Are you planning a trip to Western PA soon and looking for the best things to do in Pittsburgh? We’ve got you covered!
This guide contains the top Pittsburgh attractions and landmarks for those visiting for the first time!
Whether you enjoy the sports teams the city is famous for, its history, art, culture, and more, the Steel City is a great place to visit!
Did we miss any essential places to visit in Pittsburgh for a first-timer? Let us know in the comments. Thanks!
Continue reading to see what our top picks are for things to do in Steel City!
In this post...
Best Pittsburgh Tours (to Maximize Your Time!)
If you’re looking for something more organized when in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, here are some awesome Pittsburgh tours you should check out.
These tours will help you maximize your time, which is especially important if you only have a short amount of time in the city! We listed a variety so that you can pick which one is most suitable for you (and many include multiple places!):
- Essential Pittsburgh Experience (#1 bestseller!)
- Bike the Burgh Tour (also a bestseller!)
- Carnegie Steel and the Town That Built America
- Whiskey Walking Tour
- Fallingwater – America’s UNESCO World Heritage Site
Best Things to Do in Pittsburgh
1. Visit the Heinz History Center
The Heinz History Center, affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and was named “Best Museum” by Pittsburgh Magazine readers, is filled with 250 years of artifacts and exhibits showcasing Pittsburgh’s history.
Throughout your stroll among the six floors of the museum, you will find exhibits on the French and Indian War and the We Can Do It!
WWII display showcases the impact Western Pennsylvania residents and four local WWII heroes had on the war.
Moving away from the history you may find in school history books; the center also features the original set from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Pittsburgh Steeler memorabilia, and an enormous collection of Heinz artifacts.
Address: 1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
2. Check Out the Colorful Andy Warhol Museum
Head to The Andy Warhol Museum to learn a bit more about Pittsburgh’s pop-art king and explore North America’s largest single-artist museum.
Explore Warhol’s bold and splashy lithographs, sculptures, and trial films within the museum.
As you enter the museum, the exhibits take you from Warhol as a young artist in Pittsburgh to a world-renowned artist in NYC.
Several hands-on exhibits throughout the museum encourage you to touch the Warhol reproductions and learn more about these incredible works of art.
Head to the 5th floor and maneuver your way through the dark room metallic balloons entitled Silver Clouds during your visit.
You will also want to take in one of the twice-daily gallery talks to learn more about Warhol’s art and life.
Address: 117 Sandusky St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
3. Ride a Roller Coaster at Kennywood
For more than 125 years, people have been visiting this Pittsburgh landmark.
Kennywood features the latest steel roller coasters and three wooden ones beloved by all who have ridden them over the years.
For those that love the old wooden coaster, be sure to check out the 1950s Thunderbolt, the 1920s Jack Rabbit, and challenge a friend on the Racer.
Besides the rollercoaster, spend the day enjoying the classic swings, the pirate ship, and the historic carousel.
Begin your journey through the Noah’s Ark walk-through funhouse by entering the whale’s open mouth. This attraction has entertained visitors for over 80 years and shouldn’t be missed.
Young children will also race to Kiddieland and Thomas Town to see their favorite characters.
Address: 4800 Kennywood Blvd, West Mifflin, PA 15122
4. Visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History certainly should have its place on your itinerary.
The museum is especially known for its exhibits about dinosaurs.
For anyone who wants to learn more about these fantastic creatures, you need to visit this museum, which has one of the largest dinosaur collections.
Besides the dinosaurs, there are great exhibits on African and North American wildlife. The dioramas show animals in very realistic-looking habitats.
Then explore Watson Hall. What kid can’t resist mummies and other ancient Egyptian treasures?
In the Alcoa Foundation Hall, you can learn more about four societies of Native Americans or visit the Hillman Hall and explore the minerals and gems. Be sure to also check out the paleontology lab.
Address: 4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
5. Peruse the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Indulge your sense of smell and sight with a stroll through the internationally-known Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
During your stroll through 15 acres of magnificent gardens, you will find butterflies, tropical forests, orchids, spices, and bonsai trees.
The conservatory hosts a variety of shows, including spring and winter flower shows, throughout the year.
In the spring, see nearly 70,000 bulbs in bloom, and during the winter, the gardens outside are aglow with twinkling lights.
The Phipps Conservatory calendar is packed with children’s hands-on activities, lectures, and classes on floral design, horticulture, and art.
Many of the 23 gardens are inside the 14-room historic glasshouse, so the Phipps Conservatory is a beautiful place to visit no matter the weather.
Address: 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
6. Go up to Mount Washington on the Incline
Pittsburgh has two incline trains that run up the side of Mount Washington and offer an outstanding view of Pittsburgh along the funicular railway since the 1870s.
Choose between taking the red car Duquesne Incline from near The Point or taking the scenic ride up on the yellow Monongahela Incline in Station Square.
On your ride, sit in the front to have the perfect view as you ascend or descend.
Both inclines arrive a short distance away from the Grandview Overlook Observation Deck.
Take the 10-minute stroll to take in the view from the deck named one of the top 10 most beautiful views in America by USA Today Weekend Magazine.
- Monongahela Incline – 8 Grandview Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15211
- Duquesne Incline – 1197 W. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
- Grandview Overlook – 136-160 Grandview Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15211
7. Have a Famous Primanti Brothers Sandwich
When hungry for a local favorite, head to the Strip District to the original Primanti Brothers on 18th Street.
Here you will find where it all began in the 1930s with Joe Primanti and the late-night truckers who stopped for a meal at his sandwich shop.
Primanti’s signature sandwich comes on thick sliced Italian bread, topped with grilled meat, French fries, and coleslaw… all covered with melted provolone cheese.
If this sandwich isn’t enough, then be a true Pittsburgher and add a fried egg to the sandwich.
Even though the original shop on 18th Street has the best-tasting sandwiches, there are several others around the Pittsburgh area, including one inside the Pittsburgh Airport.
Address: 46 18th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
8. Walk along Steep Canton Street
Those who don’t wish to head to London to drive the Ffordd Pen Llec or Baldwin Avenue in New Zealand, then visit Beechview, the Pittsburgh South Hills neighborhood with the steepest street in town and one of the steepest in the world.
The cobblestone-lined Canton Avenue is only 630 feet long but features a 37% grade.
The street is one way up, so test your car to see if you can make it, or take the stair sidewalk and get those thighs to burn as you climb to the top.
In comparison, Lombard Street in San Francisco only has a 27% grade.
Wander around Point State Park
9. In nearly every birds-eye-view of Pittsburgh, you will see the 36-acre Point State Park where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers merge into the Ohio River.
This tip of land is often known as the Golden Triangle and is the premiere spot for festivals like the Three Rivers Art Festival and Three Rivers Regatta.
The park also honors the past and Pittsburg’s involvement in the French and Indian War. Around the park, 23 spots commemorate the war through plaques, markers, and monuments.
Outside of the history, the park features the Point Fountain which spays water nearly 200 feet in the air, the Great Lawn, Fort Duquesne, and the Portal Bridge’s pedestrian walkway.
Even though there are no hiking trails in the park, the 37-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail and the 141-mile Great Allegheny Passage can be accessed from The Point.
Address: 601 Commonwealth Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
10. Check Out the Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark
Take a step back in time to when Pittsburgh was one of the legendary steel mill towns and visit the Mon Valley’s, Carrie Furnace.
The remnants, including the 92-foot tower along the Monongahela River, offer an insight into the early 1900s steel technology.
Explore the grounds by taking the guided Industrial tour and learn about the technology and workers during the prime years of the Carrie Blas Furnace, or discover how the land is being used since the steel mill closed on the Arts and Grounds guided tour.
Address: 801 Carrie Furnace Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15218
11. Spend an Afternoon at the Carnegie Museum of Art
Beside the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, you will find the Carnegie Museum of Art, which philanthropist Andrew Carnegie founded in 1895.
The museum features a dynamic collection of nearly 35,000 pieces of architecture, photographs, and art from the 1800s to the present day.
The Hall of Architecture features about 150 plaster casts from architectural masterpieces.
Additionally, you will find Pittsburgh native Charles “Teenie” Harris’ enormous collection of photographs depicting the lives of blacks in America.
The Pittsburgh Anthology exhibit features stories of locals through various types of media. Be sure to pick up the printed cards near the artwork to create a hands-on gallery experience.
Address: 4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
12. Play around in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
On Pittsburgh’s Northside, you will find the fabulous Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh in Allegheny Center. Here children will enjoy a day filled with exploring interactive exhibits inside and out in the museum’s backyard.
Children and parents will enjoy exploring the Tough Art exhibit of interactive artwork and the new Bounce exhibit about that fantastic round bouncy object.
Then head to the Garage where everyone can put their building skills together and race their creation on the 37-foot race track.
Outside explore the fruits and veggies in the garden and get a workout crawling around the two-story Limb Bender climber.
Note: Before heading there, be sure to get your timed ticket reservation.
Address: 10 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
13. Enjoy a Game at PNC Park
Whether you are a baseball fan or not, a trip to PNC Park along the Allegheny River is an adventure and quite a place to explore.
If you are planning on taking in a game, grab a seat in the main grandstand where not only will you be able to watch the ball game but enjoy the scenic Pittsburgh skyline and a view of the yellow Roberto Clemente Bridge.
A tour of PNC Park is a great experience, especially on nongame days when you may have a chance to explore the locker room and training facilities along with the Legacy Theater museum, press box, dugout, batting cages, and the infamous tunnel.
If you don’t want to drive and fight traffic around the ballpark, catch the T or ride the Gateway Clipper.
Address: 115 Federal St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
14. Visit the Cathedral of Learning
The University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning is a 42-story Gothic skyscraper that is the world’s second tallest educational building, only after the main building of the University of Moscow.
Self-guided tours of the four-story main lobby known as The Commons Room, Nationality Rooms on the 1st and 3rd floors, and the Honors College on the 36th floor are available on weekends during the school year and during the week when the university is out of session.
Begin your visit by moseying around the ½-acre 15th Century English perpendicular hall with all the arches.
Then tour the Nationality Rooms created by international communities around Pittsburgh and showcase much of their homelands through basic designs, ornate architecture, and unique details.
Finally, take the elevator or walk up the 36 flights of steps to the Honors College, where you can have a magnificent view of Pittsburgh and the green lawn around the cathedral.
Address: 4200 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15260
15. Go Back in Time at The Frick
On Pittsburgh’s East End, visit the former estate of industrialist Henry Clay Frick.
Here at The Frick, you can explore several of the buildings that the Frick family once used. Unfortunately, the mansion is not open at this time due to renovations.
However, the 6-acre property also includes a fantastic art museum featuring Frick’s 14th-19th century European paintings, decorative arts, and sculptures collection.
The Car and Carriage Museum houses more than 20 vintage automobiles to explore, and the playhouse features not only a bowling alley and darkroom but child-sized furniture for the Frick children.
Finally, stroll the paths around the 5½-acre grounds and enjoy the lush gardens and the active greenhouse.
Address: 7227 Reynolds St, Pittsburgh, PA 15208
16. Dive Into Pittsburgh History at the Fort Pitt Museum
At the Fort Pitt Museum at Point State Park, learn more about the Pittsburgh area’s pivotal role during the French and Indian War and see an intricately carved powder horn that Jacob Willhelm carried in 1764 during the Bouquet Expedition.
In the park, you can also visit the Fort Pick Block House, the only structure of the Fort Pitt complex still standing. Three granite markers indicate where Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt locations.
Address: Point State Park, 601 Commonwealth Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
17. Bike along the 3 Rivers Heritage Trail
The 33-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail features a trio of biking and walking trails along the three rivers that merge at Point State Park.
These trails take you through various neighborhoods, historical sites, and cultural venues.
The 6.9-mile Southern Segment follows the Monongahela River to Station Square and the Great Allegheny Passage.
You will pass the Duquesne Incline along this route, go under the Fort Pitt Bridge, and see the Gateway Clipper before reaching Station Square.
The Middle Segment leads from the Strip District along the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers 6.8 miles to Schenley Park.
After passing all the gourmet food and shops in the Strip District, you will pass the Pittsburgh Convention Center and Phipps Conservatory.
From the Point, head to Millvale Riverfront Park along the 6.8-mile Northern Segment and pass through neighborhoods on Pittsburgh’s North Side, Allegheny Landing, PNC Park, Heinz Field, and the Rivers Casino.
18. Take a Ride on the Gateway Clipper
Enjoy a scenic tour of Pittsburgh from the river aboard the Gateway Clipper Riverboat.
Along the route, you will pass by The Fountain at The Point, sail under the bridges, see Heinz Field and PNC Park, and the water steps on the North Shore.
Before catching the riverboat in Historic Station Square, explore the Gateway to Pittsburgh murals along the ramps to the docked fleet on the Monongahela River.
You will see how the area has changed over the last 400 years through the murals.
Once on the Gateway Clipper, sit back and enjoy the sights and learn a wide range of facts about Pittsburgh. The top deck, which fills up quickly, is the best spot to take pictures of the city.
The Gateway Clipper not only offers sightseeing cruises but music, dance, holiday, dinner, and kids cruises. They also offer a shuttle service to all the games and concerts at PNC Park and Heinze Field.
Address: 350 W Station Square Dr, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
19. Spend a Morning at The Strip District
The 1½-square mile strip of land along the Allegheny River just east of The Point and between I-579 and the 31st Street Bridge, you will find some of the most fantastic food in Pittsburgh, along with sidewalk vendors and the Heinz History Museum.
The Strip is a place where you could spend all day strolling along Smallman Street and Penn Avenue.
Begin your day with coffee from the hot coffee spot, de Fer Coffee and Tea, or breakfast at Pamela’s Diner.
Then explore the Heinz Museum, The Smallman Gallery’s rotating kitchens, and Pittsburgh’s oldest church, St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.
Stop and get a signature Primanti Brothers sandwich for lunch or visit The Pennsylvania Market, an upscale food bazaar.
Spend the afternoon browsing the vendor booths, at the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company for some olive oil, get some salami at Parma Sausage, or stop in for some candy at Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop.
If you want to do a tour, try out the 2 – 2½ hour ‘Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour through the Strip District.
End your trip to The Strip by visiting Wigle Whiskey Distillery for organic spirits, Maggie’s Farm Rum Distillery for award-winning rums, or Klavon’s for some delicious Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream.
20. Head to the Big Mac Museum
Inside the McDonald’s restaurant on Lincoln Highway in Irwin, you will discover a small museum of McDonald’s paraphernalia and insightful chronological history of the Big Mac.
This unusual museum was opened for the 40th anniversary of the Big Mac that Jim Delligatti created in the Pittsburgh area in 1967.
You will find displays of kids’ meals, toys, and vintage McDonald’s packaging throughout the restaurant.
The museum minus the visitor center is free, but you will probably want to order one of those Big Macs before heading on down the road.
Address: 9061 Lincoln Hwy, Irwin, PA 15642
Things to Do in Pittsburgh (On a Map!)
Where to Stay in Pittsburgh
If you’re hanging out overnight in Pittsburgh, these are some of the top-rated places to stay around the city.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Pittsburgh Downtown
- The Oaklander Hotel, Autograph Collection
- Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, an IHG Hotel
- Kasa Pittsburgh South Side
Did we miss any of the best things to do in Pittsburgh for a first-time visitor? Let us know in the comments!
Also, let us know some favorites for seasoned Pittsburgh travelers too! Thanks!
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Laura Gray is a travel blogger and retired teacher. She is from Western Pennsylvania but has lived in Virginia for the past 30+ years. During the summer months, you will find her enjoying the beach in her hometown when not out on an adventure. Laura thrives on creating itineraries to make the most of each place she visits. She enjoys exploring National Parks (Laura has explored 1/3 of all the US National Parks), waterfalls, and beaches. Her travel blog posts have been featured on nearly a dozen sites.