Pittsburgh, PA is located on the west side of Pennsylvania and is only a few hours drive away from Cleveland, OH, Columbus, OH, and Washington, DC. Pittsburgh’s nickname is The Steel City, gained from its history with steel mills, and is home to the greatest hockey team in the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins. (And they have a few other well known sports teams as well.)
My husband and I recently traveled to Pittsburgh for a very quick weekend getaway to celebrate my 27th birthday. All I’ve wanted for a while was to go see the Pittsburgh Penguins play in their home arena and my wish was finally granted! Here’s a recap of our quick 48 hour trip and some tips on how to plan for your next weekend stay in Pittsburgh.
Since we were primarily visiting Pittsburgh for a Penguins game, and I was attending two games in a short 48 hour trip, it was best for us to stay as close to the arena as possible. I did a search for hotels close to PPG Paints Arena and found Pittsburgh Marriott City Center. It was literally right next to the arena – I could see the arena from our room! It was about $200/night, which is a little more than I usually spend on a hotel room, but it was worth it to have the convenience of being that close to the arena. (Thank you, Jesus, for not having to park a car or call an Uber after a sporting event!) The hotel and hotel staff were both wonderful! The hotel itself had two restaurants, a Starbucks (heads up: it closes early in the day), and room service. We had a room with two double beds and the biggest TV I’ve ever seen in a hotel room. Free Wi-Fi was available – always a must when we’re traveling. The only thing I could point out that was negative was that the bathroom was tiny. It was clean and functional, but much smaller than what I’m used to.
Tip: Use Expedia (or other travel websites) when booking your hotel room. This was my first time using Expedia specifically and I found a great rate! I will definitely be checking Expedia more often when booking hotels. Another added benefit to using Expedia is that Ebates also provides cash back when using Expedia. You get a percentage of cash back just for making your reservation on Expedia – that’s it! Sign up for Ebates and receive a $10 bonus from your first shopping trip here!
Unfortunately, I did not get to eat out too much while I was in Pittsburgh because two of my meal times were during hockey games – which means concession stand food for me! But we did get to try a few places while we were in town:
The Milk Shake Factory: I love a milkshake! I had already seen this place on Google Maps when I was searching for places to eat close by. There’s a location inside PPG Paints Arena (The Official Milkshake of the Pittsburgh Penguins) and there are three other locations around town. …I went to both the arena and downtown locations! I would definitely give it a try if you like milkshakes! I had the Cookies and Cream at the Arena and the Birthday Cake at the store front downtown – I would highly recommend both! Jimmy got a classic Strawberry milkshake and wasn’t a big fan. If you’re going to grab a milkshake at the game, I would recommend grabbing Jake’s Shake, inspired by one of my favorite players, #59 Jake Guentzel!
Primanti Bros: This place is a Pittsburgh original, opening in the Strip District in 1933. They now have lots of locations around Pennsylvania and other states close by. We visited the location in Market Square and really enjoyed ourselves! It was a laid back setting, which was nice for a late lunch. Their sandwiches are simple – some type of meat, tomato, coleslaw, and fries all on top. They also have Coke products, which made my heart so happy! Jimmy had the Corned Beef and Cheese and I had the Pitts-Burger (with no cheese). By the end of our visit, Jimmy had already picked out what he wanted to try the next time that we visit! I would definitely give this place a try, but go to the original location to get the true Pittsburgh experience!
Bonus: Micro Diner: We visited a very small place for breakfast called Micro Diner. It was very close by to the Duquesne Incline and was easy to hop over there to get food. The reason I’m mentioning this place is because it is a true local diner! It honestly reminded me of Luke’s Diner on Gilmore Girls. (Well, not exactly like that. But a “everyone knows everyone” feel. Like Cheers!) Everyone who walked in was greeted by name, a hug, and a kiss on the cheek. Everyone knew everyone and was sitting at the counter and chatting and having a great time. The two ladies who waited on us were very interested in talking to us, hearing about where we were visiting from, and one of them loved my game day outfit! I want more of these types of places in my life.
Things To Do
Sightseeing: Pittsburgh has the most beautiful skyline in the world, and I’m not the only one who thinks that! Make sure you take a trip to one of the overlooks or inclines to see the entire city in all its glory. Bonus points if you do this at sunrise. We used the Duquesne Incline to watch the sunrise and it was totally worth it!
You should also make a point to walk across a bridge. Pittsburgh is home to 446 bridges, so you can take the time to walk across one. 😉 We drove across a few bridges during our visit, but the particular bridge that we walked on was the Andy Warhol bridge. At the end of the bridge sits the Andy Warhol Museum (appropriate, right?) and you can also easily get to PNC Park via this bridge.
Sporting Events: Of course I’m going to mention sports several times in this post! But seriously, I think you should all make a point to go to a sporting event while in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a huge sports community and I’ve picked up that the community has the mindset of “if you support one, then you support them all” meaning they love and support all three sports equally. I was able to go see two home Penguins games while I was there, but I now have on my to do list to visit PNC Park and Heinz Field for additional games. It was very cool to see both of these structures in the Pittsburgh skyline, since both venues, plus PPG Paints Arena, are so important to the town.
Andy Warhol Museum: As a non-art person, I can recommend this museum! I was familiar with the Campbell Soup paintings, and Jimmy had never heard of Andy Warhol, but we both ended up really enjoying ourselves and learning a lot! Jimmy was very interested in learning that Andy Warhol created screen printing, which Jimmy is familiar with due to his involvement in the pinball industry. We spent about an hour and a half in the museum, but art and/or museum lovers could probably spend twice that amount of time. It was $20/person and definitely worth the price!
A Few More Tips
- Traveling: Try to arrive in Pittsburgh during normal people hours or maybe even shoot for some time outside of rush hour time and before people normally go to bed. I say that because we were supposed to arrive at midnight, but got delayed 2.5 hours, and didn’t arrive until 2:30am. There were barely any Uber drivers available (no Lyft drivers available at all) and the fare ended up being more than double what it was estimated. If you’re able to, I would recommend arriving sometime mid morning or in the afternoon, but before people get busy with driving home from work or arriving super late at night.
- Getting around town: Going along with that airplane traveling time, I would also suggest not relying on ride sharing for getting around a lot. It’s good to use to get to/from the airport, but we found that there are not a lot of Uber or Lyft drivers in the city… unless it was just an off weekend. If you’re going to visit Pittsburgh specifically for an event, try staying close by to the venue and researching what is close by within walking distance. The downtown area was extremely easy to navigate and we were able to walk everywhere! We took an Uber a handful of times and it was a little more expensive than I would have liked “due to demand”, according to the app. I’ve never had that happen in Austin or Los Angeles, the two places I’ve taken Uber. You might even want to check into renal cars, especially if you’re staying in the suburbs and will be traveling to various places around the city. I prefer using Hertz (I do receive a discount via my job) and Hertz also has Ebates cash back available. Snaps for Ebates!
- Business Hours: Make sure to pay attention to the business hours of any place you want to visit. We noticed that coffee shops and breakfast places (Dunkin, Starbucks, etc.) were only open in the morning and usually closed right after lunch. Some restaurants closed during the middle of the day. On Sunday specifically, most places didn’t open until lunchtime or earlier afternoon (1 or 2pm). Plan accordingly with those different business hours.
If you haven’t done so already, I hope you’re already checking your calendar and flight prices to go visit Pittsburgh! Before I visited, I was definitely biased in my thoughts on Pittsburgh because I’m such a big Penguins fan. But after visiting the city itself, I think everyone should go take a look. It’s historical, it’s charming, it’s fun, and the nicest people in the world live here!
Let me know in the comments if you’ve visited Pittsburgh before and what you recommend I see or do on my next trip! I would also love suggestions on what city I should visit for my next weekend getaway!
Happy travels and Go Penguins!
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