Ultimate Summer Guide - Pittsburgh

If you still haven't noticed, let me enlighten you - Pittsburgh is coming back in a big way!  Travel and Leisure recently named Pittsburgh to it's list of "Best Places to Travel in 2016."  New (really good) restaurants and breweries are popping up everywhere and putting Pittsburgh on the map amongst foodies.  Local boutiques finally give Pittsburghers an alternative to the malls and big box stores.  People are living, working, and playing downtown.  Sometimes when you live in a city, you tend to take everything around you for granted.  This summer, I wanted to make sure I made the most out of my time and decided to do a "summer bucket list."  As I added more and more cool things to the list, I realized I needed to share it!  Read on for my take on the "Ultimate Summer Guide to Pittsburgh."  Get out there and be a tourist in your own city!  

photo courtesy of grist house

photo courtesy of grist house

1.  Grist House - Website: www.gristhouse.com

What:  Family owned and operated brewery in the heart of Millvale.  Extensive tap list, outdoor deck and beer garden, live music, food trucks, and oh…it’s dog friendly.

Where:  10 E Sherman St., Pittsburgh, PA 15209

When:  Wednesday – Friday 5 PM – 10 PM, Saturday 2 PM - 10 PM, and Sunday 2 PM – 8 PM

What You Should Know:  I absolutely love going to Grist House in the summer!  Here’s why: Over the last few years, my tastes have developed from Miller Lite enthusiast to craft beer snob – Grist doesn’t disappoint the craft beer snob part of me.  On any given night, you can sit on the deck or in the beer garden and listen to live music.  They don’t serve food BUT they do bring in some of the best food trucks in the city (check out the calendar here).  And my number one reason to love it: it’s totally dog friendly.  Me, some furry friends, a cold beer, and a night under the stars...I’ve died and gone to heaven.  

photo by dana maze

photo by dana maze

2.  Stand Up Paddleboard - Website: www.ventureoutdoors.org

What:  SUP (or Stand Up Paddleboard)

Where:  Venture Outdoors offers Stand Up Paddleboard rental at the Kayak Pittsburgh North Park location.  Many paddle board enthusiasts take to the three rivers as well.

When:  For the North Park location: Monday – Friday 11 AM – 8 PM and Saturday and Sunday 10 AM – 8 PM

Cost:  SUP rental is $25 per hour or $20 per hour for Venture Outdoors Members

What You Should Know:  This is one activity that I want to do every year and somehow manage to not do.  I can’t really tell you much about “what you should know” because I know very little when it comes to paddle boarding.  However, I do know it looks amazingly fun!  And bonus -  if you paddle board at the North Park location, you can then enjoy a delicious lunch and maybe a beer or two overlooking the water at OTB Restaurant.  Sounds like the perfect summer afternoon to me!

3.  Golden Triangle Bike Tours - Website: www.bikepittsburgh.com

What:  Rent a bike, take a public tour, or schedule a private tour.  Explore the city on two wheels!

Where:  600 First Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15219

When:  Summer hours: June 1st - August 31st - 8:30 AM - 8 PM

Cost:  Rent by the hour or for the day – Prices start at $8 per hour or $27 per day

What You Should Know:  I try to rent bikes at least once a summer, but I really want to do this way more often this year.  Don’t be intimidated if you’re not an expert rider.  I am a far cry from being even a good rider, but Pittsburgh has so many fun and easy trails!  Cruise around the fountain in Point State Park or glide down to the river via the Convention Center’s waterway.

photo courtesy of  lucky paws pet resort

photo courtesy of lucky paws pet resort

4.  Lucky Paws Resort - Outdoor Swimming Pool - www.luckypawsresort.com

What:  You know I had to include at least one summer activity for our four-legged friends!  Lucky Paws Pet Resort is a pet hotel, salon and spa, doggy daycare, and training facility.  Lucky Paws also boasts an indoor / outdoor dog park complete with a 3,000 square foot swimming pool specifically for dogs.  My fur baby is a lab mix, so needless to say, he L.O.V.E.S. the water.  This place is his Disney World!  I am not exaggerating when I say I can’t get him out of the pool because he loves it so much.

Where:  2273 Lovi Road, Freedom, PA 15042

When:  Outdoor dog park is open Monday - Friday from 3 PM to 7PM and Saturday and Sunday from noon - 5 PM.

Cost:  Entrance fee is $10 per dog / Annual pass is $175 per dog

What You Need to Know:  Honestly, I love this place!  Swimming is my dog’s favorite pastime and it's seriously just as fun for me as it is for him.  There are a few thing to know before you go.  You must provide proof of vaccinations at check in and there is no swimming for the humans – it’s strictly a dog pool.  Also, remember to be a good dog parent and supervise your dog the entire time.  If he’s being a bully, make sure you take him out of the situation and let him cool down! 

photo by  adam milliron

photo by adam milliron

5.  Millie's Homemade Ice Cream - Website: www.millieshomemade.com

What:  I’m not sure anything screams “summer” more than ice cream.  I can bet some of your fondest summer childhood - or maybe even adult - memories involve cooling off on a hot day with a delicious ice cream treat!  Millie’s in Shadyside not only serves up some seriously delicious ice cream, but they do it in the most adorable shop.  This place is a Pinterest dream! 

Where:  Millie’s scoop shop is located at 232 N Highland Ave. in Shadyside.  If you don’t live near Shadyside, fear not!  Millie’s ice cream is also available in a number of grocery stores and retail shops and at the Bloomfield and South Side Farmer’s Markets.  They also cater and offer corporate gifts that ship nationwide.

When:  Scoop Shop hours are Sunday to Thursday noon – 10 PM / Friday and Saturday noon – 11 PM

What You Should Know:  Millie’s is all about quality and fresh ingredients.  They use all-natural milk and eggs from Western PA farms and also source from local farms for their seasonal flavors.  In addition, they pasteurize the ice cream themselves!  I would encourage you to go into the shop and sample a few flavors – you can't go wrong!  The Best Chocolate, Chad’s Vanilla, Vietnamese Coffee, Salted Caramel and Salted Hazlenut are solid staples.

photo courtesy of hotel monaco

photo courtesy of hotel monaco

6.  Rooftop Biergarten - Hotel Monaco - Website: www.monaco-pittsburgh.com

What:  I have a serious love for rooftops and eating outdoors, so when I heard Hotel Monaco combined the two, my heart skipped a beat!  The Hotel Monaco Biergarten transports guests up above the city for good eats and delicious beer. 

Where:  620 William Penn Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

When:  Open Tuesday through Friday at 4 PM and Saturday at noon.  Closed Sunday and Monday.

What You Should Know:  I have a serious love affair with this hotel.  From the super chic and colorful décor, to the amazing food selection, to the wonderful staff – this place is a top notch destination if you are planning a trip to the Burgh or if you live here and just want to pamper yourself for the weekend!  The Biergarten offers an extensive menu of European beer and German-influenced bar bites – think house made currywurst, sauerbraten, and giant pretzels.

7.  Rooftop Shindig - Website: www.downtownpittsburgh.com

What: Live Music, Movies, Food, Specialty Cocktails, Beer, & a Rooftop on a Gorgeous Summer Night!

Where: Top level of Theater Square Garage, 667 Penn Ave.

When: July 6th, Aug 3rd, Sept. 14 - open at 6 PM, music at 7 PM, and movie at sundown

Cost: Free Admission

What You Should Know:  Literally every summer I say I am going to check this out and somehow I never make it.  However, after seeing Ferris Bueller's Day Off with music from Brightside on Aug. 3rd on the schedule, I am 100% adding this to my calendar!  Admission is free, but bring some cash for food - not all vendors will take cards.  Bring a chair or blanket and make a night of it!

photo by renee rosensteel

photo by renee rosensteel

8.  Picklesburgh - Website: www.picklesburgh.com

What:  I have no clue where the idea for Picklesburgh originated, but it seems to have caught on big time in the city.  Presented by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Picklesburgh is a new festival celebrating all things…well pickle-related.  Sample handcrafted foods and artisan cocktails featuring pickled ingredients.  Catch a demonstration, shop the merchandise, and enjoy live entertainment with gorgeous downtown Pittsburgh as your backdrop.

Where:  The festival takes place on the Rachel Carson Bridge in Downtown Pittsburgh.

When:  July 15th and 16th

Cost:  Free to enter, but bring some cash for food and merchandise.

What You Should Know:  If you’ve ever wanted to take a selfie with a giant pickle balloon or perhaps a guy dressed as a pickle, this is your chance!  I went to the festival last year and it gets hot on that bridge, so be sure to slap on some sunscreen and grab a bottle of water.  Other than that, go get your pickle on!

photo by paul g. wiegman

photo by paul g. wiegman

9.  Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens - Website: www.phipps.conservatory.org

What:  Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is an awesome place to visit any time of year, but the summer brings a myriad of new and exciting events and exhibits.  Bring the whole family to enjoy the Summer Flower Show and explore the butterfly garden.  Take shopping and eating fresh to a whole new level by checking out the weekly farmer’s market on the front lawn.  Interested in sustainable horticulture or floral design?  Phipps offers a wide range of programs and classes.  Looking to get the kids outside?  Check out the list of kids’ summer classes as well!

Where:  One Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

When:  Monday - Sunday 9:30 AM – 5 PM / Friday 9:30 AM – 10 PM

Cost:  Adults - $15, Seniors and Students - $14, Children 2 - 18 - $11, Under 2 - Free, Members - Free

What You Should Know:  This year's summer flower show is PlayGardens.  Explore Phipps’ many whimsical rooms of colorful summer flowers, vintage garden décor and interactive exhibits.  Check out the butterfly forrest and interact with the colorful, fluttering butterflies in Phippsenchanting Stove Room, where you can see the delicate lifecycle of some of nature’s most important pollinators and their favorite aromatic blooms.  Be sure to check the Phipps website for their other summer events including Farmers at Phipps, Red Ripe and Roasted, Let’s Move Pittsburgh Family Yoga, and Glasshouse Happy Hours.

photo courtesy of the frick pittsburgh

photo courtesy of the frick pittsburgh

10.  Fridays at the Frick - Website: www.thefrickpittsburgh.org

What:  Fridays at the Frick is such a fun summer concept!  Grab your girlfriends or guys, grab that special someone and impress her with a truly unique night out.  Every Friday evening, guests can enjoy live entertainment, family-friendly activities, and an opportunity to view the Killer Heels exhibit or tour Clayton, the historic Frick family home.  Be sure to come hungry!  You can choose to dine at The Café at the Frick, try a local food truck, or pack your own picnic basket and spread a blanket on the lush front lawn!  And yes, there is a wine bar.

Where:  7227 Reynolds Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15208

When:  Every Friday evening from June 17th to September 2nd

Cost:  Admission to the Frick grounds is free for everyone.  There is a small admission charge if you decide to view the exhibit or take a tour.  Don’t forget money for the food trucks and wine bar!

What You Should Know:  There’s something so relaxing about spreading out a picnic blanket, sipping on wine, and sharing laughs with friends.  I’m telling you, Frick has taken all of the work out of date night!  Just bring a blanket and they’ll provide the food, wine, entertainment, and the perfect backdrop for a summer evening!

11.  The Cultural District - www.culturaldistrict.org

What:  I love, love, love Pittsburgh’s downtown cultural district.  The Cultural District encompasses over 90 retail shops, 50 dining establishments, seven world-class theaters, eight public parks, and a number of art installations and galleries.  Going to see live shows is probably one of my favorite pastimes and I'm always excited to see what's coming next! 

Where:  14-square blocks located between the Convention Center and Stanwix Street

When:  There's always something going on! 

Cost:  Ticket and event prices vary.

What You Should Know:  Upcoming shows at the Benedum Center include Chicago, Damn Yankees, Shrek the Musical, AIDA, and South PacificThe 39 Steps will also be playing all summer at the Cabaret at Theater Square.  If you haven’t been to the Cabaret, it’s such a fun experience!  You can arrive early to grab dinner then stay for the show!  Also don’t miss the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s County Parks Summer Concerts in South Park and Hartwood Acres.

photo from citiparks website

photo from citiparks website

12.  Cinema in the Park - www.pittsburghpa.gov/citiparks/cinema-in-park

What:  Outdoor movie nights for all ages! 

Where:  Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville, Brookline Memorial Park, Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park, Grandview Park in Mt. Washington, Highland Park, Riverview Park, or West End / Elliott Overlook.  New location in Mellon Square on Monday each month!

When:  Click here for movie schedules at each location!

Cost: FREE!

What You Need to Know: This one’s pretty simple guys!  It’s free, you can take the kids, and it makes for a great date night!  For the guys trying to impress the ladies, it looks like you spent time planning out a romantic evening…and did I mention it’s free so you have money left for dinner or a bottle of wine!  Grab a blanket and enjoy!

christian louboutin.  "Printz," Spring/summer 2013 - photo by jay zukerkorn

christian louboutin.  "Printz," Spring/summer 2013 - photo by jay zukerkorn

13.  Killer Heels Exhibit - www.killerheelsfrick.org

What:  It’s not often that such an amazing fashion exhibit comes to visit us here in Pittsburgh.  Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe, debuted to the public on June 11th and will remain at The Frick Pittsburgh through September 4th.  This gorgeous exhibit takes a look at every woman’s fashion obsession – the high-heeled shoe.  The collection boasts over 150 historic and contemporary heels from designers such as Balenciaga, Manolo Blahnik, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen, and Christian Dior.

Where:  7227 Reynolds Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15208

When:  Exhibit open through September 4th.

Cost:  Admission costs are: $12 adults, $10 seniors and students with valid I.D., $6 youth (ages 6 -16).  Members of The Frick Pittsburgh and active-duty military and their immediate family members receive free admission.

What You Should Know:  I just got to see this exhibit last week and it truly is an amazing collection.  The exhibit is actually the first in a three-year series of major fashion-focused exhibitions at The Frick Pittsburgh.  Watch for Underdressed: A Brief History of Underwear in fall 2017 and a third exhibit featuring the paper costume creations of contemporary Belgian artist, Isabelle de Borchgrave in fall 2018.

yoga in the square.  photo by renee rosensteel

yoga in the square.  photo by renee rosensteel

14.  Yoga in the Square - Website: www.downtownpittsburgh.com

What:  Grab your friends and practice yoga in Market Square downtown!  This fun event occurs every Sunday throughout the summer. 

Where:  Market Square downtown (23 Market Place will get you in the right area if you are using GPS!)

When:  Every Sunday at 10 AM from May 29th – September 4th – click here for a list of instructors

Cost:  FREE but bring your own mat!

What You Need to Know:  Classes are all ages and all levels.  After yoga, you are in the perfect location to grab brunch at one of the neighboring restaurants!  Grab a mat and unleash your inner yogi!

15.  Rolling Hills Ranch - Website: www.rolling-hills-ranch.com

What:  Yes, there is a horseback riding facility in Bridgeville.  And yes, it’s awesome.  Rolling Hills Ranch offers trail riding, group outings, riding lessons, and moonlight rides!  My friend and I did a trail ride a couple of summers ago and it was so much fun.  I am dying to do one of the moonlight rides!  You go on an hour and a half ride under the stars followed by a fireside, catered dinner!

Where:  677 Hickory Grade Road, Bridgeville, PA 15017

When:  Summer hours for trail riding are Monday to Friday 9 AM – 8 PM and Saturday, Sunday, and holidays from 9 AM to 6 PM.

Cost:  $25 per hour for trail riding – reduced rates available for groups

What You Need to Know:  You do not have to be an experienced rider to go on one of the trail rides!  I think I had maybe been on a horse two other times in my life before going to Rolling Hills.  You will need to fill out a release form before riding.  You can download the forms online and fill them out before your visit to save time!  You don’t need to make a reservation for trail riding, but should call ahead for groups of 10 or more.  For more FAQ, check out the link here.

16.  Pirates Game - Website: www.pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com

What:  You can’t talk about “things to do in Pittsburgh” without including Pittsburgh sports.  We love our teams and exude the “City of Champions” spirit in all we do!  Enjoying a game at PNC Park is the perfect summer pastime.  This year, things get even better with the opening of Southern Tier Brewery on North Shore Drive (I couldn’t find an exact date, but it’s slated for this summer). 

Where: North Shore

When: All summer long!  Pirates schedule here.

Cost: Ticket prices vary, but much more affordable than attending a Steelers or Pens game!

What You Should Know: I love going to Pirates games in the summer and I’ll admit a big part of that is the eating and beer drinking!  Don’t forget about fireworks nights – so fun, but tickets typically sell fast!  And let’s all cross our fingers that Southern Tier opens soon!  I visited the Southern Tier campus in Lakewood, NY and I love, love, love their beer.  I think Pittsburghers will not be disappointed!

What are your summer plans?  Have you tried any of the activities on the list?  I feel like summer always flies by, so I encourage you to pick something and get out there and enjoy yourself this summer!  

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