A Walking Guide To Exploring Amazing Spots In Pittsburgh

The Smithfield Street Bridge over Monongahela River with Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Station in the background
The Smithfield Street Bridge over Monongahela River with Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Station in the background | © CNMages / Alamy Stock Photo
Sandra Sanchez

Pittsburgh, known as both the ‘Steel City’ and ‘City of Bridges,’ happens to be one of the most walkable cities around. With a strong university presence, Pittsburgh has over a dozen colleges and campuses in and around the city, allowing plenty of pedestrian-friendly areas. Pittsburgh, a lively city with no shortage of culture, has endless of things to discover. Don’t miss out on these seven spots to explore on foot in the beautiful city of Pittsburgh.

Explore the Views from the Duquesne Incline

Cathedral of Learning

One of the first things to do in Pittsburgh is to go up and see the spectacular views from the Duquesne Incline, one of the best attractions in the city. Open every day, the Duquesne Incline first opened on May 20, 1877, and after being restored in 1963, visitors can still enjoy the wooden cable cars. At the upper station, stroll through a museum of Pittsburgh history with information from other inclines around the world, and stock up on souvenirs and maps at the gift shop. Finally, enjoy the view from 400 feet above, and be sure to take in that panoramic view of Downtown Pittsburgh and the three rivers from the observation deck.

The Cathedral of Learning

Neighborhood of Shadyside

Situated in the Oakland neighborhood, the beautiful Cathedral of Learning, or ‘the Cathy,’ is one of the most iconic spots in the city. It was commissioned in 1921 by Bowman who served as the University of Pittsburgh’s chancellor from 1921 to 1945. The beautiful interior of this Gothic Revival skyscraper cathedral will truly blow your mind. The outside was completely cleaned and restored in 2007, and the interior has also since been updated. Among other things, the Cathedral of Learning includes a magnificent four-story commons room, the popular Nationality Rooms, a theater, libraries, computer labs and a food court. This historic landmark is 535 feet tall, with 42 stories in total, and it just happens to be the second tallest Gothic-styled building in the world.

Commons Room

The Commons Room was a gift from Andrew Mellon and is a Gothic-style, four-story room from the 15th century that is almost 52 feet tall.

Nationality Rooms

The 30 Nationality Rooms were designed to celebrate each culture in Pittsburgh at the time of their design in 1962 as a thank you for their contributions to the city and the Allegheny County’s growth. A 90-minute tour is available for those who want to find out more.

The Neighborhood of Shadyside

Walnut Street (Shadyside)

One of Pittsburgh’s most beautiful neighborhoods, Shadyside’s appeal speaks for itself, starting with the combination of restored Victorian mansions and student apartments in historic buildings. The trendiest neighborhood in Pittsburgh also happens to be one of the most beautiful walking areas.

Walnut Street

Regardless of the path you take, be sure to venture to Walnut Street. Nicely situated in Shadyside, Walnut Street offers a nice stroll around the trendiest cafés, bars and restaurants, yoga and spa centers, boutiques, bookstores, food stores, local galleries, and many events. It’s everything you need within walking distance.

The Strip District

If you want to taste the real Pittsburgh flavor, this is the place! The Strip District is Pittsburgh’s historic market district – a quirky, fun, and vibrant place to be. The Strip is Pittsburgh’s hip hub featuring local and international products, meat and fish markets and sidewalk vendors.

You’ll also find nightclubs, dining favorites plus both local and international shops. Try Wholey’s Fish Market, Pennsylvania Macaroni Co., DeLuca’s Restaurant or Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor for dessert, among an endless list of other great places to check out. Do not forget to take yourself to the most iconic Pittsburgh diner, the Primanti Bros. It’s tradition.

Nature and Exploration at Schenley Park

Situated in the heart of the Oakland neighborhood, Schenley Park was created in 1889 with land donated by heiress Mary Schenley. The park, which now contains 456 acres of trails, woods, a lake, a golf course, and the must-see Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. All kinds of activities and events are celebrated here throughout the year, including the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix and other seasonal activities such as outdoor theater or the swimming pool in the summer and the ice rink in the winter.

A Walk for Inspiration: Carnegie Mellon University

Hamerschang Hall building (CMU)
Heinz Hall

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1900, is not only world renowned for its academics, particularly in Engineering and Robotics, but also its campus, which combines green spaces, tennis courts, stunning architecture, and the perfect mix of old and modern buildings.

The former stomping grounds of Nobel Prize-winning economist and mathematician John Forbes Nash, Jr., from the book and movie A Beautiful Mind, the CMU campus is one of the most interesting and inspiring walks to take in the city. Especially beautiful are the Carnegie Music Hall Oakland and the College of Fine Arts.

A Pre-Symphony Stroll at Heinz Hall

Enjoy an evening with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at the Heinz Hall, one of the best options to explore the city. Built in 1927, this magnificent construction was originally named Loew’s Penn Theater and is usually compared to the New York and Chicago theaters for its stunning beauty. John Heinz II and the Pittsburgh Symphony saved the building that it was going to be demolished soon after 1964. In 1971, it reopened its doors after a three-year reconstruction, costing more than $10 million. Now known as the Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, there are endless details to explore both outside and inside the building, from the chandeliers made by local artisans to the balconies, the ceiling, and the magnificent entrance hall. Find tickets here.

By Sandra Sánchez

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