A Weekend in the 412: Easter in Pittsburgh

11146265_10204422160498141_3980595832906960450_nLast weekend, I ventured out for my first-ever Easter weekend away from home — off to the sweet spot of the 412, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This was far from my first time in the ‘Burgh, though my traveling companion (my significant other) had never really been to the city, aside from driving through. I was eager and excited to show off as many things as I could about this wonderful city that I’ve been visiting since I was a child.

11133814_10204422077496066_6151304852628221287_nWe hit the road early on Saturday morning, stopping at Tim Hortons and off to the 412 we went. Our first stop, however, was in Meadville, PA roughly two hours from Buffalo. Breakfast at Cracker Barrel was followed by a quick look at the PennDOT road sign artwork. I always love that art, and my partner in crime is a bit of a road-sign aficionado, too.

I’ll interject here to reiterate, as always, that the Pittsburgh skyline never ceases to take my breath away. From the time you round that bend on the highway, to approaching the city, to being in the midst of it all — it’s incredible.

Our first stop in the 412 was Consol Energy Center, home of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. A walk around the exterior, a visit to PensGear and a stop at the Mario Lemieux statue were the perfect way to sum up the arena without actually seeing a game.

Following that, we visited the Strip District. It being a Saturday morning and just before Easter, it was packed. If you’re going to the Strip, I’d recommend parking in one of the larger lots behind the Strip rather than in the actual midst of it all.

The line at Deluca’s was lengthy as always (making me glad we stopped at Cracker Barrel along the way); Mon Aimee Chocolat was, as typical, loaded with all sorts of Easter goodies. My favorite part of the Strip are the numerous outdoor vendors, selling fresh produce, baked goods and flowers. It’s organized chaos with so many great items available. (I walked away with some delicious peanut butter cookies. Yum!)

Next up were stops at South Hills Village Mall, the book cellar at the Mount Lebanon Public Library, and Chick-fil-a (a first). Then it was off to our hotel, the Springhill Suites located right across from PNC Park! Unfortunately the Pirates were not home, but if you ever go for a game, this is a great location to stay at. (Though paying $21 to park? Not fun.)

17421_10204422167538317_7015087563842270020_nOur Saturday dinner stop was at Primanti’s in Mount Lebanon. I think the funny thing is that every time I go there, I say “Oh, maybe I’ll try the pizza or something else.” and then I end up getting a sandwich. EVERY. TIME. Good food was had by all, and it was nice to meet up with some friends who used to live in Buffalo.

Prior to dinner, we also took a stroll around the Gilfillan Farm trail. A mile and a quarter long, it’s peaceful, quiet and really allows you to take just a few minutes and connect with nature. After dinner, it was off to the Duquesne Incline — spectacular views as always — and then Rita’s Italian Ice (North Side!) Yum, yum, yum — and close to our hotel.

Sunday was spent largely on the Easter brunch cruise of the Gateway Clipper Fleet. We booked tickets in advance and thus skipped the free hotel breakfast. After parking at the Station Square garage, we were on the boat by 10:30 and seated in our reserved table. I really enjoyed the layout of the cruise — you had a reserved table so you could sit down and eat whenever you wanted, but you always had the option of walking around outside on any of the decks.

11130110_10204422091576418_7359130653248501449_nThe cruise sailed from 11 to 1 and it was a marvelous experience. I’ve been on the Gateway Clipper before, but always just sightseeing tours. This was a longer cruise that showed off a lot of the Pittsburgh skyline, the Three Rivers and the general area. The food was also pretty good, and at the end, there was even some time for dancing. Overall, it was a great way to spend Easter morning.

A quick stop at Station Square after the boat ride (everything was mostly closed, it being both Sunday AND Easter) was followed by a ride up the Monongahela Incline. Again, the most incredible views…… fantastic. We also stopped at DiFiore’s Ice Creams, located very close to the top of the incline. Overpriced? Maybe, but it was open on Easter, it was good, and I enjoy supporting non-chain places.

After riding the incline back down, it was time to hit the road back to the 716, but it was, yet again, an absolutely wonderful trip to Pittsburgh (with a dinner pit stop at Texas Roadhouse in Erie along the way).

Even if was a short trip, I feel as though we covered a lot of ground, hit a lot of the basic things that were not-too-time consuming considering our short stay, and I know there’s plenty more where that came from.

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