On the 23rd of December I will be flying into Pittsburgh, PA. I will be leaving mid-afternoon the next day.
What is there to do in Pittsburgh? I’ll be spending the night at a hotel which is apparently on the south side and will be spending my time there with a friend who has a car, so getting places isn’t a concern. I’m hoping to compile a list of interesting things in Pittsburgh, so we can narrow it down based on what’s open on those days.
Bonus question: Am I correct in assuming that central Pittsburgh is large enough to have reliable cab companies (ie, go out, get smashed, call cab, cab actually shows up within, say, an hour)?
The Carnegie Museum (art and natural history) should be open, as should the Phipps Conservatory. If you’re staying on the South Side, then there are at least a dozen bars within easy distance, and the cabs are plentiful.
No. If it is a Saturday night, expect to wait two hours. That was my experience one long, cold night. If you want to call a cab, I would schedule it ahead of time. BUT the good news is, if you are staying in the South Side you probably won’t need to drive or call a cab to go out and get wasted. The South Side is basically made up of East Carson Street and it’s sidestreets and a section at the end called South Side Works which is a little more commerical and cookie-cutter. The whole thing is probably 90% bars. That’s why people go there. To get wasted. It’s been a few months since I went out in the South Side (I don’t actually live in PGH anymore) but I like the Tiki Lounge on East Carson. I’m not sure what cross street it’s near. It’s just so delightfully tacky, I love it. Expect to be in what other cities might call “dive” bars a lot. I personally love that atmosphere but some don’t. But hey if you don’t like a bar, pay the tab and go next store or across the street or diagonally and you will hit another one or possibly a tatoo parlor. For daytime activities in the South Side…The Beehive is an interesting hipster smoothie/coffee bar on Carson. The mango smoothie is my favorite but it always is. Also there are some interesting stores like cool thrift stores, record stores, and what I call “hippie stores” where they sell incense and stuff like that. http://www.southsidepgh.com/
As for other areas of the city…
*Squirrel Hill: a traditionally Jewish, up-scale, hipster neighborhood it is the proud location of Pamela’s where you can get pancakes made famous by President Obama. Thinner than traditional pancakes, more like a crepe but oh so good.
*Oakland: go to one of the fabulous Carnegie museums
*The Strip District: No it is not a street full of strip clubs. Sorry to dissapoint. It is actually a historic market district. There are some great places to eat and get the freshest produce in town. Also a great museum and one of my favorites in Pittsburgh: The John Heinz History Center. http://www.neighborsinthestrip.com/
I really hope you have a great time in your short time in my hometown. It gets a bad rep sometimes but it is also quite loved.
No! But in the southside it doesn’t matter anyways. Let us know what you like: cheap drinks, dance ambiance, old timey cocktails, etc.
NinjaChick, if you’re set on the museum, PM me your cell # and I can meet you there and get you and 3 others in for free on the 23rd if you like. I recommend the Phipps even more heartily (though I can’t get you in there for free!). Their cafe is local, farm to table and delicious.
Please tell me what kinda food ya like and the price range and I’ll recommend restaurants, I love food and have eaten my way through just about every neighborhood in the past 5 years.
Tell us what you want: bookstores, museums, art galleries (and what kind of art galleries).
If you are under 27, you can get cheap theater tickets as well.
There are often late night happy hours as well.
Do you like gorgeous views\vehicular inclines If so, Mount Washington is fabulous (and I just went there last week for the first time ever).
What I (and my friend) like in terms of drinking: dive bars are good. Ridiculously tacky is good. Trendy, popular places are not. Bars are for drinking in, not looking cool and being seen in. Anyplace that has a bar staff that can reliably make a good Dark and Stormy is perfect.
My friend tends to be kind of lukewarm on museums, however, the Carnegie Museum sounds like it might be something we could kill an hour or two with.
We both love bookstores, and since I currently live in Germany but don’t actually read/speak German better than a two-year old, I would love if someone could point me at, say, a nice big independent bookstore, or one of those great used bookstores where it’s just floor to ceiling crammed with books.
Like I said, just PM me if you do go to the museums. The 24th I’ll be busy but the 23rd I can swing.
Okay, in Oakland (where the universities are) you’ve got Townsend and Caliban. My other half - as big a reader as they come - loves and has bought and sold to both. Be sure to call and ask their hours around the holidays. ETA: Also, there is a great board game store on Craig street (where Caliban and Townsend are). Eat lunch at Ali Baba - not the greatest, but the best stuff on the street (AVOID Lulu’s). The el cheapo pizza shop isn’t bad. The Phipps cafe (you don’t need to pay admission to eat) is the best in Oakland. Or do Tamarind (further up Craig st) for an Indian buffet.
yelp lists Citybook in the southside (no familiarity with it myself), Eljay’s (new location, but the old was great too), Copacetic Comics is great, Awesome Books is near my 'hood but also no experience with it. That’s pretty much all she wrote
You won’t be near it, but this thread made nostalgic for my favorite Pittsburgh bar, the Squirrel Hill Cafe. Which does not appear to have changed in forty years! Their art deco sign is still there (and probably has been since the 1930’s).
Thanks for all the suggestions! I have one more question which is kind of out there:
The current plan is that I will not fly out of Pittsburgh but instead will get picked up. My parents will be driving from NJ to Ohio on the 24th, so they’ll just stop and pick me up. However, I don’t want to ask them to actually drive into Pittsburgh proper and fight all the inevitable traffic, so here’s what I’m looking for: Someplace offering food and coffee, where I or my parents can comfortably sit and wait for the other party to arrive, someplace right around…I’m not sure exactly. Monroeville, it looks like? Someplace near where 376 splits off from 76, but ideally before Pittsburgh traffic is likely to start? And preferably not a Starbucks or McDonalds, because by that point the best case scenario* is my parents will be on hour six or so of driving, so they’ll have had their fill of that stuff (none of us are really fast food people).
*We do this drive every year, and, uh, the weather doesn’t always cooperate.
Just to give you a few more recommendations, my favorite
“dive bar” on Southside is called Dee’s. They have pool tables and character. Admittedly it is fairly hipster-centric now but still has character. A lot of the places on Southside are full of absolutely terrible human beings–it’s like one enormous frat party. The Lava Lounge is fun too; they make some good cocktails.
Other neighborhoods in Pittsburgh you might be interested in are Lawrenceville, the local gentrifying/hipster neighborhood that has good bars and nice boutiques. Brillobox is a popular bar that’s affordable but makes good cocktails and delicious food. East Liberty has good Ethiopian food and a bar called Kelly’s, with good cocktail specials. It’s also gentrifying but less gentrified (in some areas.)
The Andy Warhol Museum is nice, but if I recommended just one museum in Pittsburgh to someone, it would be the Mattress Factory. The Carnegie is a fairly generic museum, but the MF is more innovative, focusing on installations of contemporary art. It’s fun to go with your friends because it’s very “experience-based.” It’s in a beautiful old area of Pittsburgh on the North Side, called the Mexican War Streets, full of gorgeous old townhouses.
I’ve never been to Monroeville, but I know it’s home of the Monroeville Mall. Probably mostly fast food, but there may be other options. It’s also where Dawn of the Dead was filmed (the zombie film) so there’s that.
PS: I’m going to the Squirrel Hill Cafe on Friday! Everyone calls it the Cage. They have the best hamburgers I’ve ever tasted, seriously.
Monroeville’s the right spot for the pickup because it is right off the turnpike (If I remember right, you just bear left after the toll booth and you’re there). It’s mostly a fairly standard stretch of road (route 22) with shopping centers everywhere filled with common chain restaurants and stores. And a mall. It’s just really, really standard.
About the only recommendation I’d make is there’s a Mad Mex (local fake Mexican restaurant chain that’s decent) almost right off the exit in a shopping center on the left. And it’s a shopping center so one could kill time after eating by staring at shoes or some such if they were so inclined.