. My next destination: a Pittsburgh Renaissance : Budget Travel Adventures

My next destination: a Pittsburgh Renaissance

Pittsburgh skyline Gateway Clipper Pittsburgh renaissance

Pittsburgh skyline and the Gateway Clipper (photo via Visit Pittsburgh)

The grass is greener, the days are longer, and the colors are on full display.  So what better place to visit in Spring than a blue collar, working class destination once known as the Steel City!

From April 16 to 19, I will be visiting Pittsburgh thanks to Visit Pittsburgh.

While I visited Philadelphia years ago, this will be my first visit to Pittsburgh.  I’ve talked with a friend who lived outside of Pittsburgh for years as well as travelers Amanda from Dangerous Business and Megan from Megan Starr.

While Pittsburgh will be quite a contrast from winter in Yosemite, I am excited about exploring a side of this city many people haven’t seen.

Since the Steel City days of the 80s, this city has changed a lot.  You may not even recognize it now.

A Pittsburgh Renaissance

Over the last couple of decades, Pittsburgh has gone through a number of changes transforming the city from dark, gray, and gloomy to bright, clean, and beautiful.

Since the collapse of the steel industry in the late 70s and early 80s, Pittsburgh has re-defined itself with new buildings, green parks and outdoor activities, and a re-vitalized downtown.  Once dirty and polluted, the Three Rivers of Pittsburgh now offer kayak tours and boat rides giving the city a number of outdoor activities to enjoy.

2013 celebrates a sort of Pittsburgh Renaissance.  People who haven’t visited Pittsburgh in years may be surprised at the city’s makeover.  Numerous people have shared that the drive into Pittsburgh and the skyline views from Duquesne Incline are spectacular.

Jobs are coming back to the city.  Heinz Field and PNC Park were built for the Steelers and Pirates.  Downtown has been given a facelift and new businesses and industries are thriving.  The Steel City has changed her clothes and aged beautifully.

Over the last few years, CNBC, The Economist Intelligence Unit, and Sperling’s Best Places have all ranked Pittsburgh as one of the best cities in America to live or relocate.

Now you understand why I want to visit Pittsburgh.

My Visit Pittsburgh schedule

So what will I do in Pittsburgh?  This press trip is small – there are only 5 of us on this trip so it will be an intimate experience exploring a side of Pittsburgh many people didn’t know existed.

Pittsburgh is a sports town and budding film location.  A lot of my time will be spent visiting locations where movies were filmed and enjoying a bit of the sports scene in Pittsburgh.

I am a huge sports and travel fan and believe that sporting events are a great way to meet locals when traveling.  There is so much passion and culture in sports that help visitors connect with the heart of the people.  That’s one of the big reasons why I started my College Football Travel Tour.

In nearly every city that I visit, I love checking out sports stadiums and attending sporting events.  This visit to Pittsburgh won’t be any different.  As part of the trip, I hope to get a tour of Heinz Field.  On Thursday night, I will be watching the Pittsburgh Pirates play the Atlanta Braves at beautiful PNC Park.

Pittsburgh has been the site of many movies including Flashdance, Inspector Gadget, Jack Reacher, The Dark Knight Rises, and many others.  Pittsburgh has become such a popular movie location that the city has its own film office.  As the city becomes a movie mecca, it has declared itself the Hollywood of the East.

From Wednesday to Friday, I will be enjoying the views, sampling the food that this city has to offer, exploring scenes from Hollywood, and rooting alongside Pittsburgh’s passionate fans as they cheer on their sports teams.

Sports, movies, and food – not a bad way to spend a few days exploring Pittsburgh.

The Steel City isn’t what it used to be.  She’s risen from the ashes to become a shining star and one of the best cities in America.

Leave it to Pittsburgh to turn their renaissance into a Hollywood movie – rather, a Hollywood of the East movie.

Have you experienced the Pittsburgh renaissance?  What are your travel tips and recommendations for Pittsburgh?

Follow my Visit Pittsburgh trip on Twitter with the tag #BTApgh and on Facebook.  Thanks to Visit Pittsburgh for providing all travel accommodations for this visit.  All opinions and reviews of Pittsburgh will be my own.

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Filed Under: DestinationsFeaturedUSA


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  1. Have fun in Pittsburgh! I will be heading there for a conference next year and am curious.

    • Thanks Doreen! I think I will. I wish I only had more time there. However, the trip will cover some pretty interesting stuff about movies in Pittsburgh. And I do love the sports stuff when I travel so that will be a lot of fun. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Pittsburgh so I look forward to visiting.

      Fingers crossed, the weather is OK. Early forecast looks like rain and some storms while I am there. I hope that changes. Have you ever been to Pittsburgh before?

  2. Cassie says:

    Yay, that’s home for me! You’ll love PNC park, its one of my favorites. Ride one of the funiculars up the hill for a great view of the city. Kev loves Primanti Bros.

    • I am very excited about PNC Park. The Pirates are playing the Braves – my team from when I was a kid. I haven’t seen then in years (I was at Game 1 of the 1995 World Series) and will be sitting right behind their dugout. The funicular is definitely on my list. May do that Tuesday night and another time during the day. I’ve also ready great tips about Primanti Bros so may stop there as well.

      And yes, Pittsburgh has quite the movie history. I am excited about that as well. This will be a fun trip. Fingers crossed about the weather though. Supposed to rain a couple of days so I hope that changes. I won’t have much free time there but do you have any other tips?

      • Cassie says:

        No, no other tips. My family are scattered around PA, from one to 3 hours drive from Pittsburgh which is the closest major city. They are not “city people” so it’s like pulling teeth to get them to go into the city when we come to visit. They go there only to 1. pick me up at the airport, 2. go to Pirates games, or 3. Go to the hospital or have tests done.

        I could send you on a tour of the Pittsburgh area hospitals and specialty-care clinics, if you want :)

        • Airport and a baseball game are a good reason to go to Pittsburgh. I will pass on the list of hospitals and clinics. Hopefully, these are not things that I will need while I am there.

          I will agree with your family though. More and more, I realize how much I love peace and quiet. One day, I may end up moving away from the city. For now, I will settle for the suburbs but there is something about nature that calms my soul. I love it! Cities are fun to visit but not sure I want to live in one again.

  3. Megan says:

    yayyyyyy!!!!! i nearly screamed with excitement as i read this. ok i kind of did!

    im so happy you’ll be able to visit pittsburgh and i reallllly really hope you find it as admirable of a city as i always have.

    PNC park is definitely a must. the only problem i have with your plans to go there is that you’ll be cheering for the wrong team 😉 but it happens. i just hope none of those obnoxious pittsburgh fans spit on you during the game 😉

    i would definitely check out the strip district. there are many immigrant shops and markets there that are really important to the city and its immigration history. i also really love southside works. there are many new places there (like outdoor mall) that i dont love that much…but in the vicinity are some nice, old bars and walking along that road is pretty cool if the weather is nice.

    im sure you’ll have no shortage of things to do in the city! as soon as you think you run out of things, you end up in a new district with tons of bars and cafes. so many famous quarterbacks are from the area too…i dont know if they have anything dedicated to them (unitas, montana, namath, jim kelly, marino, lujack, etc), but it would be cool if they did somewhere.

    anyways im super excited for you to see the city and i really hope you love it as much as i do :) and maybe amanda can show you around one of the days :)

    excited to read more!

    • I am so glad you are excited Megan! When I posted that question about where I should go this year, Pittsburgh got a lot of love (thanks to you and others). Last year, I had been invited to Pittsburgh but couldn’t go. However, I got another email about trips this year as my contact there asked if I wanted to go on one of the trips this year. I sent her the link to my Facebook where I asked people where I should go so she could see all the responses about Pittsburgh.

      Today, she read my post about this and sent me an email back saying Amanda had asked about doing a trip so she was glad that I already knew her. I sent an email to Amanda earlier this week asking her if she will be around. Not sure we will have time to connect as I won’t be there as long as I would like. I was hoping to stay there a week but I had to change my plans.

      As for the city, I’ve been doing my research. I’ve already read about the Strip district as well as Primanti Bros. One of the first things I do Tuesday night may be heading up the hill for a view of the city at night. Is Duquesne Incline the only view I can get or is there somewhere else I can go (I won’t have any transportation of my own)?

      If my schedule wasn’t so booked, I would see the Penguins play Wednesday night. I am so excited about the sports aspect of this trip (right up my alley) so the game and Heinz Field will be done (still up in the air). However, this should be a lot of fun. I REALLY REALLY hope that the weather is good. Supposed to rain the two main days I am there but hope the weather changes between now and then. I would be so sad if the game got rained out so fingers crossed for me!

      Any suggestions for things to do at night? I won’t be out too late but curious what places you recommend.

      • Megan says:


        seriously so cool and i cant wait to see how it all turns out. what is sad is that when pittsburgh says the weather will suck, it probably will :( i have my fingers crossed for ya 😉

        as for getting to mt washington…hmmm. i know you can take one of the inclines but im not sure what else. i have always driven there :( once im back at computer later ill send you a message and let ya know ;).

        my fav bars and nighttime activites (besides sports events) are in southside works area ( little walk from it) and near shadyside. ill ask some friends and family in the city and let you know again :) i know jerome bettis has a restaurant by the stadiums but im not sure if its open!!

        send you an email later with more details!!! :):)

        • Yes, please keep your fingers crossed. Looking cloudy on Tuesday, rain on Wednesday and Thursday. I am watching the weather every day now so I’m hoping things change.

          Thanks for the email on Mt Washington. I will do some research this weekend and figure out the best way to get there from where I am staying (I believe I am staying at the Omni).

          As for nightlife we will see. I have to get my bearings when I get there to figure out what I can do. My schedule is pretty packed but I would like to go out one day. Maybe I’ll go on Tuesday since we don’t start until noon on Wednesday.

          Very excited about this trip! I just wish I had more time there. Maybe it will be enough to entice me to go back.

  4. Megan says:

    ok now im rambling, but if you get inside of heinz field, please kiss the ground for me. i miss that place more than anywhere else now that i live in norway :)

  5. We did a three day visit to Pittsburgh last October. Loved it! Really impressed by the Cathedral of Learning building.


    • Thanks for the tip on the Cathedral. I am going to come back and read this post after my trip. I don’t want any preconceived ideas or influences before I go. A bit unusual I know but I want to see what kind of first impression Pittsburgh makes on me :)

  6. I was there many years ago to visit a friend and had a great time, enjoy!

  7. I see a lot of concern about the weather and I just wanted to add–during my recent visit, it snowed the ENTIRE time. And I still had a FABULOUS visit. So don’t let possible bad weather get you down!

    Have a great trip!

    • Thanks Tracy! Snow I don’t mind (as you can see from my Yosemite photos). However, rain and thunderstorms are an issue – especially when you plan on going to a baseball game. I keep checking the weather constantly for Pittsburgh so fingers crossed that we don’t have all day rain.

      I can handle a storm. However, I just want a few hours of sunshine too! :)

      I look forward to Pittsburgh. If you have any recommendations on places to eat or things to do for Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I would love to hear them! I am holding off on reading detailed reviews of the city as I want experience Pittsburgh without any preconceived feelings or ideas. Curious what kind of first impression the city will make :)

  8. An ex-girlfriend of mine lived in Pittsburgh, and I went home with her for a long weekend and had a great time. I remember drinking yingling beers in a nice working class bar and then getting a pimento brothers sandwich at like 3 a.m. The greasiest best drunk food I have ever had.

    • Pittsburgh is a city that has changed a lot (just posted a few of my photos from there on FB). I would still say Pittsburgh is very much a working class city. However, it has changed a lot from what it was. It’s getting a new identity and look. The people are the same but it’s cleaner, beautiful, and offers a lot of different things for people. I will share more about my experiences a bit later.

      However, I did have a Primanti Bros sandwich at the Pirates games Thursday night. I’ll have to share a photo of that one later. The one you went to in the Strip District is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s a popular thing to do after the bars close so you definitely experienced a Pittsburgh tradition.

  9. Christy says:

    There are many places I haven’t visited in the US and Pittsburgh is one of them! I’m interested to learn more about the city through your eyes.

    • Thanks Christy. Pittsburgh has changed a LOT in the last 30 years. Honestly, I probably would have hated this city in the 80s. However, it has really transformed. Talked to lots of people who have lived there over the years and people who live there now. This city has really seen some growth and changes. I will share a lot more about this city and what I learned. It’s quickly becoming a top city in the US.

  10. I know nothing about Pittsburgh, which makes me interested in your thoughts on it. Have fun!

    • This was my first visit to Pittsburgh as well. I got back a few days ago and will share more about this trip. This place really surprised me. 30 years ago, I don’t think I would have liked it. However, it has changed so much. It really is a beautiful city. Easy to get around, been cleaned up a lot, and even its ugly past is the scene of Hollywood movies.

  11. Pittsburgh is definitely way cooler than people think! Great city.

    • Pittsburgh has changed a lot over the last 30 years. It really is a beautiful city. I am not sure the stereotype of Pittsburgh has changed from its steel industry days. However, it needs to change because the city really has transformed.

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