Tuesday, June 2, 2015

If You Plan to Visit Pittsburgh this Summer...

When planning my vacation days for the year, I always save a few for exploring my home city.  Pittsburgh has so much to offer.  When Kayla was younger, I took a few days off and on one particular day, Amanda and I took her (by bus) downtown to ride the Monongahela Incline, view the city from the Overlook in Mt. Washington, and tour the rivers on the The Majestic.  We ate at Houlihan’s in Station Square, and we had ice cream at a little place up on Mt. Washington.  It was a fun filled day and I took plenty of photos to document each little adventure.

During the summer months there is so much more to do.  I thought I’d make a little guide (in addition to the above) just in caseyou plan on visiting our city this summer.  Note – this little guide explores just the “tip of the iceberg,” there is SO much to see, do and eat in Pittsburgh.  My list, highlights of the summer season, for the most part is family friendly and covers mainly day to night activities (we have a 2 year old in tow).

To Shop:
Market Square Farmer’s Market – The Farmer’s Market begins/began its 11th Season May 14th.  Local vendors (as many as 30) promote their goods, providing us city folk with a unique shopping experience.  A co-worker and I have spent many Thursdays eating moussaka from the Greek stand.  I have bought seasonings for dips, hummus, bottles of wine, fresh vegetables, and plants from the Market. There is also a free concert every Thursday in the Square showcasing local talent.

The Three Rivers Art Festival – June 5 through 14, 2015. This Festival spans quite a few blocks in downtown Pittsburgh and across Point State Park where the three rivers meet.  Plan an afternoon to peruse the works of 300+ artists from around the country, featuring paintings, pottery, jewelry, woodworking, photography and so much more.  There are lots of food vendors and free concerts.

To Do:
Kennywood Amusement Park –located in West Mifflin, PA, just eight miles from downtown Pittsburgh, was first opened in 1898.  Visit Kiddieland, Lost Kennywood and Volcano Valley.  Ride the roller coasters, eat at the Potato Patch, enjoy a hand-dipped ice cream, have dinner at the Parkside Café. Enjoy a live show at the Kennyville Stage.  This is a fun filled day for kiddies of ALL ages.

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh – There are four museums - The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Museum of Art (these are located in Oakland at 4400 Forbes Avenue), the Carnegie Science Center (great for children) and The Andy Warhol Museum.  My family are regular visitors of the museums.  Lots of events, lots to learn!

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium – One of our favorite places to visit!  There are always changes being made at the Zoo.  Each new construction is better and better.  The Zoo’s mailing address is One Wild Place (love it!), but you will actually enter the Zoo by Baker Street (off Butler) in the Highland Park area.  The Zoo also offers many events such as zoo camps, Macy’s Baby Day, Eat n’ Park Week, Summer Safari and more! One of our favorite event are the overnights.  We’ve done this with Kayla a few times and it’s totally worth it!!! I am looking forward to when Elliot is old enough for an overnight.

To Eat:
Finding restaurants with kiddie menus is not always easy.  We found that Burgatory (we visited the Waterfront location) has a “Devils and Angel’s” menu for children offering mini burgers (perfect for E’s little hand), hot dogs, chicken and ham and cheese, and milk shakes.   

One of my favorite restaurants downtown is “Nola on theSquare”.   A New Orleans Jazz Brasserie, the décor is colorful, the paintings are lovely.  The food – well, I say exquisite, but you would have to judge for yourself.  My favorite is the Cajun Grilled Catfish served with Mashed Yukon Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach.  I’ve heard the Gumbo Ya-Ya is very good as well as the Shrimp and Grits.  I wouldn’t know because I get the Catfish every-single-time we eat there.  As for bringing Elliot here, I don’t think at his age, there would be much that would interest him.  Unless he’s acquired a taste for alligator that I don’t know about.

Kayla’s favorite is located at 146 6th Street, the Six Penn Kitchen (a Pittsburgh based Eat’n Park Hospitality Group restaurant).  Contemporary in design, the kitchen is fully visible, there is a lounge and cocktail bar, a second floor that overlooks the first and a terrace with a third bar and casual seating.  Sixth Penn is an American bistro serving dishes such as HudsonValley Duck Confit, Pork Tenderloin, NY Strip, just to name a few.  They have daily specials and come to think of it and I don’t think K has ordered off the menu yet.  Rather she has usually gotten whatever the special was, namely Mac n Cheese with Lobster.  There is no special menu for the kiddies, but they do have mac n cheese and mashed potatoes, and there are not too many children that won’t eat either of those dishes.

If you are looking for creative sandwiches and a selection of local brews, eat at Primanti Bros. – famous for their fries and coleslaw topped sandwiches.  Primanti’s IS A MUST STOP if you are in Pittsburgh. 
So, that’s just a smattering of things to do.  There is SO MUCH more that WE have yet to do right here in Pittsburgh.

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