Huffington Post called Pittsburgh the coolest American city you haven’t been to, and Travel + Leisure ranked it among the top seven U.S. cities to visit. Known as the Steel City, this historically industrial town has a gritty vibe that’s softened by its metropolitan beauty. Its watery landscape is crisscrossed with more bridges than Venice, and 712 sets of public steps keep pedestrians on their toes.

Pittsburgh has bragging rights as the home of numerous American icons, including the Big Mac and Klondike Bar. Fred Rogers, Andy Warhol, Demi Moore, Michael Keaton, Jeff Goldblum, and Charles Bronson all hail from the area. Whether you’re a Steelers fan in town to bask in the thriving sports scene or you’re after the city’s culture and arts, you’ll find this destination simply can’t disappoint. Get a good night’s sleep before your day in Pittsburgh because this city will keep you busy.

Early Morning: Grab Breakfast at a Darling Diner

Some of Pittsburgh’s best breakfast spots are its adorable diners. P&G’s Pamela’s Diner is one of the most popular picks in the city. There are five locations around Pittsburgh that boast specialties like The Morning After Breakfast with two eggs, your choice of meat, and hotcakes. Sub in specialty hotcakes for more decadence. Options like banana walnut, chocolate chip banana, and strawberry hotcakes will make your breakfast extra special.

DeLuca’s Diner is another hearty pick. This restaurant boasts the “best breakfast in town.” Start your day with a filling specialty omelet for something truly unique. The Super Bowl features kielbasa, sauerkraut, cheddar mashed potatoes, hot apples, and sour cream. The BIONIC Omelet has sweet and hot sausage, bacon, ham, onions, cheddar, American cheese, and provolone. You can also try one of DeLuca’s Benedicts, breakfast sandwiches, or burritos.

Schenley Park
Schenley Park in Pittsburgh.

Midmorning: Stretch Your Legs

Start your day of Pittsburgh fun with a stroll through one of the city’s outdoor delights. Schenley Park is a local favorite, covering 456 acres. Biking, hiking, and walking are popular along the park’s trails. Playgrounds give children a chance to burn off some energy, while the skating rink may appeal to teens. If you enjoy the links, play a round at the Bob O’Conner Golf Course.

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is another highlight of Schenley Park. The gardens showcase several stunning flowers and plants, including orchids, ferns, bonsai, cacti, exotic fruits, and spice plants. The campus also features stunning works of art amid the gardens, including historic pieces, glass art, and sculptures.

If you prefer watery fun, try Point State Park. Situated on three rivers, this is a popular spot for boating and fishing. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail gives pedestrians an engaging view of the water with 37 miles that run along the riverside. Whether you grab a blanket and stretch out in the sun or start your day with a scenic jog, these outdoor destinations will give your day a nice infusion of nature.

Noon: Craft a Satisfying Deli Lunch

Settle in for a casual yet supremely satisfying lunch at one of Pittsburgh’s many sandwich shops. The Thin Man Sandwich Shop sources many of its ingredients from local suppliers and farms, so you’ll enjoy a real taste of the area. Its signature sandwich, The Thin Man, features chicken liver mousse, endive, local bacon, and red wine vinaigrette on a baguette.

The Smash is another signature pick with organic chicken breast marinated in goat milk, lemon pickled green onion, avocado, and sprouts on a wheat baguette. If you prefer something more familiar, options like the BLT or grilled cheese are safe picks. Wash it all down with one of the shop’s homemade seltzers. Flavors like sweet ginger, local honey & lemon, pineapple-mango, and spiced rhubarb keep things fresh.

If you want to try your hand at sandwich creation from scratch, head to The Carson Street Deli & Craft Beer Bar. You’ll find over half a dozen options each for bread and cheese, 17 hearty protein picks, and 10 types of veggies. The real stars here are the condiments. Drizzle a flavorful finishing touch on any sandwich. Over 20 sauces are available, including gourmet Dijon mustard, sriracha mayo, and curry mango.

If the options seem overwhelming, you’ll find a full menu of signature sandwiches to choose from as well. The Balboa is a favorite among locals, with soppressata, Genoa salami, prosciutto, spicy capicola, hard salami, provolone, oil, oregano, and roasted red peppers. No matter what you pick, you’re sure to leave satisfied.

Pittsburgh Zoo
Pittsburgh Zoo in Pittsburgh.

Afternoon: Get Wild With Animal Attractions

Let your inner animal loose with one of Pittsburgh’s wild attractions. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium features an Asian Forest, African Savanna, Tropical Forest, and more. View polar bears and sea otters at the Water’s Edge exhibit, meet clouded leopards, Philippine crocodiles, and Visayan warty pigs in The Islands, and check out camels, barn owls, wild turkeys, and American beavers in Kids Kingdom. At the PPG Aquarium, you can dive deeper into your explorations with turtles, seahorses, sharks, stingrays, and more.

If you’re more interested in high-flying creatures, consider the National Aviary. The Aviary features birds from around the world. Eastern Screech Owls, Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, and Common Grackles hail from North America. From the New World Tropics come Andean Condors, Brazilian Tanagers, Giant Cowbirds, and Inca Terns. Meet the African Grey Parrot from the African Tropics, the Eurasian Black Kite, the Australian Laughing Kookaburra, and dozens of other feathered friends.

Check the schedule of events during your visit to make sure you don’t miss a thing. You can enjoy bird feedings, live shows, and other educational encounters. Check out exhibits like Canary’s Call that will illuminate the rich historical and cultural significance of birds. If you’re looking for an animal attraction that goes beyond the traditional zoo, the National Aviary is a must for your agenda.

Late Afternoon: Browse Local Museums

Pittsburgh’s selection of museums includes something for every visitor. Spend a few hours indulging your interests at one of the city’s top picks. The Carnegie Museum of Art has a collection of over 30,000 pieces, including paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photos, video, film, and more. Rotating exhibits and art programs make sure there’s always something new on display.

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has permanent exhibition halls that explore geology, paleontology, ecology, wildlife, and anthropology. From the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems to the PaleoLab to the Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt, there’s no end of fascinating educational programs to explore here. The museum also hosts rotating exhibits to keep things fresh for repeat visitors.

If you have younger visitors in your party, don’t miss the Children’s Museum in Pittsburgh. The Garden exhibit teaches children about plants, the Garage lets you get hands-on with things that go, and the Attic challenges your perception with fun illusions. Craft something new in the Studio or MAKESHOP, or catch a live performance in the Theater. Bring your water gear for the Waterplay exhibit — you’re sure to get wet!

Dinnertime: Dine on a Decadent Dinner

Pittsburgh offers several distinctive dining options for an unforgettable dinner. If you adore rustic Americana, don’t miss Butcher and the Rye. Dine on fresh and innovative picks like roasted chicken with wild mushrooms and creamed Brussels sprouts, seared scallops with blue crab risotto, asparagus, chanterelles, and capers, or rabbit and dumplings with root vegetables and mushrooms. The cocktails feature names as fresh as their flavors. Choose from options like the Black Dahlia, Wolf of Westeros, Maid’s Wonder, and Gypsy.

In the Strip District, you’ll find another fine dining option. Eleven has an industrial feel, housed in a rehabbed warehouse. The best option here is the nightly tasting dinner. Eleven’s menu changes with the season, so you’re always sampling the best available ingredients. If you choose to order from the menu, you’ll find it satisfyingly diverse with everything from pork chops to roasted chicken breast to beef tenderloin.

Benedum Center
Benedum Center in Pittsburgh.

Late Night: Catch a Show in the Cultural District

Pittsburgh’s Cultural District features half a dozen venues hosting a broad range of entertainment options to top off your evening. Heinz Hall hosts a full schedule of concerts from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. O’Reilly Theater offers a diverse selection of engaging plays, with favorites like Death of a Salesman and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum on the 2017 calendar. At Byham Theater, you’ll find a little of everything, including plays, concerts, ballets, and comedy. With just 472 seats, August Wilson Center is a top choice for an intimate experience and one-of-a-kind entertainment.

Benedum Center boasts features so stunning they’re worth a visit just for the architecture and décor. The venue has more than 90 original crystal chandeliers, the largest of which is 20 feet high and 12 feet wide. Eighteen-foot mirrors on the staircase landings invoke the elegance of Versailles.

Combine dinner with your entertainment at the Cabaret at Theater Square. Arrive up to 90 minutes early for a full dinner that includes appetizers, entrees, drinks, and dessert. Though there are three rows of theater seating in the back, the majority of this venue is table seating for an experience that’s as delicious as it is fun.

Pittsburgh Airport Guide

If you’re flying into and out of Pittsburgh, you’ll touch base at the Pittsburgh International Airport. In February 2017, the airport served over 560,000 passengers including nearly 11,000 international travelers. This airport was carefully designed with comfort in mind and offers many features that will make your travel a pleasure.

Pittsburgh International Airport
Pittsburgh International Airport in Pittsburgh.

Concourses

Pittsburgh International Airport has four concourses, all located on the third floor of the airport. Concourse A services Air Canada, Southwest, and United Airlines. Concourse B is exclusive to American Airlines flights. You’ll find Allegiant, Condor, Frontier, Porter, Southern Airways Express, and Wow Air in Concourse C. Concourse D is home to Spirit, OneJet, JetBlue, and Delta air lines.

Comfort and Conveniences

Your time at the airport doesn’t have to focus on hours of lackluster waiting. Pittsburgh helps you make the most of your travel time. Concourse C features an updated Mothers’ Nursing Lounge so moms can quietly and comfortably breast-feed, pump, change, and care for children away from the bustle of the terminals. Parents with older children will enjoy Kidsport, also in Concourse C. This play area was renovated in the Fall of 2016 and includes a variety of engaging interactive exhibits to keep kids entertained.

If you’re looking for an island of peace in the airport landscape, visit the Interfaith Reflection Room on the Mezzanine Level of the Airside Terminal. This peaceful space is open for reflection, prayer, and meditation from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Shopping and Dining

There’s no shortage of shopping if you have some extra time to browse at the airport. You’ll find a wide variety of stores, including Armani Jeans, ECCO, Furla, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Pandora, and Three Rivers Harley-Davidson. There’s a Rite Aid for last-minute toiletries or drugstore essentials, and there are several Hudson News and Hudson Booksellers locations so you can stock up on reading material for your flight.

If you’re hungry, hit The Strip Market for local flavors in the form of bakery treats, coffee, sandwiches, and snacks. Grab a homemade pizza at Villa Italian Kitchen, flaming hot wings from Quaker Steak & Lube, or gyros from the Marathon Diner. Bottega dei Sapori serves gourmet Italian, and Bar Symon boasts a menu curated by Michael Symon. You’ll have a hard time taking off hungry from this airport.

Downtown Pittsburgh
Downtown in Pittsburgh.

Transportation

Public transportation to and from the Pittsburgh International Airport is available from the Port Authority of Allegheny County via the West Busway. This route will take you to Oakland and Downtown Pittsburgh. Buses leave every half-hour. Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Payless offer car rentals. Several limousine, taxi, shuttle, and charter bus services are on hand as well to help you reach your final destination.

If you’re catching a domestic flight at Pittsburgh International Airport, plan to arrive at least 90 minutes early for the most comfortable experience. International travelers should arrive two hours before their flight. With so much to see and do in the airport, you’ll find your wait time isn’t wasted.

Where to Stay in Pittsburgh

Choosing your home base in Pittsburgh is no small task, with the city’s vast landscape that offers a little of everything. If you’re looking for familiar chains, you’ll find them all. Historic destinations offer a more distinctive experience, but these tend to skew toward the pricier end of the spectrum. Staying near downtown is the most convenient option if your agenda keeps you in the city. Pittsburgh is walkable if you keep to the city center, but you might want a car just to simplify your itinerary. Consider some of these picks when you’re booking your stay.

Historic Hotels

Pittsburgh has comfortable hotels for any budget. Even the city’s most elegant options tend to come in under $200 a night. If you’re looking for luxury wrapped in historic architecture, book a room at the Omni William Penn Hotel. Opened in 1916, this hotel is a historic landmark. Guests can enjoy high tea in the Palm Court, intimate drinks in the Speakeasy Lounge, and elegant dining in the Terrace Room. The accommodations feature charming touches like cherry wood furniture, motion-activated bedside lights, and soft robes.

If you prefer a boutique setting, stay at The Priory Hotel. Nestled in Deutschtown, this downtown hotel keeps you close to it all. Amenities include a complimentary continental breakfast, free high-speed wireless internet access, and an on-call shuttle. When you’re not out exploring the city, you can cozy up by the fireplace in the sitting room or relax in the lush courtyard of this former Benedictine monastery.

Affordable Accommodations

If affordability is high on your hotel wish list, try the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Pittsburgh West – Green Tree. The day begins with a complimentary breakfast. Each room has a microwave and refrigerator, so you can save on snacks and small meals. The heated indoor pool offers convenient recreation, while the hotel shuttle can give you a lift to your daily destinations.

The Hampton Inn Pittsburgh/Greentree is another comfortable choice at a reasonable price. The hotel offers a free hot breakfast, seasonal outdoor pool, and complimentary local shuttle. The rooms have free Wi-Fi, coffee makers, and HDTV. Select rooms also offer fridges and microwaves.

Stunning Private Rentals

Private rentals let you feel like a local during your time in Pittsburgh, offering all the comforts of home. Rent a cozy private room or secure an entire downtown apartment for your stay. These city center apartments put you in the center of everything while offering conveniences like a kitchen and dining area so you can relax on your own after a long day in the city.

Pittsburgh’s vibrant landscape offers rich culture, stunning natural views, and an abundance of family-friendly activities. Shows, dining, and museums abound so you can satisfy even the most diverse tastes. If you’re looking for an urban oasis that will entertain every member of the family despite your personal differences, this city is the perfect pick. Start your travel planning today with GoDoTrip and begin the countdown to your Pittsburgh getaway.