Planning a weekend roadtrip to Pittsburgh? This itinerary of the 5 best things to do in Pittsburgh will help you schedule your time to fit in as many attractions as possible!
I was invited as a guest of Visit Pittsburgh, but all experiences and opinions of this gorgeous city are 100% my own.
Three Rivers Sightseeing Cruise
When I visit a new city, one of the first things I try to do is take a guided tour. Sometimes this is in the form of a bus tour or a train ride or my very favorite… a boat cruise!
It’s the perfect introduction to a new city, because it’s a quick introduction to so many landmarks and attractions. It often helps set the tone for what I want to make sure I visit during the rest of my trip.
On a recent trip to Pittsburgh, I headed down to Station Square to the Gateway Clipper dock.
It was such an enjoyable 1-hour leisurely boat ride while we cruised up and down the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers.
I was on the classic sightseeing cruise and we had an enjoyable narrator who was a Pittsburgh native with fun tidbits and facts for the attractions we were passing.
And for some of those attractions, it was the best view for any photos you might want to grab while you’re in town! The only way to really get these gorgeous views of Heinz Field and PNC Park is from the water!
But even better than that, it was such a neat view of the Pittsburgh Skyline! Ever since I took a Chicago Architecture Cruise earlier this year, I’ve loved hearing the stories behind the different styles of buildings in major cities. And I love how in Pittsburgh, they’re nearly always in view of a river or bridge.
Tips for a Gateway Clipper Sightseeing Cruise:
- You can purchase tickets online or right at the dock. Just make sure you arrive a little early since they stop selling tickets 5 minutes before the departure time.
- There are bathrooms on board as well as a full service bar with snacks
- Don’t worry about which side of the boat to sit on for the best view. The boat returns the same way it departed, so you’ll have great views off both sides.
- The boat ride is about an hour long.
For more information or book your own Gateway Clipper Cruise, visit their website HERE.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
In the heart of Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens offers a 15-acre green oasis for visitors.
I will be honest and say that I wasn’t expecting to really enjoy this part of my weekend visit. I’m not exactly know as a green thumb, and while I enjoy beautiful things in nature, I wasn’t convinced I would enjoy it for an extended period of time.
I was so happy with how wrong I was, though! The exhibits at Phipps were interactive and quirky and right up my alley!
They also had glass artwork from a number of artists including Chihuly! It was spread throughout the conservatory and often mimicked the plants that it accompanied.
I have an entire article I wrote about my visit to Phipps because I enjoyed it that much! I love when I’m so pleasantly surprised like this!
Tips for Visiting Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens:
- Check out the weather for when you’ll be visiting Pittsburgh and plan accordingly. Phipps is a great activity for a day when the weather isn’t cooperating with being otuside.
- Even if you have visited Phipps in the past, it is well worth another visit due to their constantly changing exhibits!
- Phipps has plenty of holiday activities for visitors to enjoy as well including Magic Meets Music, New Year’s Even Celebrations, Santa Visits and more.
- Plan to spend about 2-3 hours visiting Phipps and enjoying lunch at their award-winning cafe.
For more information on the current exhibits and to purchase tickets, visit the Phipps Conservatory site HERE.
If you’re looking for the best photo spots in Pittsburgh, you need to swing by Randyland! The home of painter Randy Gilson, Randyland is the most colorful display of outdoor art around!
It’s hard to capture just how vibrant and engaging his entire property is! From outdoor murals to places to sit and more… your eyes are constantly moving around just trying to take it all in.
It is pretty much the ultimate selfie spot!
There are open gates on either side of his property that encourage visitors to enter and start exploring.
While most of the artwork at Randyland is trash that he has painted and upcycled, together it is so inspiring! And fun! Did I mention how much I love quirky?!
Tips for Visiting Randyland:
- The gates are open from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. so be respectful of those hours since Randy does live on the property.
- Plan to spend about an hour there taking it all in. There is so much to see that you’ll want to walk around a few times because you’re guaranteed to see something new each time!
- It’s a completely family-friendly attraction so feel free to bring the kids!
- Randyland is free but there is a spot for donations if you’re so inclined!
- Sometimes Randy himself will be out in his yard interacting with visitors and guests!
For more information and directions on how to get to Randyland, visit his site HERE.
The first time I visited Pittsburgh was 17 years ago and I completely chickened out and wouldn’t ride the Duquesne Incline. I’m terrified of heights and thought it would be like riding in a ski lift, which is a total and complete NO from me!
On this past visit, I swallowed my fears and joined the group to ride to the observation deck at the top. I’m here to report that it was not scary at all! Honestly! I don’t know if it’s because the wooden cable cars are enclosed and just feel safe. Or if it’s because of the angle at which you ascend. Either way, this scaredy cat was completely fine riding this to the top!
And once we got up there, I was so glad I did because the view of the Pittsburgh skyline was spectacular! I could have stared at the lights twinkling off of the rivers for much longer than our time allowed.
Tips for Visiting the Duquesne Incline:
- The Duquesne Incline is part of the public transportatin system of Pittsburgh and uses the same fare system as the buses and trolleys.
- Seniors, ages 65 and older, ride free with proper identification.
- There are no public restrooms at the Incline.
- If you have a few extra minutes, there was neat, historical memorabilia inside the upper station that was worth reading.
For more information on the Duquesne Incline, visit there site HERE.
When I first arrived in Pittsburgh, I put out a call to my Instagram family asking what some must-do’s were for my visit. Far and away the #1 thing that my readers told me I had to do, was visit Primanti Bros.
A Pittsburgh staple, Primanti Bros has been serving heart sandwiches to downtown Pittsburgh since the Great Depression! And while they have expanded both their menu and their locations, they stay true to the giant sandwiches that are all piled with french fries, house-made slaw, cheese and the meat of your choice!
Tips for Visiting Primanti Bros.:
- If you visit the original location in the Strip District (the one I have picture here), they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Check your specific location before you go, because most have half-priced happy hours from 5-7 p.m. on weekdays!
- Be sure to download the Primanti Bros. app! You’ll earn points towards free sandwiches plus get a free sandwich after your first sign-up! Totally worth it!
- Get your smile ready to take a selfie with the colorful walls inside! Filled with famous Pittsburgh celebrities, you’ll spend most of your meal searching for your favorite (hint, it’s Mr. Rogers!).
For hours and locations, visit the Primanti Bros site HERE.
While there are plenty of attractions and activities to keep you busy on your Pittsburgh vacation, these 5 are must-do’s! These are the activities that everyone will suggest and everyone will ask you about!
And for good reason, because they’re such a perfect representation of everything Pittsburgh has to offer!
To plan the rest of your weekend in Pittsburgh, be sure to check out the Visit Pittsburgh site. It’s loaded with information on upcoming events, local favorites, links to attractions and so much more!
- Visit Pittsburgh website
- Visit Pittsburgh on Facebook
- Visit Pittsburgh on Instagram
- Visit Pittsburgh on Twitter
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