Almost no city in America presents such a huge surprise to the potential tourist than Pittsburgh, the revitalized capital of steel. Today, this mighty and old city is a true hub of culture, education, and history.
Moreover, it’s considered one of the most pleasant and livable cities in the world.
If you want to find out first-hand if what we’re saying is true, join us as we delve into where to stay in Pittsburgh and learn everything there is to know about the city. Let us be your guide!
The 4 Best Parts of Pittsburgh
Every area in Pittsburgh is a story for itself and offers something completely different, as each is very distinct and deserves its own section. But, if you want to learn and experience as much as you can from the city, make sure to visit all of them.
After all, Pittsburgh is not that large. Our favorite areas include:
- Downtown: Packed with skyscrapers, numerous historical landmarks, accommodation options, and eateries, it’s definitely the best choice for first-time visitors to the city.
- Strip District: Located just 10 minutes from the city center, this is the liveliest area in the city, providing the best nightlife locales.
- North Side: A charming and interesting area to the north of Downtown, it also offers plenty of museums, sports arenas, and the cheapest accommodations in Pittsburgh.
- Squirrel Hill: Located just 15 minutes to the east of the city center, packed with the best and largest parks in the city, it’s the perfect choice for a relaxed trip with your family.
The Best Areas & Hotels in Pittsburgh
While Pittsburgh is an old and interesting city, it isn’t a famous tourist destination by any means. That means that it isn’t as easy to find the accommodation options you’d find in other famous American cities.
That being said, Pittsburgh is very calm, friendly, and versatile. Most of the lodgings are located either in the downtown area or in the Strip District.
Most of what you’ll find in either, however, is mid-range and luxurious options. Squirrel Hill, on the other hand, has the smallest number of accommodations, but, as we said, it’s very suitable for a family trip.
If you prefer something cheap and affordable, that leaves us the North Side — cross the river to the north and plant your flag there. Just be careful: on a game day (either NFL or MLB), the streets are going to be crowded with tourists.
Pittsburgh’s downtown is your obvious choice if you’re visiting the city for the first time. In some ways, it’s just like the other centers of large American cities: packed with skyscrapers, numerous dining options, hotels, and cultural establishments.
But, this particular downtown has something very special: it’s located on the confluence between the three rivers that run through Pittsburgh — Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio Rivers.
That’s why the first thing you should do in Pittsburgh is tie your shoelaces and stroll to the Point State Park Fountain, which is the place where three rivers meet.
We are talking about a beautiful park that also holds the remains of two of the oldest buildings in the city: Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne. The Fort Pitt Museum is also here, commemorating the French and Indian War in the 18th century, which mainly happened in what was to become Pittsburgh.
In other words, whatever you do, make sure you start your adventure from this spot, which is both the most beautiful and the most important historically.
As you start walking from the confluence of the rivers to the center of the city, the picture is progressively gaining in width and depth. If you want to do some serious shopping, go to the Market Square.
Then, you could visit some of the venues and performing centers if you’re in the mood for some art. Lastly, don’t miss the tallest building in the city — the U.S. Steel Tower.
In terms of accommodation options and restaurants, there are a few things you should know. The center of Pittsburgh is full of mid-range and luxurious hotels but has practically no budget options.
As we mentioned, those are to be found in the nearby North Side neighborhood. There are plenty of restaurants, on the other hand, but foodies might not be impressed, as most of Pittsburgh’s restaurants are in the classic American domain.
Things to Do
- Point State Park, on the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers, where the Ohio River comes into being.
- Mellon Green, a historic park with beautiful scenery, plenty of branches, a striking fountain and gardens.
- Mellon Square, also known as an “emerald oasis,” boasts plenty of trees, a lighted fountain, and plenty of events.
Pittsburgh is an important historical city packed with the remains of past wars from the beginning of the history of the USA. If you want to learn more about it, especially the military history, visit the following museums:
- Fort Pitt is a museum that tells the story of the French and Indian War in the 18th century.
- ToonSeum is a museum dedicated to the history and the art of making cartoons, also boasting workshops and exhibits.
If you’re in the mood for art, especially in the domains of music, acting, or some other performing art, you’ve reached the right place since the downtown area is full of performance venues:
- Byham Theater is a historical institution with 1,300 seats, commonly hosting music, dance, and theater performances.
- Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts is the 1927 seat of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
- Benedum Center for the Performing Arts is a huge venue with a mixed program of stand-up comedy, ballet, theater, and opera.
Visiting Pittsburgh without checking out the Fourth Avenue Historic District is a missed opportunity, especially given the magnificent historical buildings. Here are the ones you can’t miss:
- Burke Building (1836)
- Dollar Bank (1871)
- Pittsburgh Stock Exchange (1864)
- Arrott Building (1902)
- Benedum-Trees Building (1905)
- The Carlyle (1906)
- Skinny Building (1926)
- Investment Building (1927)
Where to Eat
- The Capital Grille is a classic American restaurant and a steakhouse with a rich menu, offering both fresh lobsters and juicy stakes. It also has vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
- Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse is another great traditional American steakhouse that also offers a palette of seafood options. It boasts a great elegant atmosphere, and the portions are quite big.
- Meat & Potatoes is an American bar that’s a perfect option for you if you want to grab some meat and potatoes, have a tasty fresh salad, and all that while staying in the middle of Pittsburgh’s cultural district.
Downtown Budget Hotels
- Stay Pittsburgh is a very cheap but decent one-star hotel that provides a nice view of the city. It also offers free Wi-Fi, free parking, and facilities for disabled guests.
- Fairfield by Marriott Pittsburgh Downtown is a great but not very expensive three-star hotel located in the center of Pittsburg, providing a fitness center on the premises.
Downtown Mid-Range Hotels
- Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh is a great three-star option. It has an indoor swimming pool, a restaurant, and a fitness center, as well as a nice view of the city.
- Cambria Hotel Pittsburgh – Downtown is a lovely and not very expensive three-star hotel with an indoor swimming pool, great breakfast, and rooms equipped with all the amenities.
Downtown Luxury Hotels
- Fairmont Pittsburgh is the only five-star hotel in Pittsburgh’s downtown and a perfect choice if you’re looking for luxury. The restaurant, bar, and spa and wellness center are simply great. You could also stay in shape and utilize their well-equipped fitness center.
- EVEN Hotels Pittsburgh Downtown, an IHG Hotel is a luxurious pet-friendly four-star hotel with an excellent view of the city and amazing staff. It also has a restaurant, a bar, and a fitness center on the premises.
2. Strip District
The Strip District is a former industrial neighborhood located on the waterfront, just 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. Because of its close proximity, it’s still practically part of the city center, so visiting all of the nearby landmarks and museums is a viable option.
However, the Strip District has its own interesting story to tell, and that story is mainly connected to food, shopping, and nightlife. Plainly speaking, it’s the right neighborhood for you if you’re a foodie and like to party.
Some of the best nightclubs and bars in the city are also located in the Strip District. Many of the clubs and cafes are LGBTQI+ friendly, where differences are encouraged and celebrated.
Our top three places are:
Aside from those, there are plenty of other restaurants, distilleries, coffee roasters, breweries, and wineries. If you’re looking for special food ingredients to bring home, perhaps some specialty coffee, or even dried meat, you’ll surely find a shop in this area that will cater to your every need.
If, on the other hand, you’d also like some cultural enrichment, the offer is not as rich as the city center’s, but there are a couple of must-see places. Senator John Heinz History Center, for instance, is a large six-floor museum about history and sports, an affiliate of the famous Smithsonian.
For sports fans, we recommend The Clemente Museum, which curates everything connected to the baseball star Robert Clemente.
In terms of accommodation options, Strip District is not the most affordable place in Pittsburgh. There are plenty of mid-range and luxurious options but almost no budget hotels.
Things to Do
The distilleries in Strip District are well known all throughout America for their high-quality products. Also, many of those places, aside from the quality drink they’re producing, have interesting interiors and entertainment programs. We recommend the following three:
The whole of Strip District is a sight to behold. A former industrial part of town, today it offers a distinctive hip and hipster vibe to any visitors and presents a great opportunity for relaxed strolling and sightseeing.
The two buildings you should definitely see are:
- Saint Stanislaus Church, which is the de facto center of the area.
- St. Patrick’s Church is another cathedral of exquisite beauty you just can’t miss.
There’s no better way to find out as much as you can about the place or the city you’re visiting than by joining some interesting and educational tour. Luckily for you, Pittsburgh’s Strip District offers more than one:
- Wigle Whiskey is a distillery tour and a perfect choice for foodies and lovers of crafted liqueurs.
- Pittsburgh Luxury Cruises is an upscale private boat tour that gives an interesting waterborne perspective of Pittsburgh.
- Pittsburgh Party Pedaler is definitely the most fun tour on our list, where you share a huge bike, and visit the best bars and clubs in the city.
- Molly’s Trolleys Sightseeing Tours provides tours of the most important landmarks of the city on a charming 1920s bus.
During the day, Strip District is one of the best (if not the best) places for shopping in Pittsburgh, with plenty of unusual specialty shops of all kinds and price ranges. Here’s a list of the most interesting and popular shops in the area:
- Pennsylvania Macaroni Company
- Mahla & Co. Antiques
- Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop – Strip District
- Stamoolis Brothers Co.
- Steel City Craft Emporium
Where to Eat
- Pamela’s Diner is a classic American diner that was selected as the 2022 Travelers’ Choice. It’s definitely considered as one of the best breakfast options in Pittsburgh, offering perfect pancakes.
- Eleven is a classic American restaurant with a myriad of options for both carnivores and vegetarians. Their gluten-free offering is also rather varied. Eleven has a well-deserved 2022 Travelers’ Choice selection as well, which is not a common thing in Pittsburgh.
- Gaucho Parrilla Argentina’s menu is rich and very tasty. The Latin steakhouse and restaurant is a perfect choice for those who really like meat. The portions are both tasty and huge, and the prices are quite reasonable.
Strip District Budget Hotels
- HostWise Stays – Pet Friendly Butler St Apt, Ground Floor with Private Entrance is a relatively cheap apartment — there are almost no budget options in this part of town — with free Wi-Fi and free parking.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Pittsburgh Downtown is a great and relatively cheap pet-friendly three-star hotel with an indoor pool, a spectacular view of the city, and a fitness center.
Strip District Mid-Range Hotels
- Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center is a nice mid-range three-star hotel located around 2 miles from the city center, boasting a pool, a fitness center, and a nice breakfast in the morning.
- AC Hotel by Marriott Pittsburgh Downtown is another three-star hotel leaning to the luxurious category, close to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and serving a hell of a breakfast.
Strip District Luxury Hotels
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Pittsburgh Downtown is a gorgeous and very expensive three-star hotel with an indoor swimming pool, a business center on its premises, and rooms equipped with luxurious amenities.
- The Warhola Bloomfield by Luxe PGH is an extremely beautiful and expensive five-star accommodation with free Wi-Fi and parking, family rooms with upscale amenities, and a bar on the premises.
3. North Side
Just to the north of downtown, right across the Allegheny River, lies the cheap and affordable neighborhood called North Side. As a matter of fact, it’s not a neighborhood per se but a cluster of neighborhoods which built up the larger North Side area.
An interesting up-and-coming area, full of interesting cultural institutions and sports venues and fields, we mostly recommend it to tourists on a tighter budget.
If you’re a big fan of sports, there’s no better area to be in Pittsburgh than North Shore. During game days, when either the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Pittsburgh Pirates are playing, expect the area to be filled with huge crowds.
The NFL team plays in the very famous Heinz Field, and the MLB team at the PNC Park, with a capacity of 39,000 and located along the Allegheny River.
Unexpectedly, though, North Side also has one of the richest cultural and historical programs in Pittsburgh. Since the area is quite large, there are many important historical districts that tell stories about the rich past of the city.
Also, there are plenty of museums, science centers, and even some galleries scattered all around. The ones that are most worth mentioning are the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Science Center, the Mattress Factory, and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
The Warhol Museum and the Mattress Factory are the perfect choice for lovers of contemporary art.
The Carnegie Science Center — the most visited museum in the city — is great for learning something new. Lastly, the Children’s Museum is perfect for an educational and fun family trip.
As we mentioned earlier, North Side is the most budget-friendly area on our list. This goes for not only the hotels but also the food and drinks. If you want to save some money but still have a nice time, this is the area for you.
Things to Do
Downtown is not the only place where you can learn about the history of the city by simply strolling its streets. North Side is a large area with many historical districts that narrate the historical complexities of the city.
Here are the most famous ones:
- Allegheny West
- East Allegheny
- Mexican War Streets
Again, downtown isn’t where all the great Pittsburgh museums are located. North Side scores a really high rank in both the number of museums scattered along its area but also in the domain of quality and popularity.
Here they are, listed in no particular order:
- The Andy Warhol Museum
- Carnegie Science Center
- Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
- Mattress Factory
If you love the outdoors, North Side, first of all, offers a fantastic view of the Allegheny River, but it also provides some great parks, which are both old and historically important and full of beautiful nature.
- Riverview Park (on the list of the National Register of Historic Places), it’s also the home of the Allegheny Observatory.
- Allegheny Commons is a municipal park, considered the oldest in the whole of Pittsburgh, established in early 1867.
Finally, there isn’t a better place in Pittsburgh for you than North Shore if you’re a passionate sports fan, especially American football and baseball. Pittsburgh hosts both the Pittsburgh Steelers from the NFL and the Pittsburgh Pirates from the MLB.
Where to Eat
- Fig & Ash Wood Fire Kitchen is a great American restaurant with a warm and relaxed interior. The menu, on the other hand, is far from simple and average, boasting specialties like pork belly, heirloom carrots, and much, much more.
- Siempre Algo is an Italian-sounding American fusion restaurant located in the heart of the North Side district. Their mission is to serve unexpected dishes and beverages with a lot of optimism, care, and craft. Siempre Algo serves everything: from baba ghanoush to beef tartare.
- Federal Galley is an American bar and pub and definitely one of the best and most affordable places in Pittsburgh. The place is huge, boasting more than 200 seats, gives off a sense of community, and serves tasty food.
North Side Budget Hotels
- HostWise Stays – The Ocala – Free Parking, Cool Space, Spiral Stairs is a three-star accommodation that offers two separate bedrooms, free Wi-Fi throughout the premises, and close proximity to the landmarks in the neighborhood.
- Comfort Inn & Suites Pittsburgh-Northshore is a relatively cheap non-smoking three-star hotel located close to the shore in the North Side area. It doesn’t offer much, aside from the nicely furnished rooms, free Wi-Fi, parking, and a fitness center.
North Side Mid-Range Hotels
- The Landing Hotel at Rivers Casino Pittsburgh is a great three-star hotel with a bar and fitness center on the premises. All of the rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs and private bathrooms, and there’s a tasty American breakfast in the morning.
- The Priory Hotel is a charming three-star hotel located in a historic building, formerly owned by a Benedictine monastery. Aside from the bar and the fitness center on the premises, which are great, all the rooms offer views of the city or the garden.
North Side Luxury Hotels
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Pittsburgh North Shore, an IHG Hotel is a gorgeous four-star hotel with an indoor swimming pool and a fitness center on the premises, located on the shores of North Side. It also offers an excellent view of the river.
- Hyatt Place Pittsburgh North Shore is a luxurious and quite pricey pet-friendly three-star hotel that has its own indoor swimming pool. As you’d expect from a Hyatt, there’s a bar, a fitness center, and barbeque facilities on the premises. The family rooms are equipped with all the amenities.
4. Squirrel Hill
If you drive around 15 minutes to the east, you’ll start noticing that the skyscrapers and the tall modern buildings are being replaced by small houses and trees. The atmosphere also gets calmer and more relaxed.
That means that you’ve finally reached Squirrel Hill, the most family-friendly area in Pittsburg. But be careful not to get the wrong impression — Squirrel Hill is calm, not boring!
Because it’s less cosmopolitan and less lined with concrete, this area boasts the largest and the best parks in Pittsburgh. Schenley Park, for instance, is 456 acres of greenery, trails, cafes, and numerous sports courts.
There’s also the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, located on the premises of the park. Very close to Schenley, just a few minutes further from the east, is the considerably larger Frick Park.
Again, here you’ll find numerous trails and lovely nature, as well as many beautiful spots for a nice relaxing picnic. You should know that Frick Park is probably the best place in the city for riding a bike, and you’ll see plenty of bikers taking advantage of the undisturbed greenery.
As we mentioned earlier, Squirrel Hill is not just a boring, uncultured suburbia. Quite on the contrary — it’s full of different museums and cultural institutions.
One of the best female authors in the history of the USA, Willa Cather, was born precisely in this neighborhood.
There’s the famous Carnegie Museum of Art, a donation to the city of Pittsburgh from the famous philanthropic family, and the Rodef American Jewish Museum, which gives witness to the rich Jewish presence and traditions in this part of Pittsburgh.
That said, there aren’t many accommodation options in Squirrel Hill, but you can still find decently priced and great three-star hotels. The restaurant options and the eateries, on the other hand, are quite numerous, offering many different types of cuisines from all around the world.
Things to Do
We already talked about Schenley Park and Frick Park and the numerous activities they offer, but make sure that you don’t forget the third one: Chatham University Arboretum, mostly famous for the diversity of trees and plants that can be found on campus.
Squirrel Hill is also a great place for visitors who love museums. Other than Carnegie’s art museum and the Rodef American Jewish Museum, here are three more worth visiting:
The museums are also part of the well-known natural beauty of Squirrel Hill since not all of them are concerned with either art, history, or culture. Some of the best natural history museums and botanical gardens are located precisely in this part of town.
Again, here’s a list:
- Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems
- Center for PostNatural History
- Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Squirrel Hill is maybe relaxed and calm, but it’s not that far from the center of Pittsburg.
If you chose this neighborhood as your home base because of the relatively low prices, that doesn’t mean that you can’t visit downtown. Hop on a bus, and in 15 minutes, you’ll be surrounded by Pittsburgh’s most famous and visited landmarks.
Where to Eat
- Mineo’s Pizza House is a great traditional pizza place that’s been established in 1958, with the third generation still going strong. Aside from the pizzas, we recommend the fresh garden salads and the party trays. The place is also very family-friendly.
- Cafe Phipps is a great place to stop by if you’re in a hurry and want to have a quick bite before exploring Squirrel Hill. It offers a wide variety of coffees, salads, croissants, yogurts, and sandwiches. The kids’ menu is also very affordable and tasty.
- Chengdu Gourmet is a generally Asian and Chinese restaurant and one of the best eateries in the area. It’s a very modern and up-to-date gourmet restaurant, offering the traditional Chinese dishes, but prepared with a twist and using healthy ingredients.
Squirrel Hill Budget Hotels
- Xing Pad is probably the cheapest accommodation available in this area, offering free Wi-Fi, free parking, barbeque facilities, and a garden — but not much else. There’s also a private bathroom and air conditioning in every room.
- SpringHill Suites Pittsburgh Southside Works is a great but not very expensive three-star hotel located around three miles from downtown. It offers a fitness center on the premises, as well as facilities for disabled people and breakfast in the morning.
Squirrel Hill Mid-Range Hotels
- Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh University Place is a very beautiful three-star hotel with an on-site restaurant. The hotel also has a cozy bar, a fully-equipped fitness center, and facilities for disabled guests, and it offers nice breakfast in the morning hours.
- Hampton Inn Pittsburgh University Medical Center is a three-star pet-friendly hotel located very close to the university. It’s great for business travelers since it has its own business center on the premises. There’s a fitness center and a breakfast as well.
Squirrel Hill Luxury Hotels
- Mansions on Fifth is an old-school and classy four-star hotel with famously soft-bad. There’s also a bar and a restaurant on the premises, as well as a fitness center and a breakfast in the morning. If you want class and elegance, this is the hotel for you.
- Hotel Indigo Pittsburgh University – Oakland, an IHG Hotel is a great and expensive four-star hotel with an excellent view of the Monongahela River. It also has the usual: a bar, a restaurant, and a fitness center on the premises, as well as close proximity to famous landmarks.
So, Where Should You Stay in Pittsburgh?
|🏆Best for First-Time Visitors||Downtown|
|🎉Best Area for Nightlife||Strip District|
|💸 Most Budget-Friendly Area||North Side|
|👪 Most Family-Friendly Area||Squirrel Hill|
Those are the four best areas in Pittsburgh. The city has plenty more places to offer, but if you’re a tourist, you’re most likely to stay in either of the four areas.
Before we end our story, let’s do a quick recap of everything that we told you about the best areas in Pittsburgh. Downtown is the obvious choice for first-time visitors since it’s the tourist, cultural and administrative center of the city.
Here you’ll find the most famous landmarks, plenty of accommodation options and numerous restaurants. Strip District is the best choice for you if you want to stay close to the clubs, bars, and nightclubs of the city.
We are talking about the area with the best nightlife in Pittsburgh, but the hotels can be a bit pricey.
North Side is simply a gorgeous neighborhood where you’ll find both the NFL and the MLB home stadiums, plenty of museums, and historical areas, but most importantly — the cheapest and most affordable accommodations in the city.
Finally, Squirrel Hill is a relaxed tree-laden and green area located around 15 minutes from the center. It’s the most relaxed, calm, and family-friendly area in Pittsburgh, boasting the best and the largest parks in the city.
So, with so much to see and do, and four amazing main areas in which to stay, what are you waiting for — book your trip today to experience for yourself all that this idyllic city has to offer. Happy travels!