Looking for all things music, live entertainment, and performing arts on your next trip to Pittsburgh? Overlapping slightly with the downtown core, Pittsburgh’s Cultural District has got you covered!
Calling all theatre geeks! The play’s the thing in the Cultural District of Pittsburgh. As a gathering space for the ‘Burgh’s creative souls, you’ll find historically significant theaters like Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts and turn-of-the-century performance halls like the O’Reilly Theater around every corner.
Want the secret to a more cultured Pittsburgh vacation? Learn about all what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay with this complete Pittsburgh Cultural District neighborhood guide.
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What to see & do in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District
Benedum Center for the Performing Arts
Even if you don’t have time to take in a performance, a visit to the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts is a must, both for its historical significance and impressive architecture. And it’s not just eye-candy: it’s also one of the top-rated theaters in Pittsburgh. If you can hunt down some tickets to anything on the Benedum Center’s events calendar, go for it; you won’t regret it!
The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts hosts several traveling concerts, but there are a few Pittsburgh tourism giants that perform at the venue on a regular basis. Whether want to see the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh or the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, seek out your vacation entertainment here.
Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts
When Loew’s Penn Theater was first built in 1927, it was a movie-going couple’s dream with marble, crystal, domed ceilings, and velvet staircases. Now known as the Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, this famed venue has transformed from the passion project of a motion picture theater legend to the shining star of Pittsburgh’s historic landmarks.
Especially if you’re a fan of classical music and jazz, the Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts is sure to have a concert to enchant your senses. It’s the official home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and for many top traveling performers, it’s the Pittsburgh venue of choice.
Besides music concerts, Heinz Hall might have a few other tricks up its sleeve with sporadic one-off shows like Disney musicals and circus-inspired acrobatics. If you’re looking for interesting things to do in Pittsburgh for your itinerary, be sure to check the official events schedule.
Built in 1903, the historic Byham Theater is still a staple of the Pittsburgh Cultural District’s performing arts scene. With everything from dance and musical theatre to public art exhibits and indie film screenings held in the theatre’s hall, you’re sure to find entertainment options here that you can’t find anywhere else in the ‘Burgh.
With the venue’s dazzling lights and ornate architecture, you’ll want to dress up for a night out here. Before you leave, be sure to take a photo in front of the iconic theatre sign on the street; this is exactly the stuff that wanderlust-worthy social media feeds are made of!
Since opening its doors in 1999, the O’Reilly Theater has been immersing crowds nightly in the dramasphere. It’s home to the Pittsburgh Public Theater Playwrights Collective churning out some pretty epic original productions. The 2023 performances include a tribute to the life of Frida Kahla and an interpretation of the classic Steel Magnolias.
Thankfully, the O’Reilly Theater is located close to some of the Cultural District’s tastiest restaurants, making dinner and a show an easy combination. Another of the theatre’s distinguishing features is a large number of accessibility measures to make play-going a possibility for everyone, including ASL interpretation, closed-captioning and D-scriptive devices, and wheelchair ramps.
Arcade Comedy Theater
Need a good laugh? Switch things up with a visit to the Arcade Comedy Theater. This club-style venue is only open over the weekend, but from Friday to Sunday, it’s a gas!
The Arcade Comedy Theater is a laugh machine with a jam-packed schedule of stand-up, improv, sketches, and more. They’re even about to launch special comedy programming for kids.
Want to improve your “life of the party status? The Arcade Comedy Theater offers classes to help you flex that funny bone and keep all your friends in stitches.
August Wilson African American Cultural Center
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a hub for cross-cultural understanding, as well as a celebration of black people throughout history. Named after a playwright who dedicated his life to chronicling the black experience, the museum continues his legacy by creating space for traveling exhibitions centered around the past, present, and future of the black community.
At the Claude Worthington Benedum Gallery, you’ll find a handful of learning opportunities disguised as interactive exhibits as well as showcases highlighting the creative work of prominent black artists.
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center also has a stage where over 200 musicians perform each year. Better yet, unless you’re taking in a concert, admission to the center is 100% free.
Where to eat & drink
Looking for the tastiest fried chicken in Pittsburgh? With country-wide prizes under its belt, The Eagle is your best bet. Their newest location in the Cultural District serves up crispy goodness stacked high, served with hot honey and a whole slew of southern sides, including mac & cheese, spoonbread, collard greens, and hushpuppies.
Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room is a hotspot for yummy apps like bacon candy and stuffed banana peppers, But, of course, the main event is the pizzas flamed in the namesake brick oven. You’ll absolutely adore the industrial vibe and moody lighting; it’s definitely the kind of place that shows off some magic after the sun has set.
Feeling thirsty? The restaurant & tap room has a ton of different beers to try. If you decide to try and work your way through the draft list, Proper might just become your unofficial late-night stomping ground for the remainder of your Pittsburgh trip itinerary.
The city’s first gastropub, Meat & Potatoes is your official destination for hearty comforts with British flair. You can pair your Welsh Rarebit, bone marrow, and beef Wellington entrees with an array of highball cocktails and wine by the glass. Want to take it up a notch? Ask to see their Absinthe menu.
Finding a bar that’s both hip and affordable in the city can be a challenge, but The Warren Bar & Burrow has got you covered; no need to blow your entire vacation budget on a single night out! This popular establishment has tons of craft cocktails and amazing eats—we’re talking a full sushi menu and inventive sandwiches—all under $15. All that, and you don’t have to sacrifice the cool factor? Sign me up!
Bridges & Bourbon is a modern cocktail bar with over 100 artisanal whiskeys, perfect for building a flight and creating your own personalized tasting experience. Not to mention, the kitchen has whipped together a well-crafted menu of small plates and entrees. For a year-round patio experience, plus some added privacy, be sure to book one of their heated “bridge houses” for you and your crew.
Looking for somewhere to get the party going? Your search should begin and end with Howl at the Moon Pittsburgh. This live entertainment venue is one of the most popular bars in the city, thanks to its loud spirit and bucket-sized cocktails. (Hope you brought your dancing shoes; you’re going to need ‘em!)
Where to stay
As it sits in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh, the Cultural District is one of the most popular choices for where to stay in Pittsburgh. There’s only a handful of accommodation options in the neighborhood proper, but you’ll find plenty of others in the surrounding streets if you’re interested in exploring here in more depth.
The Courtyard by Marriott Pittsburgh Downtown might just be in the perfect location. As the hotel is tucked into a hip side street between great local shops and restaurants, you’ll feel like the whole world is at your doorstep without sacrificing some peace and quiet. Traveling with kids? The vintage arcade hidden inside the hotel restaurant will keep them busy for hours on end.
A gem of the Cultural District’s hotel scene, the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel is distinguished by its riverfront location and guest rooms with high ceilings and a classy, contemporary design. Previous guests rave about Braddock’s Street Side Tavern hotel bar and restaurant. A stay at the Renaissance also comes with a few extra perks, like an airport shuttle and a steam room in the gym for relaxing those muscles after a long day.
The Westin Pittsburgh is well-loved for its sunny guest rooms with warm tones, large windows to let in natural light and take in the city skyline, as well as private living rooms for late evening hang-outs. Plenty of local hotels have guest gyms, but none quite compare to this one. Besides the high-end fitness studio, you can request the “Westin Workout Room” for an in-suite exercise zone and equipment. If wellness is a huge priority for you, this is the top choice hotel.