Booking a trip to Pennsylvania? You’re going to want to check out the best things to do in Pittsburgh. The state’s second-biggest city, “The City of Bridges” is one of the most surprising urban travel destinations in the Tri-State area.
With so much to see & do—from world-class museums and galleries to vibrant history to family-friendly fun—there’s a lot to love about Pittsburgh. If you’re into the great outdoors, some of the top tourist attractions in Pittsburgh include specialist gardens, beautiful parks, and aviaries. Home to the Steelers, the Pirates, and the Penguins, the Steel City is also a treat for sports fans.
Not sure what to do in Pittsburgh on your trip through the Keystone State? Check out this complete guide to the best places to visit in Pittsburgh, PA, and plan your ultimate itinerary!
Must-see places to visit in Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Love animals and want to learn a little something about the planet? Pack up the whole family and beeline for the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium for a day out like no other. Located in Highland Park, about 15 minutes from the Golden Triangle, the zoo is home to over 8,000 animals spanning over 600 animal species from around the world.
Representing both land and sea, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is a favorite with visitors of all ages and one of the most exciting places to go in Pittsburgh if you have kids in tow on your holiday.
The whole family will love wandering through the habitats to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s most interesting animals, including African lions, Amur tigers, Masai giraffes, polar bears, and red pandas—among many others! At the aquarium, keep your eyes peeled for diverse aquatic species, from stingrays and jellyfish to sea turtles and penguins.
As this top Pittsburgh attraction is open every day of the week during the summer months, there’s never a bad time to visit. Admission is just $17 for adults and $14 for children. Proceeds from ticket sales go towards helping the zoo’s conservation efforts.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Looking to flex your green thumb and breathe in some beautiful fresh air? Carve out time on your vacation to explore the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. One of the most beautiful points of interest in Pittsburgh, the gardens are located in Schenley Park in the Oakland neighborhood, just 3.5 miles from downtown, making it a simple addition to any itinerary.
The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are home to 15 acres of carefully kept and maintained gardens, a 14-room glasshouse, and 23 different themed gardens. Explore its permanent collections, ranging from orchids and bonsai to desert plants and ferns. Soak up the sun in the Outdoor and Discovery Gardens, featuring both native and exotic flowers, trees, and shrubs.
A must-visit for anyone who loves all things floral, botanical, or natural, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens also showcases a series of rotating exhibits. including their tropical forests, currently showing a Hawaiian selection of plants and foliage. If you want a luscious holiday vibe in the heart of Pittsburgh, be sure to check out the exhibit.
The Andy Warhol Museum
Even if you’re not an art lover, don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about one of Pittsburgh’s most beloved public figures at The Andy Warhol Museum. The largest art museum in North America dedicated to one artist, The Andy Warhol Museum pays homage to the Pittsburgh-born pop art pioneer with the world’s largest collection of his works.
At the Andy Warhol Museum, you’ll uncover everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the iconic American artist, famed for his pop culture-inspired silkscreen portraits. The museum’s collection is spread over seven floors. It features 900 paintings along with thousands of prints, photos, and films. Famous works to keep on the lookout for include 1960s pop art paintings like Campbell’s Soup Cans, Coca-Cola, Mao, and Marilyn Monroe.
The museum also hosts a series of rotating exhibitions and special events, including concerts, workshops, and open-mic nights. Check the museum’s official events calendar to see what’s on during your vacation.
It’s worth noting that The Andy Warhol Museum isn’t open on Tuesdays and is exclusively open for at-risk visitors on Mondays from 10 am to 12 pm; make sure to organize your itinerary around that.
No trip to Pittsburgh is complete without visiting Market Square, the beating heart of Downtown Pittsburgh. Located at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Market Street, this historic and social landmark has been kickin’ since 1764. Today, the redeveloped downtown square bustles with food trucks, farmers’ markets, special events, and some of the most popular restaurants and bars in town.
Built up an appetite on your Historic Market Square visit? Savor a juicy, mile-high deli sandwich at the Primanti Brothers Restaurant & Bar, a legendary Pittsburgh dining spot. Or tuck into authentic Mexican staples like tacos, enchiladas, and burritos at Las Velas.
If you’re looking for a craft beer fix while exploring Market Square, carve out time to visit City Works. With a massive 90 craft beers on tap, City Works is one of the most popular spots in downtown for craft beer connoisseurs. For cocktails and a side of pub grub, duck into The Yard. Or, if you just need a caffeine fix, pop into Nicholas Coffee & Tea Co., a local cafe and coffee shop that’s been operating for over 100 years.
Point State Park
Want to get out and explore nature without leaving the downtown area? Get your fill of the outdoors in Point State Park, one of the most beautiful places to see in Pittsburgh. Located at the confluence of the Allegheny River and Monongahela River, Point State Park marks the start of the Ohio River. With 36 acres of land and greenery to explore, it’s a great spot to while away the hours and watch the world go by.
Looking to indulge in outdoor activities on your Point State Park visit? Lace up your walking shoes or tune up your bike for a walk or a ride along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Or wander along the park’s trails and Great Lawn, stopping along the way for points of interest like Fort Duquesne, Fort Pitt Museum, and Fort Pitt Block House.
Before leaving, don’t forget to check out the amazing Point State Park Fountain at the tip of the peninsula. Spewing water 150 feet into the air, the fountain is a spectacular sight‚ especially at night when it’s all lit up in its full glory.
Carnegie Museum of Art
In the mood to dazzle at some of the country’s finest contemporary art? Get inspired at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh’s leafy Oakland neighborhood.
Founded by Andrew Carnegie, one of Pittsburgh’s major industrialists, the Carnegie Museum of Art was the first museum dedicated to contemporary art in the United States. This famed cultural institution is filled with over 100,000 inspirational works that’ll spark your creativity, including paintings, prints, photographs, and sculptures.
Marvel at some of the world’s finest architecture, landscape design, and interior design at the Heinz Architectural Center. Slip back into antiquity with the permanent collection of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman sculptures at the Hall of Sculpture. Check out the Charles “Teenie” Harris photograph collection to get a sense of Steel City culture in the 20th century.
With interactive youth workshops and exhibits, the Carnegie Museum of Art is also an ideal spot to bring the kiddos. Let them tag along and inspire them to unleash their inner Picasso or Warhol!
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Looking to uncover the mystery behind Earth’s natural history? Be sure to add the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to your Pittsburgh itinerary. Located on the same campus as its sister contemporary art museum, this natural history museum is the perfect spot for any visitor who’s looking to pique their curiosity and learn something new about the history of the natural world.
Among the exhibits at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, you can visit the PaleoLab to gain insight into how paleontologists work with fossils, from unpacking them to preparing them for display. Slide into the Hall of Botany to whisk yourself through North America’s diverse biomes, ranging from deserts to temperate forests. Or transport yourself back to ancient Egypt with the 5,000 or so objects in the Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt.
Don’t think one day is enough to see and enjoy everything this world-class research center and museum offers? Luckily, the museum also runs summer camps for kids to dive into all things natural history. (Who knows: Maybe you’ve got yourself the next David Attenborough!)
Want to get out in nature and experience a truly beautiful green space in the heart of the city? Surround yourself with greenery and relax at the 456-acre Schenley Park.
Voted in 2011 as one of the US’s coolest city parks, Schenley Park offers the chance to reconnect with nature without leaving the Oakland neighborhood. The park features miles of winding, well-maintained trails, perfect for a day of wandering and daydreaming among the city’s finest natural beauty. Be sure to carve out time to hike up to the Schenley Park Overlook for beautiful views over the city and woodlands.
Besides its trails and lookout point, Schenley Park is chock-loaded with amenities. In summer, bring the kids to play at the Bartlett Playground or hit the links for a round of golf at the Bob O’Connor Golf Course.
Fun fact: The area around Schenley Park is on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. While visiting this wonderful greenspace, you can enjoy the great outdoors and appreciate Pittsburgh’s history at the same time!
For birding aficionados, no trip to Pittsburgh would be complete without visiting the extraordinary National Aviary. Perched within Allegheny Commons in the North Side area, the aviary is the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the United States. It’s home to more than 500 birds and mammals from around the globe, spread out among a variety of unique habitats.
Even if you don’t know your bullfinch from your swallow, a visit to the National Aviary offers a fun day out for the whole family. Wander through the walk-in habitats and marvel at the birds soaring above as sloths lazily guard from the trees. Keep on the lookout for parrots, owls, and even birds of prey like eagles and condors.
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Aside from the habitats, the National Aviary also offers several interactive exhibits, including penguin feeding, bird encounters, and a Night in the Tropics for the 21+ crowds. Other events include birdwatching classes and educational talks. Check out the official events calendar to see what’s on during your trip.
Got the need to roam wild and free through bountiful nature? Plan for a day out in the glorious Frick Park, one of Pittsburgh’s four historic parks. Located about 15 minutes by car from downtown, Frick Park spans a gigantic 644 acres; it’s possible to spend your entire trip wandering the enchanting woodland trails here!
Whether you walk, run, cycle, or just want to take your furry friend for a stroll, there are plenty of great trails and options in Frick Park. For the full park experience, take the 4.9-mile Frick Park Tour Loop Trail. Or, if you’re a birder, take the Clayton Loop to Clayton Hill, where more than 100 bird species have been spotted.
If you’re looking to learn more about the local area and its conservation efforts, pop into the Frick Environmental Center. Admission to this education hub is free and offers plenty of opportunities for experiential learning with its outdoor education programs.
Are you a fan of America’s favorite pastime? Don your Pittsburgh Pirates jersey and catch a baseball game at PNC Park. Located in Pittsburgh’s North Shore neighborhood, PNC Park is the Pirates’ fifth baseball stadium and a fantastic stadium to watch some world-class Major League Baseball. Take the kiddos, fill up with hot dogs and sodas, and watch the Pirates try to annihilate the competition!
Not into baseball? PNC Park is also beloved for its iconic architecture, with striking iron beams and struts that can be seen from miles around. Squeeze in a Behind the Scenes Tour at PNC Park to get an up-close look at the stadium. Highlights of the tour include the Legacy Theater, The Clubhouse, and the Press Box.
Carnegie Science Center
Looking to uncover more about the wonderful world of science during your trip to Pittsburgh? Venture over to the Carnegie Science Center—one of the four Carnegie museums—and discover something new!
With interactive exhibits designed to dazzle and inspire visitors of all ages, the Carnegie Science Center is one of the top Pittsburgh tourist attractions. Catch a documentary on the 70-foot screen at The Rangos Giant Cinema, gaze into the cosmos at Buhl Planetarium & Observatory, and learn about the research and career opportunities at the STEM Center.
Whatever your science-based interest is, there’ll be something here for you. The Carnegie Science Center even has an exhibit on the history, evolution, and science of guitars for all the shredders out there!
The Frick Pittsburgh
Step back in time into a world of glamor, opulence, and wealth at The Frick Pittsburgh. Formerly known as the Frick Art & Historical Center, this museum complex is near the top of the list of what to see in Pittsburgh for art & architecture buffs. The Frick Pittsburgh sits upon the former estate of industrialist and art collector Henry Clay Frick and includes several museums.
Start your visit at The Clayton, the industrialist’s historic home. The amazingly well-restored 19th-century mansion serves as a living museum, honoring turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh. See how the other half lived and pretend that you’re in a gilded age fantasy of money, balls, and parties. When you’re done admiring the stunning 22-room mansion, admire the painstakingly manicured gardens outside.
Also worth checking out in the complex is The Frick Art Museum, one of Pittsburgh’s most popular museums. The art galleries here include impressive early Italian Renaissance paintings, Asian porcelain, 18th-century French decorative arts, and paintings from “Old Masters” like Peter Paul Rubens, François Boucher, and
Senator John Heinz History Center
If you’re a history buff with a love of all things interactive, be sure to pencil a visit to the Senator John Heinz History Center into your itinerary. Located on the edge of the historic Strip District, this history museum is the perfect spot for a fun and inspirational day out in Pittsburgh.
Spanning six floors, the exhibits at the Smithsonian-affiliated Senator John Heinz History Center indulge a wide variety of interests. Pop culture fans will love Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, including original set decorations and a life-like wax figure of TV icon Mister Rogers himself. Get eclipsed by an illuminated 11-foot ketchup bottle and discover more about the iconic Heinz brand at the Heinz exhibit.
If history and science are more your jam, learn about African-American history from the 18th century to the modern day at From Slavery to Freedom. Or, if you’re visiting with kids, let imaginations and creativity run rampant at Discovery Place.
If you’re looking for something a little more niche, check out the West Pennsylvania Sports Museum, also located within the Senator John Heinz History Center. Unleash your inner baseball star or football legend in this family-friendly favorite!
Fort Pitt Museum
Bring revolutionary history to life with a visit to the Fort Pitt Museum. Situated within Point State Park, this interactive history museum marks the city’s birthplace and is a must-see for history buffs roaming through Pittsburgh.
Learn all about the rich history of the area and how Pittsburgh came to be in this interactive, engaging museum. Through its glorious recreations, you can experience how the first Pittsburgh residents lived, fought, and thrived in this area. It’ll give you a new appreciation for the journey this city has been on.
With an exciting calendar of events, including a Tomahawk Toss competition and famous battle recreations, the Fort Pitt Museum brings history to life and leaves a lasting impression.
Are you into the weird, the wonderful, and the oddly spooky? Well, then, you’re going to love Trundle Manor, Pittsburgh’s quirky hub of all things macabre.
Curated personally by owners and artists Anton and Rachel Miriello, the kooky Trundle Manor is an off-the-beaten-path attraction you won’t find anywhere else. It’s certainly not your average museum. Marvel at the rooms full of vintage taxidermy, jarred specimens that float and stare into your soul, and displays of cryptozoology.
Sound like your kind of place? Note that visitors can only get into Trundle Manor by appointment. Check out their website for more information and to book a tour.
Want to marvel at gorgeous, panoramic views of Pittsburgh without hiking up Mount Washington? Trudge up the Duquesne Incline for a slow meander up or down the hill on an old-fashioned funicular.
As you journey up and down in one of two original 1877 cable cars, take in the glassy river views and the breathtaking Pittsburgh skyline. For a gorgeous photo opportunity, head up the Duquesne Incline during the golden hour, just as the sun begins to dip, bathing the scenery in an amber glow.
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Tickets for the Duquesne Incline are just $2.75 each way and can be bought either from the Upper Station in the Mount Washington neighborhood or Lower Station, depending on which way you’re traveling. Enjoy the ride!
Recommended places to stay in Pittsburgh for sightseeing
For travelers, the most popular places to stay in Pittsburgh are in & around downtown, including the Cultural District and Strip District. There’s also a handful of accommodation options on the North Shore and South Shore if you’re looking for something a little further outside the city center.
With its central location and spacious rooms set reasonable prices, the Drury Plaza Hotel offers excellent value for downtown. The hotel is a superb choice for history and architecture buffs, too, as it’s housed in a former Federal Reserve Bank. Before leaving your digs, be sure to get a couple of laps in at the indoor pool, where the federal guard shooting range once stood.
The French Riviera visits Pennsylvania’s second-biggest city in the beautiful boutique-style Kimpton Hotel Monaco. Get the ultimate in regal European luxury in your room, set with green velvet headboards and checkered curtains framing sweeping city views. On top of its sophistication, culture vultures will love its location—and its nightly wine-tasting reception.
Surrounded by Fourth Avenue’s glitzy boutiques and hip restaurants, The Industrialist Hotel is one of the top hotels in Pittsburgh for luxury travelers. The luxury hotel blends rustic and trendy style with a splash of modern amenities that are sure to make your vacation shine. Before hitting the pillow for the night, enjoy cocktails and gourmet appetizers with new friends at the on-site restaurant & bar Yuzu Kitchen.