Insider's Guide to Pittsburgh
There are many good guides to Pittsburgh, both on paper and online — http://www.visitpittsburgh.com/ is hard to beat. This list is not intended to compete with them; instead it offers some hints about places that people from Pittsburgh like to hang out, and things that we like to do.
Beyond the sights we list below, the Strip District (especially on Saturday mornings) and Lawrenceville neighborhoods offer especially interesting shopping, dining, and people watching opportunities. We offer dining pointers on see Dining.
For directions from the venue, check out our the Travel page as well as Google Maps, which can provide better walking, driving, and transit directions than we could. We mention the associated neighborhood for the attractions below (see
The hotel is located in Station Square (http://www.stationsquare.com/), an indoor/outdoor shopping and restaurant complex and historic site, with great views of the city. We encourage you to explore it while you’re staying at the Sheraton for SPLASH.
The Carnegie Museum of Art and The Carnegie Museum of Natural History
The museums of art (http://www.cmoa.org/) and natural history (http://www.carnegiemnh.org) share a location in the Oakland Neighborhood of Pittsburgh, blocks from CMU; one entrance ticket provides access to both. The museums were founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1896 and their collections are world-class, particularly the contemporary art (the art museum hosts the regular Carnegie International exhibition) and dinosaur collections (the natural history museum boasts the largest collection of Jurassic dinosaurs in the world, including the first T-rex specimen). We anticipate holding the banquet at the art and natural history complex, with access to the collections, but visitors may still enjoy a longer visit during their time in Pittsburgh.
The Mattress Factory
The Mattress Factory (http://www.mattress.org/, on the North Side) is a leading venue for contemporary, site-specific installation art, located in the historic Mexican War Streets neighborhood (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_War_Streets and http://www.mexicanwarstreets.org/)
Andy Warhol Museum
Andy Warhol was born and grew up in Pittsburgh, studying commercial art at what was then known as the Carnegie Institute of Technology. The Andy Warhol Museum (http://www.warhol.org), one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh hosts a comprehensive permanent collection of art and artifacts associated with the famous pop artist, including but not limited to his stuffed Great Dane, Cecil, and rotating exhibitions from the Time Capsules, which are housed and analyzed at the museum. It is the largest museum dedicated to a single artist in the country.
Carnegie Science Center and Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
The Carnegie Science Center (http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/) and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (https://pittsburghkids.org/), both on the North Side, are excellent venues for entertaining your children, if you bring them.
The Toonseum (http://www.toonseum.org/, Downtown/The Cultural District, a walkable mile from the venue) is a small museum (two rooms) dedicated to the cartoon and comic arts (better for adults than children).
Parks and Animals
The National Aviary (https://www.aviary.org/, North Side), the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium (http://www.pittsburghzoo.org/, Highland Park), and the Kennywood amusement park (https://www.kennywood.com/, special Halloween attractions are typical) are good choices for entertaining your children. Pittsburgh also boasts a number of other large parks, such as the Schenley and Frick parks in Oakland/Squirrel Hill.
The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (https://phipps.conservatory.org/), in Schenley Park, right near CMU, is an objectively excellent botanical garden in a beautiful historic complex, and is home to one of the greenest buildings in the world.
Pittsburgh is a city of sports fanatics. The Penguins (hockey) and Steelers (football) both have home games scheduled over the week of and days surrounding SPLASH, as do the Pitt Panthers (college football; they play in the same stadium as the Steelers).
It is possible to tour Heinz Field, home of the Steelers (http://heinzfield.com/stadium/heinz-field-tours/).
The Heinz History Center (http://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/, technically in the Strip District, but bordering Downtown) contains a large section dedicated to Pittsburgh sports history. It is also an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and contains numerous non-sports exhibits. The private Clemente Museum (http://www.clementemuseum.com/, Lawrenceville) is dedicated to the baseball player Roberto Clemente.
Local Tours and Sightseeing
Two commonly-referenced and somewhat unusual Pittsburgh sights are:
The Nationality rooms at the University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”) Cathedral of Learning (Oakland). The Cathedral of Learning is a 42-story (second tallest University building in the world!) Late-Gothic Revival building. Its first and third floors host 29 “Nationality Rooms”, 27 of which are working classrooms, each celebrating a different culture that had an influence on Pittsburgh’s growth. On weekends, it is possible to rent self-guided audio tour units to visit the rooms, available first-come-first serve (http://www.nationalityrooms.pitt.edu/content/touring-options-requesting-group-tours).
The historic Duquesne (http://www.duquesneincline.org/) and Monongahela (http://www.stationsquare.com/info/inclines) inclines are both walking distance from the venue and offer truly spectacular cityscape views, at the price of a standard bus ticket.
A number of other tourist-oriented sightseeing tours leave from Station Square, right near the SPLASH venue, including Just Ducky Tours (https://www.justduckytours.com/), Gateway Clipper Cruises (http://www.gatewayclipper.com/), Trolley Tours (http://www.tourspgh.com/), and Segway Tours (http://segwaypittsburgh.com/).
Theater and Performance
The Cultural District, an area in downtown Pittsburgh (walkable from the SPLASH venue) is home to a number of historic theaters (including the truly magnificent Benedum Center) with various events scheduled for the dates surrounding SPLASH; we point you to http://pittsburgh.eventful.com/events/categories for information on available events there and at other venues around the city.
Architecture aficionados especially often enjoy a trip to Fallingwater (http://www.fallingwater.org/), designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, approximately 1.5 hours outside of the city by car. Advanced tickets should be bought online; reservations are essential, especially in Autumn.