Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has become known as a great place to live and a great college town. Whether you live in Pittsburgh or are planning a visit, check out these options for fun free activities.
Wander through the weekend markets in the Strip District.
Every Saturday morning, the Strip District bursts with crowds of shoppers along Penn Avenue. Market stalls spring up on the sidewalks between well-established storefronts. In the thriving stretch of Penn Avenue from about 16th to 22nd Streets, a shopper can find bakeries with fresh breads and pastries, speciality food shops from a variety of countries, gourmet chocolatiers, bustling cafes, and stalls selling clothes, souvenirs, and a plethora of Steelers gear. Meandering through the area on a weekend morning is a great experience itself, but the possibility of shopping up great treats and souvenirs makes this destination an even more enticing choice.
Attend a gallery crawl.
Four Friday nights a year, about two dozen downtown art galleries of Pittsburgh open their doors for a great night of free attendance. The night is always marked by a number of special openings of exhibits, and often several galleries provide free drinks and nibbles to add to the celebration. Once downtown, go to any gallery to find a map of all the participating galleries that night, and descriptions of each of the exhibits. This event appeals to more than just art lovers – conceptual work, interactive installations, and interdisciplinary projects are common to these exhibitions, drawing in a diverse crowd. It is definitely worth planning a trip around a Friday night gallery crawl. Check Pittsburgh’s Cultural Trust website ( www.pgharts. org) for details and dates.
Play disc golf in Schenley Park.
Pittsburgh is well known for its beautiful parks. Abutting the popular student-heavy neighborhoods of Oakland and Squirrel Hill, Schenley Park beckons to be explored. Along with many walking and cycling paths through a hilly and sometimes wooded landscape, the park has many open spaces, including one which features a full (and free) disc golf course. Bring your own discs, then follow the signs to tee off on the course at your leisure. The course begins next to the park’s main lookout point, which offers incredible views over Oakland, the three rivers, and downtown’s distant skyline.
Wander through the Carnegie Library.
The beautiful Carnegie Library is one of Pittsburgh’s oldest buildings. Located next to the Carnegie Museum in Oakland, the Library is free to the public, and well worth a short exploration. A particularly interesting feature of the library is the main area of stacks. The bookshelves of the stacks are several storeys high, as they continue vertically through several floors. There is a small gap between the floor and the bookshelves, which makes this feature visible. Still more interesting, much of the floor in the stacks is made of glass. These kinds of details are found all over the Library, and make it worth a trip even for non-bookish visitors!
Eat half-price food.
The next best thing to free food is deeply discounted meals, and luckily Pittsburgh has a number of restaurants which offer this option! A collection of restaurants in the neighborhood of Oakland (Pittsburgh’s student hub) offer daily late night meals for half price. Most of these deals start at 10 or 10:30pm, with restaurants offering most of their normal menu at half price. Some of the restaurants that offer these prices are Fuel & Fuddle (try the fire baked brie and the heavenly smashed potato pizza), MadMex (high quality Mexican fare), and Hemingway’s Cafe, and India Garden.
These great ideas for inexpensive fun are only the beginning. Look for festivals and special events happening when you plan to visit Pittsburgh.