I would describe Pittsburgh, PA as a city with Midwest hospitality…with a little grit.
Pittsburgh is a blue collar city that’s a great place to visit for diverse interests and culture including art, history, sports, great food and so much more.
I’m sharing more about the hidden gems and best places to visit during your time in Pittsburgh.
Thanks again to Visit Pittsburgh for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own.
See Dinosaurs and More at Carnegie Museum of Natural History
4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA
The Dinosaurs in Their Time exhibit at the museum is one of the country’s largest collections of dinosaur bones.
Are the dinosaur fossils on display real?
What’s unique about the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is that most of the exhibition’s dinosaur skeletons are REAL.
In fact, 75% of 230 objects on display are original fossils from one of the finest paleontological collections in the world.
Dinosaur fans of all ages will enjoy learning more about a variety of dinosaurs on display.
Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems
Another fascinating area of the museum is the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems. The exhibit features more than 1,300 specimens from around the world.
The gems and jewelry section doesn’t allow photography but it’s definitely worth seeing!
How long does it take to visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History?
It’s recommended to allow 3-4 hours to explore.
You’ll want to allow several hours to explore this 115,000 sq. ft museum that has 20 galleries. There are about 10,000 specimens on a rotating display and 22 million specimens in total.
Admire the Architecture at the Carnegie Museum of Art
4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
Admission includes both the Carnegie Museum of Art AND the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
You can see a variety of mediums of art as sculptures and on the walls and in architectural design.
I didn’t expect to see such incredible and grand architecture inside this building.
You truly feel like you’ve been transported into other parts of the world as you step into these gallery spaces.
Take a Guided Tour of The Clemente Museum
3339 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA
Learn more about the life and achievements of Pittsburgh baseball legend Roberto Clemente on and off of the baseball field on a guided tour.
The museum isn’t open to the public and you need to book a guided tour prior to your visit via email at email@example.com or by using the website’s scheduling form.
The Clemente Museum is located inside the historic Engine House 25 building and contains the world’s largest exhibited collection of Roberto Clemente memorabilia on and off the baseball field.
This is the largest museum dedicated to a single player, who was also known for his generosity and humanitarian efforts that included service to his home country of Puerto Rico.
Roberto Clemente was drafted to The Pirates baseball team in 1954.
The museum tour takes you on a journey from his humble beginnings, adversity faced including racial injustice, baseball achievements, humanitarian efforts, personal life and his tragic death.
“The Great One” nickname is definitely justified because Roberto Clemente received every possible award given in Major League Baseball in his 18-year career.
Tour guests can park for free in the lot located next to the building and guided tours last around 90 minutes recommended for ages 12 and up.
A tour at the museum is a nice addition for baseballs fans in town to watch the Pirates play a baseball game at PNC Park.
Tour and Tasting in the Wine Cellar at Engine House 25
Wine and baseball?
Historic Engine House 25 houses both a museum AND urban winery.
That’s right, you can book a tour of the Clemente Museum AND enjoy a selection of Engine House 25 Wines.
The lower level of Engine House 25 is a beautiful space that’s a very popular location for private special events and gatherings.
The grapes are sourced from premium growers in California, Chile, and South Africa and are pressed and bottled by hand in house.
The winery uses old-world techniques aging wine for 18-24 months in a combination of French, American and Hungarian oak barrels.
The two house tour and tastings at the museum require a minimum of 10 people and a cheeseboard is included.
Art is Everywhere at Randyland
1501 Arch St, Pittsburgh, PA
If you love eclectic art, Randyland is the perfect place to visit!
Randyland is a free and unforgettable experience created by Randy Gilson.
In 1995, he took an abandoned building that was scheduled to be demolished and transformed it into a destination that is helping transform a neighborhood.
Randyland is described as an Outdoor Museum/Yard Filled With LOTS Of Recycled, Repurposed, Found, Dumpster TREASURES, PAINTED IN 100s OF HAPPY BRIGHT COLORS.
There is a LOT to see and take in as you approach the outdoor museum.
It’s like walking into a kaleidoscope where each step reveals something new to pique your curiosity.
Even though Randyland is free to visit, donations are accepted if you want to help contribute to its future.
Visitors have come to Randyland from around the world and there are signs on the wall to prove it.
Randyland boasts the largest international welcome wall in America. Each sign represents the country of someone who has visited Randlyland.
International guests can paint a sign with the symbol of their country with the word welcome in their language and English.
Learn About the Houses at City of Asylum
408 Samsonia Way, Pittsburgh, PA
Located within walking distance of Randyland, houses at City of Asylum have been built to create a community that protects and celebrates freedom of creative expression.
The City of Asylum Exiled Writer and Artist Residency Program provides sanctuary to endangered artists and writers so that they can continue to create without the fear of their voices being silenced.
The goal of the program is to help each artist and writer to create and transition to an independent life in exile from their home countries due to the threat of persecution of their work.
Be on the lookout for signs on the buildings to help you learn more about the story of each home and its former residents. The story of the artist Huang Xiang who lived in “House Poem” is really incredible.
Nearby, the Mattress Factory contemporary art museum and Commonplace Coffee are two noteworthy stops in the neighborhood that you can walk to from Randyland.
See a Beautiful Variety of Birds at the National Aviary
700 Arch St, Pittsburgh, PA
The National Aviary was founded in 1952 and the 40,000 sq ft building boasts being the country’s largest aviary in addition to the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the United States.
It’s recommended to allow 1.5 – 3 hours to visit the National Aviary, home to more than 500 birds and animals.
There are more than 150 species of birds represented from around the world at the aviary.
One of the popular animals at the aviary ironically isn’t a bird, it’s actually a Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloth. The National Aviary offers several animal encounters for an additional fee including sloth encounters.
Make sure that you plan ahead if you want to experience an animal encounter during your visit.
See Iconic Works of Art at The Andy Warhol Museum
117 Sandusky St, Pittsburgh, PA
Learn more about the life and works of artist Andy Warhol who was a leader in the pop art movement in the 1960s.
One of the unique things about the museum is that it’s the largest museum in North America dedicated to a single artist.
You’ll begin by learning more about the artist and his early life and childhood. Andy’s roots were from Pittsburgh before moving to New York City as an adult.
There are seven floors of art and archives to discover during your visit.
The museum strives to be inclusive for all abilities and offers accessibility accommodations for guests with special needs during their visit to the museum.
One of my favorites accessibility accommodations was the touchable tactile arts exhibit showcasing three-dimensional reproductions of signature works.
When visually impaired guests use The free Out Loud audio guide app they’ll hear vivid visual descriptions and guided tactile narration of these works.
I appreciate their impressive efforts to make art truly accessible for everyone!
It’s recommended to begin at the top floor and work your way down.
Make sure that you don’t miss Andy Warhol’s personal Time Capsules collection that’s truly fascinating.
Before you leave, stop by the Warhol Store gift shop stocked with unique one-of-a-kind items. You can also shop online if you don’t have room in your luggage to bring your items back.
Explore the City of Bridges
Pittsburgh is known as the “City of Bridges.” Those bridge bragging rights are merited with a total of 446 bridges, more than any other city in the world, including Venice, Italy.
You can see the Andy Warhol Bridge, one of the three Sister Bridges in downtown Pittsburgh painted in Aztec gold.
The Andy Warhol Bridge is on seventh street. The other two Sister Bridges are on sixth street (the Roberto Clemente Bridge) and Rachel Carson Bridge on ninth street. There are sidewalks on all of the Sister Bridges for pedestrians to use.
Reminiscence at the Bicycle Heaven Museum
1800 Preble Ave, Pittsburgh, PA
This hidden treasure is the gift of going down memory lane.
No matter your age, you’ll find yourself drawn to bikes within the world’s largest bicycle museum and shop.
I was on the hunt for my beloved childhood bike, the Huffy Capri 10 speed…and I might have found it if given a few more hours to explore.
Owner Craig Morrow has turned what started as one discarded bike in 1996 into a collection of more than 6,000 bicycles in the museum that started in 2011.
His bicycle collection is rideable art with two floors bursting with an assortment of popular, rare, and collectible bikes.
Make sure that you read the description tags on the bikes and ask Craig some of his favorite stories if you are fortunate to get a few moments with him.
See some of the most famous bikes from movies in person including the Pee-wee Herman bike from the movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure!
After your visit to the Bicycle Heaven Museum check out Johnny Angel’s Ginchy Stuff located next door featuring an assortment of memorabilia from music and entertainment spanning several decades.
Explore the Senator John Heinz History Center
1212 Smallman St, Pittsburgh, PA
You can learn about Pittsburgh’s 250-year history at Pennsylvania’s only affiliated Smithsonian Institution, the Senator John Heinz History Center.
You’ll want to allow 2-3 hours to go through this museum with over 40,000 artifacts!
There is a lot see on the 6 floors of the museum featuring both permanent and temporary exhibits including the Heinz exhibit on America’s favorite ketchup brand and more founded in Pittsburgh.
Other highlights include interactive play at Kidsburgh, and exhibits From Slavery to Freedom, Pittsburgh : A Tradition of Innovation, We Can Do it World War II and Fort Pitt: Keystone of the Frontier.
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Exhibit at Senator John Heinz History Center
Inside the museum there is an incredible exhibit dedicated to Pittsburgh’s hometown hero Mister Rogers.
The museum has the largest collection of original items from the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood television set that will take you on a trip down memory lane.
It was really special to see these items that brought me back to memories of watching the show as a child.
The Mister Roger’s Neighborhood exhibit includes:
- The entryway and living room set that Mister Rogers walked through to begin each show with a life-like figure of Mister Rogers dressed in his iconic style
- King Friday XIII’s Castle
- Great Oak Tree, the residence of Henrietta Pussycat and X The Owl
- Picture Picture, the display that helped Mister Rogers teach children using interactive media
- McFeely’s “Speedy Delivery” tricycle
- Sweater worn by Mister Rogers
- Puppet characters -Dr. Bill and Elsie Jean Platypus, Grandpere Tiger and Cornflake “Corny” S. Pecially
- A variety of additional items from the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe,” including King Friday XIII’s telephone, Henrietta Pussycat’s outfit, Chef Brockett’s hat, Harriett Elizabeth Cow’s desk, and the bench that Mister Rogers sat on during each show.
Another notable tribute to Mister Rogers in the Pittsburgh area is the “Tribute to Children” sculpture. The ten foot bronze sculpture of Fred Rogers is at North Shore Drive (located between Heinz Field and PNC Park).
Celebrate Sports at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum
A 20,000 square foot museum within a museum! The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum takes up two floors inside the Senator John Heinz History Center.
Sports fans of all ages will find more than 70 interactive sports themed activities.
The museum highlights professional sports teams in Pittsburgh, legendary high school athletes, and incredible athletes who played for Negro League baseball. Champions from the sports of Golf, racing and boxing are also featured.
Ride the Duquesne Incline
1197 W Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA
Enjoy scenic views of downtown Pittsburgh during a ride on the Duquesne Incline.
The incline dates back to 1877 and is in operation now thanks to the rescue and restoration from local residents back in 1963.
The Duquesne Incline is a working museum. History meets function because people still use the incline for their everyday public transportation needs.
Tour and Tasting at Wigle Whiskey
2401 Smallman St., Pittsburgh, PA
Enjoy a tour and tasting at Wigle Whiskey pronounced (wiggle).
The artisan small batch whiskey distillery is located in the Strip District neighborhood of Pittsburgh and honors namesake Phillip Wigle.
On the tour you’ll learn about Wigle’s role in the American Whiskey Rebellion and how American whiskey was born in Pittsburgh.
After you learn about the history, you’ll learn more about the modern day production of small batch artisan whiskey.
The one hour tour is limited in size and takes you through the process of grain to glass ending with a tasting of their award winning rye and bourbon whiskey, gin, rum, and other spirits.
Dine at Wigle Whiskey Tasting Room and Kitchen
In addition to whiskey, Wigle Whiskey has amazing food that’s worth planning a lunch or dinner stop around.
During our visit we tried the following:
- Fritters (if you see them on the menu get them!)
- Crispy cheese curds
- Sweet potato hummus
- Fried Chicken sandwich
- Mac + cheese
Some of the menu items change seasonally so be on the lookout if you have a few favorites.
You can’t go wrong with a speciality cocktail or a whiskey flight if you want to experience more than one flavor.
If you want to try a few of their more unique flavors, I recommend trying their Pickle whiskey or Ginger whiskey. There is a gift shop where you can purchase your favorite spirits or bring some back as gifts.
Discover Local Craft Beer on the Pittsburgh Brewery Trail
Speaking of drinking, if you are a fan of craft beer, Pittsburgh has you covered with over 40 breweries located throughout Allegheny County.
I love that the Pittsburgh Brewery Guide gives locals and tourists an excuse to discover other neighborhoods around Pittsburgh.
Each craft brewery that you visit has a unique personality and origin story to share.
Get Stamps on Your Pittsburgh Brewery Guide
If you’re visiting multiple breweries, I would recommend purchasing a Pittsburgh Brewery Guide at any of the participating breweries in town.
Inside the guide you can learn more about the history of each brewery, their amenities, and you can leave notes to help remember your favorites.
When you visit one of the breweries in the guide they will stamp their designated page.
The new version of the Pittsburgh Brewery Guide offers more ways to earn prizes too.
More Popular and Hidden Gem Restaurants in Pittsburgh
When I visit a city I like to find some of the favorite local restaurants to visit.
Eat at the Original Primanti Bros
46 18th Street, Pittsburgh, PA (in the Strip District)
There are several Primanti Brothers restaurants located all over the city of Pittsburgh and now even in other states.
To truly appreciate the history you need to try your first sandwich at The original Primanti Brothers location.
The restaurant was started by Joe Primanti who started with a small sandwich cart feeding blue collar workers during the Great Depression that later expanded to a storefront.
What makes this sandwich unique is that the fries are located INSIDE the sandwich which made it easier for restaurant patrons to take their meal to go.
The sandwich is made with fresh Italian bread, tomatoes ,sweet and sour house-made coleslaw, fresh cut fries in the middle, melted provolone cheese and your grilled meat of choice.
Guests also have the option to add an egg to the sandwich which I’m told enhances the flavor.
A sandwich with fries inside is an acquired taste, much like our beloved Cincinnati style chili. If you’ve never tried Primanti Brothers, it’s a rite of passage to experience at least once.
Kelly O’s Diner Featured on The Food Network
Kelly O’s Diner is a local favorite that has also been featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive ins and Dives and Triple D Nation.
This woman-owned and operated family business has no shortage of wonderful breakfast menu items that will leave you full for hours.
Your hardest decision might be deciding if you want to go there for breakfast or lunch.
If you want to try one of the menu items featured on Triple D Nation and Diners, Drive ins and Dives, there is a special section on the menu that lists them.
I opted to try the biscuits and gravy because it was featured on one of the shows.
You seriously can’t go wrong with the biscuits and gravy served with home fries made in house.
Breakfast With a Twist at Square Café in East Liberty
134 S Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA
This popular breakfast stop includes vegan and vegetarian option. Meat eaters will still find plenty of options they will love too.
Thankfully I was joined for breakfast with a table of “food sharers” so that we could try several menu items. I’m so glad that we shared because everything was SO GOOD! I highly recommend trying their Pierogies!
Stay at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh
620 William Penn Pl, Pittsburgh, PA
Located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, Kimpton Hotel Monaco has reimagined a building that dates back to 1903.
The hotel is both stylish and eclectic with art installations and vibrant colors throughout without compromising on any of the comforts.
I love when rooms are attentive to detail in both form and function.
I could easily charge my phone by my bed AND I had a bedside light inside a bright yellow birdcage.
You’ll notice a bird theme in the art throughout hotel which is a nice tribute to the city with a National Aviary.
During your stay I would highly recommend making a reservation for dinner at The Commoner open for breakfast, dinner, and weekend brunch.
I would suggest getting several appetizers and small plates so that you can share with the table.
Pittsburgh is only an hour from Laurel Highlands if you want to continue to explore beyond the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.
6 thoughts on “Hidden Gems and Unique Things to Do in Pittsburgh”
I’ll definitely have to check out the cider house the next time I’m in Pittsburgh.Thanks for the tips!
So happy you featured Wigle whiskey! My husband is actually a manager there. They are proud of the product they put out, organic from start to finish using local grains. They have a cider house too located on Pittsburghs North Side called Threadbare. The cider is a dry style and not overly sweet like most are used too. They also feature a pizza that is to die for. Custom or pre arranged styles your choice. Brick fired and the dough changes in taste monthly as they use the yeast from the distilling process. Great places to stop in my town for sure!
Thanks for the tips! I’ll have to check those out!
If you ever go back make sure you go to Phipps. Amazing conservatory and right down the street from Carnegie Museum. There’s also the tower of learning at Pitt University, also right near the Carnegie, but you can only go in during the summer as it’s closed to the public during the school year.
I’m so glad that the article was helpful for you!
Thanks for all the great tips! I’m going next month and now have several must see places on my list.