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One Wild Place, Highland Park
412-665-3640 or www.pittsburghzoo.org
Hard to imagine that penguins were beat out in a town where they’re the mascots of hockey champions, but Pittsburgh’s polar bears, the world’s largest carnivorous land mammal, do wow zoo visitors. The bears frequently dive in the blue water of their exhibit, giving zoo-goers a cool underwater view.
Stephen Cropper, WPXI
For nearly two decades, the amiable Cropper has been the voice of calm in the frequent storms of local weather hysteria. The chief meteorologist at WPXI keeps it steady and upbeat: If it’s raining tonight, well, it should be sunny by tomorrow.
2nd: Scott Harbaugh, WPXI
3rd: Ron Smiley, KDKA
Ken Rice, KDKA
Longtime news anchor Ken Rice is a reliable guide to newsworthy happenings of “KD Country.” If you’re a super newsie, you might also know Rice as a moderator of local political debates. If you’re a super Pittburgher, you treasure his appearance in Striking Distance, a.k.a. the best Pittsburgh movie ever.
2nd: Mike Clark, WTAE
3rd: David Johnson, WPXI
Adam and Nicole Kulik
Owners of Lawrenceville bar The Goldmark, the newlywed couple has given Pittsburghers a new favorite late-night hang-out. Adam, a.k.a. DJ Nugget, has created a space for local DJs to spin, and Nicole helped design the lounge so dancers feel comfortable when the beat drops.
2nd: Jeffrey Parke and Lindsey Marie
3rd: John and Gisele Fetterman
Frick Park, Point Breeze
Abundant green space is one of Pittsburgh’s best attributes. But at 644 acres — the first 151 of which were bequeathed by Henry Clay Frick in 1919 — this is the largest of our historic regional parks. Hit the expansive and varied wooded trails, and forget you’re in the middle of the city.
2nd: Rachel Carson Trails
3rd: Montour Trail
Point State Park
Located along the popular biking/running/strolling route (and most importantly, yards away from the potentially bladder-inspiring Point State Park fountain), it’s no surprise this is a reader favorite. The facilities are clean and spacious, and it’s a heck of a lot easier than pretending to buy something at Starbucks.
3rd: Rivers Casino
John Fetterman Bridge Ad
Long before Pittsburghers were hit with the unexpected closure of the Liberty Bridge, this ad by Braddock Mayor John Fetterman — then running for U.S. Senate — highlighted the disparity between funding for infrastructure repairs like bridges and the big money that goes into political campaigns.
2nd: Bill Peduto for Mayor “Our Pittsburgh” ad
3rd: Katie McGinty energy tax ad
1501 Arch St., North Side
412-342-8152 or randy.land
It’s technically private art that is free and open to the public, but the vibe is absolutely welcoming. Randy Gilson has turned the courtyard of his North Side home into a crazy-collage display of colorful art and fun objects. Even after hours, you can admire the art-packed fence along the sidewalk.
2nd: “Feel The Bern” Mural
3rd: Strawberry Way Mural
Roberto Clemente Bridge
No disrespect to its (nearly identical) neighbors, but there’s just something immensely satisfying about taking the Roberto Clemente Bridge on foot to PNC Park to see the baseball team he represented so well for more than 15 years.
2nd: Smithfield Street Bridge
3rd: Fort Pitt Bridge
South Side Slopes
The hill above East Carson Street is a step-trekker’s dream, its steep slopes offering sets of steps from as few as two to as many as a couple hundred. This is urban hiking at its best, and the views of Downtown and beyond make the burning calves worth every step.
2nd: The Water Steps
3rd: Cathedral of Learning
Grandview Avenue, Mount Washington
Be careful driving, as you are likely to be distracted by the postcard views of Downtown Pittsburgh and the North Side hills. So once there, why not park and walk? Stop at either of the two historic inclines, and hop on a down-bound funicular to complete the viewing experience.
2nd: Schenley Park
3rd: North Park
Whatever the qualifiers for this category, the density of schools, food, culture and green space in this neighborhood is a big plus. With a leafy suburban vibe and a short shot to Downtown, Squirrel Hill offers the best of both worlds.
3rd: Highland Park
The first stop for visiting travel writers looking to make their bones, Lawrenceville is home to some of Pittsburgh’s trendiest restaurants, bars and shops. Coffee shops with WiFi are stationed every few blocks for getting work done, and the sprawling Allegheny Cemetery offers quality outdoors time for when you’re done.