You probably don’t think of Pittsburgh as a typical vacation destination but I think many people would be surprised by what this small but mighty sports city and the surrounding area has to offer. If you happen to be visiting, I’ve put together a list of my favorite restaurants, sights, and activities.
Explore Mount Washington. You can travel up the mountain by hopping on the Duquesne incline or you drive to to the top and park by a restaurant nearby. There’s a reason this is one of the most visited areas of Pittsburgh- the views are incredible on this 367 foot height mountain. It overlooks the Pittsburgh skyline with a sweeping panorama view of downtown. It offers views of the Steelers and Pirates stadium and miles of over 15 bridges and the intersection of the Allegheny and Monongahela River to create the Ohio River.
Off the Hook- located in Warrendale, about 15-20 minutes north of downtown. This fresh seafood restaurant and oyster bar is a place that I could never possibly get sick of. Great for a casual lunch or a date night. They have fresh fish flown in daily from Hawaii to Alaska to Maine as well as an extensive selection of fresh oysters. There is a large range of preparations that you can customize yourself. My favorites include the macadamia crusted seabass or mahi mahi, parmesan crusted halibut, and miso salmon, I recommend ordering their coconut jasmine rice as a side.
Il Pizzaiolo- Several locations: the square in Pittsburgh, Mt. Lebanon, Glenshaw, and Warrendale. A modern Italian eatery with a classic Neapolitan menu. I recommend their neapolitan pizza, pasta, mussels (with their red sauce), and Italian wine.
Richard Deshantz is the genius restaurant owner responsible for Meat & Potatoes (my absolute favorite- nominated by Food & Wine as the best Gastropub in the US), Tako (deliciously unique street fusion taqueria with 350+ tequilas), Butcher & the Rye (restaurant highlighting rustic American fare with an impressive bar), and Pork & Beans (BBQ with house-smoked meats). All four of these restaurants are within two streets of one another, so if you’re staying downtown, you can experience them all on one trip.
Favorite restaurants on Mt. Washington (with gorgeous views):
Altius- Upscale, new American dishes and craft cocktails.
Monterey Bay Fish Grotto- Upscale seafood.
Favorite day trips/weekend trips:
McConnells Mill State Park- This one of my favorite hiking spots when we were living in Wexford,PA. It is 2,546 acres of a deep scenic gorge and a restored watermill with a covered bridge at the bottom. The park is located along the Slippery Rock Creek- southwest of intersection US 422 and US 19. There are several trails in the park, including a couple that lead to a waterfall. This is a fun spot to go whitewater boating or fishing.
Frank Lloyd Wright- Fallingwater “the best all-time work of American architecture” located 43 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
This is where Gerrit and I went the day after he proposed. It is one of the most unique houses in the world designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and open for the public to enjoy. The house is built partially over a waterfall and was designed as a weekend home for Liliane Kaufmann and Edgar J. Kaufmann, owner of Kaufmann’s department store in 1935. My favorite part about this gorgeous house is the way it integrates nature- the exterior and interior space seem to be one harmonious space between the rooms and nature.
Nemacolin- One of the most stunning resorts I’ve been to. It is close to my heart because this is where Gerrit and I got engaged. We’ve experienced off-roading in Jeeps, animal safaris, and incredible dining experiences here.
Restaurants at Nemacolin (both include some of the best sommelier experiences we’ve had):
Lautrec- One of the finest dining experiences in the country- a Forbes Five Star, AAA Five-Diamond restaurant is 1 of only 30 in the world to boast such honors. This European-American cuisine did not disappoint. The menu was creative featuring the best local and seasonal ingredients with the most gorgeous presentations.
Aqueous- A Frank Lloyd Wright inspired Steakhouse and modern American fare with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients.