If it isn’t already, The City of Bridges—a.k.a. Steel City or the ’Burgh—needs to be on your list of places to visit. A pleasant five-hour drive from Toronto, this under-the-radar gem is more than just the birthplace of Heinz Ketchup, bingo and Andy Warhol.
Tourists come to Pittsburgh for the art and the incredible restaurant scene, but lowering pollution rates and a booming tech economy are drawing young, educated residents as well. It’s also a great walking town, with scads of riverbank and green space to explore, more than 400 bridges to cross and two of the country’s oldest funiculars to ride. And there are stairs to climb: A wander through the South Side Slopes district, where staircases often take the place of streets, delivers both a history lesson and a leg workout.
Your weekend-stay activities are a no-brainer when it comes to art. The Andy Warhol Museum, with its thorough collection of paintings, prints, drawings and films, should be at the top of your list. Meanwhile, the Mattress Factory celebrates four decades of mind-bending creativity with its succinctly named New Installations: 40th Year. On display until the end of July, this exhibition pays homage to artists like David Ellis, Vanessa German and the late Greer Lankton, who helped shape the museum’s renegade spirit. Wood Street Galleries and nearby Space are also worth a visit.
With regard to your stomach, make restaurant reservations before you leave home and let the dinner plans roll out. Cure is one Pittsburgh eatery that has enjoyed write-ups in The Wall Street Journal and Bon Appétit since putting down its roots in Lawrenceville in 2011. Anchored by a stellar charcuterie board, the menu at this cozy space highlights local flavours with a modern Mediterranean hook. At Speakeasy in the Omni Hotel, the cocktail menu favours Prohibition-era concoctions that perfectly suit the room’s dark and sexy 1920s-style decor.
But back to the bridges. There are indeed 446 of them. When you’re situated at the junction of three rivers—the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela—and you have steel coming out of your ears, you build bridges…and make new friends.