10 perfectly Pittsburgh things you have to do at least once | Arts + Entertainment | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

10 perfectly Pittsburgh things you have to do at least once

click to enlarge 10 perfectly Pittsburgh things you have to do at least once
Photo: Courtesy of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

One winter night last year, my husband and I were hanging out on the couch, entirely bored. Sure, it was a weeknight, and way too freezing to even think about leaving the house, but something about that evening got us inspired. We couldn’t help but fantasize, I guess, about all the things we could be doing, and suddenly we found ourselves making a list.

The two of us moved to Pittsburgh in September of last year. I grew up here, but after being away from the area for the last 20 years, Pittsburgh seems like a brand new city to me. My husband isn’t a Pittsburgh native, so I was eager to show him all the things I loved growing up, while simultaneously exploring everything that’s changed since I left.

The result of that long night on the couch is what’s below. To really get a feel for just how unique and fun this city is, here is a list of 10 awesome, exclusive-to-Pittsburgh things you have to do at least once.

click to enlarge 10 perfectly Pittsburgh things you have to do at least once
Photo: Mike Faix
Penguin-palooza at National Aviary

The National Aviary’s Interactive Penguin Feeding
700 Arch St., Pittsburgh

There’s just something about the cute little waddle of a penguin, and the National Aviary understands that completely. The Interactive Penguin Feeding is pricey ($99/person, members are $89.10), but the once-in-a-lifetime experience allows visitors to step onto the Penguin Point with boots and hip waders along with an aviculturist. After learning about fish that penguins enjoy, you’ll have the opportunity to feed them. Some are quite extroverted and will come up to you for the fishy delights, while others prefer you toss it to them. By the end, you’ll be an expert at figuring out their little personalities. Available between April 1 and November 15 at 10:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. Note: this interactive feeding is ages 12+. aviary.org

click to enlarge 10 perfectly Pittsburgh things you have to do at least once
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
PNC Park, home to the Pittsburgh Pirates
Sit behind home plate at a Pirates game
115 Federal St., Pittsburgh

The Home Plate Club at PNC Park is located – you guessed it – just behind home plate. There’s nothing like the scenery; you a peek into both dugouts, as well as that stellar view of the skyline. Also, the seats (the first 12 rows behind home plate) have extra padding, a wide seat base and lots of leg room. Each ticket includes a pre-game buffet and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the game. mlb.com

Take a food tour featuring some of the area’s best eats
Various locations

The ‘Burgh Bits & Bites Food Tour is the brainchild of a woman named Sylvia McCoy, a first-generation Pittsburgher who grew up in the South Hills. There are five different tours that take you to all the must-trys in the Strip District, South Side, Brookline, Lawrenceville, or Saxonburg, Butler County. Custom, student and corporate tours are also available. This is a great option for those who have recently returned to the ‘burgh and are getting reacquainted with the city’s food scene. Personally, I’m dying to try Just Good Donuts on the South Side tour and pierogies from S&D Polish Deli on the Strip District tour. burghfoodtour.com

click to enlarge 10 perfectly Pittsburgh things you have to do at least once
CP Photo: Amanda Waltz
Newly changed Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium sign, Jan. 13, 2023
Try an animal encounter at the Pittsburgh Zoo
7370 Baker St., Pittsburgh

Much like the National Aviary’s penguin encounters, the animal encounters offered at The Pittsburgh Zoo are half-hour, private experiences with zoo animals that get you up close and personal with your favorite creatures. While experiences like these are offered in many different cities, where else can you find one in a city that is celebrating 125 years of its zoo? Options include an aquarium adventure, ambassador animals (kinkajou, fennec foxes or ball pythons), red pandas, giraffes, cheetahs, or anteaters, so there are almost endless new furry friends to meet. pittsburghzoo.org

click to enlarge 10 perfectly Pittsburgh things you have to do at least once
CP Photo: Jake Mysliwczyk
The Gateway Clipper sails down the Monongahela River
Take a wine tasting cruise on The Gateway Clipper
350 W. Station Square Dr., Pittsburgh

Those of us who grew up here all attended a Gateway Clipper dance at some point in middle school or high school, right? But did you know they offer Thursday evening wine cruises once a month during the summer? The two-hour cruises include a large selection of wine and hors d’oeuvres perfect for noshing on while you float along what makes our city unique — its rivers. Not to mention, you’ll be able to live out your Office booze cruise fantasy! Just don’t go too crazy with your dancing like Michael Scott did. gatewayclipper.com

Take on one of the steepest streets in the country
Canton Ave., Pittsburgh

If you consider yourself skilled on a bike, you’ll want to give Canton Ave. a go. Located in Beechview, the street is one of the steepest in the U.S. For every 100 feet, there is a 37-foot elevation gain. That’s no joke, so you may want to practice before you do the real thing. Case in point, Pittsburgh’s Annual Dirty Dozen bike race takes cyclists through 13 of the city’s steepest hills and Canton Ave. often takes out about half the racers on their first try, so if you can get to the top, you’ve basically conquered Pittsburgh’s Mt. Everest. bikereg.com

click to enlarge 10 perfectly Pittsburgh things you have to do at least once
CP Photo: Steven Caruso

Visit what USA Today called the “2023 Best Specialty Food Festival”
Rachel Carson Bridge and riverside along the 10th St. bypass, Downtown

Now in its eighth year, Picklesburgh is back this summer the weekend of July 21 through July 23. This truly unique experience — which takes place on on a bridge, if it wasn’t already Pittsburgh enough — celebrates all things pickle, with vendors, entertainment, and a pickle juice drinking contest. It’s definitely family-friendly, but be warned, it’s not friendly to pickle haters. Embrace the brine! And don’t forget to grab your Heinz pickle pin before you head home too! picklesburgh.com

click to enlarge 10 perfectly Pittsburgh things you have to do at least once
CP Photo: Rayni Shiring
Visit Anthrocon, aka “Pittsburgh’s Premier Furry Convention”
David L. Lawrence Convention Center, 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Pittsburgh

Anthrocon is the annual meet up of the Furry community, which is a subculture that can’t get enough of dressing up like anthropomorphized animals. Depending on how you look at it, Anthrocon is either the coolest, most unique event you’ll ever see, or the stuff of nightmares, with the gigantic, human-like animal characters on hand. But either way, it’s cool. Artists, animators, costumers, and puppeteers all turn out for the event, which this year takes place June 29 through July 2. anthrocon.org

Get on the Pens “Fanboni”
1001 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh

Get your friends together to book the Pens’ Fanboni Experience. You get eight FedEx Level or Club Seats, along with pre-game or intermission on-ice rides on the Penguins’ Zamboni for guests, the “Fanboni.” Where else can you be on the same ice as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang? nhl.com

click to enlarge 10 perfectly Pittsburgh things you have to do at least once
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Pittsburgh Steelers' Kenny Pickett and Chaz Green during the team's preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Aug. 13, 2022
The Steelers Game Day Tour
100 Art Rooney Ave., Pittsburgh

An experience that should be on every Steeler fan’s bucket list, the Steelers Game Day Tour is not cheap but it is worth the price. During game days, get pre-game sideline access, a walk through the Steelers Hall of Honor Museum, photo ops on field, and more. acrisurestadium.com

The 2024 Olympickle Games
23 images

The 2024 Olympickle Games

By Mars Johnson