Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Pittsburgh, PA

  • Published 2022/10/30

Experience an adventure of a lifetime without breaking the bank in Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania!

Known as Steel City, Pittsburgh is situated in the southwest portion of Pennsylvania and is just a two-hour drive away from Cleveland.

With stunning historic architecture, old-fashioned restaurants, and more bridges than Venice, it is no surprise that Pittsburgh is frequently compared to Paris and is also referred to by many as “The Paris of Appalachia.”

Due to its similarities to the city of Love, many tourists flock to Pittsburgh to see the gorgeous sights and fun activities that the city has to offer.

If you are visiting on a budget, don’t worry about not making the most of your trip.

Here are the 15 free things to do in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

Observe the Stars at the Allegheny Observatory

Exterior of the Allegheny Observatory

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While visiting the Allegheny Observatory on Riverview Avenue is free, reservations are required, and the observatory does operate on a seasonal schedule.

If you are lucky enough to get the chance to tour this facility, take it and see the night sky from a brand new perspective.

Here, you can explore the observatory building, check out numerous telescopes, and watch a documentary about the facility’s history.

Entrance to the Allegheny Observatory

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Although you may be allowed to roam around some areas and even use some of the telescopes, make sure that you will not enter areas marked “employees only.”

The observatory may be open to the public through a tour program, but it’s still an important astronomical research center.

Thaw refractor telescope in the Allegheny Observatory

Niagara, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take Fun OOTD Pictures at Randyland

Colorful exterior of Randyland

Popscreenshot, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Put on your most colorful outfit and snap photos with all the vibrant artwork at Randyland.

Established in 1995 by Randy Gilson, Randyland on Arch Street is a courtyard museum and art studio based on rundown properties on the city’s north side.

Courtyard of Randyland

Popscreenshot, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Whether you are a stylish fashionista or an avid photographer, Randyland is a must-visit.

This is an excellent place to explore a world of whimsical art, take outfit photos, or perk yourself up by being surrounded by an explosion of colors.

Facade of Randyland

Bohemian Baltimore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check Out Vintage and Iconic Bikes at Bicycle Heaven

Bowden spacelanders in Bicycle Heaven

Popscreenshot, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

See the iconic bike stolen from Pee-wee Herman in the film “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” on display at Bicycle Heaven.

Formed in 2011, Bicycle Heaven is the world’s largest bicycle museum and store.

It is the home of rare vintage bikes, bikes from popular movies, and other memorabilia.

With more than 6,000 bicycles, vintage collectibles, and bike parts on display across two levels, Bicycle Heaven on Preble & Columbus Avenue is a must-see for any cycling enthusiast.

You can even rent some of their bicycles for a fee and take them for a spin downtown.

Marvel at the Stunning Sights of the Cityscape at Allegheny Landing

Aerial view of Allegheny Landing

Christian Hinkle /

Situated between the Andy Warhol Bridge and Roberto Clemente bridge is Allegheny Landing, one of the most popular tourist spots in Pittsburgh.

Established in 1984, Allegheny Landing is the city’s first-ever modern park in front of a river.

This park is beloved by both tourists and locals because of its picturesque views.

Pathway at Allegheny Landing

Christian Hinkle /

You can listen to the gentle lapping of the waters as you take in the views of the cityscape or take pictures with your loved ones with the lush greenery around you as your backdrop.

You can also check out majestic sculptures like Isaac Witkin’s The Forks and George Sugarman’s Pittsburgh Variations.

Roam Free at the Old Allegheny County Jail Museum

Discover what life was like behind bars back then at the Old Allegheny County Jail Museum.

Visiting a jail might not be your idea of an adventure, but exploring the Old Allegheny County Jail Museum on Ross Street is exciting and unique.

First opened in 2005, this museum displays relics like antique handcuffs and several intriguing artworks.

You can roam around the large jail cells while listening to stories about what happened in the facility and learn about some famous individuals who were jailed there from the two knowledgeable guides.

If you find “dark tourism” appealing, this is the place for you.

See Steel City from above at Mount Washington

Detroit city lights from Mount Washington

f11photo /

See Pittsburgh in a new light by visiting Mount Washington where you can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city.

You can see all the landmarks that make this city incredibly special here.

Climb the 450-foot tall hill and soak up Pittsburgh’s breathtaking, panoramic sights.

The grounds of Mount Washington's overlook

Leonid Andronov /

Enjoy the view while grabbing a snack at Restaurant Row on Grandview Avenue, or go hiking at some of the parks on Mount Washington.

If you’re looking for a tranquil spot where you can still enjoy city sights, this is the place for you.

Walk on Streets Made from Wood at Roslyn Place

Historic marker of Roslyn Place

Payton Chung from DCA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stroll around a peaceful cul-de-sac and experience walking on the last of the few functional wooden streets in the United States at Roslyn Place.

Although tourists often overlook this small street in the Shadyside neighborhood, it’s a hidden historic gem in the city.

The wooden streets at Roslyn Place were created using at least 26,000 blocks made of oak in 1914.

You can take a peaceful walk on the unique streets and take pictures of the extraordinary wooden blocks that cover them.

Architecture enthusiasts will also enjoy observing the gorgeous houses and properties on the street.

Watch the Sun Set over the City at Schenley Park

The grounds of Schenley Park

Christian Hinkle /

End your day by watching a beautiful sunset at Schenley Park.

Established in 1889, Schenley Park is a great spot for all outdoor enthusiasts.

Covering 456 acres of land, this park is nestled between Oakland, Greenfield, and Squirrel Hill neighborhoods and provides numerous trails, natural areas, and other attractions.

The waters of Schenley Park

Jon Bilous /

You can go hiking, swimming, and running around the park’s vicinity.

There is also a golf course in the park where you can indulge in a little tee time with your friends.

This park is also dog-friendly, so you can bring your furry best friends if you want to relax and sit by the grass as you watch the sun go down over Steel City.

Yoga class at Schenley Park

woodsnorthphoto /

Go Down on One of the Country’s Steepest Streets at Canton Avenue

Steep street of Canton Avenue

Lildobe at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Try your best not to fall as you literally climb up and down Canton Avenue, one of the steepest streets in the United States.

This road is situated in the hilly Beechview neighborhood and has a 37% grade!

Many bikers have attempted to race on this hill of a street only to fail.

Test your balance as you attempt to walk up or down this street without falling flat on your bottom.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can even bring a bike and see whether you can conquer Canton Avenue by riding up to the top of the street.

Travel Back in Time to the Gilded Age at The Frick Pittsburgh

Entrance gate of The Frick Pittsburgh

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Get a taste of the luxury and opulence prevalent during the Gilded Age at The Frick Pittsburgh.

The Frick Pittsburgh on Reynolds Street houses a collection of historical buildings and museums that reflect how life was back in the Gilded Age.

Here, you can check out the Frick Art Museum, established in 1970, which displays Helen Clay Frick’s beautiful artworks.

Clayton mansion at The Frick Pittsburgh

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You can also visit the Car and Carriage Museum to see vintage automobiles on display and discover the city’s role in the car manufacturing industry.

The Greenhouse and Gardens are perfect for a nature lover who also likes to take pictures, as there are tropical plants that bloom all year round.

If you have more budget, you can visit the restored house of the Frick family, which can also be found within the premises.

Greenhouse at The Frick Pittsburgh

woodsnorthphoto /

Defy the Laws of Nature at Gravity Hill

At Gravity Hill, you can see the laws of gravity being broken before your eyes.

Hidden away in the northwestern portion of North Park is an intersection where something unbelievable can be experienced by the park’s guests.

At the spot where McKinney and Kummer Road meet, try putting your car in neutral and removing your foot away from the brake.

When you do this, you will witness your car roll uphill.

Don’t miss out on this hidden “magic” at North Park in Pittsburgh.

You can also explore some of the wonders the park has in store for you, including the largest lake in the county.

Relax and Hang Out with Your Loved Ones at Point State Park

Aerial view of Point State Park

Jeffrey T. Kreulen /

See where the city’s three rivers meet by visiting Point State Park.

This park is a National Historic Landmark due to its colorful history.

It celebrates and preserves the historical heritage of the land it is on, which played an important role during the French and Indian War.

Benches overlooking Monongahela river at Point State Park

Tupungato /

Situated where the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers connect, this spot is a great place to unwind and relax after a long day.

You can hike, stroll, and even bike around its vicinity.

If you visit at the right time, you can join some of the many celebrations and festivals in the park.

Festival on the grounds of Point State Park

woodsnorthphoto /

Sweat It Out at the Three Rivers Heritage Trail

Bicycle ride along Three Rivers Heritage Trail

jessica.kirsh /

The Three Rivers Heritage Trail is perfect for those who want to stay active and enjoy stunning views.

With a distance of 33 miles, this biking, hiking, and running trail offers breathtaking views of Pittsburgh’s rivers and skyline.

It has segments on both banks of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers within Allegheny County.

Bridge along Three Rivers Heritage Trail

woodsnorthphoto /

This trail also connects to some portions of the 150-mile passage that leads to Washington, DC, or the Great Allegheny Passage.

You’ll love working up a sweat as you walk or jog through the city and take in all the beautiful sights.

This is also a great place to explore the city as it provides access to numerous neighborhoods, business districts, and other attractions around town.

Dive Deep into the History of the City at the Fort Pitt Block House

Exterior of Fort Pitt Block House

eurobanks /

See the oldest surviving British Fort in Pittsburgh at the Fort Pitt Block House in Point State Park.

Established in 1764, this structure played a crucial role in defending the city from attacks during the mid-18th century.

After being a military outpost, this building also became a trading post and later even housed numerous families for several years.

If you want to check out a building over 250 years old, this place is a must-visit.

You can check out historic vintage items, like The Kennedy Clock, a Pittsburgh Bicentennial plat, and other artifacts discovered during an archeological dig on the grounds of the establishment.

Landscaping enthusiasts will also enjoy checking out the Edith Ammon Memorial Garden, a beautiful outdoor space that pays tribute to some of the first members of the Fort Pitt Society of Daughters of the American Revolution of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Look at the Largest Collection of Catholic Relics at St. Anthony’s Chapel

Beautiful interior of St. Anthony’s Chapel

Jeffrey M. Frank /

Check out thousands of Catholic relics without having to travel to the Vatican at St. Anthony’s Chapel on Harpster Street.

First opened in 1883 during the Festival of St. Anthony, this chapel is recognized as an important Historical Landmark in the city.

At this chapel, you can find at least 5,000 relics safely placed in more than 800 relic cases of varying sizes.

This large relic collection includes those that depict martyrs, apostles, confessors, and many other penitent saints.

All the relics you can view are certified as authentic by the church, and some of the authentication documents you can find here are two centuries old.

One of the oldest among the documents is what is described to be the bones of St. Frances of Rome, which bears the date August 12, 1716.

You can also find other religious artifacts, like parts of Jesus’ cross and sections of Mary’s shawl.

Whether you are a devout Catholic or deeply appreciate historical relics that play a role in religion, this place is a great institution that you can visit for free.

Final Thoughts

After reading about the free things to do in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you have now discovered that you can still have fun in Steel City without spending all of your hard-earned money.

Whether you are a nature lover, a history buff, or just looking for a relaxing getaway from your daily routine, the city of Pittsburgh has a lot to offer.

Whatever your budget level is, you can find something fun to do around the city.

Add these destinations to your itinerary and make the most of your visit to Pittsburgh today.

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