How to spend 3 days in Pittsburgh
Dernière mise à jour : 17 déc. 2019
Last week I traveled to Pittsburgh in order to attend a long-awaited hockey game with the intention of showing support to my lovely Habs and rep the red jersey at PPG Paints Arena. Although my knowledge of the city was nonexistent, I can affirm that Pittsburgh was a delightful surprise. In this following piece, it might seem I'd be leading the blind with my recommendations, but I am confident this short trip in Pennsylvania's second-largest city was enlightening enough that I might be able to convince you to give Pittsburgh a chance if you're looking for a weekend getaway.
Where to stay?
From my short experience, I would say anywhere close to the Convention Center would be your best bet as it is centrally located and close to many attractions. Worst case, you can always rely on Uber and Lyft. Also, as far as boutique hotels go, I would recommend checking out the Kimpton Hotel Monaco. Their rooftop terrace alone is a huge selling point and they're pet-friendly!
What to see?
Pittsburgh loves their bridges. I'm not even kidding! Proudly nicknamed the City of Bridges, Pittsburgh boasts a small number of 446 bridges. THAT'S WAY MORE THAN VENICE! In the spirit, instead of using Starbucks as a unit of distance, get ready to hear bridges as point of reference. It has helped me get around.
Now, to see Pittsburgh in all its glory, cross the Mon River (formally known as Monongahela River) from the city center to enjoy the panoramic view of Pittsburgh and the Three Rivers from Mount Washington. In the early days, the area was named Coal Hill as many coal mines prospered. You can also admire the two remaining funiculars sitting atop the hill.
Photo by Vidor Nordli-Mathisen
As for museums, Pittsburgh was also the home to legendary artist Andy Warhol and honored him with a museum. For other museums, you will also find the Senator John Heinz History Center and the Mattress Factory figuring highly in any Pittsburgh's attractions.
Now for downtown, head towards Market Square: the latter houses several shops and bars. Before Christmas, you'll also see Christmas market and an ice skating rink. If the weather calls for sunshine and warm weather, why not spend the day outside and visit the square?
Go to a sporting event
One could say Pittsburgh has it all. Regardless of the motive of your trip, you should at least look up a sporting event. From seeing the Steelers, the Pirates, or the Penguins, live in the arena, I can assure you this activity will be a highlight of your trip. It was for mine, as my friend lost a bet and had to get a beaver tattoo after betting against my lovely Habs. This gamble paid off in my case. Also if you wear the enemy jersey, don't be afraid... I am still alive and well. However, you might get the occasional side-eye and overhear this conversation as I was waiting for my beer at the food stand:
Guy #1- She's cute for a Habs fan
Guy #2- don't you f#cking dare!
Guy #3- If you fraternize with her, you're dead to us
Now onto the carbs and booze bit...
Apparently Pittsburgh proud themselves in having the best pierogies in the country even though it is the furthest thing from being an American dish (in other words, pierogies are an Eastern European type of dumpling). I was told the chain Primanti Bros were making a good twist on it, but if you wish to stay close to the dish's root, might as well visit Apteka in Bloomfield. The latter is indeed a casual Eastern European restaurant serving inspired vegan-plates and of course pierogies.
4606 Penn Ave., Bloomfield
From the city center, head east onto the Strip district to find Pittsburgh's best coffee joint: La Prima Espresso Co. an Italian-Style Café. Note that there is a Prima Café on the ground floor of the AC HOTEL PITTSBURGH if you wish to stay within earshot of the Convention Center. The Strip is also perfect for shopping as the latter counts numerous food markets and souvenir shops. Yet after a day of shopping, stop by Pamela's Diner to travel back to the '60s. I do not know if the milkshake will bring the boys to the yard, but it's worth the shot. To finish the day, head to any bars on Smallman Street.
If you continue further East longing the river from the Strip District, you will find yourself in Pittsburgh's largest neighborhood: Lawrenceville. Locals would describe the latter as the hipster mecca as it has grown to be the shopping, eating, and drinking hot spot. Simply head there and you will stumble upon a bar/restaurant with no effort.
Visit a local brewery
Located at the doorstep of Troy Hill you will find Penn Brewery, pioneer of the American craft movement as they started brewing craft beer back in 1986. You will find classic lagers and German beer style adhering to the strict quality standards of the 16th-century Bavarian Reinheitsgebot purity laws so you know you'll get the good stuff. Same as their kitchen, they offer German-inspired dishes with the occasional Quebec poutine. Not gonna lie, I tried it: sauce was good, missing cheese curds but would still recommend. Beers were amazing and you can also find several of their locations in the city as well.
Wishing for a Christmas Miracle?
As you might've read in the previous article, I am a big sucker for Christmas and when I discovered Miracle was also held in Pittsburgh, you never have seen a girl running to a bar that quick on a Monday night. Miracle on Liberty located right in the middle of the cultural district lived up to my expectations and I finally was able to buy my Santa T-Rex mug... best purchase of the year hands down. Plus you'll drink for a good cause. Side note: Christmas sweaters are highly recommended as attire too.
If you go after Christmas, I would suggest to head right around the corner at The Warren as they are the same owners taking care of Miracle on Liberty.
Last but not least, a much-needed hangover cure
There's nothing better as a hangover cure to eat humongous tacos and sip on a Bloody Mary AND/or mimosas. This you will be able to find at Condado Tacos a few steps away from the Convention Center. Word to the wise: do not overestimate your appetite. For the 5$ taco such as Lucy's Fire served with Firecracker shell, roasted chicken, lettuce, cilantro and onion, smoked cheddar, corn salsa, and a cilantro-lime aioli, I can assure you I was ready to bust out of my jeans mid-serving. You've been warned.
971 Liberty Ave, Downtown
*All pictures were taken by me unless stated otherwise