The Best Things to Do in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The 15 Best Things to Do in Pittsburgh

If you’ve never been to Pittsburgh before, you might be surprised to learn that this city is home to some of the best museums in the US, a dynamic art scene, and a range of seriously impressive restaurants. Whether you’re looking to take a fun-filled family vacation or have a carefree weekend away with friends, this bustling Pennsylvania city won’t disappoint! 

You can spend your days dining and gallery hopping in the trendy Strip District or picnicking in Point State Park before seeing a spectacular performance in a historic theater in the Cultural District. Artsy types will love checking out the Andy Warhol Museum and exploring the colorful home of Randy Gilson (aka Randyland). 

If outdoor activities are your thing, you can go kayaking on the Allegheny River or take a hike on the scenic Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Plus, once you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll be spoiled for choice! From casual eateries serving Pittsburgh’s iconic fries- and ‘slaw-stuffed sandwiches to forward-thinking food halls dishing out some of the most innovative eats in town, you won’t go hungry in the Steel City.

With so many things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Pittsburgh for you. Stick to these fun and unique Pittsburgh bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this dynamic part of the US!

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15 Best Things to Do in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1. Get Your Pop Art Fix at the Andy Warhol Museum

Unique Things to do in Pittsburgh: Andy Warhol Museum

Fans of pop art will definitely want to pay a visit to the Andy Warhol Museum. Housed in a revamped warehouse in the North Side, this is the largest museum in the US dedicated to a single artist and is home to the largest collection of Warhol’s work. 

Spanning seven floors, the museum features some of the Pittsburgh native’s most iconic works – including his Campbell’s Soup and Coca-Cola paintings, his celebrity portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, and his 1966 film Chelsea Girls. You’ll also have 17 galleries, 900 paintings, 1,000 prints, and so much more to peruse.

You’ll learn all about the life and creative process of one of the most iconic and influential American artists. Explore the exhibitions, and you’ll also see how Warhol’s work evolved throughout his life and learn all about his life growing up in Pittsburgh.

Depending on when you visit, you’ll be able to check out a variety of rotating exhibitions. Past exhibitions include Warhol and Basquiat In Focus: Works from the Permanent Collection and Marisol and Warhol Take New York. Admission to the museum is $20 for adults and $10 for children. 

2. Shop, Wine, and Dine at Market Square

Pittsburgh Bucket List: Market Square

No matter what time of year you visit, spending a few hours in Market Square is easily one of the best things to do in Pittsburgh. It was originally built in 1764 as the location of the city’s first courthouse, jail, and newspaper. After a recent renovation, the pedestrian-friendly square is now home to some of Pittsburgh’s best shops, restaurants, and outdoor events.

During the summer months, you can shop for locally sourced goods and listen to live music at the Market Square Farmers Market, shop for locally produced goods at the pop-up Saturday Night Market, and do downward dog during the Yoga in the Square events. 

In the winter, Market Square transforms into a festive winter wonderland. You can shop for gifts at the Peoples Gas Holiday Market, take photos with Santa and his elves, and go ice skating at The Rink at PPG Place. If you need a break, grab a burger and brew at City Works Eatery & Pour House, and then treat yourself to a cone at Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream!

3. Take a Scenic Stroll Through Point State Park

Best Things to do in Pittsburgh: Point State Park

If you feel like getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Point State Park is one of the top Pittsburgh attractions. The 36-acre park is located at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, which combine to form the Ohio River.

This historic park was once the site of the 18th-century Fort Pitt. If you want to learn more about Pittsburgh’s role in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, the park’s Fort Pitt Museum is well worth visiting. Explore the grounds, and you’ll also find the outline of the former Fort Duquesne. 

The park is perfect for enjoying scenic picnic lunches while taking in views of the riverboats and Mount Washington. If you’re looking for a fun activity, you can rent a kayak from one of the many vendors in the park and paddle around the rivers! 

Before you leave, make sure you stop off at the park’s iconic 150-foot fountain, which is located right at the meeting point of the city’s three rivers. This iconic site is a must on your Pittsburgh bucket list!

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4. Eat and Drink Your Way Through the Strip District

Fun Things to do in Pittsburgh: Strip District

If you’re looking for one of the coolest things to do in Pittsburgh, look no further than the Strip District. This neighborhood was once home to gritty warehouses and wholesale markets, but the buildings have been reimagined into boutique shops, trendy bars, and innovative eateries.

Start your morning with a classic diner-style breakfast at Pamela’s or DeLuca’s, or if you’re eager to get shopping, grab an espresso drink at local favorite, La Prima. Along with the many shops and galleries, you can also pop into the Heinz History Center before marveling at the historic St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.

For lunch, you can nosh on seriously inventive square pizzas (think Nashville hot chicken pies) at Iron Born Pizza. Or, if you’re looking for an iconic dinner spot, Roland’s Seafood Grill and Iron Landing is the perfect pick. 

The Strip just so happens to be the best place in town to do some bar hopping. Start off at Maggie’s Farm for award-winning rum-infused drinks. After that, continue on to Pittsburgh Winery for locally-made wines and then take a boozy distillery tour at Wigle Whiskey.

5. Get the Best View in Town from the Duquesne Incline

Pittsburgh Bucket List: Duquesne Incline

You’ll find remnants of the Steel City’s industrial past all over the place. And Duquesne Incline is no exception. Plus, it’s no secret that taking a ride on this historic funicular is one of the coolest things to do in Pittsburgh!

Back in the day, factory workers needed a way to get from their hilltop homes to the riverside factories below. As a solution, a series of roughly 20 funiculars were built to whisk residents up and down the mountain. 

As cars became more popular, the cable cars became obsolete. And today, only two funiculars remain. Not only is the 140-year-old Duquesne Incline car a piece of history, but you’ll glimpse beautiful views of the city and its rivers during the ride up to the top of Mount Washington. 

Once you get to the top, head over to the Observation Deck and check out what USA Today Weekend calls one of the “10 most beautiful views in America!” You’ll also want to spend some time exploring the top station, which displays historical documents and provides information about how the incline works.

6. Catch a Steelers, Pirates, or Penguins Game

Pittsburgh Bucket List: Steelers, Pirates, or Penguins Game

Pittsburgh has a long history of sports, dating all the way back to the Civil War. The city was even dubbed the “City of Champions” in the 1970s after the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Panthers, and Pittsburgh Steelers won multiple championships.

Visit this sports-obsessed city today, and you can time your trip to see one of the city’s three professional teams compete. If you’re visiting in the fall and winter months, you’ll definitely want to catch a rough and tumble Steelers game at Heinz Field. Or, if you’re a hockey fan, stroll across the Allegheny River, where you can watch a Penguins game at PPG Paints Arena

Those visiting in the summer won’t be left out of the sports madness. You can always get tickets to see the Pirates play at PNC Park, which is arguably one of the best and most beautiful baseball stadiums in the US. Even if you’re not a huge baseball fan, spending a day at the game is bound to be fun for the whole family!

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7. Learn Something New at the Carnegie Museums of Art & Natural History

Pittsburgh just happens to be home to a handful of world-class museums. And if you ask us, the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) and Carnegie Museum of Natural History are the best of the bunch! 

While they are two separate museums, they are housed in the same building in the city’s Oakland neighborhood. You can visit both using the same entry ticket. So, if you’re looking for something fun and educational to do, it’s well worth ticking both of these incredible museums off of your Pittsburgh bucket list.

CMOA was founded in 1895 and was actually the first museum in the US to focus almost entirely on contemporary art. Today, the museum features 15 ever-changing annual exhibitions and a permanent collection of over 35,000 works from the late 17th century to the present. Depending on when you visit, the museum hosts a variety of art-filled seasonal events and fun-filled programs perfect for all ages. 

If you’re traveling with your little ones, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is one of the coolest things to do in Pittsburgh. You’ll find 230 dinosaur fossils on display, as well as fascinating exhibits dedicated to minerals and gems, Ancient Egypt, arctic life, and much more!

8. Stuff Your Face with an Iconic Primanti Bros. Sandwich 

Best Things to do in Pittsburgh: Primanti Bros. Sandwich

From the French fry-topped Pittsburgh Salad to potato- and sauerkraut-stuffed pierogis, the Steel City is famous for all sorts of indulgent dishes. But the French fry- and coleslaw-filled sandwiches at Primanti Bros. might just be the most iconic Pittsburgh classic.

Now a chain of sandwich shops, the original Primanti Bros. shop opened its doors in what is now known as the Strip District in 1933, during the Great Depression. After receiving a giant shipment of potatoes, the owner’s cousin started stuffing homemade fries into the sandwiches. And just like that, the French fry-stuffed sandwiches at Primanti Bros. became a hit! 

Thick slices of Italian bread are piled high with grilled meat, melted provolone, tomato slices, tangy house-made coleslaw, and, of course, fresh-cut French fries. But if you want to do this sandwich right, you should definitely add the optional fried egg to the mix. Whether this is your first time in Pittsburgh or you need a late-night snack to soak up all that booze, you should pay a visit to this Pittsburgh institution.

9. Go Biking Along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail

Best Things to do in Pittsburgh: Three Rivers Heritage Trail

One of the must-do things in Pittsburgh, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail is the perfect place to get outdoors when the weather is nice. The 33-mile path runs along both sides of each of the city’s three rivers. 

It’s a super popular place to go running, biking, and hiking. Plus, the views of the rivers and the Pittsburgh skyline are unbeatable!

Head to the North Side section of the trail, and you’ll bike past attractions like the Andy Warhol Museum, PNC Park, and Heinz Field. Alternately, bike along the downtown portion, and you’ll come across Point State Park, where you can see the famous fountain at the confluence of all three of the city’s rivers. 

No matter which section of the trail you choose to explore, you’ll find plenty of public art and informative signs offering information about the city’s history and the region’s natural habitat. If you’d prefer to be on the river, there’s also a Three Rivers Water Trail, which offers prime paddling for kayakers and canoeists!

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10. Learn All About the Region’s History at the Heinz History Center

Must do things in Pittsburgh: Heinz History Center
Images courtesy of Heinz History Center

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Pittsburgh, you have to visit the whimsical Heinz History Center. This six-story museum is dedicated to teaching visitors about Pittsburgh’s history. From the city’s role in the French and Indian War to an in-depth look at all things Heinz Ketchup, this museum covers it all!

If you’re a sports fan, don’t miss the museum’s Western Pennsylvania Sports exhibit, where you can learn all about the sports history and fan pride in the region. To get a better understanding of the city’s first-ever industry, you’ll love perusing the Glass: Shattering Notions exhibit. 

After that, you can learn about the clever inventions of the region at Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation. From the Big Mac to the Ferris wheel, local inventors have been innovating for over 250 years! If that’s not enough, you can check out original artifacts from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which was filmed in Pittsburgh.

It’s a good idea to plan on spending at least a few hours here because there’s a lot to see!

11. Get Away From It All at the Phipps Conservatory

Pittsburgh Things to do: Phipps Conservatory

For those with a green thumb, Phipps Conservatory should be at the top of your Pittsburgh bucket list. Located in Schenley Park, this 1893 Victorian glasshouse and iconic landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Spread over 15 acres, a 14-room glasshouse, and 23 different gardens, you can easily spend hours checking out all of the different plants and activities. 

You’ll find succulents and Joshua trees in the Desert Room, spot waterfalls and palm trees in the Tropical Forest Conservatory, and see banana plants and cinnamon trees in the Tropical Fruit and Spice Room. If that’s not enough, kids and adults alike will love sampling fresh-from-the-garden fruits and veggies at the Rooftop Edible Garden. 

If you are traveling with your little ones, be sure to pay a visit to the pretend farmers’ market, where kids push around mini-shopping carts and barter with vendors over faux goods. Or, if you’re craving real food, you can dine on farm fresh dishes sourced from the rooftop garden at Café Phipps.

12. Get a Taste of Pittsburgh’s Innovative Food Scene at Federal Galley

Best Things to do in Pittsburgh: Federal Galley
Images courtesy of Federal Gallery by Taylor Blocksom

Eating your way through Federal Galley is by far one of the coolest things to do in Pittsburgh. Located in North Shore, Federal Galley is a creative food incubator and 200-seat food hall that hosts four up-and-coming chefs at a time. The idea is to be a launchpad for the city’s latest restaurant concepts and aspiring restauranteurs.

Federal Galley is the perfect option if you’re gathering as a group and can’t decide on a restaurant. There really is something for everyone, including the most finicky of eaters!

Kids will love the thick and cheesy Detroit-style pizzas at Driven and the creative burgers and sandwiches at Provision PGH. If poke bowls are more your flavor, Shaka churns out creative bowls like truffle tuna poke and tempura shrimp poke. 

Sultry is the latest addition to Federal Galley, specializing in European-inspired comfort food, including roasted pork with potato-cheese pierogis and chicken cacciatore mac and cheese. If you want to wash it all down with a drink, the standalone bar offers a long menu of Pennsylvania brews and a rotating list of country-based cocktails.

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13. Take Colorful Photos at Randyland

Best Things to do in Pittsburgh: Randyland

One of the more unique Pittsburgh attractions, Randyland is an experiential art museum and is hands down the most colorful place in town! You’ll see the eye-catching building on the corner of Jacksonia and Arch Street in the heart of North Side. 

Native Pittsburgh artist Randy Gilson purchased the building in 1995 and quickly began filling the property with found objects and repurposed trash, and adorning the facade and fences with colorful murals. It didn’t take long for Randy’s work to attract attention!

Fast-forward to today, and Randyland has become one of the must-do things in Pittsburgh. Free to enter (although donations are welcome), you can easily spend hours and even days seeking out all of the hidden paintings, installations, and details dotting the property. Be sure to bring your camera because this place was made for Instagram.

Some of the coolest things to check out at Randyland are the mirror wall, the psychedelic staircase, and the colorful map of the North Side. Randy actually lives in the building, so if you’re lucky, he’ll take you on a tour!

14. Get Cultured in the Cultural District

Unique Things to do in Pittsburgh: Cultural District

Nestled in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, along the banks of the Alleghany River, the Cultural District is brimming with entertaining things to do. If you’re a theater buff, there’s no doubt you’ll find yourself in this neck of the woods. Heinz Hall, the Byham Theater, the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, and more are all located in this part of town.  

Once you’re all theatered out, the area’s venues also host concerts, comedy shows, and acclaimed groups like the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Pittsburgh Opera. If you time your visit with the downtown Pittsburgh gallery crawl, you’ll have the chance to pop into the district’s public and even private galleries and glimpse some of the best works in town! 

Walk the streets, and you’ll find plenty of outdoor art installations and interactive displays, as well as some of the best bars and restaurants in town. For the perfect end to your day in the Cultural District, sip classic martinis and listen to live music at Olive or Twist or socialize over bourbon-infused cocktails and charcuterie boards at Bridges & Bourbon!

15. Have a Family-Friendly Day at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Pittsburgh Bucket List: Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

If you’re looking for a family-friendly activity, a trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is one of the most fun things to do in Pittsburgh. There’s a reason this place was ranked as one of the top three children’s zoos in the US!

Tucked away in the Shadyside neighborhood, you’ll find over 4,000 animals and 475 different species housed in a variety of habitats. Think elephants and giraffes in the African Savanna, tigers and snow leopards in the Asian Forest, and penguins and sharks in the PPG Aquarium!

Kids will love getting up close and personal with friendly animals at the petting zoo in the Kids Kingdom and marveling at polar bears and sea otters swimming through underwater tunnels in the Water’s Edge environment. 

For an extra-special experience, it’s possible to meet sharks or explore with stingrays during the 30-minute Wildlife Encounters, attend an adorable penguin parade, and embark on educational walking tours.

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There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Pittsburgh. What’s your favorite thing to do in the Steel City?

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6 months ago

Surprised the National Aviary isn’t on the list.

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