A Public Service of Mark Kantrowitz

A Pinch of Pittsburgh

 

A Pinch of Pittsburgh, also known as burgh.info, is a quick guide to the best of Pittsburgh. For more detailed guides to Pittsburgh, see Discover Pittsburgh, Excite Travel: Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Metro Guide, The Pittsburgh Guide, Telerama's Tour of Pittsburgh, Travelbase Pittsburgh, and WPXI-11's RealPittsburgh.Com.

All area codes are 412, except where otherwise noted.

This guide is written with a focus on the Oakland, Squirrel Hill, and Shadyside suburbs of Pittsburgh.

A Brief Introduction

Pittsburgh is situated at the nexus of three rivers, the Allegheny, the Monongahela (the Mon) and the Ohio. Downtown is often referred to as the Golden Triangle, with Point State Park and a magnificent fountain located at the tip.

Pittsburgh's main selling points are that it is affordable, comfortable, and safe. Pittsburgh is literally Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. (Fred Rogers lived in Pittsburgh for most of his life.) It has everything you could want from a city, except perhaps professional basketball. It has dozens of historical and cultural attractions, a mild climate, numerous parks and hiking trails, and several major universities.

Directions to Pittsburgh

The local taxicab services are Yellow Cab (665-8100) and Peoples Cab (681-3131). Some of the Yellow Cab drivers have cell phones in their cabs and you can schedule a cab to pick you up on-time for your return trip to the airport. Airlines Transportation Company (321-8147) offers less expensive shuttles to major Pittsburgh hotels. PAT, the local public transportation, offers an inexpensive bus from the airport that stops in front of Carnegie Mellon University.

If at all possible, fly into Pittsburgh at night. When you exit from the tunnel onto the Fort Pitt bridge, the city will unfold in front of you, lit up like diamonds in the rough.

To get to Pittsburgh from the airport, take I-279 to the Fort Pitt tunnel.

If you will be heading for Oakland, Squirrel Hill, and Shadyside, look for the signs for Monroeville (I-376 East) on the right as you exit the tunnels. The Forbes Avenue/Oakland exit will take you through the heart of Oakland, past the University of Pittsburgh (note the Cathedral of Learning on your left), the Carnegie Museum on your right, and Carnegie Mellon University on your right. Continuing on Forbes Avenue will take you to Murray Avenue, the main Squirrel Hill shopping district.

If you're headed for Shadyside, turn left on South Craig Street just past the Carnegie Museum and right on Fifth Avenue. If you're headed for Squirrel Hill, you can either drive along Forbes Avenue, or take the Squirrel Hill exit. If you're new to Pittsburgh, we recommend avoiding the Squirrel Hill exit. Eventually you'll learn the best way to Squirrel Hill (Oakland exit to Boulevard of the Allies and through Schenley Park).

Housing

Housing prices in Pittsburgh are cheap compared to prices in Boston and the West Coast. Local realtors include Howard Hanna, Coldwell Banker, Northwood Realty Services, Prudential, Re/Max, and Metro Real Estate. Many of these real estate web sites include listings. You will need to specify Southwestern Pennsylvania and Allegheny County. The most popular residential suburbs are Squirrel Hill and Shadyside.

Lodging

The closest hotel to the two universities is the Holiday Inn at University Center at the corner of Fifth and Lytton (1-800-465-4329 or 682-6200, fax 681-4749). Somewhat less expensive and still in Oakland are the Howard Johnson Lodge (Boulevard of the Allies, 1-800-245-4444 or 1-800-654-2000), Hampton Inn (3315 Hamlet Street, 1-800-426-7866 or 681-1000, fax 681-3022), and Best Western University Center (3401 Boulevard of the Allies, 683-6100, fax 682-6115).

For extended stays, there's the Shadyside Inn (5405 Fifth Avenue, 1-800-767-8483 or 441-4444, fax 687-7312).

Downtown there's a Doubletree (281-3700, fax 227-4504), Hilton (1-800-445-8667 or 391-4600, fax 594-5161), Marriott (471-4000, fax 394-1017), Hyatt (1-800-233-1234), Ramada Plaza Suites (1-800-225-5858 or 281-5800, fax 281-8467), Westin William Penn (1-800-228-3000 or 281-7100, fax 553-5239), and Sheraton at Station Square (1-800-255-7488 or 261-2000, fax 261-2932).

There are also several outstanding bed and breakfasts, including Appletree Bed and Breakfast (703 S. Negley Avenue, 661-0631), Shadyside Bed & Breakfast (5516 Fifth Avenue, 683-6501, fax 683-7228), and Morning Glory Inn (431-1707).

Dining

Good restaurants in Oakland include: Ali Baba, Craig Street Coffee, Duranti's, India Garden, Lucca, Lu Lu's Noodles, Mad Mex, Michael's Brick Oven, Original Hot Dog Shop, Prince of India, Spice Island Tea House and Union Grill. Takeout Indian lunches can also be obtained from Kohli's Indian Grocer.

Other Oakland restaurants include Kane's Courtyard (Winthrop Street, 683-9988), Original Hot Dog Shop (3901 Forbes, 621-7388), Mai Thai (328 Atwood, 683-7066), Star of India (412 South Craig, Oakland, 681-5700), and Subway (415 South Craig, 687-6728).

The best restaurants in Pittsburgh are

Entertainment

Amusements

Flora and Fauna

Sites

Music, Theater, and Dance

Museums

Visual Arts

Festivals

Every year there are numerous festivals and fairs. Pittsburgh has many cultural districts, and each has its own festival during the summer. Some of the more famous include the Light-up Nights (all of the buildings downtown leave all the lights on for a wonderful sparkle), Three Rivers Regatta, the Three Rivers Arts Festival, the Shadyside Arts Festival, and the Vintage Grand Prix. There's also the City of Pittsburgh Marathon and the Thrift Drug Classic International Bike Race.

Shopping

Each community has its own main shopping area, each with a distinctive character. The main shopping areas in Oakland are located along Forbes Avenue and South Craig Street, in Shadyside on Walnut Street, in Squirrel Hill on Forbes and Murray Avenues, and on the South Side on East Carson Street and Station Square.

Among the shopping malls of note are the Grove City Factory Shops (off of I-79 exit 31, 748-4770), Monroeville Mall and the other shopping areas on the William Penn Highway (Parkway East I-376 to Route 22), Waterworks Mall (across the Highland Park Bridge, take third exit when you miss the first exit), Edgewood Town Center (first exit after the Squirrel Hill Tunnel), and Ross Park Mall (McKnight Road in the North Hills).

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