This summer, we’re taking some virtual road trips and exploring the country, courtesy of DCG staffers. Depending on where you live, you’ll travel north, south, east, or west through cyberspace to get inside information on both small towns and larger cities. We hope you learn something new and find inspiration for when you feel comfortable traveling again.
The first blog in our “Hometown” series focuses on Pittsburgh. SPP Senior Writer Megan Wojcik has lived there most of her life.
Name: Megan Wojcik
Where I live: Pittsburgh, Pa.
What my town is known for: Steel, rivers, sports (The City of Champions), French fries on sandwiches (more about that later!)
What I love best about my town: Pittsburgh has a big-city-meets-small-town vibe.
It’s big enough to satisfy anyone’s cultural (think professional opera and ballet companies, a world-renowned symphony, museums galore), outdoors (biking, hiking, and water sports), and recreational (college and professional sports, casual and fine dining, countless music and heritage festivals, local artist markets, historic amusement parks) needs, but small enough that restaurant owners will often remember you and you’ll likely receive a nod and friendly “hello” from passersby.
Must-sees and must-dos: When exploring Pittsburgh, you’ll usually encounter locals enjoying all of the amenities of their city. Museums aren’t just once-a-year destinations and the flavors created by local chefs aren’t just for special occasions. Here are the places I like to go:
· Day at the museum(s): The Carnegie Museum of Art is home to treasures from a who’s who of the art world: Monet, Degas, van Gogh, Hopper, Matisse, and Renoir.
In addition to collections exploring Native American and ancient Egyptian culture, botany, minerals/gems, and birds, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is known for its incredible collection of dinosaur fossils and skeletons.
The Andy Warhol Museum houses works by one of Pittsburgh’s most famous native sons. At the Meadowcroft Rockshelter, you’ll see an archeological wonder — the oldest site of human habitation in North America.
· Millionaire’s Row: During the 19th and early 20th centuries, booming steel, oil, and coal industries gave Pittsburgh more millionaires than New York City. Some of their stunning estates still stand and are now boutique hotels, places of worship, and museums. Industrialist Henry Clay Frick’s Clayton tells the story of conspicuous consumption in the America’s Gilded Age.
· Calling all Frank Lloyd Wright fans: Just an hour away from Pittsburgh, you’ll find two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces — Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob — and two of only seven Wright homes where you can spend the night: Mäntylä and the Duncan House in Polymath Park.
· Happy trails: Whether you want a leisurely ride through the city or are interested in hitting a series of trails that take you from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., bike riders are welcome here!
· Holy Pittsburgh: Where can you find the world’s largest collection of Christian relics in the world, outside of the Vatican? In an unassuming chapel in Pittsburgh’s Troy Hill neighborhood. Saint Anthony Chapel houses more than 5,000 relics in over 800 relic cases (reliquaries) of various sizes. The collection was started by Fr. Suitbert Mollinger, who was born in Belgium and came to Pittsburgh as a priest in 1865.
· I’m hungry: In addition to local shops’ diverse offerings, Pittsburgh’s marketplace — known as the Strip District — is home to restaurants that can satisfy any palate. Eat like a Pittsburgher at Primanti Bros., where hearty sandwiches are topped with French fries. Finish your day at Klavon’s, an ice cream shop that opened in 1923. Along with its original marble countertops, stainless steel fountain equipment, revolving stools, and penny candy counter, enjoy locally sourced handmade ice cream treats.
· Getting around: Pittsburgh is a city of gentle hills and steep slopes.
Turn these topographic quirks into an adventure with a ride on Pittsburgh’s funiculars, The Duquesne Incline and the Monongahela Incline. Since the 1870s, these red and yellow cars on rails have helped locals get around.
· Hollywood east: Believe it or not, Pittsburgh has a thriving movie industry. Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Cate Blanchett, Viola Davis, Christian Bale, and Denzel Washington are just a few Hollywood stars who have shot movies here. It’s not unusual to find a street or entire block shut down for filming. You never know, while you’re exploring, you may be starstruck!
Details: If you plan on visiting my fair city, you can find some valuable information at https://www.visitpittsburgh.com. Though the country is starting to open up, check all sites for up-to-date COVID precautions and regulations.