Dive into the Past at Fort Pitt Block House
Every city has its heart, one that narrates a tale of its past, making you part of its journey.
For Pittsburgh, that heart is the Fort Pitt Block House.
Nestled in the beautiful Point State Park, it's the oldest standing structure in western Pennsylvania, echoing a history that stretches back over 250 years.
The Block House sends chills down my spine as I recall the first time I walked through its doors.
You can feel the weight of time when you set foot inside the Fort Pitt Block House.
Built by the British in 1764, it is the only remaining part of the once mighty Fort Pitt.
It was our bulwark, our shield against Native American assaults.
Over the years, it has assumed many roles - a trading post, a private residence, and now a symbol of our resilient spirit.
Inside this modest abode, every brick, every beam seems to whisper a tale.
My favorite part of the tour is the red dates etched on the walls, indicating the heights reached by the city's most notorious floods.
The highest mark paints a picture of a city submerged under 15 ft of water, a sobering testament to the Block House’s endurance.
The site’s stewards, the Daughters of the American Revolution, have done a commendable job preserving this monument.
My interaction with the knowledgeable guide was a riveting experience, as he artfully painted a vivid picture of the fort's history, bringing to life the bygone era.
To me, Fort Pitt Block House isn't just a tourist spot.
It's a part of my city, my history.
And every time I visit, I find myself falling more in love with Pittsburgh.
If you ever find yourself in our beloved city, don't miss the chance to explore the Block House.
It's like stepping back in time.
The best part?
It’s a free attraction, making history accessible to all.
Enrich Your Spirit at Saint Anthony Chapel
Every Sunday, like clockwork, I pull open the heavy, ornate wooden doors of Saint Anthony Chapel - constructed in 1882, it is a divine retreat tucked right in the heart of our city.
The chapel houses 4,000+ religious relics, the largest collection outside of the Vatican, a fact that never fails to leave me in awe.
The moment I step in, an unimaginable calm washes over me, a welcome respite from the daily bustle.
The grandeur of the church interior is nothing short of breathtaking.
The intricate stained glass windows filter in a soft, ethereal light, illuminating the relics, each with a story to tell.
As I walk down the aisle, years of religious history and fervor resonate around me.
It's an experience that humbles and inspires me all at once.
The relics themselves are an awe-inspiring sight, a testament to the relentless pursuit of Father Mollinger.
Reading about his journey and dedication to gathering these relics, I feel a renewed appreciation for the rich history that engulfs this place.
I never fail to find a new story, a new relic that piques my interest, keeping the magic of this place alive for me.
One of my cherished rituals is to pick a saint's life story from “Lives of the Saints” and spend my visit exploring the associated relics.
It’s like walking through the corridors of history, feeling the presence of these holy figures in each carefully preserved relic.
While I've visited numerous times, the emotional impact remains the same - it’s as if I'm viewing Saint Anthony Chapel and its relics for the first time.
The sheer magnitude of its collection, its history, and the sense of peace it instills continue to leave me humbled and absolutely in love with this place.
See Classic Bikes at Bicycle Heaven
Let me tell you about a hidden gem in our city. It's called Bicycle Heaven, and it's nothing short of a two-wheeler utopia.
This place is an absolute riot; you wouldn't believe the number of bicycles they have, it's like a sea of spokes and wheels.
They've got everything from vintage models to the latest releases, all under one huge roof.
And the memorabilia on display? It's like stepping into a time machine made of bike parts.
Now, I know what you're thinking.
Is the actual bicycle from Pee Wee's Big Adventure really there?
You bet your leather saddle it is.
You can't miss it, it's right there, waiting for you to gawk at its surreal quirkiness.
The sheer amount of bicycles can be overwhelming in the best possible way.
You could spend hours, and I mean hours, just exploring the upstairs area.
And that's not even mentioning the ground floor!
It's a sight to behold, truly unlike anything else.
Bicycle Heaven has some of the most eccentric and classic bicycles you can think of.
I'm talking wooden rims and wooden handlebars – real, old-school stuff.
And best of all?
It's all free.
They've got a huge parking lot, and they don't charge admission (though they do accept donations if you're so inclined).
Stroll through the West End Overlook Park
There's a secret spot in the city that I have always been attracted to, the West End Overlook Park.
It's nestled by the Ohio River, and believe it or not, it offers one of the most mesmerizing city views you'll ever lay your eyes on.
Summer nights here become enchanting as the park frequently hosts outdoor movies, and the sky lights up with fireworks.
Fourth of July is particularly special at this park.
The fireworks reflected on the Ohio River are such a fantastic sight that it's worth getting there an hour early to secure a good spot.
It’s a moment that makes me proud to call Pittsburgh my home.
As night falls, the park takes on a different charm. It's unusually quiet, given its location in the city, making it an ideal spot for photography or peaceful contemplation.
If you're lucky and the sky is clear, you might catch a glimpse of the stars above, adding to the park's allure.
In my opinion, the view from this park is even more captivating than what you get from Mount Washington.
During my years in Pittsburgh, I've made many visits to the West End Overlook Park.
I still remember this one cool, rainy night in January 2017 when I took a photo of downtown from the overlook.
The rain added to the tranquility of the place, and I found it so calming that it's now my favorite place to be on such nights.
Even though there don't seem to be any official park hours, I've never had an issue visiting the overlook at night.
Take Snaps with the Sculptures at Allegheny Landing
I remember my first stroll through Allegheny Landing, the green gem that sits right on the Allegheny River.
I'll never forget the first time I laid eyes on the breathtaking sculptures, each telling their unique story.
The green space, nestled between the urban hustle and bustle, quickly became my favorite spot for picnics and boat launches.
I'm a big fan of art, and the array of sculptures displayed at Allegheny Landing always piques my interest.
It's particularly stunning at sunset when their silhouettes contrast starkly against the fiery canvas of the sky.
Of course, it's not just about the artwork.
The location itself, right on the river, is simply awe-inspiring.
The views of the buildings across the river are nothing short of spectacular.
It's not unusual for me to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon there, just sitting and soaking in the tranquility.
With stores just a stone's throw away, I can easily stock up on picnic supplies or grab an ice cream on a sunny day.
It's the perfect spot to just sit back and enjoy the beautiful view of the city, the mighty bridges spanning the river, and the ebb and flow of life around me.
And if I'm feeling particularly adventurous, I bring along my fishing gear.
It's a surprisingly good spot for fishing, hidden within the city's landscape.
Get Inspired by the Colors of Randyland
There's a place in Pittsburgh that is a visual feast for the soul, a place where every nook and corner vibrates with color and joy.
It's called Randyland, and believe me, it's a world in itself.
Walking through its psychedelic realm is like stepping into the fever dream of folk artist Randy Gilson.
It's a rainbow-colored building teeming with murals, sculptures, and installations, each with its unique charm.
Every visit to Randyland feels like a treasure hunt.
The whole place seems to be a labyrinth of art, where every turn unveils something new.
It's a sensory overload of the best kind!
I often find myself lingering, soaking up all the details.
It's like a massive jigsaw puzzle, where each piece forms a part of Randy's life and vision.
And if you're lucky, you might even meet the man himself.
He's often there, adding to his creation, sharing stories, and spreading smiles.
Randyland isn't just a visual spectacle.
It's an emotion, a journey, a vibe.
It's a place where you can lose yourself, forget your worries and just let the colors wash over you.
It has become our neighborhood's beating heart, reflecting the vibrant, artsy spirit we all share.
It's a place that brings people together, sparks conversations, and inspires creativity.
Whether you're a lover of art, an adventurer seeking offbeat experiences, or just someone looking for a unique photo-op, Randyland is a must-visit.
It's a place that challenges the mundane, breathes life into the ordinary, and paints a smile on everyone's face.
Go Birdwatching at Schenley Park
As the sun rises each morning, I find myself drawn to the tranquil beauty of Schenley Park.
It's my personal sanctuary in the heart of Pittsburgh, a place where I can enjoy the simplicity of nature amidst the bustling city life.
Starting the day jogging along the park's trails is a refreshing experience. The park boasts an impressive 456 acres, so there's always a new path to explore.
The gravel and stone trails are ideal, even after rainfall, as they save me from the dreaded muddy shoes.
One thing that never fails to amaze me is the diversity of wildlife.
From the playful squirrels scampering across the pathways to the watchful deer lurking in the woodland, there's always something to observe.
Don’t even get me started on bird watching, it’s a paradise for any ornithologist or hobbyist.
After an invigorating jog, I often stop by the cafe nestled in the park. Whether it's for a quick espresso or a leisurely brunch, it's a great place to recharge.
On warm, sunny days, I never miss a chance to indulge in the local ice cream from one of the friendly vendors around the park.
On weekends, the park transforms into a cultural hub, hosting live music performances and events on Flagstaff Hill.
The hill becomes a melting pot of different ages, lifestyles, and cultures - a testament to the city's diversity.
And let's not forget about the Mary E. Schenley Memorial Fountain, a monument that exudes an artistic charm and holds an interesting tidbit of history.
But the park is not just about leisure, it also houses a well-equipped sportsplex and a golf course for sports enthusiasts.
And if you're a fan of botany, the park's botanical garden is a must-visit.
Even though the park rules prohibit walking dogs on the lawn at Schenley Plaza, there’s still plenty of room for my four-legged friend to explore.
From the cool grass in the summers to the snow-covered paths in winter, it's his favorite place, too.
Stroll through Point State Park
There's nothing quite like spending a day at Point State Park, a 36-acre gem nestled at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers.
From here, you can witness nature's grandeur as these two rivers join forces to form the mighty Ohio River, which sweeps down from the Appalachian Mountains.
You know, it's not every day you get to see a tugboat at work, but on some lucky visits, you'll see one chugging along, pushing a barge in its wake.
Point State Park is a peaceful oasis right in the heart of the city, offering a stunning panorama that's simply unmatched at river level.
Whenever I need a breather from the hustle and bustle, I find myself drawn to its serene surroundings, with the majestic rivers as a backdrop.
Just remember to use the Wyndham Hotel as your landmark for parking, as the park's address might lead you to a different area.
But there's more than just natural beauty here. Point State Park is also home to the Fort Pitt Museum, a tribute to the settlers, the Brits, the French, and the various Indian tribes that have shaped our history.
As someone who's always been fascinated by the past, I've spent countless hours in the museum, each time emerging with a deeper understanding of the battles fought over this land.
Have an Exercise at South Shore Riverfront Park and Trail
The rustle of leaves, the gentle lapping of the river against the shore, the soft whirring of bicycle wheels - these are the sounds of my most cherished haven, the South Shore Riverfront Park and Trail.
It's my solace from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The trail is a kaleidoscope of Pittsburgh - an amalgamation of sightings and sound, from the quiet rustling of the wind in the trees to the distant hum of city life.
My favorite time to visit is during the golden hour, when the sun casts a golden glow on the cityscape and the river, painting a picture of tranquility that’s hard to find elsewhere.
South Shore Riverfront Park and Trail is popular among my fellow locals and visitors alike.
You’ll often spot folks walking their dogs, joggers keeping up their pace, and bikers breezing by.
Even the wildlife seems to enjoy the serenity of the place, with birds often chirping in the trees and ducks paddling calmly in the river.
What I find most therapeutic about the park is that it provides the perfect balance between activity and peace.
I can choose to lose myself in a thrilling biking trail or simply relax by the river, absorbing the stunning views of the city and river.
And if you're a fan of art like me, the park has a delightful surprise in store for you.
Scattered throughout the park are beautiful pieces of art, part of the supportive trails arts initiative.
It's like an outdoor gallery where nature and art merge to create something truly magnificent.
The transformation of the area is another thing that catches the eye.
The park has undergone a significant makeover, making it more appealing and preserving the essence of Pittsburgh's natural beauty at the same time.
Whether it's the allure of scenic city views, the pleasure of a leisurely stroll, or the thrill of a bike ride, South Shore Riverfront Park and Trail is a haven where I can unwind and escape from the daily grind.
Take in the Sights from Emerald View Park
I have to admit living in Pittsburgh has a lot of perks, and one of them has to be the proximity to Emerald View Park.
In a city teeming with steel and concrete, this 257-acre patch of green is a breath of fresh air.
It's a little slice of heaven at the top of the hill.
Imagine standing on the crest, watching the sunrise over the city skyline.
The view is truly worth a thousand words.
Emerald View Park was once a coal mining area, but with a little love and care, it has transformed into a tranquil spot.
It's not just the view that draws me in, though.
The woodland trails are a paradise for nature enthusiasts and provide a peaceful retreat from city life.
You may not find it ideal for a long run due to its size, but a short, brisk morning walk is invigorating.
It's almost therapeutic, hearing the leaves rustling under your feet and the bird songs echoing through the air.
The play area is a hit with the kids, always bustling with laughter and joy.
The slides, swings, and picnic spots make it a favorite family destination on weekends.
If you happen to visit during the Fourth of July, you're in for a treat!
The park offers the best seat in the city for the fireworks display.
See Celestial Bodies at Allegheny Observatory
One of the hidden gems in our city is the Allegheny Observatory.
A summer evening spent there is absolutely like no other in Pittsburgh or even in most cities.
It’s not just an observatory, it’s a working one, immersed in rich history and tales of astronomical wonder.
I was fortunate enough to attend one of the open houses Allegheny Observatory frequently hosts throughout the year.
Being there, I was taken aback by the sheer beauty of the building.
The tour began with a walkthrough of the observatory, accompanied by interesting snippets about its past.
The guide was excellent, stopping at significant points and weaving stories about them that held us captivated.
One of the most intriguing parts of the tour was the crypt under one of the telescopes – a surprise that added to the mystery and charm of the place.
But the highlight of my visit was the opportunity to gaze at the night sky through their 13 and 30-inch telescopes.
Looking at Saturn through these magnificent pieces of technology was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It's not every day you get to see the gas giant up close.
Just a heads up, though, these tours only happen in the evenings, and you need to register in advance.
It's totally worth it, and I highly recommend getting in touch with the University of Pittsburgh which offers these wonderful tours.
Walk Your Dog at Millvale Riverfront Park
One of the most cherished spots in our neighborhood is undoubtedly the Millvale Riverfront Park.
It's a haven for outdoor enthusiasts like us who enjoy fun-filled days under the sun.
This park is my personal favorite location for launching my kayak.
Thanks to its convenient access points, I can smoothly glide my kayak into the tranquil river.
Plus, there's a spot on the hill near the barge where I can unload my gear hassle-free.
I enjoy the calm paddle that leads to the heart of the city, which is approximately three miles away.
To avoid the hustle and bustle, I usually steer towards Herr's Island, a peaceful no-wake zone that offers an ideal environment for a leisurely paddle.
But this park is not just about kayaking.
Every time me and my friends feel like taking a break from our daily routine, we grab our bikes and head to Millvale Riverfront Park.
It's a fantastic trailhead for a scenic bike ride along the North Shore, which is only about two miles away from the parking lot.
The park is also a popular spot among pet owners.
My dog, Mugsy, absolutely loves it here.
He can't resist the temptation to leap about and play in the water.
Even though the riverfront occasionally accumulates debris after rainfall, it's generally clean and well-maintained.
It's a wonderful place to unwind and connect with nature.
Step into the Past at The Frick Pittsburgh
Last Saturday, I decided to spend my day exploring The Frick Pittsburgh, a local gem that beautifully captures life from a century ago.
This historic estate has a charm that is infectious, especially for someone like me who has a soft corner for anything vintage.
I started my day at the visitor's center, an essential first stop for anyone visiting the estate.
This is where you sign up for house tours and paid exhibitions.
They also have a decently sized gift shop for souvenir hunters and lockers available for your convenience.
One thing to note: if you're carrying a large bag, you might be directed towards these lockers as the house and art museum have size restrictions.
Next, I made my way to the Car & Carriage Museum. I was pleasantly surprised by the free car exhibition they had on display.
I absolutely loved seeing the tiny Bantam cars!
They also had a paid exhibit on Pittsburgh and the Great Migration.
Using the cars to demonstrate how people moved from the South up to Pittsburgh was a unique and effective touch, although I felt the exhibition was a bit small considering the admission fee.
I then took a stroll through the breathtakingly beautiful grounds. It is evident that the staff at The Frick Pittsburgh take immense pride in maintaining the estate.
The gardens were pristine, and the general atmosphere was peaceful. It's hard to believe such a serene place exists within our bustling city.
To wrap up my day, I headed to the café adjacent to the visitor center.
I hadn't planned on stopping there, but the bustling crowd caught my attention.
As they say, a busy café is often a good café!
As I sipped my coffee and enjoyed the garden views, I couldn't help but admire the elegance of the place.
Work Out at Highland Park
From the moment you step foot in Highland Park, you realize it's not your average concrete jungle. It's a serene escape nestled right in the heart of the city.
I've spent countless hours strolling around the two majestic reservoirs, admiring the manicured lawns and the Victorian garden.
You'd be surprised at how refreshing a simple walk can be, especially when you're surrounded by such natural beauty.
The sight of the stream flowing through the park is incredibly calming, almost therapeutic.
And let me tell you, the flower gardens by the fountain are a sight for sore eyes.
They are filled with native plants, providing a safe haven for our local pollinators.
Speaking of the playground, it has been renovated recently, and it's quite the crowd-pleaser.
Although a bit tricky to find during the road closure, it's worth the effort.
You'll find it by walking clockwise from the fountain, about a quarter of the way around the circle. If you're into sports, the park also features a pool and volleyball nets.
One of the park's highlights is its location - right behind the zoo.
When I feel like mixing it up, I like to hike through the park, discovering beautiful waterfalls and an array of different animals.
There's plenty of parking available, and if you're a fishing enthusiast, you can even enjoy a quiet afternoon by the water.
But Highland Park has more to offer than just natural beauty.
I've had some of my best family picnics at the groves, and as a bonus, there's even an outdoor gym at the main entrance.
If you're ever in the neighborhood, I highly recommend you spend some time at Highland Park.
Hike the South Side Park
Whenever I feel like I need to stretch my legs, I lace up my hiking boots and head to South Side Park.
It's a massive urban oasis, spreading across 65 acres, nestled right in the heart of my city, Pittsburgh.
The trails are exhilarating, definitely more on the advanced side.
Hiking there is like a mini-adventure in the city's backyard.
My shoes bear the evidence of the fun times I've had, completely ruined after the exciting trails.
The park rests in a ravine, making some areas a bit slippery, but that only adds to the thrill of the hike.
The park is much more than just hiking trails, though, it offers spectacular views of the city.
There's no better spot to appreciate Pittsburgh's skyline.
The park's parking lot, although small, offers a magnificent view, and it's always a first come, first serve situation.
What sets South Side Park apart for me is the community garden.
Tucked away along the advanced trail, it's a vibrant spot filled with beautiful setups.
It's the perfect place to catch my breath and take in the peaceful ambiance.
No matter how many times I've been to the park, I always make sure to stop by the community garden.
Cool Off at Riverview Park
There's a certain kind of tranquility that you can only find in the heart of nature, and that's exactly what Riverview Park offers.
I often start my Saturday mornings with a brisk jog down the neatly maintained trails of the park, the sun painting a vibrant picture as it peeks through the age-old trees.
Some days, I bring my furry companion along with me.
The dog park is divided into two sections—one for the little pups and one for the bigger breeds, which works out perfectly for us.
It's always spotless and calm, making for a fantastic play area for my pup.
People here are so friendly and welcoming, it's like we're one big extended family sharing the love for our four-legged friends.
Aside from its natural beauty, the park is also home to a baseball field.
Many summer evenings have been spent cheering for local teams, the excitement in the air palpable.
At times, I pack a picnic for the family, and we spend the day just enjoying the well-kept greens of the park, the kids playing while we relax and enjoy some quality time.
The observatory is another gem of Riverview Park.
Tickets are available for those interested in stargazing, offering a unique blend of nature and science right in our backyard.
However, the pool is quite a trek. It's located up three flights of stairs and on the opposite side of the park.
And then, a 100-foot ramp leads you down to it.
Take Photographs at Mellon Park
There’s a hidden gem nestled amidst the hustle and bustle of the city called Mellon Park.
Now let me tell you, it's not your typical park. It is a historic walled garden with a celestial-themed public art installation beautifully embedded in the lawn.
Mellon Park is alive all year round. In the summer, the sight of fireflies lighting up the park is simply magical.
It's so tranquil I could spend hours in the herb garden just taking in the beauty of it all.
What's more, the park is home to an amazing variety of wildlife.
Bats swooping through the night, foxes sprinting across the lawn, it's an exciting spectacle right in the middle of the city.
One of my favorite features in the park is a tree with a statue of a face at the base holding up the tree - it's a quirky yet charming touch.
Also, the park serves as a beautiful backdrop for picnics and scenic walks.
In fact, I have seen numerous families holding children’s camps here during the summer, and I believe some of them might be from the Ellis School across the street.
The park is a popular spot for wedding and pregnancy photoshoots, too, thanks to its grandeur and natural beauty.
But what I love the most is the sense of peace this park provides, despite being on a busy avenue.
I would regularly walk my parrot through the park, and he’d get all excited hearing the symphony of birds singing.
For a while, you can forget about the city noise and lose yourself in the serenity of Mellon Park.
It's a green oasis that the Shadyside area could really use more of.
Lastly, the park is attached to the creative center that goes up the road towards Squirrel Hill.
Have a Picnic at the Arsenal Park
Have you ever stumbled upon a place so tranquil, you forget you're in a bustling city?
That's what Arsenal Park was for me.
Who would have guessed that this 9-acre park was once a Civil War arsenal site?
The park is more than just a piece of history, it's a haven for sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
On the first day I visited, I was pleasantly surprised by the range of facilities available.
Tennis aficionados can enjoy a friendly match at the dedicated courts, while baseball players can practice their swing at the park's ball field.
For those who prefer a more tranquil activity, there are numerous benches scattered across the park, ideal for a quiet read under the shelter of the park's mature trees.
One of the unique features of Arsenal Park is its inclusivity.
They have a play structure that is wheelchair accessible, even swings for wheelchair users and children with special needs.
As an avid basketball player, the basketball court was my personal favorite spot.
The park is also a great place for family picnics, boasting several picnic tables.
If you're worried about the cleanliness of public amenities, fear not.
The park offers clean port-a-potties, always well-stocked with toilet paper, something I found quite reassuring on my first visit.
Enjoy the Tranquility of Allegheny Commons Park
One of the joys of living in the heart of Pittsburgh is being able to take my morning jogs through the historic Allegheny Commons Park.
Every glance reminds me why I adore it here.
From the beautiful sculptures that decorate the park to the aviary filled with a myriad of vibrant birds, there's always something to catch the eye.
Even amidst the bustle of the city, the park offers a serene and peaceful atmosphere.
The countless trees offer a refreshing break from the urban landscape, and the winding paths provide endless routes for my runs.
The playgrounds scattered throughout the park are always flooded with the latest laughter and fun - it would be fantastic to see more playgrounds, especially in the center of the park.
I was privileged to be part of the Water Lantern Festival held in the Allegheny Commons Park.
It was an ethereal experience, a true testament to the beauty that Allegheny Commons Park brings to our city.
For a memorable day out, I highly recommend hosting events at Richie McCabe Field.
I once attended a work picnic here, with a lively game of kickball and other activities like Cornhole and Kan Jam going on.
The open field was a great place for everyone to relax and enjoy.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Prepare to be Mindblown at Gravity Hill
One day I decided to quench my curiosity about this mysterious Gravity Hill, located just half an hour away from Pittsburgh.
The journey was quite far out of the way, but the thought of experiencing an optical illusion kept me going.
Upon arriving at Gravity Hill, I parked my car and did exactly what I was told--put the car in neutral.
To my disbelief, it seemed as if my car started rolling uphill.
It was a surreal feeling.
I felt like I was defying the laws of physics right there, in the middle of the road.
It definitely looked and felt like an uphill slope, while in reality, it was a downhill one!
From the panoramic views of West End Overlook Park to the eccentricities of Randyland, and the tranquility of Schenley Park, to the historic landmarks such as Fort Pitt Block House, there's no shortage of free attractions.
Whether you're an outdoors enthusiast, a history buff, an art lover, or just someone looking for a peaceful retreat, Pittsburgh’s free attractions are sure to offer something for everyone.