We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
A scenic three hour and thirty minute drive Northeast of Charleston on I-79 will put you in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Home to arguably the best sports teams in the country, Pittsburgh (the Burgh) will dazzle you with a historic past and bustling city life. The Burgh is formed at the junction of three rivers and has a whopping 446 bridges (more than 20 feet in length and the most in the world!) connecting the 90 citywide neighborhoods. Come see what this 20th century industrial capital offers.
Where to Stay in Pittsburgh
Location is key in Pittsburgh. The Homewood Suites by Hilton Pittsburgh Downtown in the Strip District is walkable to many desirable parts of the city. The lobby has a gorgeous stone fireplace and free cocktails/appetizers are offered in the late afternoon. Breakfast and Wi-Fi are included in your hotel stay. The tastefully decorated suites offer kitchenettes, a large living room, and floor to ceiling windows.
Another unique place to stay is the award-winning Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, directly across the street from the PPG Arena (home of the Pittsburgh Penguins). This is also the best place to stay for Pittsburgh Pirates games, too. Rooms are spacious, feature pillow-top mattresses, and have marble baths.
Where to Dine in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is a foodie city and admirable restaurants are abundant. For helluva (tasty) burgers and heavenly boozy (or not) milkshakes and craft cocktails, try Burgatory. I recommend the Piggy Butter & Jelly burger with peanut butter, habanero jelly, and candied bacon.
Primanti Bros. is synonymous with Pittsburgh. The restaurant is famous for local and craft beers and custom-made sandwiches with hoards of meat. The ingredients of your choice, plus hand-cut fries and coleslaw, are piled high onto thick homemade white bread. The taste is magnificent! Try the Pastrami and Cheese.
Sink your teeth into a scrumptious sweet or savory waffle from Waffles INCaffeinated, on the South side of town. The best seller is Chicken & Waffles, but the Funky Monkey (bananas & chocolate topped with peanut butter chiffon) is genius!
Pork & Beans is the place for Texas style BBQ, local craft beer, and sensational side items in a rustic, roadhouse setting. Try the Jalapeno Cheddar Kielbasa and Pimento Cheese appetizer if you dare! Sister eateries to Pork & Beans include Butcher and the Rye, Meat & Potatoes, and täkō, each with a different specialty food and drink.
Craving a snack? Try Pittsburgh Popcorn, the cheesiest cheddar ever!
What to Do on Your Weekend Trip to Pittsburgh
Start your day with a ride up (and down) the Duquesne Incline for sensational photo-ops and views of the entire city. The century-old cable car is one of the few remaining incline rides in the country.
The Gilded Age is represented well at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden, circa 1893. Its Victorian greenhouse is stunning; I honestly felt like I was visiting Central Park in NYC. Inside, several Chihuly works of glass adorn the 23 stunning and distinct gardens, with renowned bonsai and orchid collections. Phipps is one of the many Historic Landmarks in the Burgh.
The National Aviary is a do-not-miss attraction, something uniquely Pittsburgh. It is the country’s only indoor non-profit zoo dedicated to birds. Check out bird species from the Wetlands, Tropical Rainforest and more, while admiring penguins, finches, dozens of owls, condors, and Stellar’s Sea Eagles, the largest in the world.
Visit the Carnegie Science Center, with an impressive robotics exhibit, planetarium, giant cinema, and the famous animated Miniature Railroad and Village. Art is prevalent in Pittsburgh and one of the most famous places to visit is the Andy Warhol Museum, the largest museum in North America dedicated to one artist. Born in Pittsburgh, the talented Warhol is regarded as one of the best pop artists of all time.
Penn Avenue is the most popular street in the city, lined with cafes, souvenir, and sportswear shops, along with international grocers and eats. Families will love Kennywood, one of the oldest theme parks in the nation with kiddie rides, roller coasters, boardwalk style games, and shows.
Support the Sports Phenomenon in The Burg
The Pittsburgh Steelers, six-time Superbowl Champions, play at Heinz Field while the Pittsburgh Pirates can be found at PNC Park baseball stadium. If you haven’t been to a professional hockey game before, Pittsburgh is the city you will want to do it in. The Pittsburgh Penguins are one of the most elite teams in the country, so sit back and enjoy the action of this high octane sport. Don’t be surprised to see a huge portion of the 2 million people in the greater Pittsburgh area decked out in black and gold; Pittsburgh’s pride runs deep!
Pittsburgh: A City You Will Come Back To
Pittsburgh has something for everyone. You will have a hard time packing all of the fun into a weekend getaway, so consider taking on a small part of the city on multiple occasions. Driving in Pittsburgh is a bit confusing as phone directions don’t always cooperate, but be patient. There is something awesome around every turn!