Destination Inspiration: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US

Destination Inspiration: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US

As it undergoes a renaissance in the realms of food, tech and culture, the Steel City is showing off a more polished side to the US’s rust belt.

is among
2020’s top travel trends
, and as Pennsylvania’s second-largest
metropolis (after
) begins to steal the state’s spotlight, it’s easy
to see why. At the confluence of three rivers, just west of the
Allegheny Mountains, Pittsburgh is dusting off its rust-belt
reputation and undergoing a post-industrial revival. Local icons
such as the Heinz History Center, The Carnegie Museums of Art and
Natural History and The Frick Pittsburgh remain, but they’re now
being joined by a generation of creatives who are pushing the
boundaries of the city’s food, tech and cultural scenes.

Former warehouses and industrial spaces are being repurposed as
shops, hotels, edgy galleries (continuing the legacy of Pittsburgh
native Andy Warhol) and James-Beard nominated restaurants, while
the likes of Google and Facebook have opened offices around the
river valley – Uber tested its driverless cars here. Nevertheless,
amid all this newness, the Steel City retains its small-town,
blue-collar soul, which is perhaps why the city is regularly ranked
among the US’s most liveable. Visit now before the tourist hordes

Don’t miss…

Pittsburgh’s charm is found in the diverse characters of its 90
neighbourhoods. Spend days hopping across bridges (the city has 446
river crossings) to get stuck in to some of the best, such as hip
East Liberty and the gritty half-mile Strip teeming ethnic grocers
and warehouses-turned-restaurants. In Oakland, visit the
vertiginous Cathedral of Learning – the US’s tallest educational
building – or the otherworldly Phipps Conservatory and Botanical
Gardens. Downtown’s 14-block Cultural District draws creatives,
while Mount Washington spoils visitors with beautiful views. Take
in panoramas from the Monongahela Incline or head down to the
shore, rent a bike and trace the riverfront trail. Secluded hiking
trails make Point Breeze’s Frick Park a go-to in autumn, while
those who prefer to paint the town red will enjoy South Side’s East
Carson Street.

Who to take with you

Foodies. Make sure to pack loose clothing; Pittsburgh’s dining
scene is as vast as it is eclectic. Spend a weekend brewery hopping
(there are 20 within the surrounding Allegheny County), discover
up-and-coming chefs in the Smallman Galley or head to Lawrenceville
neighbourhood, in which headline restaurants include Umami,
täkō, Cure and Morcilla. At the other end of the dining spectrum, no
Pittsburgh trip would be complete without a Primanti
sandwich or the hotcakes from Pamela’s Diner, which come with Obama’s seal of
approval – “You don’t even need syrup,” the former president told
reporters in 2008.

Lovers of art and design will also find plenty to do in
Pittsburgh: the seven-storey Andy Warhol Museum houses the artist’s
earliest drawings and commercial illustrations; the Carnegie Museum
of Art features houses European relics; and the Mattress Factory is
a must-see for progressive contemporary works. Alternatively, take
a day trip to the Laurel Highlands, just a 60-minute drive away,
where four Frank Lloyd Wright masterpieces – Fallingwater, Duncan
House, Kentuck Knob and Mäntylä House – are open to the public.

For a long time, sports such as baseball, hockey and American
football were among Pittsburgh’s main attractions, and continue to
define the community here. Join crowds of locals for a game (and
subsequent tailgating). Vintage-lovers will be in their element
here too – Shadyside’s Hey Betty! boutique is a local

When to go

Pittsburgh’s winters are brutal and its springs often rainy;
your best bet is to visit between May
and October.
In summer the mercury clocks in around 28°C, coaxing crowds to
parks, rooftops and outdoor events. Come autumn, the changing
leaves set the surrounding hills ablaze.

The city has a jam-packed cultural calendar that’s well worth
consulting, too. Book a trip during June’s Three Rivers Arts
Festival to enjoy free concerts and exhibits, watch Point State
Park become awash with rainbows during Pittsburgh Pride in July, or
visit in November, when cyclists brave Canton Hill (the US’s
steepest) during the annual Dirty Dozen race.

Where to stay

Check in to Ace Hotel Pittsburgh, which
opened in a former YMCA building in modish East Liberty in 2015.
You’ll knock elbows with the ‘Burgh’s beau monde, who flock here
for Stumptown coffee-fuelled brunches at the Whitfield, artisan
cocktails at the Brooklyn-style bar and an events calendar that
features yoga sessions and craft-beer festivals.

Most likely to bump into…

Fans of the Steelers (American football), Penguins (ice hockey)
or Pirates (baseball). They’re easily recognised by their
black-and-gold attire (in fact, Pittsburgh is the only US state in
which all professional sporting teams wear the same colours). These
people are true Yinzers, and likely to speak the regional
“Pittsburghese”, for which The New York Times described the city as
“the Galapagos Islands of American dialect”. We recommend
acquainting yourself with a few phrases.

Essentials to bring with you

We’re taking a sartorial cue from Chancellor Humphrey, who
documents the city’s eclectic street style on @keeppittsburghdope. Pack this hooded cotton-gabardine jacket
by Basskie
; it scores the hat-trick of being lightweight,
practical (think pockets and a hood – Pittsburgh is prone to rain
even in summer) and natty enough for thrifting or leaf-peeping.

How to get there

In 2019 British Airways began direct flights from London
Heathrow to Pittsburgh International Airport, which take around
eight and a half hours. Transfer to the city proper through Fort
Pitt Tunnel – keep on guard for the first glimpse of Pittsburgh’s
impressive skyline.