Segway Yourself Around Downtown Pittsburgh
If it's true that half the fun of traveling is "getting there," you'll want to try the most unique way to sightsee in Pittsburgh -- "Segway in Paradise!" Glide around the Golden Triangle, Station Square, PPG Place, PNC Park and Heinz Field on a segway. The futuristic-looking segway is a 2-wheel, self-balanced mode of transportation (which looks a little like a backwards old-fashion push lawnmower) that is coming into popular use all around the country and not only for pleasure but for work too: warehouses, airports, amusement parks, etc.
I think the Segway is great because it eliminates tired feet and legs but lets you get closer to attractions than you might by car. A great feature is the headset receiver each "glider" is given so everyone can hear the tour guide's narration. No matter where you are in the group when on a segway tour, or if there is traffic noise, you'll be able to hear your guide. Twenty minutes of training and a helmut are provided and you must be at least 4 ft. tall and weigh 60 pounds to participate in tours. Wear comfortable shoes; flip flops and high heels are not permitted.
Two-hour tours are $59pp + tax; a 45 minute-tour around Station Square is $25pp + tax (2008 prices). Shorter tours are available upon request. Reservations are necessary or at least strongly suggested. (Look for discount coupons for about a 10% savings.)
Meet for tours at the segway desk located inside the "Freight House Shops," in Station Square near the food court. The two-hour tours begin at 9:30 am and 1pm daily. Summer brings the addition of evening tours on Friday & Saturday at 6pm.
Don't miss this fun experience!
RIDE THE INCLINE
The city of Pittsburgh has three rivers passing by its shores and is surrounded by many hills--which means many bridges, too! While river cruises take advantage of the water system, navigating the heights is best by incline, one of the city's popular attractions.
This particular conveyance is the Monongahela Incline Plane that was built in 1869-70. It was rebuilt in 1882, 1935 and 1982-83 and is a Pittsburgh Historical Landmark. This is only one of the inclines operating by the Port Authority of Allegheny County.
It's been a custom of many to take visitors on a ride on the incline when they visit the city. I don't think you should leave Pittsburgh without doing so. A spectacular view of the river comes with it!
Picture #2 shows the vintage interior of the car. The comfortable seating makes for an easy ride to the top and you'll see the twin car descending as you move to the top of the hill.
Hours run from Monday-Saturdays 5:30 am-12:45 am and on Sundays and Holidays from 8:45am-12 Midnight.
Fares: Adults--$2 cash each way or round trip for $2.50 with transfer pass which is valid for 3 hours; for children ages 6-11 or for the disabled, fare is $1 cash or round trip for $1.25 with transfer pass which is valid for 3 hours.Related to:
- Family Travel
Pittsburgh's City County Building
Richard Caliguiri (1931-1988) was Democratic mayor of Pittsburgh from 1978-1988. As a tribute for all of the contributions he made to the city of Pittsburgh, a likeness of him stands on the steps of the City County Building.
It is quite a good rendering of the mayor and he appears very much as he did in life. Have a drive by to see the former leader!
The City County Building was erected in 1917, has ten floors and is considered a low-rise. This is where the mayor conducts business and where public documents and records are kept.Related to:
- Women's Travel
Tour the Allegheny West Neighborhood
When we lived in Pennsylvania, my husband and I looked forward to the Allegheny West Victorian Christmas House Tour each year. We were restoring a 130 year old Victorian cottage in Butler County and were always looking for ideas. The tour provided a wonderful opportunity to see some of these magnificent homes all decked out for Christmas!
The Allegheny West neighborhood was first laid out in 1788 as part of the 'outlots' or farming area laying outside the town of Allegheny. This area developed slowly. No structure was found on this land until 1813, when John Irwin, a veteran of the Revolutionary War built a rope factory here.
The rope factory was removed in 1858, building lots were laid out and new homes were built. Allegheny West quickly became an exclusive neighborhood and by 1879 was showcasing architectural gems in the Greek Revival, Italianate, French Second Empire,Richardson Romanesque, Queen Anne and Classical Revival styles.
As Pittsburgh enjoyed the industrial boom, pollution overtook some of these areas and the prominent moved to the suburbs or the country. The neighborhood declined, then languished until the 1970's when preservation became an interest to those wishing to resurrect the area.
For more info. on the history of Allegheny West or the home tour, go to www.pittsburghneighborhoodtours.com. (Be sure your computer has virus check)Related to:
Just Ducky Tours
It's a truck, it's a boat, it's a duck!! I've never actually seen one of these "boat+truck=duck" vehicles in the water but I've seen quite a few of them on the streets loaded sightseers in several cities! What I can see is that the people aboard look like they're having a marvelous time!
Station Square in Pittsburgh is also the starting point for the "Just Ducky Tours" which state that they visit Pittsburgh's "past and present" by land or sea by traveling from Grant Street by the William Penn Hotel, the Theater District, the North Side where the PNC Park and Heinz Field are situated and anywhere you can see from the rivers.
We could see the booth selling "Ducky" tours from where we were enjoying our al fresco lunch, and tours were selling out quickly during this beautiful, sunny morning. Reservations are recommended, but most people were just walking up to the booth to purchase tickets for the same day. As the temperatures were rising, those 'ducks' were looking cooler, and cooler!
The tours begin and end at Station Square (they really have everything here!). All tours are approximately 1 hour and tickets must be picked up 30 minutes prior to boarding your 'duck.' The 'ducks' are wheelchair accessible, but previous arrangements must be made to accommodate these types of passengers.
"Duck Season": April through October.
Posted hours for "Just Ducky Tours" are 10:30; 12:00; 1:30; 3:00; 4:30; 6:00.
2008 prices are $19 for adults; $15 children 3 to 12; $5 children 2 and under.
COZY UP TO THE PIRATE PARROT!!
The Pirate Parrot is the mascot for the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team--they hold their games at PNC Park. We happened to be at an event where the Pirate Parrot was doing a public relations appearance.
Our grandson, under the age of one at that time, caught his eye and the parrot hoisted him up to his shoulders for this picture. It is one of our favorite photos--the little guy looks a bit concerned, though. He might have thought he'd become a tidbit for the bird's massive jaws!
Other Options for Sightseeing
Pittsburgh offered lots of opportunities for sightseeing and things to do---our spirit was willing but the availability of more free time was not. Here are some additional options for your time in Pittsburgh:
"National Aviary --- The Nation's Only Bird Zoo!" - "Over 600 exotic and endangered birds from around the world!" Enjoy the penguins, raptor encounter, shows, feeding times, and a Tropical indoor rainforest not to mention Tropical Rainstorm!
Adults: $6; Children 2-12: $6.50; under age 2: free; seniors: $7.
Location: North Side Pittsburgh close to Allegheny Center, PNC Park and Heinz Field.
"Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad" - Off the beaten track but lots of fun for train lovers and the whole family. Just about every type of entertaining train ride you can imagine: Murder Mystery Dinner Train; Hobo Campfire Train rides; special holiday dinner train rides; the annual "Civil War Remembered" (Steam weekend) rides; and lots more.
Check website for dates, times & prices. Website: www.mhrailroad.com
"Pennsylvania Trolley Museum" - A 30-minute ride from Pittsburgh located in Washington, PA, the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum beckons you to "Climb Aboard for a Ride into the Past!" Take a trolley ride on the restored trolleys to the sounds of clanging bells and the clickity-clack rhythmic sound of the tracks. The Visitor Education Center features a video presentation, exhibits & Museum store. Tour trolley barns and learn about the restoration process. Special tours available and picnic areas for visitors are available. Free parking. Open every day from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Weekdays - 10am to 4pm; Weekends - 11am to 5pm. March through December opens Fridays through Mondays only. Closed Dec. 24 & 25, 31 and Jan. 1. Adults: $8; Children 3 - 15: $5; Seniors 62+: $7.
Website: www.pa-trolley.org. Check website or call PH: 724-228-9256 to learn about special events throughout the year.
"Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens"
www.phipps.conservatory.org PH: 412-622-6914
"Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom" Self-Guided Tour - contact the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center" PH: 412-454-6304
The Fort Pitt Museum: more info. soon!
Fallingwater - Need I Say More ?
If you don't appreciate architecture, please move on to the next tip, as I would not want you to drive an hour or so out of Pittsburgh just to see another house in the woods.
But, for everyone else, if you make it to Pittsburgh, I highly recommend getting in a car and driving for about an hour to tour one of Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpieces - Fallingwater.
There really is no need for me to explain what to do there, but if you can't move around very well or are limited to a wheelchair, the tour could be a tough one, as there are several steep climbs (down and up) to get to the actual house. Going inside for a tour is only possible if you are walking.
I can not stress enough to MAKE RESERVATIONS before you go. Otherwise, you might get stuck looking at the house from the outside (not a bad view, but definitely not as nice as taking the tour).Related to:
- Historical Travel
A rickety, but unique, ride......
A unique way to get up to Mount Washington and see the bird's eye view of Pittsburgh is on either the Duquesne or Monogohela Inclines.
The old cable cars that climb a small moutain at a relatively steep angle on a rickety wooden track take you from Carson St. (which runs along the Monogohela River) up to Grandview Ave. on Mt. Washington, where you can look over the City and surroundings from an observation deck that hangs over the cliff, or from one of many restaurants within walking distance that are built along side the cliff.
The inclines were built in the late 1800s, so don't expect a maglev smooth ride. If you've never ridden one before, especially if you have children, there aren't too many places other than Pittsburgh where you'll have an opportunity - so I would recommend just one ride (up & down) for fun.
I can guarantee you that you (and most definitely your children) will never forget it. Make sure you bring your camera so you can show your friends and family you survived the ride !Related to:
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
The Fort Pitt Museum--Early Pittsburgh History
Our children's love of history began after seeing some of Pittsburgh's noteworthy sites, such as The Fort Pitt Museum. The entire family will find something interesting about this stop!
The museum is at Point State Park and located in a 'recreated 18th century bastion of the fort that Great Britain built in 1759'. It was constructed in 1969 and expanded to 27,000 square feet in order to 'depict the region's history from the early French expeditions to the beginning of Pittsburgh's industrial age before 1800'.
pic #2 footprint of Fort Pitt
Displays of significance are a scale model of the Point and Fort Pitt detailing what the area looked like in 1765 with accompanying narration; a peek at the colonial barracks and the lives of the soldiers; dioramas and exhibits illustrating the history of Pittsburgh; a replica of a fur trader's cabin, many original documents and artifacts from the time.
After visiting the museum, be sure to see the Block House nearby and stroll along the river walk which leads to the lovely fountain at the very tip of the Point.
The museum recommends 1-3 hours for your visit. Admission is $5 for adults; $4 for seniors; $4 for AAA members; $2 for students; $2 for children 6-12 and free for children 5 and under.
Hours are Wednesday-Sunday from 9am-5pm. Closed on most holidays and Mon. and Tues.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
- Family Travel
Renovating The Golden Triangle
Another name for Point State Park is The Golden Triangle. This 36 acre state park is located at the point of three of Pittsburgh's rivers (pics 1 & 2).
It's time for renovation, so the park will soon be spiffied up and improved upon in three stages. Let's just call it a 250th birthday present to the city.
Here is some information I culled from the park's website, which detailed the three stages:
PHASE 1:FESTIVAL GROUNDS The large expanse of lawn will be enhanced so that special events could be comfortably (and impressively) held here;
Pedestrian pathways, walkways and ramps will be 'regraded or redesigned'
PHASE 2: THE FOUNTAIN AREA is to be restored, seating added and touch pool constructed;
Install lighting and furniture;
Water Steps built to the river
MON WHARF CONNECTION; Bike path and pedestrian causeway connecting Point State Park to the Mon Wharf and eventually to Eliza Furnace Trail will be built;
Water landing and plaza for small non-motorized and motorized craft
ALLEGHENY RIVER CONNECTION A Riverfront Landing and Viewing Stand will be created to connect Point State Park to the Allegheny Riverfront Park, Convention Center Riverfront Park, the Strip District and bridges to the North Shore;
Water landing and plaza for boaters
PHASE 3:WATER SIDE INTERIOR/PARKWIDE
Complete final landscape;
Add remaining lighting, signage, furniture
I salute Pittsburgh for protecting one of it's most valuable attractions! The renovation is both ambitious and necessary!Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
- Hiking and Walking
More Beer drinking!!!
The Church Works. Not the Church in London. This is a fantastic brew pub near the Strip district. We stopped here after visiting Penn Brewery and bellied up to a very nice pump cask ale. Cask Ales are very hard to find in this neck of the woods. All I can say is you must visit this brew pub. It is an old church converted into a stunning pub it will blow you away.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
- Luxury Travel
House of Huang Xiang
Huang Xiang, a Chinese poet who was exiled from his home in China, moved to Pittsburgh with the help of City of Asylum. Here, Huang Xiang was able to continue writing his poetry. One of the interesting things about his poetry, is that he has actually written some of it on the outside of his house. Visitors can go there and view the poetry written on his home. It is quite an interesting and inspiring sight.
Not only did Huang Xiang write poetry, but he also used to do poetry readings where he "performed" his poetry (I say "performs" because he is very animated and expressive when reading his poetry). I was fortunate enough to go and see him on two separate occasions. He also taught special classes at the University of Pittsburgh. He no longer lives there, because the city only promises 2 years of housing while the individuals transition into their lives of exile. There are others living here today.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
Senator John Heinz History Center
The Senator John Heinz History Center is a great place to learn about Pittsburgh and some of the important figures, inventions, and icons from Pittsburgh, such as Mister Rogers, Mr. Yuck, and the local dialect "Pittsburghese". It is in association with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., so the changing exhibits are always great!
The museum takes you through the history of the area from the Native Americans, to the settlers, its days as a steel town, and on to the modern times. One of my favorite exhibits, and the one the museum is named after, is the Heinz exhibit on the 5th floor, which features old Heinz Ketchup ads, memorabilia, and Heinz ads from other countries!
The museum is also connected to the Sport Museum, which is interesting for those who love sports.
Entrance is $10 for adults and $5 for students with IDs.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
First time arrival in the city........
If you are coming into the city of Pittsburgh for the first time from the south, west, or the airport, you will be coming down I-279 into the Fort Pitt tunnels. When you start through the tunnel, get ready for an unexpected and incredible sight at the end. Enough said.....try it yourself!Related to:
- Road Trip
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