Steel City Insider: A Beginner’s Pittsburgh Guide

By: Marsha Solock Morgenstern

December 24, 2013

Named one of National Geographic Traveler magazine’s must-visit places, Pittsburgh is no longer an industrial steel city. Located in southwestern Pennsylvania where the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers meet, Pittsburgh is a “green” city with a vibrant cultural scene and plenty to offer visitors. Take a look at our Pittsburgh guide for some must-see spots to explore.

The Cultural District

Touted as one of the nation’s most vibrant cultural districts, this area is just a short walk from downtown hotels and the riverfront. It spans 14 blocks offering art galleries, eateries, clubs, and theatres. Here, you can enjoy performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Broadway Series, Pittsburgh Opera, and many more across the district’s nine theatre venues. A free gallery crawl, held quarterly on Friday nights, is a popular way to explore the area.

Byham Theatre | A Beginner's Pittsburgh Guide

Pittsburgh has more cultural institutions per capita than any other city in the country © Visit Pittsburgh

The Strip District

The Strip is a haven for foodies and the perfect place to search out a Pittsburgh souvenir. Northeast of downtown, this is a mile-long area along the Allegheny River filled with street vendors, specialty markets and restaurants. Here, the original location of Primanti Brothers sells sandwiches that all come piled high with french fries, a vinegar-based coleslaw, and tomato slices on hand-cut Italian bread. If breakfast is more your thing, check out Pamela’s Diner. President Obama is a big fan of their thin, crepe-style pancakes with crispy edges. (In 2009, the owners cooked these at the White House for the President, First Lady and military veterans!)

The Strip District | A Beginner's Pittsburgh Guide

The Strip District is a shoppers’ paradise and a feast for the senses © Visit Pittsburgh

The North Shore

The North Shore can be easily accessed via the “T,” a local light rail system. You can catch a football game at Heinz Field, home of both the six-time Super Bowl champs, the Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers. Nearby is PNC Park, where the five-time World Series baseball champs, the Pittsburgh Pirates play. It was recently named the “best ballpark in the U.S.” by Tripadvisor for its magnificent views of the city’s skyline and bridges.

PNC Park | A Beginner's Pittsburgh Guide

Pittsburgh’s baseball stadium, PNC Park, perfectly frames the city’s stunning skyline © Visit Pittsburgh

The South Side

Located on East Carson Street, along the Monongahela River, the South Side is known as the place to bar hop in Pittsburgh. And beyond bars and nightlife, there are coffee houses, bookstores, shops, art galleries, and the SouthSide Works; an open-air retail, dining, and entertainment complex. If you’re around in February, don’t miss the annual South Side Soup Contest!

The South Side | A Beginner's Pittsburgh Guide

An entertainment complex along the Monongahela River, South Side Works was built on a former brownfield. © Visit Pittsburgh

Written by Marsha S. Morgensterng

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Do you have a favorite area of Pittsburgh when visiting? Where do you like to go in Steel City? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Marsha Solock Morgenstern

A former Floridian, Marsha Solock Morgenstern moved to the Pittsburgh area in 2006. She enjoys the changing seasons, the friendly community, and the arts and culture Pittsburgh has to offer. In addition to freelance writing, Marsha teaches Academic Writing full-time for the University of Phoenix.

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