Top Spots In Pittsburgh

Credit: Alexandre Kaspar | Photo Staff Credit: Alexandre Kaspar | Photo Staff

Whether you’re a freshman or an upperclassman, it’s easy to get comfortable with the nearby common spots to visit in Pittsburgh. Without realizing it, you find yourself gravitating to the places everyone else frequents and talking yourself out of venturing too far from campus. Sometimes it’s hard to even know where to start in terms of exploring the city. This is where I come in. Whether you want to recruit a group of adventure buddies or would rather opt for a solo outing, I’ve compiled a list of places worth visiting on your journey to becoming a Pittsburgher.

When You Want Something to Eat
Millvale Food Truck Park: The Millvale Food Truck Park is the place to go no matter what you’re in the mood to eat. The rotation of food trucks is constantly changing, serving everything from Argentinian steak sandwiches, to gyros, to a classic burger and fries. Stop by for dinner on the weekends and enjoy your meal as you watch the sun set, listen to live music, and play a few games of cornhole. Interested in a post-meal treat? Grab some ice-cream or a smoothie from one of the dessert trucks and stroll down to the river to take in a beautiful view.

When You Want an Outdoor Adventure
Frick Environmental Center: While Frick Park is known for its extensive hiking and biking trails, the park also boasts a new Environmental Center and community garden. The building itself is both functional and beautiful and hosts a variety of different sustainability themed events throughout the year. You can take a stroll through the wildflower meadow behind the center and watch the birds and other wildlife that frequent the space. Don’t forget to check out the garden while you’re there, and take a walk through the rows of fresh fruit and veggies. And the best part of the center is you can always add a loop through the forest into your visit.

When You Want Some Culture
Carnegie Music Hall: If you’re the kind of person that looks beyond the classroom for opportunities to learn, then it’s about time you looked into events at the Carnegie Music Hall. The Hall hosts an endless cycle of entertaining and educational lectures and performances by visiting authors, artists, and musicians throughout the entire year. And the guests aren’t B-list names you’ve never heard of. Last year the Music Hall welcomed legends like Isabel Allende, Sherman Alexie, and world renowned events like The Moth Mainstage. The best part of the Carnegie Music Hall is it’s just a five-minute walk from campus, so you don’t have any excuse not to enjoy Pittsburgh’s cultural offerings.

When You Want to Window Shop
Butler Street, Lawrenceville: If you’re new to Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville is one of those neighborhoods you might not immediately think to explore since it takes a bit more effort than hopping on a 61 to get there. But, I can assure you, the added effort is well worth it. Butler Street in particular has something for everyone. It’s a great place to find something unique for your dorm room, buy a birthday gift for friends or family, and just enjoy some general retail therapy. Candle Lab, Wildcard, and Una Biologicals are just a few of the stores you won’t want to miss.

When You Want to Relax
Phipps Conservatory: Phipps is one of those Pittsburgh attractions that most Carnegie Mellon students visit within their first few weeks of school; it’s beautiful, free to students, and a convenient five-minute walk from campus. But as the year stretches on, students often forget to take advantage of the conservatory as a great place to take a break and relax off campus. On the weekends or just when you find yourself with the odd hour of downtime between classes, take some time to enjoy the sights and smells as you walk through the gardens or find a quiet corner to sit and listen to music.

When You Want to Watch a Movie
Manor Theater: The Manor Theater is the perfect place to see a movie when you want the effect of the big screen without giving up the coziness of your own bed. The Manor always feels comfy and intimate due to the old-fashioned concession stand, the small theater sizes, and the number of Squirrel Hill grandmothers and families that tend to frequent the theater. Ever find yourself in the mood to go to the movies by yourself? The Manor is the place to go. It’s a quick bus ride from campus and always offers a balance of blockbuster movies and lesser-known independent films.

Row House Cinema: From foreign films to indie flicks to Harry Potter marathons, Row House Cinema (a single screen theater in Lawrenceville) is always playing something unexpected. Each week the theater features a set of films all related to a certain theme such as magical realist works, 2000s cinema, or French new wave films. This theater is the perfect spot to catch a movie when you’re not in the mood to go see that blockbuster everyone else has seen and you want to be exposed to something different.

When You Want to be Active
ASCEND: College is the time to try new things, right? So why not go all out and try picking up a new physical activity like rock climbing? ASCEND Pittsburgh, an indoor rock climbing gym that boasts a 10,000 square foot “Walltopia,” is the best spot in the Burgh to learn. The gym offers yoga and other fitness classes in addition to their climbing courses all days of the week. Not only does ASCEND provide the resources for you to become an expert climber, but also a connection to the incredible community of climbers in the Pittsburgh area.

Arsenal Bowling: Bowling is one of those sports that doesn’t get enough credit. It’s the best way to do a physical activity without having to be too active which makes it the perfect sport for a busy Carnegie Mellon student. Head to Lawrenceville’s Arsenal Bowling with your friends to enjoy a few games after a long week and take advantage of the different daily specials and deals Arsenal offers. From Wednesday’s “Rock ‘N’ Bowl” to Friday’s “Fri-Yay DJ Party” your time at Arsenal is sure to feel more like a party than your average bowling experience.

When You Want Dessert
Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream: You’ll find out about Millie’s one way or another, so you might as well get hooked on the unique and delicious flavors of Millie’s ice cream as early as possible. The second you walk into Millie’s, you’re enveloped in the smell of warm sugar and overwhelmed by the number of options up on the board. But don’t worry, you’re sure to end up with the perfect cone no matter which flavors you pick. Not willing to wait in the long line? Head straight to the checkout and grab a pint (or five) to take home!

Naturoll Creamery: Naturoll Creamery specializes in hand rolled ice cream that’s poured out, mixed with toppings, and rolled up right in front of you. Half the fun of the Naturoll experience is watching your server expertly mince your toppings and create a cup of rolled perfection. They offer delicious standards, like the cupcake roll that features nilla wafers, icing, and rainbow sprinkles, and monthly specials, like a berry-filled concoction for the 4th of July. But you’re never limited to the menu options on the board; you can also choose from the seemingly endless list of toppings (nutella, oreos, pretzels, graham crackers, and brownie pieces, to name a few) and create a Naturoll that’s all your own.