Food, nature, art, cider, and museums rank among the best things to do in Pittsburgh for couples. You're going to love this underrated romantic city!
In years past, Pittsburgh was known as “the Steel City” – thanks to its 300-plus steel-related business – and the city was associated with industry, building, and growth for decades. However, it’s also known as the “City of Bridges,” thanks to its 446 bridges and today Pittsburgh is just as famous for its food and art scene as its aluminium manufacturing and corporate headquarters. Pittsburgh is laid-back, friendly, down-to-earth, and eager to welcome visitors. Sounds like the perfect formula for a romantic weekend to me! Here are 12 things to do in Pittsburgh for couples.
It's Spook-tacular fun
Pittsburgh at night is amazing. Friday and Saturday from May to November, the history lovers from Haunted Pittsburgh host one of the most fantastic walking tours in the city. If you love ghost stories, this should be on your list. And if you’re a bit more on the wimpy side (like me!), know it’s a fun, memorable way to discover the city. Tickets are a reasonable $10 for children and $18 for adults. If you ask me, it’s the perfect Friday night activity to launch your weekend. Be sure to ask the tour guides to recommend some pubs in the area. I know hauntings, ghosts, and poltergeists might not sound romantic. But in Pittsburgh – a *very* haunted city, according to locals – things that go bump in the night make the city a good reason to cuddle up to your sweetheart. Every
Hard cider is oh-so-easy
With all due respect to beer lovers, the microbrew scene is not my thing. But swap out the hops for apples, and suddenly, all that changes. I love “hard” – a.k .a. alcoholic – apple cider, and Pittsburgh does too. So much so that they are the number three consumer of hard cider in the United States. Threadbare Cider House and Meadery are local favourites, offering tours and special events. Their Bouquet de Rosé Cider has a delicate pink hue thanks to the addition of rose hips and hibiscus, while the Northern Spy is made exclusively with Northern Spy heritage apples. They also have delicious peach and pear ciders.
The Big Mac is a big deal
Fast food places on a travel list? When Pittsburgh is involved, the answer is a resounding yes! Local Jim Delligatti made the first Big Mac in Pittsburgh in 1967. A trip to MacDonald’s won’t precisely taste any different in Pittsburgh, but there’s something decidedly cool about going back to the city, which started a food mega-craze and it may just make you feel like you’re teenagers again.
90 neighbourhoods, hundreds of runs
Blame Philadelphia for stealing all the running thunder in this part of the world. There’s no competition with that iconic image of Rocky triumphantly running up the stairs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But running, hiking, and trekking are big in Pittsburgh, too. The city is divided into 90 different neighbourhoods, each with its own style, heritage, and traditions, and there are hundreds - maybe even thousands - of running routes. These are six of the most popular routes, with options for taking longer or shorter. Just think of the gorgeous photos you’ll get on the trails!
Read with ease
Pittsburgh has ten independent bookstores, chain bookstores, magazine vendors, used book depots, comic book stores, and more. Pittsburgh reverses the trend in an era in which so many bookstores seem to struggle. And it’s easy to see why - these aren’t your ordinary bookstore. For example, Penguin Books, going strong since 1929, hosts Stephen King for author signings, an event so popular that fans camp out just to buy tickets to the signing events. At Riverstone Books, signing events are occasionally combined with whiskey tastings. At Mystery Lovers Bookstore, those loyal to the mystery genre will love the “coffee and crime” author readings. Of all the things to do in Pittsburgh for couples, this has to be cosiest.
Snack on America's best cake
Chocolate or vanilla? Red velvet or black forest? How about “none of the above”? In Pittsburgh, there’s just one flavour to choose from when ordering cake – burnt almond torte. Created initially at Prantl’s Bakery in Market Square in 2014, the Huffington Post said it was “probably the BEST cake America has to offer.” Since 1970, it’s been made with fresh homemade custard, smooth buttercream frosting, toasted almonds, and a few extra secret ingredients. You can find a pretty reasonable facsimile of the original recipe at most Pittsburgh bakeries. Even the grocery stores do an okay job of making it. But for the real deal, you must head to Prantl’s, which sells all kinds of yummy local favourites.
Cook your heart out
Whether you want to learn the secrets of local favourites, like bagels, pretzels, and pierogies, hope to try your hand at concocting Greek cuisine, or are looking to take on a significant challenge, like perfecting French choux pastry, the place to go is always the same: Crate Cooking School. They offer 200 different classes and workshops throughout the year, ranging from beginner-friendly, 90-minute “lunch and learn” sessions starting at $50 to more advanced, multi-course menus in Thai cooking or paleo friendly cuisine for about $80. Note that their classes often sell out in advance. When planning your weekend getaway, book this activity well in advance.
Eat as you explore
There’s no doubt that Pittsburgh is a culinary mega-center in the making. AF&CO hospitality consultants named Pittsburgh the top American food city in 2019. And I can’t think of a better way to get to know Pittsburgh than by eating through the city! You can always put together your own DIY food tour, but for a bit more guidance and entertainment, the ‘Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour takes guests through Pittsburgh’s best and more memorable foodie spots, all while helping them get to know the city just a little bit better. You can choose from 8 different neighbourhood tours, each lasting 2 to 2.5 hours, costing about $43, and including an average of 6 stops with samples.
Pittsburgh is a hilly city, and I’ll take any opportunity to avoid a stressful uphill hike. Coming across a funicular is a godsend! In Pittsburgh, this helpful shortcut comes with a nice added perk. You can enjoy the incredible cityscape while riding the Duquesne Incline - better known as Pittsburgh’s funicular - which has been described as one of the top 10 views in the world. Opened in 1877, it still uses its original wooden cable cars. Fares are a reasonable $2.50 each way, and students and seniors over 65 with identification ride for free. If you're looking for really unique things to do in Pittsburgh for couples, you won't find anything with a more romantic view.
Let the light in
Built in 1895, Calvary Methodist church is remarkable for its age and beautiful architecture alone. But the real showstopper at this house of worship is the interior, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Yes, of *that* Tiffany family. The church’s 189 stained glass windows are considered among the finest, largest, and most elaborate Tiffany ever created. The three most significant are still believed to be in the world’s top ten largest Tiffany works. You can see them every Sunday at the 11:00 am worship service - the church makes it clear that all people of all backgrounds are welcome there. If you visit during the Summer Solstice, the church has a beautiful sunset event, so guests can enjoy the windows with maximum light coming in.
Wild about Warhol
Many celebrities and notable names call Pittsburgh home, but perhaps none is so famous as pop art artist Andy Warhol. Appropriately, Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum is the largest museum in North America that is dedicated to a single artist. This legendary creator deserves a legendary space! It contains 17 galleries, over 900 paintings, some 2,000 works on paper, and over 4,000 photographs. It offers many hands-on activities, like trying some of Warhol’s artistic techniques. The museum is closed on Mondays, and it charges $25 admission to adults and $13 to students and seniors.
Totally tame a T-Rex
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has a claim to fame that will make your inner child go crazy. It has the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered! It’s also home to the world’s most extensive collection of Jurassic dinosaurs. For budding palaeontologists, there’s no better place to be. Other exhibitions include displays on minerals and gems, birds, ancient Egypt, African and North American wildlife, botany, Arctic animals, and reptiles. Their interactive children’s programming is strong, but visitors of all ages will love this museum. Frugal travellers will want to note that the $25 adult admission is half price on weekdays after 3:00 pm and that tickets also include admission to the Carnegie Museum of Art.
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