Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I’ve visited Pittsburgh maybe 25 times in my life. I can’t say that Pittsburgh is in the forefront of my mind when it comes to planning a trip but my mom lives there, so we visit pretty often.

Mandy and Jessy when they were young
Me and my sister when we were teens getting ready to go snow tubing!

My grandparents had a house built in “The Bottoms” of McKees Rocks (a borough near Pittsburgh), where my mom grew up and I spent many summers. As a teenager, I loved the older, historic buildings in the area and would walk around the neighborhood taking black and white photos (with film – woah). My sister and I were always excited to be able to walk down the street to buy a ‘pop’ or visit the icecream shop. Walking anywhere from our home in Orlando was a multi-hour endeavor.

Oh yeah, and there is winter – real, actual winter. Floridians grow up thinking real winter is when it gets to 40 degrees .

Birds on a tree
Birds eating in the snow

Nowadays, The Bottoms seems a little depressing. The icecream shop has closed… actually, a lot of things down in the Bottoms have closed. But there are many older houses and buildings to look at, which is something quite different from the Orlando mentality of knock-it-down-and-replace-it.

I’ve never visited Pittsburgh as a tourist, so I’m just going to give you a feel for what I love about the city and surrounding areas.

Note & apology: Some of the following pictures are going to be junk. They’re pictures I’ve taken throughout the years on different phones and cameras, many taken without the intention of ever sharing them. So, sorry in advance. 🙂

Food

So, the best thing to eat in Pittsburgh is pierogies. Doughy pockets of potato (or other things, but I like plain potato), usually fried up with butter and onions. We get them from Pierogies Plus, or, if the timing is right and the wind blows in just the right direction, from St Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church (just kidding, they only make them on Fridays though). The way my mom always explained it, there are little Ukrainian ladies in the basement of the church, making pierogies from scratch. The church’s pierogies are two levels above Pierogies Plus – they’re bigger and there’s something about the dough that’s better. They’re so soft and chewy! Okay, now I want to go to Pittsburgh.

My favorite breakfast spot in Pittsburgh is Pamela’s P&G Diner in the Strip District. They have the absolute best hotcakes I’ve ever had in my life. We’ve only been to Pamela’s twice in our lives, but I dream about those hotcakes every night. Thin, crispy on the edges, filled with brown sugar, topped with fresh strawberries. Hot damn!

Pamela’s is in the Strip District, which is a couple of streets lined with shops. It is really busy on the weekends when we go there.

Wholeys
There is Mancini’s Bread all over the place in Pittsburgh

You can find Mancini’s Bread all over the place in Pittsburgh, but it’s a bakery that started in McKees Rocks in 1926. They bake delicious, soft Italian bread that makes the best french toast. I notice them featured on restaurant menus all over town, but they have a few shops you can visit, one of them in the Strip District.

Wholey
Wholey is a big, mostly fish, market on ‘the strip’
mural
Mural on the strip
The strip district in Pittsburgh
The Strip District, full of food and local goods
A sign that says "We have Surge"
Surge!
John buying Surge
So John went into the Pittsburgh Candy Buffet and bought Surge
Pierogi on a burger
This probably sums up Pittsburgh entirely – a pierogi on a burger from a place called Fat Head’s

Kennywood

Kennywood is my favorite amusement park (I’ve been to all of the Disney Parks, Universal and Busch Gardens). We used to go here every summer. I love the wooden rollercoasters and all of the carnival-type rides, there is such a variety and the lines are nowhere near as long as Disney’s.

Rollercoaster at dusk
The Steel Phantom at dusk
Kennywood ride
I can’t remember what this ride was called, but it’s fun!
Girl walking into Kennywood
Jessy walking into Kennywood
Kennywood rollercoaster photo
I think I was dying…
Kennywood
Random shot of Kennywood

The National Aviary

The aviary (basically a zoo but only made up of birds) is somewhere we went almost every year. My favorite area of the aviary is this big open space, where the birds fly around freely and there’s no cage separating you from them.

Girl and a bird
Jessy chillin’ with a bird
A bird at the aviary
We got up-close and personal with this guy… or gal.
Steller's Sea Eagle
A Steller’s Sea Eagle behind glass
Flamingos
Flamingos!

The Zoo

The Pittsburgh Zoo has spoiled me for zoos. The zoos in Florida are just downright depressing in comparison. Most of the animals have very large living areas and even the aquarium area in the zoo is more impressive than some of the actual aquariums I’ve been to.

Bear
A bear!
Fish
Fish
Giraffes
Giraffes
Man and a bear statue
John being attacked by a bear, eek.

Overlooks

There are a bunch of places around Pittsburgh that offer great views of the city. As a kid, we used to go on the Duquesne Incline with my grandparents almost every year, it’s a little trolly that goes up and down a hill with great views of the city.

Downtown Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh from an overlook
Pittsburgh overlook
Hey, ma!
Church at night
The church near one of the overlooks, all lit up at night
Pittsburgh at night
Great views of the city

McConnells Mill State Park

Now that I’m older and enjoy hiking way more than I ever was as a kid, one of my favorite things to do when I visit my mom is go to McConnells Mill State Park and hike the Kildoo Trail. We didn’t  do many nature-related things in/near Pittsburgh when I was a kid.

It’s an awesome 2 mile loop along Slippery Rock Creek, featuring tons of boulders, trees and moss. I probably love it because it’s nothing at all like Florida. There are actual changes in altitude and the end of the trail is defended by a huge flight of stairs. It’s considered moderate but it kicks our butts.

Slippery Rock Creek
Slippery Rock Creek, along the Kildoo Trail
Tree roots above ground on a boulder
Tree roots along the trail
Millipede on moss
Hello Mr. Millipede
Trail full of rocks and boulders
Yes, climb up these rocks of questionable character and sturdiness
Hiking along the creek
Mom, taking a break along the creek
Moss covered boulders on hiking trail
No, those aren’t the only stairs guarding the end of the trail
Two men on a boulder
John and Mike are kings of the world on their boulders
Dog and girl hiking near a creek
Odin, Jessy’s dog, has a lot of fun too!

Ohiopyle State Park for White Water Rafting

We’ve gone white water rafting twice and it’s really fun! Ohiopyle State Park is really pretty and when the water isn’t rushing, floating down the river is serene and beautiful.

Ohiopyle River
Ohiopyle River
Man holding some paddles
John’s too cool for school
Weirdos getting ready to go rafting
Getting ready to raft!

Fourth of July

I think Pittsburgh has one of the best fireworks displays I’ve ever seen and we like to make sure July 4th falls within our time in Pittsburgh if we visit in the summer.

They set up the fireworks on a barge on the river and people park and walk down the river to get a spot. There’s a new(ish) casino along the river and a really nice walking trail. Definitely worth a summer visit.

Fireworks
Pittsburgh 4th of July Fireworks

Fireworks

John and Mandy in Pittsburgh
Me and John along the river near the casino

Museums

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited one but Pittsburgh does have some great museums.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History features dinosaur fossils and rocks!

girl with a dinosaur
A dinosaur at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Hall of Geology
Hall of Geology (ooooh) at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Andy Warhol Museum

Pretty cool and quite a bit larger than I’d expected. The Andy Warhol Museum features over 8000 pieces of Warhol’s work.

Andy Warhol Museum

Allegheny Observatory

Not a museum, but I don’t know what other category to put this under. See the inside of the historic observatory and take a peek at a planet through the telescope.

A man and a telescope in an observatory
A man showing off the telescope
Model of the observatory
Tiny model of the observatory

This barely scrapes the surface of all that the city has to offer, but I hope this gives you plenty of ideas of things to do in Pittsburgh!

Perhaps on our next visit, I’ll make it my mission to try new things in town. Anyone have any suggestions??

 

2 thoughts on “Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania”

  1. Pittsburgh National Aviary is THE BEST place to get up close and personal with birds, in my experience, so far. I love that place. I also think Kenny Wood is a better theme park than any Disney or Universal park I’ve been to (as a Floridian I think my opinion there holds a lot of value) and definitely the best fire works show I’ve seen live.

  2. What a great homage to this fine city! I’m tickled pink that you chose to write a story about Pittsburgh. But you forgot that when you were younger we always went creek walking!

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