Pittsburgh vacation

For no reason, other than a “vacation jar” full of quaters, the SO and I are driving to Pittsburgh for Labor Day weekend. We are staying near Bigelow Sqaure. I’ve done my research and discovered many attractions/restaurants we would enjoy. But I wonder what the insiders think.

What to do? What to see? Food? Drink? Special events?

Profile: A 30 something, married couple looking for good times, a good selection of beer and outstanding food (Italian, Cajun, Japanese, Soul, etc). Historical sites a +.

I can remember when anyone saying they were going to Pittsburg for a vacation would have been considered off their rocker. I realize Pittsburg is now a beautiful city, but still it doesn’t sound quite right.

[ul]:wink: [sup]Enjoy your visit and send me a postcard.[/sup][/ul]

If you don’t find your way to the Primanti Brothers, you’re a fool. :slight_smile:

Oh, and don’t miss Grandview Avenue.

Come to think of it, when my cow-okers asked where we were going, I replied Pittsburgh - I received a few strange looks and blank stares. The obligatory comments: “Is it rich in history?” “What does one do in Pittsburgh?” etc. My brother-in-law said “Why?”

For the record, I am off my rocker and I don’t care.

I love you Pittsburgh!!!

**Primanti Brothers ** is already on my itinerary!! Thanks to Food TV. My hand-i wipes are packed for that sandwich orgy.

Grandview Ave?

Bigelow Square, huh? Seeing as how I lived in Pittsburgh for 2 years, I think I know a few things about the place.

For something fun/hands on/activity-like you could wander on down to the Carnegie Science Center. It sounds like something for kids, but there’s tons of stuff to do there for little and big kids :). Historical sites? Well hot damn, there’s tons of churches and old buildings to look at. Just take a walk around downtown and there’s tons to marvel about. The Fish Market is a slightly upscale restaurant with a wide variety of freshly caught fish, shrimp, clams, etc. I loved the salmon they had when I was there last year. A good place for sushi/authentic Japanese food is a place called Sushi Too and it’s on the Southside of Pittsburgh, just over the Birmingham Bridge. I am Asian and am always in search of real Japanese restaurants that don’t cater towards American tastes, but serve the real thing. My parents and I cannot help but compare any other Japanese restaurant we try to Sushi Too.

For a bar type place to eat, I would suggest Fuel and Fuddle which is on the campus of The University of Pittsburgh. Their appetizers and entrees are fairly priced for pretty big portions and they have THE BEST wings ever. My friend Gordon says they have the hugest selection of beers and he’s a frequent drinker there. They have burgers, pizzas, special dishes such as tilapia/swordfish, quesadillas with homemade salsa, seafood pastas… Gosh I can’t even put their menu into words… I LOVE everything they have. Word of caution though - At Fuel and Fuddle they have half-priced food for the college students starting at 11:00 PM and it gets PACKED then. Try going a little bit before dinner or a little bit after your normal eating times to avoid large crowds/lines. Same with Joe Mama’s. Joe Mama’s is another restaurant two stores down from Fuel and Fuddle owned by the same guy with the same top quality meals. YUMMY YUMMY Italian food there. All of their pasta dishes are to die for and their Italian entrees are like homecooked-straight-from-mama mia’s-warm-kitchen food. Again, Joe Mama’s has the half-priced meals after 11:00 PM. But if you don’t like the college age crowd, I’d stay away from Fuel.

I would highly (read: this is something you should def. do if you want a nice relaxed no stress simple vacation) suggest going down to the Waterfront, which is in Homestead. Plenty of restaurants (ie ranging from Damon’s Steakhouse to PF Chang’s to Panera to Eat n Park) and stores to shop (ie Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Yankee Candle Store, etc.) and there’s even Loew’s Movie theatre. My boyfriend and I like to just stroll around and browse the stores down there. It’s all outdoor and it’s simply a beautiful place to putter around. This is probably my top recommendation for doing things. You can park you car just about anywhere down there and walk, shop, eat. While it may seem like something you’d do around home, it’s just a nice change of venue and a little more special than your average outdoor shopping mall.

Hmmm… more on historical sites, you can probably walk around The University of Pittsburgh Campus and Carnegie Mellon University. Plenty of rich history rooted in both places. They usually have classical concerts downtown at Heinz Hall and Broadway down at the Benedum Center?. A website that I recommend is Pittsburgh.com to get a little more detailed review of area restaurants, concerts, happenings, etc. They may have fireworks down at “The Point” for Labor Day itself. If they do, go EARLY or you’ll never get a good spot to see them. The whole city comes out for the spectacular display. Schenley Park and Point State Park are pretty places to putter. Gawsh, I wish I could take you there myself :slight_smile: and show you around. There is so much more I could blabber on about. If you have any questions or need recommendations of places to stay or on anything else at all, please feel free to email me. My boyfriend is still in Pittsburgh (I have moved home to Allentown for a bit) so I can hit him up for more suggestions/ideas.

I hope you have a great visit and please let us all know how it goes!

sheepi83 at hotmail dot com

OH MY GOSH. I cannot believe I forgot to mention Primanti Brother’s, Shadyside, and The Strip!

Quick rundown:

Primanti Brother’s: Sammich place, fries/coleslaw on all sammiches, sounds weird, but yummilicious and known all over the nation for the famous sammiches. Have locations in downtown in Market Square, Oakland (Pitt campus), and other place.

Shadyside: Designer stores (Prada, Gucci, Laura Ashley) and upscale places to eat. Read: Expensive, however fun to walk around and browse everything.

The Strip: No, sorry :slight_smile: Not at all like the redlight districts in Europe. It’s a few city blocks chock full of different cultural grocery markets, cute little cafes, and rich Pittsburgh roots.

And don’t forget Pirates, Steelers, Penguins, Pitt Panther Athletics, and all those sportsy type things. Famous musicians have concerts all over Pittsburgh, so check that website I mentioned in my previous post to see if anyone you like is in town that same weekend.

Hehe, Ok. I think I’ve got it mostly covered. Again, feel free to contact me and I’ll try my best to help y’all out!

Grandview Avenue.

Go across the Liberty Bridge, stay in the right lane, turn right on PJ McArdle Roadway before you hit the tubes. Follow that the whole way up Mt. Washington until you hit the stoplight. Turn left, follow Grandview for a few hundred feet, find a place to park, get out and have a camera handy, because it is an absolutely stunning view. Trust me on this.

You gotta ride both inclines.

How about the Gateway Clipper? Walk around the Point. Check out Fort Pitt.

Primanti’s–Get the #1 seller and the #2 seller.

Oakland is nice. The nationality rooms in the Cathedral of Learning. Schenley Park, the Aviary. The Carnegie Museum.

The Strip for all kinds of good food (and the bakery on the mezzanine in Kaufmann’s is good also.)

Station Square is OK. There is a few “Pittsburgh” shops there.

I lived there for most of my life but have been gone for almost 8 years now.

The Waterfront is very new. Very Big. Very … I dunno. While it’s nice that theres 8 jillion new resteraunts and shops there, I didn’t like it too much. I generally like things a little more low-key.
Some of my suggestions:

Great local bar with a kickass Beer selection is The Sharpe Edge. Not sure if the address is Friendship or East Liberty, but it’s right off of Friendship avenue.

The Casbah on Highland is (well, I havent been there in 5 years, but used to be) great food. Mediterrianian food, moderately pricey but very good.

If you have a late night of drinking, and you need a crappy, greasy plate of bacon and eggs before bed, Ritter’s (don’t call me Critter’s) Diner is 24 hours. It’s on Morewood in North Oakland.

Bloomfield Ave is a great little 4 block area for resteraunts. If perioges are on your list of things to eat, hit the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern for lunch.

My favorite hole-in-the-wall bar to hit when I am there is Gooski’s in Polish Hill. They just don’t make bars like that in Atlanta.

The Squirrel Hill Cafe (known as “The Squirrel Cage” to the locals) is an ok place for drinks at night if you are in the S.H. section of town.

I don’t know when they end, but on Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park on Wednesday and Sunday nights they used to set up a giant movie screen and show free movies. Nice option if the weather is nice.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of things.

Check that, now that I re-read, I Think Ritter’s is on Baum Blvd and not Morewood. I’d hate for you to miss such a low-class greasy spoon. :wink:

It’s like word association…

I saw the thread title, and thought “Oxymoron!”

Known all over the nation?

Never heard of it till this thread.

But then, I don’t get out much.

Since you wanted historical sites, I definitely wouldn’t miss the John Heinz Regional History Center. Everyone who comes seems to love it. Pittsburgh does have an interesting history, and I think the History Center covers that pretty well. It’s in the Strip District area, and there’s a decent brewpub right next to it called Valhalla.

For bars/clubs, we have a few very good neighborhoods. The Strip is great for clubs (we’ve got DejaVu, Sanctuary, and Chemistry, among others), and the South Side is good for bars. Station Square also has some good clubs, but they might be a little too teenybopperish for you–I’m not sure what you like.

On the cultural side, I would go along with the posters that recommended the Carnegie Museum. We’ve got a great selection of dinosaurs in Pittsburgh–better than most other places in the world. I went to the Smithsonian in D.C. to check out their collection, and it didn’t hold a candle to ours. (I’ve heard a rumor though, that the dinosaurs are moving to their own building and may be MIA for awhile–call the Carnegie Museum before you go).

The Waterfront is okay, but I’m not sure how much it would appeal to you. You might have the same movie theaters and chain restaurants at home (although if you don’t–hey, knock yourself out). But definitely go on the incline and take pictures from Mount Washington–you can’t do that anywhere else.

IMO, Pittsburgh has some of the best Italian food around–we have so many restaurants that I just sort of assume that everywhere else has the same selection, until I actually go somewhere. La Strada and Asiago come to mind. Be sure to pick up a copy of the City Paper or Pulp (two local freebie papers), so you can get phone numbers and a better listing of all available restaurants.

Have fun!

(On preview: I think Primanti Brothers is known all over the nation if you watch those Food Network “best of local food shows”–Primanti’s is always in those countdowns. It’s also been featured in the “best stadium food” shows. Oh, and it was in National Geographic of all places a couple of months ago. I tend to think that it’s not a huge deal, since I grew up here, but people tend to get really interested in french fries on a sandwich. My take: it’s best when you’re still drunk after a night out–any other time, it’s a little bit disgusting.)

Heretic! That is some good eats, anytime.

Heh. I think I read somewhere those sandwiches have something like 1200 calories each in them–maybe that’s why I like to eat them drunk, b/c I just don’t care at that point.

What they are, in my experience at least, are excellent hangover preventers. I think it’s like a starch explosion in your stomach that soaks up all the alcohol. :smiley:

I confess, when I saw the thread title, I thought, “Why?”

I just got back from Pittsburgh yesterday, went in for the Steeler’s game Thursday night.

On Primanti Brothers. You just need to go and try it - for good or bad, you just have to do it! I just had a double-egg Primanti Brother’s sandwich on Thursday night (Really Friday morning - 2:30 a.m.). It was great, until around 5:00 a.m. - not a pretty site. :frowning:

My favorite bar - Mario’s on the South Side. Nothing like a yard of beer! Pretty good food too, I had the pierogies Thursday and yum!

Don’t forget the Andy Warhol museum!


I love pierogies. Yay!

Thanks to you all. I have all the places you suggested highlighted on my streets and maps program.

Now, I have to figure out the subway system.

We have a subway system? :confused:

Well, I’ve heard rumors that we have a subway system, but I’d just stick with the buses if I were you.