I first moved to Pittsburgh from northern Virginia as a college freshman in 2005. Over the six years that followed, I fell in love with Steel City, and I’m still struck by its kindness and beauty. After graduation, I went to work for UPMC. Then in 2011, I quit my job, packed up my life, and moved to Seoul, South Korea, where I spent two years teaching English and studying the Korean language. When I eventually decided to repatriate, I had a dilemma: I could live anywhere, so where should I go? Some serious thought led me to realize that Pittsburgh was the only place I wanted to be.
I had talked about the city so much in my time abroad that most of my good friends in Asia thought I’d grown up here.They often asked why I love Pittsburgh so much and what there is to do here. Most everybody knows about Primanti Brothers (you certainly can’t get fries on a sandwich in Korea), but that’s really just the beginning.This city is full of distinctive things to eat, see, and do. I collected some of my favorite spots and polled other Pittsburghers who have left, come to their senses, and returned to learn about some of theirs. Here’s our collective Pittsburgh bucket list.
Twisters Ice Cream (4210 Main St., Bloomfield)
Open from May to October, Twisters is a small, neighborhood-owned soft-serve joint. It’s simple and no-frills, but the variety of toppings and combinations they offer ensure there’s something for everyone.They even make their own ice cream sandwiches! My favorite is the twist cone covered in a mysterious and magical sweet topping simply called “crunchies.”
Movies in Schenley Park- Flagstaff Hill (On Schenley Drive across from Phipps Conservatory in Oakland)
Every summer, movies are played in parks all across the city. Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park seems like it was specifically made for this purpose. Summer in Oakland is peaceful, quiet, and completely underrated. I suggest grabbing pizza to go and settling in on a blanket to watch one of the previous year’s greatest hits.
Tazza D’oro (1125 N. Highland Ave., Highland Park)
In college, this was my secret spot.They take great pride in their coffee and baked goods, so you can always find something delicious to help get you through a marathon study session. Tazza D’oro embodies one of the best things about Pittsburgh: high quality products in a laid-back atmosphere.
Hall of Sculpture at the Carnegie Museum of Art (4400 Forbes Ave, Oakland)
The Hall of Sculpture was inspired by the Parthenon and built with gleaming white marble that came from the same quarry in Greece. You’d be hard pressed to find such stunning architecture anywhere else in the city. Aleigha Cavalier, Director of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, has a special place in her heart for this location.“If I ever get married,” she told me, “I’ve always said it’ll be in the Hall of Sculpture. It’s one of my favorite places on earth.”
Friday Night Polo at the Darlington Polo Club (3476 Darlington Rd., Darlington)
If you’re willing to venture outside the city proper on a Friday night, you won’t be disappointed. Ian Rosenberger, founder of Thread and Team Tassy, recommends the Darlington Polo Club, where you can catch matches May through August. Just don’t forget your cowboy hat!
Thai Cuisine (4627 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield)
With its bright yellow façade, Thai Cuisine is easily spotted along Liberty Ave in Bloomfield. Katie Geise, a local cheesemonger, put this first on her list.The menu includes old staples like Pad Thai as well as more adventurous fare—Duck Curry, anyone? Spiciness is measured on a scale of 1-10, but if you ask nicely, they’ll let you crank it up to 11.
These six are just some of the most unique and interesting places that have found a special place in our hearts. What Pittsburgh gems do you like most?