Mike’s Travelogue: The Steel City is one of the most underrated places to visit
SPONSORED POST – It takes a hearty soul to travel for a preseason game, especially when it is across the country. But when that game is in one of the most underrated cities in the country, it provides more than enough reward to make it worth your while. And Pittsburgh is that city.
I have never been to a city that surprised me more than this one. I expected ugly, fading relics of past glory. Instead, I found a beautiful, modern city rebuilt with character. And a surrounding area with hills, rivers, bridges and tunnels that create a uniquely pleasant visual environment.
And a preseason game gives us a cool opportunity to be there in the summer, which means it is worth sticking around a few days to see a baseball game. No, the Pirates aren’t the greatest team, but they might play in the league’s best modern ballpark (sorry, Fenway and Wrigley are in a class of their own!). PNC Park is perfectly designed for the city it represents. With views of the surrounding skyscrapers and buildings plus the Allegheny River, there isn’t a ballpark that has more to look at away from the field. The team hasn’t had a lot of success, but they got their park 100% right.
Another advantage of a preseason trip is we should get warm enough weather to catch Pittsburgh from the water. Many major cities feature a river, but having three of them is just showing off. The Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela flow through the city which means a summer trip can be three times as exciting. The rivers have boat tours which cover everything from the city’s history of hard labor to island tiki experiences, depending on your preferences.
Every city has its signature dish but no two may go together as well as Pittsburgh and Primanti Brothers. How do you feel about a grilled steak patty, coleslaw, French fries, tomatoes and provolone? Yeah, I thought so. Personally, I’d ditch the colseslaw – French fries built right into the sandwich is the ultimate combo! Why don’t we all put fries in everything? A question for the ages…
In addition to their locations around the area, you can get Primanti Brothers at the stadium on game day. So that leaves you the chance to grab one of two other local favorites for lunch. Every city does pizza its own way and Pittsburgh is no different. Try Ephesus Pizza (219 Fourth Ave) where they have more toppings than you could handle, including kebo, Moroccan chicken and dates.
Or you can go for pierogies. Lots and lots of pierogies. The favorite Polish dumpling with a doughy casing around combinations of meat, cheese, or virtually anything else. And this is the city that made them a centerpiece of its cuisine. You can go for traditional potato and cheese like at Gooski’s on Polish Hill. Or modern, creative twists like at Pierogies Plus where you can get a reuben filled option or a version with apricot and cream cheese. Regardless, you won’t be disappointed!
For some culture, the Andy Warhol Museum (117 Sandusky Street) is a must. The famed pop artist is from Pittsburgh and the museum is huge, with more than 1,000 prints, 4,000 photographs, and 900 paintings by the artist.
And of course, you have the stadium formerly known as Heinz Field (now Acrisure Stadium), with it’s rabid fans and their terrible towels. The stadium is still one of the league’s best and the fans are as passionate and knowledgeable as any you’ll find. Football is a way of life in Western Pennsylvania and while their fans travel well, they are at their best at home. Seattle fans may be outnumbered there, but that is part of the fun.
Don’t sleep on Pittsburgh. It is a fantastic place to visit, from the huge model Tyrannosaurus Rex at the airport when your Alaska flight touches down, to the Mr. Rodgers statue you’ll find in town. With hearty food and even heartier people but with a natural beauty you don’t often find in major metropolises, Pittsburgh is a great place to visit.
Stadium: Heinz Field
Stadium Food: Pierogis or Primanti Brothers (obviously)
Seattle haunt: Good luck!