Yes, Pittsburgh is a former steel town. Yes, Mr. Rogers lived there. And yes, it’s
the home of the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins. But it’s so much more. The city has undergone a cultural revolution over the years, and now boasts a thriving arts scene, award-winning restaurants and bars, excellent shopping and 445 bridges that offer views of the city’s three mighty rivers. (Airlines: Allegiant, Southwest)
When to go
There’s no better time to visit Pittsburgh than October, when the leaves are at their colorful peak and you can bundle up in a warm sweater and boots but still be comfortable outside.
What to do
Love going to Pirates spring training games? Don’t miss the opportunity to catch a game at PNC Park, one of the most beautiful ballparks in the U.S. Downtown Pittsburgh’s Strip District is home to a bevy of restaurants, shops and grocers of all ethnicities, plus the original Primanti Bros.—home to a famous sandwich stuffed with French fries. On the city's North Shore, the Andy Warhol Museum offers an ongoing exhibit of Warhol’s artwork and archival materials, plus rotating shows from visiting contemporary artists like Paola Pivi, whose I Want It All (on display through Aug. 15) features dozens of sculptures of colorful baby polar bears.
Where to eat
Four Pittsburgh restaurants received James Beard nominations this year, and for good reason. Pusadee’s Garden, in Lawrenceville, offers elegant, wood-fired Thai food with garden seating. In Squirrel Hill, order plate after plate of authentic Sichuan dishes at Chengdu Gourmet and dream of having something like it in Sarasota. In Bloomfield, Apteka offers vegan Slavic food that’s so good you won’t miss the meat or dairy (make sure to grab a bottle of natural wine from the adjoining shop, too). And in the Mexican War Streets neighborhood, enjoy farm-to-table Eastern European cuisine at 40 North, then browse City of Asylum, the bookstore next door, which hosts the largest residency program in the world for writers living in exile under threat of persecution.
Where to stay
Dowtontown’s Fairmont offers elegant accommodations in the heart of the city and is perfect for families or couples. In Lawrenceville, the TRYP by Wyndham has taken up residence in a former high school and is within walking distance of that neighborhood’s trendy shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for historic-yet-funky luxury, the Industrialist is pet-friendly, with sleek furnishings, historic details and Art Deco-inspired interiors.
A few other recommendations...
A book to pack
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw. The Pittsburgh-based author’s short story collection won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award and is being developed into a miniseries for HBO Max.
A record to put on
Pittsburgh native Mac Miller died in 2018, but his influence remains—and his lyrics are full of references to the ‘Burgh. “And if by chance it's my grand finale, bury me
in Allegheny County,” he raps on Circles.
A movie to watch
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as Pittsburgh’s own Mr. Rogers.