Warhol, Whiskey and World-Class Sport: An Introduction to Pittsburgh

Fancy catching a game? How about an introduction to one of the most influential artists of the last century? Take a trip to Pittsburgh for the complete American experience.
Fancy catching a game? How about an introduction to one of the most influential artists of the last century? Take a trip to Pittsburgh for the complete American experience. | © Visit Pittsburgh

Editorial Manager

With 90 diverse neighbourhoods, outstanding value for money and a unique mix of East Coast grit combined with charming Midwestern friendliness, Pittsburgh should be high on the list for your next American adventure. Here’s everything you need to know about the Pennsylvanian city that is closer than you think.

There’s a cool factor to Pittsburgh that characterises it in a distinctive way. It’s certainly one of the great American cities you associate with the past, given its fascinating history, but it’s also a place that embraces modern sensibilities. This is the city that gave birth to Andy Warhol, an artist synonymous with challenging conventions and looking ahead to what was possible. The city reflects this today with nods to the greatest achievements of the past through its museums – there are more than 30 to visit here – and with a quirky set of experiences that embrace the cocktail of cultures that now call it home.

Pittsburgh is a convenient place to visit for international travellers, too. It’s a very walkable city, which gives it an edge over other well-known East Coast destinations. You’re less than an hour from the centre when you arrive at Pittsburgh International and you even have the option of being whisked into town on a trolley, affectionately known here as the ‘T’. Abandoning motor vehicles entirely on your trip is a great idea, to be honest, with outstanding cycle routes and picturesque kayak experiences opening doors to many parts of the city you might otherwise miss.

The famous hills that surround the city and the merging rivers that carve through it are best viewed from the iconic inclines. These two funicular rides, named the Monongahela Incline and Duquesne Incline, are the last two from an original set of four that are still in operation. They are an inexpensive way to see the scope of Pittsburgh, operating on a daily basis at five minute intervals and, best of all, are only a mile apart. If you plan it well you can easily do both in an afternoon, leaving plenty of time to explore the local area by foot.

When it comes to exploring Pittsburgh, be sure to allocate enough time for each unique neighbourhood. There’s a mixture of modern, arty, food-forward and culturally rich areas to sample and, whatsmore, there’s other things to discover too! Whiskey lovers should get a taste of Pittsburgh through its locally-brewed spirits, with old-fashioned whiskey a perennial favourite here. Beer is seeing the same resurgence as it has experienced in other cities, although the drinking venues in Pittsburgh are hard to beat. From converted churches to plush, moody hotel bars, there’s a great appreciation of all beverages here. It should come as no surprise, then, that this is also paired with a sense of pride in the cuisine. The Strip District has most bases covered but in the colder months we recommend also checking out Market Square.

A year-round destination deserves year-round entertainment and, thanks to three outstanding sporting heavyweights, you’ll always be able to enjoy the raucous environment only American stadiums can generate. The Steelers have garnered a global following, in part due to their chic uniforms, as well as an unbelievably cool name. The Penguins and Pirates are also followed passionately, with the Pirates dominating many teams at their spectacular baseball field, which boasts unbeatable views of the city.

When thinking of the best way to learn more about the city without spending ages scrolling through the pages of a guide book, go the immersive route. Historical walking tours and trips on the river reveal so much about Pittsburgh that even locals take them, and the wide variety of museums should be on your checklist as well. Senator John Heinz History Center is Pennsylvania’s largest history museum and is one for all the family. Interactive TV sets, artefacts with international acclaim and an overwhelming sense of fun easily compensate for the endless stream of ketchup-related jokes you’ll be thinking of when heading there.

We also recommend an excursion to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, which is seen as one of the greatest architectural achievements of the 20th century. The whimsical building is an enchanting experiment in modernism that has stood the test of time. Many hotels throughout Pennsylvania continue to take inspiration from Wright’s unique style, and there are great luxury and boutique properties in Pittsburgh you can book a stay in to feel like you’re living in a part of history. The Joinery Hotel, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, oozes art deco charm while the Omni William Penn in the Business District has a more refined old Hollywood ambience. There are modern takes on hotel life too, like the chic Embassy Suites, close to many of the popular attractions we’ve highlighted, but if you just want a cosy night in then opt for the former Benedictine monastery in Deutschtown that now operates as the Priory Hotel.

There are free art exhibitions and public displays you can always visit throughout the city and at all times of the year, but you can’t leave without a trip to the Andy Warhol Museum. Celebrate the artist’s life and career in the surroundings of the greatest collection of his work amassed anywhere in the world. The Warhol is one of four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and is located on the North Shore. It can get busy here so book in advance but, like most attractions, if you’re in town off-season you’ll get far more time and space to explore at your leisure.

Looking to visit Pittsburgh from the UK? You can fly direct from London to Pittsburgh in just over 8 hours with British Airways. There are six flights weekly between London Heathrow (LHR) and Pittsburgh International (PIT) with return fares from £530 in World Traveller.

Book now with British Airways britishairways.com/pittsburgh

Find out more about one of our favourite winter destinations in America: https://www.visitpittsburgh.com/

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