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There’s More to Pittsburgh than Sports: Check Out These Fun Activities on Your Next Vacation

Growing up in New Jersey, it always made sense to be a Mets fan (albeit, disappointing) but when it came to football, our household was just not interested in the three “local” teams. Luckily, my dad found the team to root for just a few hours west. Growing up in a Steelers household, led to many trips out to Pittsburgh over the years. Though it may seem like a sort of odd choice, let me just tell you about why it has been one of our favorite vacation destinations not only throughout my childhood but also as an adult. Are you ready to explore the Steel City?


Image by Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers

I’m not really an avid sports fan, in fact, my parents love to make fun of my lack of knowledge surrounding “sports ball.” That being said, Pittsburgh is a great place to go if you like sports, even if you aren’t a Pittsburgh fan. Take in a football or hockey game if you’re there during the winter. Or, during the warmer months, head to a Pirate’s game. Even as someone who isn’t interested in sporting events, some activities will keep you entertained during these games. 

If you’re going to a Steelers game, make sure you pay attention to the big screen after the home team scores a touchdown; their giant mechanical ketchup bottles fill the screen with red, and as someone who doesn’t understand the rules of football, this was always a highlight of the games. Have you ever dreamed of watching Seven Giant Pierogies race to the finish line while a parrot–and an entire stadium of fans–cheer them on? No? Just me? Well, that’s what you’re going to get in between innings at a Pirates game.

Museums and Culture

Image by the Andy Warhol Museum

Since I’ve never been a sports fan when it came to planning our family trips to Pittsburgh, my parents knew that they had to find some other activities to add to the itinerary. Luckily, there is so much to do in Pittsburgh, even if you aren’t interested in rooting for the big black and gold. When it comes to interactive exhibits, the Carnegie Science Center is the place to go. With new exhibits coming in and out all the time, there’s always something new to see, but a personal favorite of mine is the Miniature Railroad & Village. Take in the replica of Pittsburgh in all four stunning seasons as the lights fade from day to night. After running around the Museum to try and take in as many different exhibits as possible, heading into the train village was always a nice way to wind down. Also, don’t forget to explore the outside of the Museum because there’s a pretty cool immersive experience that will take you aboard the USS Requin Submarine.

After you explore the Carnegie Science Center, head over to the Andy Warhol Museum to explore the Pittsburgh native’s vast collection of works from his expansive career. As a part of my graduation present, my dad and I went to Pittsburgh and we spent the day at the Andy Warhol Museum exploring his life from his early days as a graphic designer and printmaker, to his experimental filmmaking phase, to his television career and the creation of Interview Magazine. The five-story museum is filled to the brim with artwork by Warhol and some of his peers, and it’s still growing. This is a great museum to explore and learn more about American Art from the eyes of one of the most famous pop artists in the world. Make sure you stop into the viewing archives to see the collections of boxes Warhol created during his lifetime and learn about the project they were supposed to turn into.

Tired of being inside after those two awesome museums? That’s fair, Head to North Shore and enjoy the 1.5-mile Memorial Walkway. Take in the solitude of the Korean War Memorial and visit the World War II Memorial. If you’re a football fan, head to the Immaculate Reception Monument, dedicated to the play that brought the Steelers to their first playoff win in 1972.  I think the standout sculpture on the Memorial Walking Tour is the Tribute to Mr. Rogers. The statue was unveiled in November 2009 and weighs 7,000 pounds. When you visit the statue, some of Mr. Rogers’ most well-known songs can be heard playing in the background.

Image by John Ezzo, 2022

Image by John Ezzo, 2022

Image by John Ezzo, 2013

Incline Railroads

Image by Visit Pittsburgh

Incline Railroads were a solution to a commuter’s predicament of getting up and down the mountains in areas such as Pittsburgh. Though once very popular, they declined in popularity during the 19th century due to alternative forms of transportation. Although they aren’t prevalent for commuters anymore, they’re a great way to take in Pittsburgh’s city skyline during your visit. I’ve been to Pittsburgh a handful of times and we almost always make a pilgrimage up the incline railroad for the view, and though it’s always impressive, my favorite season for this experience is winter. Looking at the city as the snow begins to fall is truly a breathtaking experience that I’m thankful to have gotten to partake in on more than one occasion. 

The Great Outdoors

Pittsburgh may not have the tallest mountains or the biggest forests, but there are great opportunities for urban exploration and unique experiences here. Explore the beautiful trails in Western Pennsylvania and explore the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage which begins in Pittsburgh Point State Park. There are also plenty of amazing bike trails along the Ohio River. If you’re looking for something unique to the city of Pittsburgh, you’ll want to rent a kayak and get out on the Allegheny River during a Pirates game. Why during a Pirates game? Because if someone hits a fly ball you can join other paddlers in trying to grab it out of the water. If you’re successful in retrieving that flyball, it makes a nice souvenir to take home after your visit. 

The Holidays in Steel City

During my graduation trip to Pittsburgh, my dad and I both had a bit of Christmas Shopping to do. Lucky for us, The People’s Holiday Market was going on in Downtown Pittsburgh. With dozens of stalls selling unique and interesting gifts, this was a great opportunity to get items that we couldn’t find anywhere else, including this awesome hat that my dad and I gave to my mom. Along with shopping, there are snacks and beverages for sale as well as live music to keep spirits high even when temperatures are low. When you’ve finished your shopping head across the street and hop in line to go ice skating, just like a holiday movie.

The post There’s More to Pittsburgh than Sports: Check Out These Fun Activities on Your Next Vacation appeared first on Outdoors with Bear Grylls.

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