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East Coast Road Trip: A Day in Pittsburgh

Welcome to my 14-day series on our East Coast Road Trip where I share our adventures along the way, how we’re doing this on a budget, honest reviews of attractions & restaurants we visit, and money-saving tips and ideas. If you missed it, read Day 1 here, Day 2 hereDay 3 hereDay 4 hereDay 5 here, Day 6 hereDay 7 hereDay 8 hereDay 9 hereDay 10 here, and Day 11 here.

I learned a lot of things on our 14-day road trip, but one thing I’ve definitely learned is that you all have the BEST recommendations! Case in point: we had an amazing day in Pittsburgh and every single bit of it was because of your recommendations.

The day started with doing laundry… in the hotel parking lot! Well, not totally. We washed and dried it in the machines at the hotel, but we had to check out of the hotel before we could get it folded.

So we folded it in the parking lot/back of our car. Which I wouldn’t really recommend as ideal, but it got the job done! 😉

Oh and as an update: The 5-day packing system worked SO well on this trip and I think we’ll definitely be doing some sort of rendition on it for most of our trips from here on out.

We had a blast going up the Duquesne Incline and seeing the incredible view of Pittsburgh. We loved reading more about the history of the inclines in the Pittsburgh area and we all thought it was a pretty cool experience.

The views from the top of the incline were really cool!

Note: I thought the fares were on the expensive side: It was $20 for round trip tickets for all of us + $5 for parking, but it was a unique experience and memorable experience.

Then we headed to the Strip District. And I’m just not sure how to even describe it.

There were all of these incredibly unique restaurants and grocers that covered a plethora of cultures and ethnicities — and almost every store was really, really inexpensive (at least compared to most of the prices we’ve been seeing on this trip!)

We were bummed that the Peace, Love, and Little Donuts Shop was already closed for the day when we got there. (We discovered that a number of restaurants and shops close around 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., so we wished we had gotten there a little earlier.)

Our favorite store was probably the Allegheny Coffee & Tea Exchange. They had a huge selection of coffees and coffee beans and teas and their prices were very reasonable! We bought loose leaf tea and coffee beans at Allegheny Coffee & Tea to take home, plus some coffee for Jesse, drinks for the kids, and tea for me.

The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company was such an interesting store. You felt like you were in a different country when you were in it — especially because the foods were all Italian!

We loved finding South African candy at the chocolate shop + various products made with Schweschwe fabric (very traditional South African) in another little shop. We split a delicious chicken quesadilla from this basement Mexican restaurant.

And we oohed and aahed over the produce prices at the open air “farmer’s markets” — a bunch of roses for $4-$5 and tubs of strawberries for $1!!!

Oh and we ate at Primanti Bros. like you all said we must. (I got a salad which is probably not what you’re supposed to order there, but it was delicious!!)

Then we hopped in the car and hit West Virginia for a little bit (our first time in the state) and then headed to Cincinnati for the last two days of our 14-day road trip.

Any suggestions on other inexpensive things to do in Pittsburgh? I’d love to hear!

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  • Holli says:

    Next time you are in the Pittsburgh Strip District, make sure you stop for breakfast at Pamela’s Diner. It looks like a hole in the wall, but the pancakes are to die for. Tons of famous people have eaten there, in fact, President Obama loved it so much, he had their owner come twice to cook for them at the White House. Also, there are a ton of museums in Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Science Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, The Andy Warhol Museum, and that is just naming a few of them. Your kids would have really enjoyed the Carnegie Science Museum. And, of course, there are all of our champion sports teams, your son would have loved going to one of the Pirates games. I noticed he already has a shirt! Right now, in the town of Latrobe, the Steelers are having training camp, which is FREE. We are one of the few NFL teams, that gives this cool experience, where you can get up close to all of the players for pictures and autographs, and watch them practice. There are people that travel from all over the country to see this! Then there is the Pittsburgh Zoo, Kennywood Amusement Park, and Sandcastle Water Park. These are just a few ideas if you get a chance to visit again. Glad you enjoyed our city!

    • My kids begged for no museums on this day… they were pretty museum-d out by this point of the trip! 😉 But those sounds like GREAT suggestions for next time. And we should have gotten there earlier so we could have eaten at Pamela’s! I’m pretty sure we saw it but it was closed by the time we got there… if I’m remembering right. Next time, for sure!

  • Erin Port says:

    So glad you were able to enjoy my hometown! It’s such an amazing city. We love the Carnegie Science Museum right on the river. We loved going up the Duquesne incline and going to watch a Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins game.

  • Ana says:

    I was born in Pittsburgh, and your pictures brought back so many good memories. Because of my profession, I live in Texas now. But I miss being up north. Thank you for sharing.

  • Melissa says:

    I second the last comment….Pamela’s is a must! I live about 2 hrs. away from Pittsburgh and my kids love to go there for the weekend. We’ve gone on the incline, Carnegie Science Center, Heinz History Center, Steeler’s training camp, the strip district and of course Pirate’s baseball games. Are you visiting the Creation Museum while in Cincinnati? It’s right across the river in KY. The built to scale ark is a new attraction that we have not seen yet.

  • Lynn says:

    Your family might enjoy the historical fiction/mystery “Macaroni Boy” by Katherine Ayres now that you’ve seen an authentic Italian market!

  • Des says:

    Hey Crystal, I saw that you were folding laundry in the parking lot because you guys had to check out. You probably already know this, but a lot of hotels will let you check out an hour or two late for no charge if you call the front desk the morning of checkout and ask. 🙂 I’ve done this at least a dozen times. A time or two they’ve said they couldn’t because of full booking, but I have mostly had great success just asking. 🙂

    • Yes! We asked for a late checkout at every hotel we stayed at on this trip! We’re big fans of doing that — especially on this trip when we usually had very laid back mornings!

      This hotel could only give us an hour extra before they needed us to be out of our room and it wasn’t enough time for us to get all of our laundry done and then folded in our room, so we just moved the folding to the parking lot! 😉

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