Looking for things to do in Pittsburgh? Start here!
Resident Pittsburghers are lucky – we get to spend all of our time in the ‘Burgh, so we often take the city’s sites (and bites!) for granted. But when we get a visitor coming to town, it can be hard to figure out exactly where to take them to show them all that Pittsburgh has to offer.
That’s why we put together what we think are the perfect Pittsburgh itineraries, whether you (or your guest) is visiting the city for a few days, or just a single 24 hours. And we know that we definitely missed some things, so if you have more suggestions, share them in the comments.
Pittsburgh in a Day
Only have one day to see all that Pittsburgh has to offer? Get started early, my friends! Start your day in the Strip District, one of Pittsburgh’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Grab a coffee at La Prima Espresso, (and hit Colangelo’s Bakery next door for a pastry), then wander around the food and specialty shops, including Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, Reyna Foods, Allegheny Coffee & Tea and Stamoolis Brothers. Be sure to stop at some of the Pittsburgh-themed shops for some Black & Gold memorabilia, like the always-popular Yinzers in da Burgh. Hungry? Have a quick breakfast at either Pamela’s Diner (they’re known for whisper-thin pancakes), or DeLuca’s Diner, a super-popular cash-only mainstay.
From the Strip, you’ll want to move up Liberty Avenue to Lawrenceville, and take a quick walk throughout the neighborhood. There’s plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you busy (including a bunch of new ones). You could spend as much time here as you want, or breeze through the ‘hood – either way, don’t miss at least a peek at this part of town.
Ready for more? Next on our list is heading to the Northside of Pittsburgh, and taking a drive (or walk) through the Mexican War Streets, a beautiful and historic neighborhood in the city. Don’t miss Randyland, a colorful landmark, perfect for getting a killer Pittsburgh Instagram shot. Now, you have to choose your own adventure: If you only have one day in Pittsburgh, you should try to hit at least one of our city’s fantastic museums. While you’re on this side of the rivers, we recommend either the Mattress Factory Museum, or the Andy Warhol Museum, even if you only have time for a quick visit. The National Aviary of Pittsburgh and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh are nearby, in case either of those offerings are more in-tune with your interests. There’s a few options for lunch over here, including the always-popular Federal Galley (four distinct restaurant concepts in one!), and Bier’s Pub.
After lunch, get yourself to the Duquesne Incline, and ride it up to Mt. Washington to see the classic view of the city from the observation deck. You’re a 10-minute walk from Bigham Tavern if you need a drink, or, you could ride the Incline back down to the city, and get an early start on happy hour at one of Pittsburgh’s unique bars. Depending on where you’re staying, a few of our favorites include: Butcher & the Rye (downtown), Allegheny Wine Mixer (Lawrenceville), Hidden Harbor (Squirrel Hill), Ace Hotel (East Liberty), Smallman Galley (Strip District), Butterjoint (Oakland), and Acacia (South Side).
Time for dinner! There’s been dozens of recently-opened restaurants in town, and Pittsburgh also has lots of long-standing favorites. If you only have one night in town, a few of our picks include: Cure, Legume, Spork, Poulet Bleu, or (for a more casual night), Gaucho Parilla Argentina. Reservations are recommended (except for Gaucho, which doesn’t take them), but walk-ins can sometimes be accommodated at each spot.
Pittsburgh in Two Days
Welcome to Day Two!
Enjoy breakfast in Bloomfield at Bitter Ends Garden & Luncheonette, a charming, farm-forward breakfast and lunch counter with breakfast sandwiches, breakfast salads, and awesome doughnuts. Then, you’ll want to hit two of Pittsburgh’s most-loved neighborhoods in quick succession: Shadyside and East Liberty for some strolling, and shopping.
After these quick neighborhood tours, get yourself to The Frick Pittsburgh, to tour the museums and gardens, a free outing that shouldn’t be missed. After seeing the sites, visit the Cafe at the Frick, a from-scratch restaurant that’s located right on the Frick grounds. If you’d like to try something different, you’re only a short distance away from Point Brugge Cafe. After lunch, we definitely recommend dessert! Prohibition Pastries is within walking distance if you’re looking for a booze-infused sweet treat, or if you’re up for a five-minute drive, we can’t recommend Madeleine Bakery & Bistro enough – and we especially love their chocolate chip cookies!
Now, you have some decisions to make: If you’d like to see a little bit of nature, enjoy a walk through Frick Park (known for its extensive trails), or take a short drive to Highland Park, a vast, leafy park, with a beautiful garden and fountain and reservoir.
Not feeling outdoor time? Spend the afternoon at the Carnegie Museum of Art, one of the city’s best museums. Spend a leisurely afternoon exploring the exhibits, or, take a quicker pace and fit in time to also visit Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, a magical destination with beautiful plants and flowers on display all year long.
While you’re in Oakland, we recommend having a quick drink at the Butterjoint (see above) for a cocktail or two. If you’re up for it, enjoy a pre-dinner snack of their house-made pierogies and their famous smoked bluefish pate Smoked Pâté – or, split a burger (one of the best in the city) with someone you love!
Our recommendations for dinner from ‘Pittsburgh in One Day’ still stand, though we have a few additions: Noodlehead in Shadyside is a favorite (and a visit to Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream for dessert is a must), as is Driftwood Oven in Lawrenceville. If you can get reservations to Morcilla (also in Lawrenceville), know that you’ll have a fantastic time, enjoying Spanish-style pintxos all evening. You can find more recommendations in our guide to where to take out-of-town guests in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh in Three Days
Today, you can either play catch-up on sights you missed during the last two days, or have an entirely new adventure. Either way, we suggest heading up to Troy Hill for breakfast at Pear & the Pickle Cafe, where you’ll find one of the best breakfast sandwiches in town. As a bonus, you’ll be taking a drive up Rialto Street, one of the city’s steepest streets.
After breakfast, trade your four wheels for two! Rent a bike (BikePittsburgh has some good options), and get rolling. Weather permitting, take the bike path to Millvale, stopping at the overlook at Herr’s Island for a truly unique view of the city. Then, take a tour to see the Murals of Maxo Vanka at St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church. The 60-minute tours are usually available on Saturdays, or through pre-planned private arrangements – check the website for more information, and plan accordingly. Enjoy the growing food and dining scene in Millvale, and grab a Detroit-style pizza from the newly-opened Iron Born Pizza, a fantastic sandwich at Duncan Street Sandwich Shop, or a slice of coconut cream pie at Pittsburgh institution Grant Bar – or try all three. There are two breweries in the neighborhood, Grist House and Strange Roots Experimental Ales, and if time allows, enjoy a drink.
When your extended lunch is over, work off those bites with some serious stair climbing. Popular Pittsburgh and Secret Pittsburgh Guide both have good resources for finding steps worth climbing in neighborhoods all over town, and it’s a way to help you explore a side of the city that most visitors don’t get to see.
After an activity-packed day, it’s time for a seriously good dinner. We suggest dining at a DeShantz restaurant at least once on your visit. The Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group continually churns out stellar restaurants, including Poulet Bleu (see above), Fish nor Fowl, Pork & Beans, Butcher & the Rye, Meat & Potatoes, and tako. Choose your favorite cuisine, and go from there – you won’t be disappointed, we promise.
Even more time in Pittsburgh?
A few food extras:
- Breakfast spots: Pie for Breakfast, Kelly O’s Diner, Tazza d’Oro, Five Points Artisan Bakeshop
- Lunch spots: The Vandal, Whitfield, Baby Loves Tacos, Primanti Bros. (Strip District)
- Dinner spots: DiAnoia’s Eatery, Chengdu Gourmet, Kaya, LeoGreta
- Ultimate Pittsburgh Food Road Trips: Hot chocolate, Pittsburgh sandwiches, doughnuts, French fry, Pittsburgh food, Bloody Mary’s, pancakes, pizza, pasta, pierogies, and ice cream
- Wednesday Banjo nights at the Elks Lodge
- Pittsburgh’s farmers markets (the Bloomfield Saturday market is one of our favorites!)
- Unblurred: a First Friday Gallery Crawl
- A Pittsburgh fish fry during Lent
- Open Streets PGH
- A Pittsburgh Pirates game (PNC Park is one of the most beautiful professional ballparks in the country, and tickets are never too difficult to come by!)
- Squirrel Hill Night Market
Did we miss your favorite Pittsburgh activity or restaurant? Where do you love to take out-of-town guests? Let us know in our comments!