Exploring Cuisine and Culture in Pittsburgh

Fun activities for all ages

Duquesne Incline
Duquesne Incline | Larger

The Duquesne Incline is an interesting introduction to Pittsburgh. I scaled the wooded slopes of Mt. Washington in a restored cable car used by commuters in this city since 1877.

And when I got to the top I had a panoramic view of the Steel City. The soot and the pollution of this former city are long gone, but the history of the area is depicted at the top of the Incline. Steel mills have been replaced by hi-tech industries, but the Duquesne Incline continues to operate with its wooden wheels and is a top tourist attraction for families.

Wheels on the Duquesne Incline
Wheels on the Duquesne Incline | Larger

There are many ways to see the city. You can board the Gateway Clipper Fleet, for dining or sightseeing cruises that capture the spirit of the city of three rivers, the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio. Or take the Just Ducky Tours for a land and water tour aboard the historic Discovery vessel or take the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. The more adventurous might want to hop on a Segway and visit the city led by a trained Segway guide.

Mancini's Italian bread store in the Strip district
Mancini's Italian bread store in the Strip
| Larger

But whatever method you choose to see the city, there are plenty of interesting neighborhoods, museums, sporting events and cultural activities for everyone in the family. Being a foodie, I started my exploring in an area called the Strip District with a food tasting tour, led by an experienced food lover like me. The Strip District is the former area where the dock workers labored and it has blocks of hearty food shops, restaurants, specialty stores, a fish market and bars. Our first stop was Mancini's for a taste of hot, out of the oven, Italian bread.

Primanti Brothers Sandwich
Primanti Brothers Sandwich | Larger

The Strip tour included a visit to a cheese shop with dozens of varieties of unusual cheeses for a tasting, bake shops, a fish market, gourmet kitchen store and even a visit to a Pittsburgh popcorn store with freshly popped corn in dozens of tasty flavors. Our group also made a pit stop at Primanti Brothers, famous for its hearty sandwich that dock workers enjoyed years ago and one that people still enjoy that want a big meal. But don't ask them to put the French fries on the side of your sandwich. They go right in the middle of the sandwich.

I walked off some of my calories by taking a walking tour of the Lawrenceville neighborhood. This funky district has antique shops, artist galleries, boutiques and home accessories.

Appetizers from Tamari
Appetizers from Tamari

Then it was dinner time and Tamari Restaurant and Lounge, with its innovative menu with a mix of Asian and Latin American was a feast for my taste buds after my day of sightseeing along Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Their appetizers laced with caviar were amazing.

One of the most interesting museums in Pittsburgh is the Andy Warhol. Not your typical museum fare here. No, there are posters of every subject Warhol was involved in from movie stars to presidents and pornography. Some sections are not suitable for children, but there are several floors of interesting items that merit a visit to this tribute to the artist.

The Frick Pittsburgh Art and Historical Center is a museum dedicated to Henry Clay Frick, a young man who recognized the opportunity that coal could be baked slowly into coal cakes, or coke, and shipped by rail to fuel the modern furnaces of Pittsburgh's growing steel industry in the 1870s.

Car from Frick mansion
Car from Frick mansion | Larger

Frick's mansion, Clayton, has been beautiful restored and maintained and is available for guided tours. The tour gives guests glimpse of a late-Victorian mansion and how a wealthy family in Pittsburgh lived in the 1880s and 1890s. A $5.8 million restoration of the mansion began in 1986 and took four years to complete. The Frick also includes a collection of antique cars.

Carnegie Museum Exhibit
Carnegie Museum Exhibit

A visit to Pittsburgh wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural history. The galleries include 500 examples of American and European decorative arts and design from the mid-18th century through present day. Plan to spend several hours browsing this complex of museums founded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895.

Breakfast is a fun activity in Pittsburgh. There are several neighborhood restaurants that serve tasty homemade baked goods and delicious pancakes. The Shadyside neighborhood, a trendy shopping district along Walnut Street and Ellsworth Avenue is home to a variety of upscale boutiques, vintage shops and restaurants.

Pamela's flapjacks
Pamela's flapjacks | Larger

Try Pamela's, a popular Pittsburgh place for breakfast. They are known for their famous flapjacks.

Sports also play an important role in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburg Penguins National Hockey League team, The Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Team and the Pittsburgh Steelers football team all provide plenty of sports activities for fans and tourists.

Whatever your flavor, Pittsburgh has something to suit everyone's taste buds.

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