36 Best Things to Do in Pittsburgh 2021 — Free, Outdoors, With Kids, Art, For Couples, At Night, Day Trips
Are you thinking of visiting Pittsburgh soon? Pittsburgh is a mid-sized city located in western Pennsylvania. Once known for its steel industry origins, Pittsburgh is now home to many technology, education, and healthcare companies. In addition to being called “The Steel City,” Pittsburgh is also referred to as “The City of Bridges.” With three rivers and 400+ bridges, Pittsburgh’s skyline views are impressive.
Whether you’re visiting for work or pleasure, there’s a lot of fun to be had in the city, and it’s becoming a popular travel destination as well as a hot place to live — especially for young adults. Take a look at our guide to better plan your Pittsburgh adventures:
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It’s possible to see more of Pittsburgh and have fun without breaking the bank. Here are some free activities that are fun to take part in:
1. Visit One of the City’s Many Farmers Markets
If you’re visiting when the weather is nice (spring, summer, and very early fall), then you’ll want to check out one of the city’s many farmers’ markets. You’ll find fresh produce, items from local artists, food trucks, and other eateries. Attending farmers’ markets is free, and it’s fun to walk around and see what each market offers. You’ll find markets in several areas of the city.
2. Go to The Frick Pittsburgh
If you like art and history, then you’re going to want to spend an afternoon at The Frick Pittsburgh. This museum is located in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The Frick grounds, the Car and Carriage Museum, and the Permanent Collection are all free.
3. Hang Out at Point State Park
Point State Park is completely free to visit, and it’s located in downtown Pittsburgh. Also known as “The Point,” this area is where the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela rivers meet. Relax and unwind as you check out the Point State Park Fountain or explore one of the many events of festivals that happen here. Pittsburgh’s Downtown History and Architecture Tour also takes you through Point State Park.
4. Learn About Global Culture at the Cathedral of Learning
The Cathedral of Learning is a gorgeous skyscraper located on the University of Pittsburgh campus. Inside, there are study spaces, classrooms, offices, and computer labs. But you’ll also find the unique Nationality Rooms. These free educational rooms explore different nationalities with artifacts, photos, and audio tours. You can check out these rooms for free.
If you’re visiting during the spring, summer, or fall, you may want to check out some of what Pittsburgh has to offer in outdoor adventures. Here are some of the activities that you can take part in outside:
5. Ride a Gateway Clipper Cruise
Gateway Clipper Cruise offers sightseeing tours and dinner riverboat cruises. This experience is an excellent way to take in the views of Pittsburgh. Some example experiences that you can book include wine tours, sightseeing tours, sunset dinners, happy hour tours, and holiday-themed cruises. You may also want to consider some of the other top Pittsburgh sightseeing tours.
6. Take Part in Venture Outdoors Activities
Venture Outdoors is an outdoor recreation company that offers a variety of experiences throughout the Steel City. You can book kayaking, biking, fishing, and hiking adventures. You can book solo experiences or join in on group experiences. The Beauty of the Burgh Bike Tour is another fun outdoor activity to consider.
7. Trek the Three Rivers Heritage Trail
If you like walking or biking, then the Three Rivers Heritage Trail is for you. This collection of trails throughout the city make up 33 miles, and they can be found throughout several Pittsburgh neighborhoods. You can view trails online and begin planning your adventure before you arrive. If you like trails, then you may also consider the Best of the Burgh Walking Tour.
8. Explore Pittsburgh’s Many Parks
Pittsburgh is known for its incredible parks. Schenley Park, Frick Park, Highland Park, and Riverview Park are a few examples of parks that you can explore while visiting. Take a look at the Pittsburgh Parks Conservatory to learn more about each park. Visiting the city’s many parks is a great way to get outdoors, be active, and take in the beautiful views.
9. See a Concert at Hartwood Acres Amphitheater
Music lovers will enjoy the many concerts put on at Hartwood Acres Amphitheater. The park has an amphitheater and puts on an outdoor summer concert series that features various artists and musicians. Concerts are completely free to attend and are held on Sunday evenings.
Things to Do with Kids
Pittsburgh is a very family-friendly and kid-friendly city. Here are some of our favorite activities and attractions to visit if you’re traveling to the city as a family:
10. Tour Parts of the Mister Rogers Neighborhood Set
It wouldn’t be a trip to Pittsburgh without honoring Mister Rogers and his contribution to the city and the world of children’s television. You can view parts of the iconic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood set and see artifacts from the popular children’s show. This special exhibit is housed at the Senator John Heinz History Center.
11. Adventure at the Carnegie Science Center
The Carnegie Science Center gives kids and families a hands-on science experience through interactive exhibits. There are many exhibits with different science themes, live shows, special activities, and cinema showings. This museum is one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh — and the other museums are worth a visit, too.
12. Take the Kids to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Another great activity to do with kids is to visit the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. This museum also has a lot of interactive activities for young learners. This is the perfect attraction to visit if you have children under the age of ten.
13. Visit The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium
Pittsburgh has an impressive zoo and aquarium. This attraction has indoor and outdoor exhibits and offers fun for the whole family. The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium has exhibits, special events and activities, and educational classes. There are 77 acres of land to explore as you learn about exciting creatures.
14. Get Close to Nature at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Another favorite family-friendly attraction is the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Set within Schenley Park, this botanical garden showcases beautiful plants and flowers. While here you can visit the 14-room glasshouse and 23 gardens. There are also special exhibits that rotate throughout the year.
15. Take a Ride on the Duquesne Incline
No visit to Pittsburgh is complete without taking a ride on the 140-year-old Duquesne Incline. Kids will especially love this experience. This cable railway connects the Mount Washington area of Pittsburgh to Station Square. You can ride up and down the incline, and there is an observation deck up top with panoramic views of the city. This is the perfect spot to take photos to remember your vacation. The Duquesne Incline is also the first stop on the popular Essential Pittsburgh Experience tour.
Museums, History, and Art
Pittsburgh offers a lot of opportunities for travelers to experience history and art. You’ll learn and have fun while exploring the following:
16. Learn About History at the Senator John Heinz History Museum
The Senator John Heinz History Museum is the place to go if you want to learn about the city of Pittsburgh’s history. You’ll be able to learn more about Pittsburgh as well as western Pennsylvania. Visitors of all ages will have fun here. Pittsburgh’s Downtown History and Architecture tour is another way to learn all about Pittsburgh.
17. Have Fun at The Mattress Factory
The Mattress Factory is a contemporary art museum. Explore art through the many installations, exhibits, and hands-on activities. This museum is located on the city’s North Side. Tickets for BLAQK House Collections, the only African American Gallery in the Downtown Pittsburgh, is another art option to consider.
18. Never Stop Learning at The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
There are four different Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh that are waiting to be explored. This includes The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, The Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Science Center, and the Andy Warhol Museum. Each of these museums has a lot to offer, and you can easily spend hours at each one.
19. See the Bikes at Bicycle Heaven
If you’re looking for something different, head to the Bicycle Heaven, which is a bicycle museum. It’s a bike shop and museum, and it has the world’s largest display of bikes! If you’re a cyclist or like looking at vintage bikes, this place is for you.
Things to Do As a Couple
If you’re planning a romantic getaway or are visiting with your partner, you probably want to take part in some couple-friendly activities. Here are some ideas:
20. Watch a Game Together
Pittsburgh has several professional sports teams worth watching. Baseball fans will enjoy Pittsburgh Pirates tickets at PNC Park. Football lovers should consider Pittsburgh Steelers tickets at Heinz Field. And, hockey fans will enjoy Pittsburgh Penguins tickets at PPG Paints Arena. Regardless of when you visit, there will always be a game for you and your significant other to watch.
21. Check Out the Many Local Breweries
The Pittsburgh craft beer scene continues to grow and is quite popular. If you both enjoy trying local brews when you travel, then you’re going to want to take some time to tour some of the breweries here. We recommend the following breweries: Hitchhiker Brewing Company, Eleventh Hour Brewing, Dancing Gnome, Brew Gentlemen, Voodoo Brewery, Strange Roots Experimental Ales, and East End Brewing Company. Consider going on the Sip of Pittsburgh Brew Tour.
22. Get Cozy and See a Movie in the Park
The city hosts summertime movies in the parks. Not only is this a fun experience to take part in with your favorite person, but these events are free to attend. Currently, these movie nights are being held on Wednesday and Friday evenings at South Park and Hartwood Acres. You can view the schedule to check out which movies are playing on which dates.
23. Enjoy Night Events at Museums
The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh have special adult events that are held in the evenings. These make for a great date night and a lot of fun. For example, the Carnegie Science Center has 21+ Science After Hours events where adults can learn about science while participating in exciting 21+ activities.
24. Go Ice Skating Around Christmas at the Rink at PPG Place
If you’re visiting Pittsburgh during the winter months, be sure to check out the Rink at PPG Place. This ice skating rink is located in downtown Pittsburgh among the impressive architecture of the PPG Place building. You can also enjoy the big Christmas tree and all the outdoor decor that comes with the season. It’s the perfect couples activity.
Things to Do at Night
Pittsburgh offers a variety of nightlife opportunities depending on your age and interests. Here are some activities that you might enjoy doing while visiting the city:
25. Try Your Luck at Rivers Casino
Rivers Casino is Pittsburgh’s casino and home to entertainment experiences, dining, and special events. There are table games, slot machines, and a dedicated poker room. If gambling is your thing, or you want to check out one of the many bars on-site, a visit to Rivers Casino is a good idea.
26. Eat Your Way Through Top Restaurants
Pittsburgh has a great food scene, and you’ll never run out of restaurants, cafes, and eateries to explore while here. If you’re hoping to try some incredible dishes and love going out for dinner, take a look at some of our recommended food options: DiAnoia’s Eatery, Casbah, Fig & Ash, Everyday Noodles, Oak Hill Post, täkō, Acorn Pittsburgh, Point Brugge Cafe, and Umami.
27. Drink at the Best Bars in the City
Pittsburgh has no shortage of bars and drinking spots. You can taste new drink creations and meet some great new people while visiting the city. Here are some of the city’s top drink spots: Hidden Harbor, Lorelei, Arsenal Cider House, Acadia, The Warren, The Allegheny Wine Mixer, and The Forge.
28. See an Improv Show
If you like checking out comedy acts when you travel, then you’ll want to make time to check out Pittsburgh Improv. Here you can enjoy food and drinks while you check out comedy acts and other special events. This venue is located in Pittsburgh’s waterfront area. Groupon often offers discounted Pittsburgh Improv tickets.
Things to Do on a Budget
We mentioned some free activities earlier, but what about the activities and attractions that are maybe not free but close to free? Yes, there are plenty of things to do on a budget while in Pittsburgh. Here are some recommendations:
29. Explore the Strip District
Pittsburgh’s Strict District is converted warehouses turned shops, restaurants, and specialty stores. Many of the city’s international grocery stores are here, and the famous Wholey Seafood Market can also be found here. We include this area in our budget section because it’s free to visit here and walk around, and you can find affordable fun.
30. Get Discounted Entry Into the Andy Warhol Museum on Friday Evenings
If you’re planning to visit the Andy Warhol Museum while in Pittsburgh, be sure to visit on Friday evenings between 5 and 10 PM. The museum offers “Good Fridays” discounts of 50% off the regular admission fees. The current admission price results in a discounted price of $5 for seniors and kids and $10 for adults.
31. Get Artsy at Randyland
Randyland is an experience that is unlike anything else. Located on the North Side of Pittsburgh, this is an outdoor art museum of sorts. Artist Randy Gibson has transformed the space into a whimsical art display and has expanded it over the years. Bright colors, funky artifacts, and unique art pieces can be found all over the property. This place will instantly put a smile on your face. Randyland is free but accepts donations — so that’s why it’s under our list of favorite “cheap” activities to do.
Nearby “Day Trips” Outside of Pittsburgh
Interested in escaping the city for a day trip? Many options for day trips and weekend trips exist. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
32. Visit Ohiopyle State Park
Ohiopyle State Park is a popular park that people of all ages like to visit. Located in the Laurel Highlands region of Pennsylvania, you can participate in outdoor recreational activities like hiking, biking, and rafting. The famous Cucumber Falls is located here, and you can get some great photos if you feel like adventuring to the waterfall.
33. Take a Tour at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater
If architecture is your thing, a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater is a must. The famous architect designed this house, and it now serves as a museum of sorts. There are a variety of tours that you can book here. Fallingwater is about an hour and a half drive from Pittsburgh. Book your Fallingwater tickets in advance.
34. Spend a Weekend in Bedford, PA
A day trip to Bedford, PA is another option. This small historic town has shows, restaurants, and nearby trails. If you want to get plenty of rest, book a stay at the impressive Omni Bedford Springs Resort, and don’t skip the spa. The town also has a few festivals throughout the year. Bedford is about a two-hour drive from the city.
35. Take a Day Trip to Lake Erie
A visit to Lake Erie is just under a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh. This is a popular vacation spot for Pittsburghers. Lake Erie is the fourth-largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America. Take in the scenery, go kayaking, explore Presque Isle State Park, or go shopping. You’re not far from Sandusky, Ohio, or the Cedar Point amusement park, either.
36. Be Adventurous at Moraine State Park
Another great day trip outside of Pittsburgh is Moraine State Park. It’s less than an hour away in Butler County and sits on 16,725 acres of land. You can book a cabin, ride on the bike trails, rent a bike, take a picnic, or go hiking here. A trip to Moraine State Park offers a great way to take in incredible views and allows you to escape the busyness of the city a bit.
These are some of our favorite things to do in the city. If you’re beginning to plan your Pittsburgh adventure, be sure to add some of the above attractions and activities to your itinerary. No matter the reason for your visit, we can assure you that a trip to Pittsburgh will never be boring. There is always something fun to do, no matter the season.
Pittsburgh experiences all four seasons. While the city has things to do all year long, the best seasons to visit are spring, summer, and fall. Taking the trip from May through October is your best bet. During these months, the weather will be better and more events and activities happening.
Pittsburgh has many great neighborhoods. Some areas that you may want to stay in include Lawrenceville, South Side, Shadyside, Bloomfield, the Strip District, and Squirrel Hill. All of these areas are pretty walkable and have a lot of attractions to explore.
Pittsburgh has a bus system and a small light-rail system. It’s not the best public transit system, as some areas require two or more buses to get there. Uber and Lyft are available as are rental cars. When visiting, staying in a more walkable portion of the city is a great idea. This way, you can explore locally and then use a rental car or rideshare service to go elsewhere. If you plan to use the public transit system, you can learn more here.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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