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Old 10-17-2011, 05:43 AM
 
Location: Alabama
1,068 posts, read 1,633,325 times
Reputation: 940

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Hi, I am going to be visiting Pittsburgh with my brother this coming weekend.

My general questions are

1. Is pittsburgh mainly walkable ? (not "spread out" like many other southern metros)

2.How good is the shopping in pittsburgh? Any good malls?

3. Main reason we are coming here is to visit on of my brother's business partners who restaurant is on federal street and has one in the hill district - are these "bad" areas for tourists?

4. Also in general what is pittsburgh like? Is it more appalachian or northeastern in way of life, pace, culture, accents etc? What are some famous pittsburgh foods, if any? Like philly has the cheese steaks?

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 10-17-2011, 06:28 AM
 
Location: ɥbɹnqsʇʇıd
4,601 posts, read 6,212,151 times
Reputation: 3516
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreasuredJewel View Post
Hi, I am going to be visiting Pittsburgh with my brother this coming weekend.

My general questions are

1. Is pittsburgh mainly walkable ? (not "spread out" like many other southern metros)

2.How good is the shopping in pittsburgh? Any good malls?

3. Main reason we are coming here is to visit on of my brother's business partners who restaurant is on federal street and has one in the hill district - are these "bad" areas for tourists?

4. Also in general what is pittsburgh like? Is it more appalachian or northeastern in way of life, pace, culture, accents etc? What are some famous pittsburgh foods, if any? Like philly has the cheese steaks?

Thanks for any advice.
1. It depends. If you're doing touristy stuff downtown/north shore/southside then it is walkable. Other than that you should get a car with a GPS.

2. Might want to check out the Mall at Robinson (outside of the city), the Southside Works, The Waterfront, or the Tanger Outlets (outside of the city). If you're here Saturday go check out the Strip District.

3. Federal Street is fine, but going a few streets up from Federal and you will run into some sketchy areas. Hill District is bad for tourists, period. I know people will disagree with me for some reason, but lets just say that's one of the last places a tourist would go in the city.

4. Pittsburgh is Appalachian mostly but I'd say overall it has its own unique vibe. Our "famous" Pittsburgh food is the Primanti's sandwich. It's ok I guess, more of a gimmick than anything else. It's good for tourists to try. In fact, I was chatting with a British gentleman in the Czech Republic last month who fondly remembered that sandwich from his trip here in the 70's.
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Old 10-17-2011, 06:28 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh (via Chicago, via Pittsburgh)
3,887 posts, read 5,033,215 times
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1. Is pittsburgh mainly walkable ? (not "spread out" like many other southern metros)
Pittsburgh is generally pretty walkable. Public transit isn't the best, but you can use the buses if you plan well enough. Shadyside, Carson St. on the Southside, Squirrel Hill and Downtown are all pretty walk able

2.How good is the shopping in pittsburgh? Any good malls?
If a mall is what you are looking for, I'd recommend Ross Park Mall (a Simon mall, same owner as King of Prussia Mall in Philly if you are familiar. Walnut St. in Shadyside also has those higher end mall type stores

3. Main reason we are coming here is to visit on of my brother's business partners who restaurant is on federal street and has one in the hill district - are these "bad" areas for tourists?
Federal St. is a fine location. It goes from the North Shore from AGH to PNC Park across the river into downtown near the cultural district. It depends where, but in general the Hill isn't so great

4. Also in general what is pittsburgh like? Is it more appalachian or northeastern in way of life, pace, culture, accents etc? What are some famous pittsburgh foods, if any? Like philly has the cheese steaks?
Pittsburgh is slower paced than those coastal cities. It definitely has its own unique culture with influences stemming from the North East and a little bit of Midwest and Appalachian ethos. It's a laid back town and most people love it when they visit. As far as food, you have the classic tourist foods like Primantis (probably Pittsburgh's equal to the Philly cheese steak). There are other local restaurants too that you can research, but it depends on what kind of cuisine you are looking for.
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Old 10-17-2011, 06:57 AM
 
20,273 posts, read 30,733,625 times
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(1) Pittsburgh has many walkable areas, but getting between those areas can be a bit tricky (although there is a pretty good bus system linking the main such area--again, it can just be a little tricky using it).

(2) Other people may be more helpful on malls--I'd just emphasize going to the Strip in the morning for a distinctive shopping experience.

(3) I agree Federal Street is a more attractive destination for tourists. There are some cool things to see and do in what we call the central North Side and along the North Shore.

(4) Pittsburgh is the only large city in Northeast Appalachia (a noted local author has called it The Paris of Appalachia), which makes it a fairly distinctive place--it has its own dialect, its own cultural institutions, and so on. As I like to say, it has a lot of cousins among other U.S. cities, in the Northeast, Great Lakes, and to some extent even the South and Canada, but no siblings. Note that Northeast Appalachia is itself distinct from Southwest Appalachia, and being urban makes it even less like the vision some people have of Appalachia (all that is part of the reason a lot of locals resist any explicit association between Pittsburgh and Appalachia).

I'd say the real equivalent to the cheesesteak is actually the local version of a fish sandwich, not Primanti's. Another fun local food is the Turkey Devonshire. For more upscale options, I'd say the biggest thing these days is flexible menus built around local sourcing, a general concept which obviously isn't unique to Pittsburgh but by its nature it takes on the flavors of the region.
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:16 AM
 
Location: Wilkinsburg
1,661 posts, read 2,510,373 times
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There is a lot of good advice posted above, but I want to emphasize spending an afternoon at the Strip, particularly the Reyna Foods taco stand, Penn Mac, and Penn Avenue Fish Company. I normally line up a menu like this: carnitas taco, pepperoni roll, seafood bisque, and a Mexican Coke.
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Old 10-17-2011, 10:55 PM
 
Location: Alabama
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Thank you all for your advice and suggestions, looking forward to seeing the city.
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Old 10-19-2011, 12:00 AM
 
2 posts, read 5,832 times
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Treasured Jewel...

It is pretty much Pittsburgh tourist blasphemy to not take the Duquesne Incline up Mt.Washington. That should be your non-negotiable tourist item. I HIGHLY reccomend reservations at a Mt.Washington scenic overview restuarant at sunset....to name a few, Tin Angel, Georgetowne Inn, The Lamont, or for a more affordable restaurant with the same breathtaking view, Kohl Hill Steakhouse (formerly called the Grandview Saloon).

Pittsburgh also offers amphibious vehicle tours called "Ducky Tours" that take you around the city and out onto the rivers for a brief 45 minute tour of the city, or for a more leisurely tour via watercraft, book a paddleboat ride on the Gateway Clipper Fleet.

Regarding "Is Pittsburgh Mainly Walkable", yes in the sense that downtown Pittsburgh is very condensed, and certainly has some good trails, but it's also a confusing city topographically, so if you're from out of town, you can end up having no idea how to get back to where you started. You may want to research some Pittsburgh trail maps online...but for a nice afternoon stroll, park at the The Rivers Casino for free on the North Shore, and you can walk along the North Shore riverfront walkway, to within one block of the Andy Warhol Museum, a nice mile and a half stroll past a lot of cool stuff (the casino, Heinz Field where the Steelers play, PNC Park where the Pirates play, great view of the skyline and rivers, past the Carnegie Science Center, etc.

It's also peak fall color so it's a beautiful time of year up here to go out for an autumn drive out in the countryside surrounding the city if you have a rental car.

Now to your questions...

#1- Already answered the walking question.

#2- Regarding shopping, Pittsburgh has a fairly impressive mall on the south side of the city called
South Hills Village that can be acessed by subway (called locally "the trolley"), from downtown, so
if you want a nice way to do some shopping without every having to negogiate driving from
downtown, that's one way. You can board the subway in the basement of the biggest building in
downtown (the big black triangular building that says UPMC on top of it called the US Steel Building)
However, some would argue the nicest overall complex of plazas, stores, etc, is Robinson Town
Center, although that's about a 15 minute drive outside of downtown.

#3- Regarding Federal Street and The Hill District, please listen closely. You are doing Pittsburgh a
TOTAL DISSERVICE, if you mull around those two areas all day. The Hill District is a somewhat
sketchy neighborhood, some would say one of our top-5 to avoid. Federal Street is an ok place,
but there's so much more. Take a drive down Carson Street at night for our nightlife. Another
great night life location is Station Square, and that area is accessible from Mt.Washington via
our OTHER incline, the Mononghela Incline, so a nice trick is to drive up to Mt.Washington for
dinner, take a walk down Grandview Avenue in Mt.Washington to the Monongahela Incline, take it
down to Station Square for some after dinner cocktails on the river (Hard Rock Cafe, Bar Louie's,
Etc), then take the incline back up and get your car.

#4- Pittsburgh culturally is like an island of culture unto its own. It's too mid-atlantic to be midwestern,
it's too Appalachian to be mid-atlantic, it's too east coast to truly be Appalachian, etc. That's what
you get when you place a city only a 4 or 5 hour drive from DC/Baltimore/Philly, only a 3 hour drive
from Canada, only an hour drive from the Appalachian Mountains, and only a half hour from Ohio.
Basically, we're where about 4 different cultural pockets meet on a map, so we're sort of a weird
mutt of traits culturally.



Oh...and if you are entering Pittsburgh through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, get ready for what may be the coolest entrance to any American city.

Bottom line is, you're visiting Pittsburgh in late October, the forecast is 60 and sunny all weekend, and
do yourself a favor and do some research about events in the area and tourist attractions etc, because
it would be ashame to waste that hand of cards confused about where to go or what to do. A little research should yield you a damn entertaining couple of days!
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Old 10-19-2011, 02:54 AM
 
Location: The canyon (with my pistols and knife)
13,662 posts, read 20,161,717 times
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1. Due primarily to the terrain, Pittsburgh has several pockets of walkability that are mostly separate from each other. You'll need to drive or take the bus between them.

2. The best mall in the Pittsburgh area is Ross Park Mall, which is located on McKnight Road north of the city. It's no more than a 10-minute drive from downtown. Ross Park Mall has Nordstrom, BCBG Max Azria, Burberry, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, L.L. Bean, Luis Vuitton, etc., and it's one of only two malls in the area with an Apple Store and a Godiva Chocolatier.

3. Federal Street is more lively and touristy to the south, seedier to the north, and gradually rebuilding itself in between. The Hill District is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, although it is safer the closer you get to Duquesne University and CONSOL Energy Center.

4. If Pittsburgh was a six-part recipe, it'd be three parts Northeast, two parts northern Appalachia, and one part Midwest. It should be noted that northern Appalachia is a bit different from southern Appalachia. Northern Appalachia is more industrial and less stereotypical "hillbilly/redneck" than southern Appalachia, but it's still an outdoorsy, hunting/fishing, do-it-yourself rural culture just the same.
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Old 10-19-2011, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Western Pa
437 posts, read 487,790 times
Reputation: 279
Stay away from the Hill District... NO reason what so ever to vist that area.
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Old 10-19-2011, 11:39 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
26,183 posts, read 28,668,343 times
Reputation: 62206
Quote:
It is pretty much Pittsburgh tourist blasphemy to not take the Duquesne Incline up Mt.Washington. That should be your non-negotiable tourist item. I HIGHLY reccomend reservations at a Mt.Washington scenic overview restuarant at sunset....to name a few, Tin Angel, Georgetowne Inn, The Lamont, or for a more affordable restaurant with the same breathtaking view, Kohl Hill Steakhouse (formerly called the Grandview Saloon).
I usually recommend the Mon Incline to visitors, since it has Station Square at the Bottom and the Mt. Washington overlooks and Shiloh St at the top. And the Shiloh Grill is a more fun dining option, even if there isn't a view.
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