One Day in Town
To paraphrase the motto for that classic Pittsburgh hairstyle the mullet, the North Side is a party in the front and a neighborhood (and an art museum and a restaurant) in the back.
The North Side's face to Downtown includes such supersized Allegheny River-front attractions as two sports stadiums, a casino, a concert arena and the Carnegie Science Center. But the several distinctive neighborhoods comprising the larger North Side offer further compelling options for the day-tripper.
Right beneath the Roberto Clemente Bridge leading to baseball's PNC Park, for instance, you'll find Kayak Pittsburgh (www.kayakpittsburgh.org), offering rental craft for a leisurely turn on the river. And just a block from PNC Park sits The Andy Warhol Museum (117 Sandusky St., 412-237-8300), the best venue anywhere to explore the life and art of this world-famous Pittsburgh native. The seven-story museum's recently re-hung collection features Warhol's Pop Art masterpieces and Warhol-linked temporary exhibitions. A cogent biographical display on the artist's life ranges from childhood memorabilia to his early commercial illustrations and famed "time capsules."
A 15-minute walk away, the National Aviary (700 Arch St., 412-323-7235) is a bird zoo without peer. The nonprofit houses more than 500 birds of 150 species from around the world: African pygmy falcon, laughing kookaburra, Andean condor and much more, some in free-flight rooms. Penguin Point is the popular African penguin exhibit.
Practically next door are the historic Mexican War Streets (www.mexicanwarstreets.org), a celebrated patch of real estate lined with carefully restored Victorian rowhouses. After sightseeing, grab a booth and a draft at the Monterey Pub (1227 Monterey St., 412-322-6535). With its subdued lighting and dark-paneled ambience, it's among the Pittsburgh's best-loved neighborhood hangouts.
For dinner, Nicky's Thai Kitchen (854 Western Ave., 412-321-8424) offers traditional Thai cuisine; we recommend the spring rolls and Nicky's rich green curry with tofu entrée. In warm weather, request garden-patio seating for a getaway within the city.
Arnold's Tea. This new spot offers a variety of hot and cold signature teas, sandwiches and pastries, and an impressive selection of loose-leaf teas to take with you. 502 E. Ohio St., 412-322-2494
Bistro to Go. Cozy spot known for its soul food and Sunday breakfast buffet. 415 E. Ohio St., 412-231-0218
BZ Grill. Featuring "twisted American cuisine," this sports bar offers more than wings and beer; try a pear-and-bleu-cheese pizza or the "turducken" burger. 140 Federal St., 412-323-2924
Carmi's. Soul-food emporium offers comfort dishes like smothered pork chops and chicken-and-waffles. 917 Western Ave., 412-231-0100
El Burro. Take-out-focused joint serves big, savory burritos (and Mexican Coke). 1108 Federal St., 412-904-3451
Legends of the North Shore. Established restaurant offering traditional Italian. 500 E. North Ave., 412-321-8000
Lola Bistro. A cozy neighborhood bistro that also offers the rewards of fine dining, from exquisite appetizers to fancied-up "comfort" entrees. 1100 Galveston Ave., 412-322-1106
Subba. This humble second-floor establishment offers a selection of Nepalese, Chinese and Indian fare, including momo dumplings. 700 Cedar Ave., 412-586-5764
Wilson's Bar-B-Q. Venerable side-street spot dishes up savory, Southern-style pork ribs, chicken and sides, mostly for takeout. 700 N. Taylor St., 412-322-7427
Bars and Clubs
Beer Market. No-frills spot near PNC Park lets you bring in food to complement the hundreds of craft beers and imports in bottles and on tap. 110 Federal St., 412-322-2337
Benjamin's Western Avenue Burger Bar. This charming gourmet-burger bar has it all: a small bar with a solid beer list, Bloody Marys on Sundays and a few outdoor tables. 900 Western Ave., 412-224-2163
Jerome Bettis Grille 36. Spacious sports bar next to Heinz Field named after the beloved Steelers running back. Offerings include 36 beers on tap, 36 wines, 36 martinis and a 36-ounce steak. Sensing a theme here? 393 North Shore Drive, 412-224-6287
Max's Allegheny Tavern. An old-style restaurant with homestyle German food and hearty beers. Beautiful wood accents make it feel like home. 237 Suismon St., 412-231-1899
The Modern Café. A satisfying beer list and a bar with tons of neighborhood charm. Also a friendly staff and take-out six-packs. 862 Western Ave., 412-321-4550
Monterey Pub. Irish-themed neighborhood hang-out has mahogany booths and a clubby vibe. Only Irish beers make the draft list. 1227 Monterey St., 412-322-6535
Penn Brewery. A microbrewery housed in a 19th-century landmark brewery. German-style beer and food, visible brewing tanks and a large courtyard. 800 Vinial St., 412-237-9400
Arts and Culture
Carnegie Science Center. Family-oriented venue specializes in hands-on exhibits teaching physics, chemistry, nature and more, and includes an Omnimax theater. 1 Allegheny Ave., 412-237-3400
Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. A whole building filled with please-touch exhibits and interactive artwork. 10 Children's Way, 412-322-5059
City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. Nonprofit founded to shelter and support writers in exile also hosts readings by top poets, novelists and more year-round. 300 Sampsonia Way, www.cityofasylum.org
Mattress Factory Museum. This internationally known museum dedicated to installation art features room-sized works by artists from around the globe and around the corner. 500 Sampsonia Way, 412-231-3169
New Hazlett Theater. One of the city's oldest and most beloved venues hosts touring and local concerts, plays and dance troupes, and its own subscription-based performance-art series. 6 Allegheny Square East, 412-320-4610
Photo Antiquities. Quirky independent museum tracks photo history from daguerreotypes to vintage cameras. 531 E. Ohio St., 412-231-7881
Texture Contemporary Ballet. Two young choreographers launched this busy company, one of the hottest on Pittsburgh's burgeoning contemporary-dance scene. www.textureballet.org
Heinz Field. Not just for football fans, this is where you'll see those crazy-huge acts like The Rolling Stones, U2 or Taylor Swift. 100 Art Rooney Ave., 412-697-7700
James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy. This venue continues to host great music, both in the ballroom and its subterranean speakeasy. Jazz luminaries young and old can be found here throughout the week. 422 Foreland St., 412-904-3335
Manchester Craftsmen's Guild. This arts organization pays special attention to jazz, bringing a variety of innovative and internationally known musicians to town throughout the year. 1815 Metropolitan St., 412-322-1773
Park House. This tavern, one of the city's oldest, hosts a bluegrass jam every Wednesday, and other music on the weekends. 403 E. Ohio St., 412-224-2273
Stage AE. Built to accommodate various sized crowds, this indoor/outdoor venue is a favorite for mid-sized draws from Modest Mouse to Die Antwoord. 400 North Shore Drive, 412-229-5483
Allegheny City Market. Highlights of this specialty grocer in the Mexican War Streets include fresh produce, gluten-free items, deli sandwiches and locally made Leona's ice-cream sandwiches. 1327 Arch St., 412-321-4021
The Pittsburgh Fan. Looking for some Steel City sports merch to rep at the game? This shop across from PNC Park has got you covered. 206 Federal St., 412-697-2461
Son of Stedeford's Discount Records. Offshoot of the iconic shop still has a strong used-vinyl selection, especially the jazz and soul in the basement. 515 E. Ohio St., 412-321-8333
Tom Friday's Market. They come from all over to this venerable neighborhood butcher's shop, perhaps the last place in town to carry fresh, hanging sides of beef; also known for its sausage. 3639 California Ave., 412-766-4500
The Urban Gardener. Get your perennials, your bedding plants — even trees — and much more at this seasonal, largely outdoor shop. 1901 Brighton Road, 412-323-4769
Other Spots of Interest
Rivers Casino. Sure, it's got an array of table games and slot machines, but there's more to do at the casino than gamble. It's got five restaurants and three lounges for your night on the town. It also boasts one of the best poker rooms in the country. 777 Casino Drive, 412-231-7777