where The Night of the Living Dead was filmed. Any zombie fanatic would love this pilgrimage to where it all began. I would recommend pulling up the beginning of the film and watching it on Youtube while in the cemetery. Evans City Cemetery, Evans City, Pennsylvania 16033 once you arrive at the cemetery take a left on the first street by the little chapel, literally the first left. Drive little ways down the road and the notorious tombstones will be on your right.
Bonus: While you are visiting in Evans City swing by the slightly tacky, but informative Night of the Living Dead Museum. It is tiny, cheap and borderline sketchy, but has an Americana charm that the zombie-obsessed will like.
6. Grab a pastry at La Gourmandine
Need a quick breakfast, snack, lunch or second lunch? Even if you aren’t hungry go to La Gourmadine and get yourself a pastry. The almond bear claw will leave you questioning how you lived a life prior to shoving this amazing, flaky, sweet manna from the gods into your face hole. Warning: You will want to come back multiple times during your trip. Please note there is no photo, because I was too busy double-fisting bear claws.
7. Visit Union Station
Located at 1100 Liberty Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15222 is a historic train station that is still in active use. Don’t get this confused with the Grand Concourse, which is a train station turned restaurant. We visited both and the Grand Concourse is definitely worth a visit as well. If you are not in the mood for a pricey dinner in their elaborate dining room, belly up to the bar. The bar hosts tons of art deco features offers great happy hours specials and you can still peek inside the famous dining room for a glimpse of the gorgeous interior.
8.) Visit the Strip District and eat lunch at Gaucho Parilla
Strolling down Penn Avenue in the Strip district is a great way to mix with locals and get a taste of Pittsburgh culture. Gazing upon an endless sea of black and yellow, packed with locals saying things like “yinz” and “yunz” makes you ponder if your scene. The answer is yes and prepare yourself to taste some of the best food in the city.
Get yourself to Gaucho Parilla at some point during your visit. Skip the line and get carryout or stay and order, the line moves faster than it looks. The divine aromas that fill the air will immediately have you salivating. The first bite into your entree is pure bliss and instant satisfaction as food this authentic and delicious is rare. The sandwiches are always an excellent choice and even the small platters are a good size portion for one person. I highly recommend the skirt steak and make sure to try all four sauces! Each one fresh and delicious. If you enjoy coffee and/or cigars get to the Leaf and Bean. Housed in an old garage with an eclectic interior this is the perfect place to spend a few hours relaxing.
9.) Go up the steepest street in America
Go up the 33.3% gradient hill on Canton St for a terrifying, adrenaline-filled car ride. You could also get out and test your physical strength by climbing the massive hill.
10.) Trundle Manor
While we did not get the opportunity to visit this little house of oddities, it comes highly recommended as one of the best unique things to do in Pittsburgh. Wide collections of obscure and bizarre treasures fill this otherwise normal home. Tours are by appointment only, so be sure you book yours for you next visit.
Looking for more weekend adventures? Check out a few of our Weekend Trips From Cincinnati here.