I’ve been visiting Pittsburgh ever since I was a kid; some of my earliest memories are trips to the 412; leaving at 3 in the morning so we wouldn’t hit traffic, that beautiful skyline, my aunt’s house and doing all sorts of things with her. Even visits to Sarris’, a boat ride on the Gateway Clipper and a trip to Raccoon State Park are things that I can still pull up in my memory box from time to time. And even though I’ve been going there for a lot of my life, every trip is still just as valuable as the last, and each time I go, I bring home so many wonderful memories.
This past weekend, my dad and I went up for the Labor Day weekend. It was a short trip – all in all, we were in Pittsburgh for just over two full days – but we did a lot. Of course, we did the mainstay “touristy” things, such as visiting the Strip District and Station Square. We just had to ride the Monongahela Incline and see the view from Mount Washington; it’s arguably one of my favorite views and seeing it all that from that perspective – the skyline, the rivers, the bridges…. it’s beautiful.
But we also did some other fun things, like the Just Ducky Tours. For roughly $22 per person, we got a one-hour tour around parts of the city and the rivers. The tour starts on land at Station Square, in an old WWII recommissioned vehicle. Pretty neat stuff. We drove through the city, from the Cultural District to Chinatown, the hearts of downtown and by PNC Park, etc. Then… we went in the water!
Honestly, it’s difficult to explain the feeling of going from the land to the water. One minute, you’re on the solid sidewalk ground, then slowly, you’re headed into the water, and then, bam, you’re floating on one of the Three Rivers! It’s definitely a neat experience and one I would recommend to anyone. The boat basically took us up around the point, past Heinz Field, with some great water views of the skyline. Then back on land and to Station Square.
It may have been one of my favorite parts of the weekend. Whether you’ve lived in Pittsburgh for thirty years or you’re just there on vacation, try and do that Just Ducky tour. I mean really, what other tour will let you go by land AND by water, on the same vehicle? The tour guides were also very intelligent and well-informed and it was educational in addition to just plain fun. But make sure you book your tickets in advance — we arrived at the booth to check in at 12:45 for our 1:30 tour, and all the tours were sold out for the next three hours! (For the record, there’s five boats every hour…. do the math and you’ll see that means they’re in high demand!)
Other than that, we went to the Pittsburgh Pirates game against the Cincinnati Reds. Another amazing view of that PIttsburgh skyline, and an overall fun experience. I had forgotten since last year that the Pirates do a “pierogi race” and got quite a kick out of that. We had dinner at Primanti’s (of course) and another night at Texas Roadhouse. Yum, yum, yum. Add in a breakfast Eat ‘n Park and you’re pretty much all set!
One of the hidden treasures that my aunt actually introduced me to a few years ago is called the Gilfillan Farm. There’s a trail around the farm and it’s honestly just a beautiful walk. We were able to do that twice, despite a little bit of rainy weather throughout parts of the weekend, and it was lovely to get some fresh air and that connection to nature. It’s truly revitalizing.
The saddest part, of course, is the leaving; the heading home. But at the very least, I always come home with a treasure chest filled with wonderful memories and experiences that I’ll store away for a rainy day.