Our 5 favorite Pittsburgh neighborhoods for fun times in the City of Bridges
Known as the Steel City, Pittsburgh is one of those places that has truly stood the test of time. From fascinating history to top-notch educational institutions, there’s no shortage of reasons to visit Pittsburgh. There’s also no shortage of things to do in Pittsburgh, with a plethora of attractions, restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment spread across the city in a network of charming neighborhoods, where you’ll find lovely places to stay in Pittsburgh. If you’re wondering where to stay in Pittsburgh, we’ll help you find your perfect neighborhood fit with this run-down of our five favorite neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. You’ll navigate the ‘Burgh like a pro in no time!
Do Pittsburgh the right way with our Stay Alfred Travel Guide
Deciding where to stay in Pittsburgh doesn’t have to be difficult. Do you prefer a prime Downtown location or a trendy, up-and-coming area? Do you like to squeeze in a workout in an on-site fitness center or kick back in a resident lounge? Thanks to Stay Alfred’s upscale travel apartments, you really can’t go wrong when it comes to places to stay in Pittsburgh, PA. Skip the overpriced, cramped hotels and give yourself the space and privacy you deserve.
Every Stay Alfred travel apartment features a full kitchen, a spacious floor plan, and premium amenities like in-unit laundry and chic decor. Every Stay Alfred building is also ideally positioned to give you the best access to the best things to do in Pittsburgh. In fact, that’s exactly why we put together this guide. In addition to helping you decide where to stay in Pittsburgh for nightlife, where to stay in Pittsburgh downtown, or even where to stay in Pittsburgh for a Steelers game, we want to ensure you have the inside scoop on all the best things to do and places to eat while you’re here.
Neighborhood #1: Central Business District
Thinking about where to stay in Pittsburgh downtown? If you like to be in the center of the action, the Central Business District is the place for you. In the heart of Pittsburgh’s financial center -- and also the scenic point where Pittsburgh’s three rivers meet -- sits the vibrant urban core of the Steel City. It’s a captivating place where old meets new; not only are some of Pittsburgh’s newest restaurants and shops in the CBD, but also the oldest structure in the western part of the state. That’s right, folks; the Fort Pitt Blockhouse, which today on the grounds of Point State Park, was built back in the ‘60s. The 1760’s, that is!
Where to stay in the Central Business District
Sold on the CBD? If you’re ready to decide where to stay in Pittsburgh downtown, the CBD is the center of the action. And the center of urban cool is most definitely Stay Alfred at the Venue. In addition to snazzy travel apartments, this building features a spacious fitness center (does thinking about working out count as working out?), a business center, and a modern community lounge. The 1- and 2-bedroom apartments are just as sophisticated, with stainless steel appliances and large windows that show off some sweet city views.
Neighborhood Highlights: Central Business District
The CBD may be where scores of Pittsburgh locals (and business travelers!) work hard, but the CBD definitely has its fair share of play. With some of the city’s top theaters, restaurants, and historical sites, the city center has something for every type of visitor.
Friends: Market Square
Visiting the ‘Burgh with a group of pals? Meet up in the Central Business District for a fun night out at Market Square. This central plaza has been the gathering point for Steel City locals for centuries -- we’re not kidding. It’s part event space, part dining destination, and a whole lot of fun. Around the perimeter of the plaza, you’ll find restaurants serving a plethora of cuisines, like Bluebird Kitchen for sandwiches, Las Velas for Mexican fare, and the always-popular Nola on the Square, with its signature New Orleans theme, live jazz, and patio seating.
On the square itself, food trucks gather during lunch time, so it’s also a fantastic midday destination. Grab a bite to eat and wander down to the riverfront for a classic Pittsburgh lunch experience. Throughout the year, Market Square hosts events ranging from a St. Patrick’s Day festival to free concerts, so you might be lucky enough to stumble upon one during your time in town!
Couples: Pittsburgh’s premier arts venues
Sure, a whirlwind trip to Venice might (at first) sound a little more romantic than a weekend in Pittsburgh, but did you know Pittsburgh is known as the City of Bridges -- over 440 of them -- which actually adds up to more bridges than you’d find in the city of gondolas. So there, we think a Pittsburgh getaway is actually just about as romantic as you can get.
We recommend including a show at one of Pittsburgh’s fabulous historic theatres, either the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts or the Byham Theater, on any couples’ trip to the ‘Burgh. Enjoy a variety of entertainment at these storied show houses, from stand-up comedy to locally produced musicals to famous singers. If symphonies are more your style, take your sweetie to an evening with some of Pittsburgh’s most talented musicians at the Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, home of the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Business travelers: Where to eat near the Pittsburgh Convention Center
Coming to the Steel City for a trade show or a conference? If so, you’ll likely spend some time at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on the north side of Downtown Pittsburgh. Hopefully the agenda includes ample time to enjoy a meal outside of the Convention Center, since there are some fabulous restaurants within just a couple blocks. Spice up an ordinary day of meetings with a meal at Nicky's Thai Kitchen, which is open for both lunch and dinner. Slurp down some Tom Kha soup or savor a flavorful curry.
Another solid pick for midday or evening is the stylish Eleven, appropriately named because we’d give it an 11 out of 10 for food and atmosphere. Here you’ll find oysters, fresh salads, and sophisticated entrees like lamb, swordfish, and Alaska halibut. For a drink or a tasty dinner, head to Sienna Mercato for Italian food any way you like it. Grab a happy hour beverage on their rooftop patio or dig into a wood-fired pizza made with only the best ingredients. For the meat lovers, they also have an entire menu dedicated to meatballs. Mamma mia!
Families: Explore Point State Park
Although the ‘Burgh might not exactly be famous for its favorable weather, there are plenty of beautiful, sunny days. Take advantage of the blue skies and bring the whole fam’ down to Point State Park, in the heart of the Central Business District. Though the “Business District” sure doesn’t sound like a whole lot of family fun, Point State Park is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Pittsburgh.
This sprawling state park contains Fort Duquesne and the Fort Pitt Blockhouse, two well-preserved military structures from the Revolutionary War era. Visit the Fort Pitt Museum to learn all about the historical events that happened here. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the kids to see history come to life! Another Point State Park highlight is the gorgeous fountain positioned where Western Pennsylvania’s three rivers -- the Monongahela River, the Allegheny River, and the Ohio River -- intersect. It’s an ideal spot for parents to take a seat on a park bench and relax while the kids run around.
Neighborhood #2: Mount Washington
Situated across the Monongahela River from Pittsburgh’s Central Business District, Mount Washington is just as worthy of a visit as the bustling Downtown areas. Known for spectacular views, this photo-worthy district is full of history -- but has more than enough modern attractions to draw visitors from far and wide.
Whether you’re searching for a memorable meal or a million-dollar photo op, Mt. Washington is a definite must when visiting the Steel City. It’s also a favorite of runners, power-walkers, and cyclists who can enjoy the view while getting some exercise on one of the many trails overlooking the city. Still deciding where to stay in Pittsburgh? Mt. Washington is easily accessible from the CBD, the Strip, and any other Downtown neighborhood.
Distance from Stay Alfred at 1627 on The Strip: About 3 miles (a 10-minute drive)
Distance from Stay Alfred at The Venue: About 2.5 miles (a 10-minute drive)
Neighborhood Highlights: Mt. Washington
Some tourists only cross the river to take a photo at the Grandview Overlook. Too bad for them, because they miss all the wonderful things Mt. Washington has to offer! This scenic neighborhood isn’t only about beautiful views -- it’s also known for lush parks, craft cocktails, and exceptional dining.
Friends: Low-key Mt. Washington watering holes
Craving a night out with friends? Skip the tourist traps and head to the Mt. Washington bars that fill up mostly with locals. But spending an evening in a bar doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the iconic Mt. Washington views; grab a drink at Satalio's, one of the neighborhood’s favorite dive bars, which also boasts an impressive skyline vista and affordable prices. We also love Scarpaci's, another laid-back bar known for open mic nights and a breezy patio.
For libations in hipster-approved surrounds, head to The Summit for expertly mixed craft cocktails. This cozy, brick-lined space features drinks that rival those at any upscale cocktail bar in New York City or Los Angeles. Not only will you find housemade tinctures and mixers, but they’re also proud of their “pristine cuts of ice,” turning the simple act of drinking into a truly sophisticated experience.
Couples: Savor a romantic evening with river views
Mt. Washington isn’t only a place for camera-happy tourists and cocktail aficionados, but it’s also an extraordinary date destination. The obvious choice for a special evening is to share an intimate meal for two at one of the charming restaurants on Grandview Avenue. Aptly named, the strip of establishments on this street feature jaw-dropping views of the city, but we think the cuisine is just as impressive.
Try Monterey Bay Fish Grotto, a tried-and-true Grandview Avenue standby, which serves fresh seafood and has a nice patio during warm weather months. More dinner with a view options include the stylish Altius, where the menu constantly changes with the seasons, and the classy LeMont Restaurant, where Steel City locals have been celebrating special occasions for decades. Visiting Pittsburgh for a birthday, an anniversary, or just celebrating life together? Dinner in Mt. Washington is the perfect addition to your romantic itinerary.
Looking for something beyond the traditional dinner date? Take your special someone on a romantic river cruise on the Gateway Clipper, which departs from a pier near Station Square. In addition to a classy dinner cruise, the company also offers nostalgic “Second Chance Prom” cruises and nightclub-esque party cruises.
Business travelers: Business dinners with a view
It’s a popular pick for business dinners on the company card, with river views and a plethora of restaurants to choose from. Station Square has its fair share of crowd-pleasing chain eateries, but you can also find some local flavor in between the nationally known spots. The original Station Square opened in 1905, so in addition to your business meal, you can experience one of the Steel City’s most famous historical sites!
Speaking of history, the Grand Concourse restaurant is indeed a former train station, but today the cuisine is a far cry from grab-and-go snacks you’d buy before running to your train. The building itself is a work of art, and you’ll have to allow at least a few minutes to marvel at the marble columns and the stained-glass ceiling in the beautifully preserved terminal. Of course, the food is also a work of art, and Grand Concourse’s menu includes fresh seafood, high-quality steaks, and an ever-changing array of seasonal veggies and proteins. If a different style of seafood is what you and your colleagues have in mind, Kiku Japanese Restaurant, is also a solid bet, serving some of Pittsburgh’s best sushi.
Families: Expansive parks with a little excitement
What’s better than a family day at the park?! How about a day at the park with one of Pittsburgh’s best views? For families that are deciding where to stay in Pittsburgh, a location near Emerald View Park is an excellent choice. This massive urban green space offers not only panoramic skyline views, but also an opportunity for the kids to get a little history lesson at the statue of George Washington meeting Guyasuta, the Seneca tribe leader, at Point of View Park. But it’s not all history here; there are playgrounds, sports fields, trails, and picnic spots.
This enormous park sits at the top of a sizable hill, and for those who prefer to skip the exhausting climb to the top, there’s the Duquesne Incline. It’s not only a method to get from point A to point B, but it’s also an attraction similar to a Disneyland ride. Young thrillseekers will love the vertical ride to or from the park’s summit -- but kids who aren’t too fond of heights may want to sit this one out. After expending tons of energy at the park, refuel at one of Mt. Washington’s favorite family-friendly restaurants, like Micro Diner or Shiloh Grill.
Neighborhood #3: The Strip District
From the past to the present, the Strip District continues to be one of Pittsburgh’s most important industrial centers, especially for the Steel City’s food industry. Warehouses built for steel, manufacturing, and mills were taken over by produce and meat vendors, which led the Strip District to become the preferred spot for restauranteurs to buy their ingredients. Over time, restaurants, breweries, and boutiques moved into the warehouses, which turned this cool neighborhood into a place not only for commerce, but also for community.
Where to stay in The Strip District
Does The Strip sound like your kind of neighborhood? Great choice! And another great choice is Stay Alfred at 1627 on the Strip, our stylish digs in the middle of the incredible dining and nightlife of the Strip District. Travel apartments here range from studios (great for business travelers or couples!) to sprawling 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom units (ideal for friends or families!) with trendy exposed ceilings and polished concrete floors. Like all of our above-average accommodations, Stay Alfred at 1627 on the Strip features full kitchens and upscale furnishings in every unit. The building also includes a business center and a fully equipped gym (so you can finally use those workout clothes you always pack!).
Neighborhood Highlights: The Strip District
In an area characterized by warehouses and industrial buildings, the Strip District’s hidden gems are indeed quite hidden at first glance. We’ve put together a few of our best Strip District recommendations so you can get a head start on uncovering the secrets behind those storefronts.
Friends: Unique beverage experiences
If you’re visiting the Steel City with friends, you may end up searching for a place to grab a drink at one point or another. But why settle for an ordinary bar when you can have a decidedly different drinking experience? In the Strip District, you’ll find funky spots dedicated to pretty much every type of booze -- even a few coffee shops that are fanatical about sourcing the best beans and roasting on-site. One of those coffee shops for coffee people is La Prima Espresso Company, where you can find organic beans, a variety of house roasts, and friendly service. You might even learn something new about coffee from their passionate team!
Heading back to the Strip District’s adult beverage industry, whiskey lovers will be happy to know Pittsburgh has its very own whiskey distillery, Wigle Whiskey Distillery, which has won a slew of awards and manages to stay true to its roots. It’s also a great place to learn more about the distillation process, especially when you take a tour of the facility. Reward yourself for all that learning with a tasting flight! For more spirits -- and fantastic cocktails -- check out Bar Marco, just two blocks away.
In addition to hard liquor, the Strip District is also home to Pittsburgh Winery, a real, functioning winery that produces delicious wines with grapes grown in California. Swing by their cozy tasting room and you might think you were somehow transported to Napa Valley! Of course, it’s wouldn’t be Pennsylvania without a local brewery, and East End Brewery Tap Room is the Strip District’s neighborhood beer joint. Sample a few beers at the taproom, then bring a growler back to your Stay Alfred to enjoy later.
Couples: Eclectic shops with unique souvenirs
Nestled between the Strip District’s restaurants and bars are more than a couple funky shops selling anything from gourmet food to art to kitchen gadgets. Wandering this hip ‘hood is a lovely way to spend an afternoon with a special someone -- and you’ll probably find a few unique mementos to bring back from your trip to the ‘Burgh. Peruse art galleries like Lotenero Art Studio or make some art together at Contemporary Craft, both fun and interesting ways to pass a couple hours. Maybe pick up a sweet souvenir at Mon Aimee Chocolat or a functional one at In The Kitchen, which sells chef-approved gadgets and gizmos.
In the mood for a home-cooked meal? Take advantage of that snazzy Stay Alfred’s kitchen and whip up a romantic meal for two. But first, make grocery shopping more exciting when you grab ingredients from Strip District Meats (find literally every type of meat here), Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. (the premier pasta destination), or Robert Wholey & Co. Inc. (fresh seafood galore). Grab a locally made bottle of wine from Pittsburgh Winery and your shopping trip will be complete!
Business travelers: Happy hour spots
Being a thriving commercial district, the Strip District is as welcoming to business travelers as to tourists, especially during happy hour. The neighborhood is just a stone’s throw from Pittsburgh’s Central Business District, so it’s a convenient place to meet after a day at the office or the Convention Center. All of your colleagues will be thrilled when you suggest meeting at Smallman Galley, which truly has something for everyone. This modern food hall features a bar with half-priced drinks during happy hour from Tuesday to Friday in addition to four different cuisines, from banh mi sandwiches to gourmet pizza.
If you don’t want to be stuck with analysis paralysis because everything at Smallman Galley looks so delicious, Kaya is another scrumptious choice for happy hour with a group. Come on any weekday afternoon for half-priced cocktails and beer, any of which pair famously with the restaurant’s island-inspired cuisine. We say “island-inspired” because their menu features everything from Jamacian jerk chicken wings to Cuban sandwiches to poke bowls.
Families: Restaurants for all ages
Thanks to the Strip District’s unpretentious vibe, it’s also an excellent neighborhood for families who want to grab a bite to eat without needing to keep voices down or put on fancy clothes. Keep things casual with a meal at DeLuca's Diner or Kelly O's Diner in the Strip, both serving breakfast and lunch classics with special choices for the kids too. Though you can order breakfast at any hour these two diners are open, we don’t think there’s a better way to kick off the day than with a steaming plate of pancakes from Kelly O’s or a breakfast burrito from DeLuca’s.
After a fun-filled day exploring the ‘Burgh, maybe everybody’s in the mood for a sweet treat. Head to the Strip District for some of the best ice cream in the Steel City at Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor. This retro ice cream shop first opened as an apothecary almost 100 years (!) ago, but today the only medicine it sells is in a cup or a cone. The real star of the show is their creative sundae menu -- with toppings like marshmallow cream, peanut butter cups, and hot fudge, this spot is a kid’s dream come true.
Neighborhood #4: North Shore and Allegheny West
Okay, our Neighborhood #4 is actually two adjacent neighborhoods, the North Shore and Allegheny West, but they’re both so awesome that we couldn’t pick just one. Back in Pittsburgh’s early days, this area was actually a separate city called Allegheny City, which thrived from the late 1700s to the early 1900s, when it formally became part of the ‘Burgh. Sadly, many of the historic buildings from Allegheny City’s heyday have been demolished or reconstructed, but the area features a plethora of modern attractions that make the North Shore and Allegheny West essential additions to any Pittsburgh itinerary.
Distance from Stay Alfred at 1627 on The Strip: About 1.5 miles (a 7-minute drive or a 30-minute walk)
Distance from Stay Alfred at the Venue: About 1 mile (a 5-minute drive or a 20-minute walk)
Neighborhood Highlights: North Shore and Allegheny West
This riverfront district has a little bit of everything, from baseball to birds to bars. A convenient location just across the river from the Central Business District makes getting here a breeze, and the variety of things to do in the North Shore and Allegheny West makes the area enjoyable for any type of traveler.
Friends: Cheer for the home team at these sports venues
The only thing better than having your pals over to watch the game is watching the game in real life! If you’re a sports fan, that is (otherwise you can probably think of a few preferable activities). Pittsburgh is serious about its sports, so if you’re also a serious sports fan, don’t miss the chance to see Steel City athletes in action.
Possibly Pennsylvania’s most famous sports team, the Pittsburgh Steelers football team plays at Heinz Field. In true Pittsburgh fashion, the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the entire American Football League, having played their first season back in 1933. Over the years, their uniforms, logo, and roster have changed, but the rowdy enthusiasm of their fans has stayed the same. Steeler Nation isn’t only limited to the Pittsburgh metro; people all over the world feel a strong connection to the team, probably thanks in part to their mascot, Steely McBeam, and their iconic yellow “Terrible Towel.” If you know, you know.
In addition to football, the Pittsburgh Pirates also play in the North Shore at PNC Park. The Steel City baseball team makes the Steelers sound young; the Pirates have been swinging bats since 1882! They’ve won five World Series championships, but none in the last few decades. Maybe this year will be their year! But if simply watching a game isn’t your thing and you want to be in on the action, head to Rivers Casino Pittsburgh on the banks of the Ohio River. This massive casino features nearly 3,000 games, including slots, poker, and table games.
Couples: Sophisticated date ideas with an artistic twist
It’s not every day that you get to stop and ponder world-class art with a special someone. Thanks to our busy, technology-laden lives, we might be more likely to switch on a Netflix show than venture out to a museum or a theater to experience art in real life. While Pittsburgh is known for its food, universities, and sports, it also has a storied tradition in the arts. And one of the most famous and acclaimed American artists, Andy Warhol, was a Pittsburgh native.
See a huge collection of his pieces for yourself at The Andy Warhol Museum, which just so happens to be the largest museum in the country that’s dedicated to a single artist and a lovely place to go on a date. Once you’ve gotten your fill of pop art, head to the Mattress Factory Museum for an entirely different type of modern art. This experiential institution contains room-sized installations, like the Instagrammable “Repetitive Vision” by Yayoi Kusama.
Beyond the museums, the North Shore and Allegheny West have a few notable concert venues, including the New Hazlett Theater and the rockin’ Stage AE. At the New Hazlett Theater, date night can consist of a Shakespeare play, a Caribbean-inspired jazz concert, or a musical put on by local students. And at Stage AE, you’d better come ready to party, because this venue hosts bands ranging from indie rock to heavy metal.
Business travelers: Take a break from work in Pittsburgh’s oldest park
All work and no play really doesn’t make for a fun business trip, but we understand if your jam-packed agenda doesn’t allow for a jaunt out to Kennywood Park. Snag a few minutes for yourself and spend some time outside in Allegheny Commons Park. Divided into East and West sides, the Allegheny Commons is Pittsburgh’s oldest public park, having opened its doors in 1867. Well, technically there aren’t any doors, since it’s a park, but you know what we mean!
Today, the park features a large network of walking trails, the picturesque Lake Elizabeth, a swimming pool, and more than a few park benches that are ideal for midday meditation or just thinking about what to have for dinner. In addition to the standard park amenities, this park has something special: the National Aviary. All of your colleagues will surely be surprised to learn that your lunchtime walk included a visit with penguins, condors, and canaries.
Families: Hours of entertainment at these kid-friendly attractions
While Allegheny Commons Park and the National Aviary are absolutely wonderful things to do with kids in Pittsburgh, they aren’t the only things drawing visitors of all ages to the North Shore and Allegheny West. In fact, an educational attraction designed especially for families is located here: the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. Exhibits range from woodworking to gardening to a three-story play structure made out of tape. It’s paradise for kids!
Slightly older kids will enjoy the Carnegie Science Center, which features a planetarium and exhibits on space, the railroad industry, robots, and more. And kids with a lot of energy will have a nice opportunity to run, climb, and jump around at Highmark Sportsworks. This giant jungle gym is complete with a rock climbing wall, a ropes course, and an exhibit about staying balanced on a skateboard. Sweet!
Neighborhood #5: Oakland
Just west of Pittsburgh’s Central Business District, Oakland is a formidable business district on its own. The home of two of Pennsylvania’s top educational educations, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, and a slew of cultural attractions, restaurants, and shops, Oakland is like its own little metropolis. Thanks to the large student population here, you can expect a vibrant culture, with frequent events and free things to do year-round. There are also sprawling parks and urban green spaces that aren’t just lovely places to study, but also to go for a romantic walk, play with the kids, or take a break from work.
Distance from Stay Alfred at 1627 on The Strip: About 3.5 miles (a 12-minute drive)
Distance from Stay Alfred at The Venue: About 3.5 miles (a 10-minute drive)
Neighborhood Highlights: Oakland
One way to find Oakland’s best things to do is simply to wander around and see where you end up. We definitely like that option, but if you’re a traveler who likes to have some inkling of a plan -- or you’d like to skip right to the good stuff -- we’ve put together some of our top recommendations for Oakland restaurants and activities. This neighborhood has something for everyone, from families to business travelers, and it makes a great home base for anyone who wants to explore the wider Pittsburgh area. So if you’re wondering where to stay in Pittsburgh with a quieter, more residential vibe, Oakland may be the place for you.
Friends: Affordable international cuisine
Being the neighborhood surrounding the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh, it only makes sense that Oakland would have its fair share of tasty, student-budget-friendly restaurants serving cuisine from around the world. If there’s one thing college kids like, it’s cheap, delicious food.
Order sushi exactly the way you like it at Sushi Fuku, a cool concept which allows you to have your sushi the traditional way (rolled), in a bowl, poke-style, or in a burrito, Chipotle-style. Choose from pre-selected combinations or build your own with toppings like yellowtail tuna, shiitake mushrooms, avocado, shrimp tempura, and jalapenos. Speaking of spicy food,
Spice Island Tea House serves all the flavorful favorites from Southeast Asia, like Thai panang curry and Burmese fried rice. They also serve high-end loose-leaf tea -- a fabulous way to feel fancy without spending a lot of cash.
More international Oakland restaurants that your whole group of friends will love include Bangal Kabab House & Restaurant, a homey Indian spot with a buffet, Nellie's Sandwiches, the area go-to for gyros and shawarma, and Oishii Bento, for Japanese and Korean comfort food.
Couples: A stroll through the gardens
What’s more romantic than a hand-in-hand stroll through a botanical garden? If one of those over-water bungalows in Bora Bora isn’t in the cards right now, then you can do the next best thing: go for a walk with your honey through Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in the heart of Oakland.
This place isn’t any old garden, though it is indeed very old, having opened in 1893. The gardens are one of Pittsburgh’s most iconic landmarks and has landed a place on the National Register of Historic Places. The gardens encompass 15 acres and feature rare species of plants and four stunning blown-glass pieces by famed artist Dale Chihuly. Some rooms in the conservatory are organized by plant family, so you can experience the Orchid Room, the Fern Room, or the Palm Court, or you can step outside for themed gardens like the Edible Garden and the Aquatic Garden. You’ll leave with some gorgeous photos and a newfound awe for the volume of plant species on our planet!
Business travelers: Morning favorites for coffee and breakfast
One crucial part of any business trip is a strong cup of coffee or a hearty breakfast to get the day started on the right foot. In Oakland, which is home to thousands of caffeine-craving students, you’ll find no shortage of coffee shops and breakfast joints. One of the classics is Pamela's Diner, a retro-styled eatery famous for pancakes and omelettes. Pamela’s pancakes aren’t your standard griddle cakes, but something in the middle of a crepe and a pancake, which are absolutely divine when stuffed with strawberries, chocolate chips, or bananas. If that doesn’t get you out of bed in the morning, we don’t know what will!
On the coffee front, you’ll find all the chain coffee shops, but they pale in comparison to Redhawk Coffee, a local favorite for specialty coffee and a popular hangout for students. The bright and cozy sitting area is ideal for catching up on emails or spending a few hours working remotely. In neighboring Squirrel Hill, you’ll also find Commonplace Coffee, which roasts their own beans, and Arriviste Coffee Bar in Shadyside, also known for their decadent pastries.
Families: A day at the museum for budding scientists
Much of Oakland may cater to university students, professors, or parents, but if your kids are in the under-12 crowd, have no fear. Oakland is a true family-friendly destination, and thanks to its casual atmosphere, it may even be more suited for families than the busy Central Business District or boozy Strip District. High on the list for families visiting the City of Bridges should be the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, a massive institution dedicated to the history of plants and animals. One highlight -- and a must for any young dinosaur lover -- is the first T-Rex skeleton to be discovered by humans, which stands proudly on display here.
Besides the museum, older kids might be interested in a college visit to one of the nearby universities, but younger kids will probably opt for a scoop of their favorite flavor from Dave & Andy's Homemade Ice Cream. This legendary ice cream joint has more flavors than we can count, including more than a few seasonal creations, like Irish Cream ice cream around St. Patrick’s Day and pumpkin ice cream in the fall months.
Neighborhood #6: Downtown
Welcome the Golden Triangle – Pittsburgh’s downtown and Central Business District. Located where the neighborhood’s northern border, the Monongahela River, and its southern border, the Allegheny River, come together to form the Ohio River, this part of town is where industrial baron Andrew Carnegie made his fortune in steel. The neighborhood is also graced with ten bridges connecting it with neighborhoods north and south, and it’s home to attractions like PPG Paint Arena, which is home of the Penguins hockey team but also hosts national musical acts and WWE wrestling matches. Of course, you’ll also find no shortage of shopping, cultural attractions and chef-driven restaurants.
Where to Stay in Downtown Pittsburgh
Decided that this staying right in the heart of downtown’s skyscrapers and activity is the way to go? Stay Alfred has two great properties in the neighborhood, each of which would make an excellent home base. Located right in the heart of downtown, both Stay Alfred on Penn Avenue and Stay Alfred Cultural District put you steps away from attractions like Point State Park, the Andy Warhol Museum and Market Square. Both feature all of the conveniences – a kitchen, in-unit laundry, and spacious living areas – that you miss when you stay in a hotel room. And, both feature on-site gyms for staying fit on the road, as well as rooftop decks that are perfect places to unwind while taking in city views.
Whether you’re in town for business and looking for swank restaurants and hip happy hours – or you’re looking for parks, museums and other kid-friendly attractions, downtown Pittsburgh has something that’s right up your alley. Read on for our picks for friends, couples, business travelers and families.
Downtown Pittsburgh for Friends
Looking for great spots to kick back and catch up with a friend? Downtown Pittsburgh’s coffee shops and bars won’t disappoint. Located in the Omni William Penn Hotel, The Speakeasy, located in the basement beneath the lobby, aims to recreate a true, Prohibition-era establishment. Its dark, private atmosphere makes the perfect getaway, especially if you’re visiting in summertime and want to beat the heat. Or, maybe an afternoon spent sipping craft cocktails and enjoying light bar snacks is more your speed. The Warren's master of the shaker, Spencer Warren, offers an innovative selection that changes seasonally, and sushi from Penn Cove eatery, located next door, complement The Warren’s cocktails with offerings like Thai Hot Chicken Wings, Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps and more that will keep your tummy from rumbling while you dish. Or, if you want to go for something truly unique, the custom serving glasses and modern beverages at Bridges & Bourbon are sure to delight. Of course, coffee and conversation are a classic pairing too, and Crazy Mocha, located less than a two-minute walk from either of Stay Alfred’s downtown properties, offers great espresso drinks, coffee beans that you can take back to your travel apartment, and house-made pastries.
Downtown Pittsburgh for Couples
There’s really nothing better than trying out new restaurants in a new city with your beau, and downtown Pittsburgh has no shortage of options. If you’re looking to impress – or to make up for a bit of security-line short-temperedness that happened earlier in your trip – fl.2, located on the second floor of the Fairmont Pittsburgh, will ensure that the good feelings flow as it seduces you with new-American dishes and an absolutely amazing bar. If you’re visiting Steel City during the warmer months, enjoying cocktails on a rooftop bar is a great way to spend an evening, and the rooftop at Il Tetto is an absolutely enchanting place to enjoy a glass of wine, a cocktail or a beer. Visiting in winter? Not to worry… a retractable glass roof allows you to enjoy the view while staying warm. Not in the mood for fancy, but still want to enjoy out-of-this world eats? Butcher and the Rye offers delicious comfort food, an enormous whiskey selection, and a comfortable environment that’s perfect for a relaxing evening.
Downtown Pittsburgh for Business travelers
While any of the restaurants listed above would be perfectly appropriate for a business dinner (as would the always dependable Ruth’s Chris Steak House, also located downtown), happy-hour drinks are always a sure-fire hit. (Ruth’s Chris’ runs from 4 to 6:30 p.m. every day.) Or, you might try the pun-tastically named Olive or Twist, just four minutes on foot from both Stay Alfred on Penn Avenue and Stay Alfred Cultural District, prides itself on dessert martinis (don’t be afraid to follow your bliss) but offers a full range of conventional cocktails, too, plus a full kitchen. Their happy hour runs from 4-6 p.m., Monday through Friday – so make an effort to wrap up that last meeting of the day a little early.
Downtown Pittsburgh for Families
If you’re traveling with little ones, there’s nothing like a park to let for burning off a little pent-up energy. Point State Park, located at downtown’s westernmost edge – and the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers as they converge to form the Ohio River – has plenty of green space where the kids can roam free. While you’re all there, check out the Fort Pitt Museum: remnants of a 1764 British fort. For more educational activities, cross the Allegheny, and you’ll find both the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Science Center, both of which are guaranteed to inspire young minds – and not quite young ones, too. When you’re done exploring, grab some ice cream with the kids at Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream or The Milk Shake Factory – either of which is sure to make you quite popular with the younger generation.
See you in Steel City!
Now you’re well aware that Pittsburgh is more than just the birthplace of the Big Mac, the polio vaccine, and the emoticon (true story, it was created at Carnegie Mellon in 1980). While deciding where to stay in Pittsburgh, PA might not be the easiest choice (there are just so many good options!), deciding to visit Pittsburgh most certainly is a given.
Book one of Stay Alfred’s Pittsburgh vacation rentals to experience the city in style and comfort -- and don’t forget to consult our handy packing list to avoid any fashion faux pas. Need something else? Give us a call at 877.935.8949, and our friendly guest service team will be happy to assist.