Sunday, July 26, 2015

Pennsylvania Road Trip Part 2: Things to do in Pittsburgh

I already shared a little bit from my road trip to Pittsburgh to see Sam and Amanda, but I wanted to share a bit more, specifically things to do in the area. Pittsburgh is a great city and there is a TON to do, most of which is free or relatively inexpensive. 

Before I left I had a few things I knew I wanted to do, namely see Consol Energy Center (GO PENS!) and visit Mt. Washington. I lucked out with an absolutely beautiful (and very hot) weekend in Pittsburgh. If you plan on visiting in the winter you may want to reconsider things to do as gallivanting across the city in snow wouldn't be overly pleasant, but for summer it was perfect! 

1. Duquesne Incline. The incline takes you up to Mt. Washington and gives you a panoramic and absolutely breathtaking view of the city. The incline is two cable cars that go up one VERY steep hill and on the way up and down you get to enjoy the beautiful city skyline. The incline is $2.50 each way and $5 round trip. You can buy a round trip ticket but you need exact change to buy a ticket. They do have a change machine, but there was a line to use it so I would recommend having exact change beforehand. This would be a great activity to do with kids because they would love the view and the ride!

2. Mt. Washington lookout- the views are FREE!! This is literally the most beautiful view of the city ever! I could have stayed up there all day gazing out at the skyline, but it was WAY too hot to do so (it was already 85F at 10:30am) and I wanted to go explore downtown. The view really is incredible and there is a binocular stand for kids (I think it cost a quarter to use). Plus, if you took the incline the building at the top has tons of interesting articles and artifacts that tell the history of the city and the incline. 

3. Cathedral of Learning on Pitt campus. The cathedral of learning is absolutely massive and the artistry is incredible! You can walk around the Pitt campus and can't miss the cathedral, trust me. You get in for FREE (I don't think this is something little kids would be overly interested in though). The building is actually used for classes and looks like something out of Harry Potter. There are different classrooms, the German room, French room, etc that are all ornately decorated. Some of the rooms were locked when we were in there, but we still got to see a number of rooms and they were beautiful! 

4. Consol Energy Center. Of course this has to be included on the list! Even though it's July and there isn't any hockey I had to see the arena. It's gorgeous outside and I can only imagine how awesome it is inside. If you're in town during hockey season definitely catch a Penguins game- they're an incredible team and the new arena is top notch. During the off season check out the arena's event calendar because there are tons of concerts and other events that happen there too. 

5. Drive around! It's free to look, so the only thing you have to pay for is gas. Pittsburgh has a zillion bridges and each one is different. I'm sure kids would enjoy counting how many bridges you pass over and they would like looking at how different they all are. I also like driving around in a city because sometimes you happen upon places you never knew existed.

6. Walk around downtown. Totally FREE the only thing needed are your two legs and a good pair of shoes. I loved how everything was in walking distance in Pittsburgh. If walking isn't your cup of tea you can rent bikes and explore the city. There are a TON of statues in the city honoring various famous people from history. It was cool to read the monuments and learn about the people.

7. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. This is an absolute MUST in Pittsburgh! The gardens are gorgeous and there is a butterfly house! Inside is broken up into different areas and each area has its unique flowers and vegetation. There are maps (totally free!) to guide you and staff members around in case you get turned around or have questions. I roamed around the gardens for about 2 hours because there is so much to see. If you have kids there is outdoor gardens with play areas for kids- there are sandboxes and different activities set up for them. 

The outdoor gardens were bursting with a variety of flowers and decorated with statues. There were also lots of benches under trees incase you needed to rest or wanted to sit and have a snack.

One of my favorite rooms in the gardens was the orchid room. I don't know the first thing about flowers, but I like looking at them! All the flowers are have signs that tell what they are and a little about them. (and no this photo is not retouched or photoshopped at all, isn't is pretty!?!)

I also really liked the tropical room in the gardens. There were so many colorful plants I had never seen before that I could have spent all day there photographing them. Sadly I only had a few hours before closing or I would have spent way longer. 

The butterfly house was AWESOME! There were butterflies everywhere and some even landed on people if they held still enough. There were families with kids, couples, and singles wandering around, but it wasn't crowded (even for a Saturday afternoon). 

Last picture from the botanical gardens I promise! I have a ton of pictures from there though because everything was so gorgeous- who doesn't enjoy butterflies and pretty flowers? If you want to see more you'll have to go and check it out for yourself!

Phipps is open 9:30-5pm Monday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday and on Friday they are open until 10pm. Admission is $15 for adults, $14 for students with school ID, $11 for kids 2-18 and kids under 2 are free. Tickets are pricey, but this was my favorite thing to do (by far!) in Pittsburgh. I HIGHLY recommend checking it out. For more information about the gardens click here.

These are only a few of the things there are to do in Pittsburgh. It's a beautiful city and I had an absolute blast exploring it, I can't wait to go back!

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