This past weekend my family got the opportunity to spend 3 days in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had been there once for a couple of hours years ago and never really got to see the sights, so I was excited to dive into this new place on an adventure with my family. I happen to have a couple of hardcore Pittsburgh fanatic friends who gave me all kinds of tips on the best things to do and see and I’m going to write up a few posts for you to share our awesome experiences at some of the popular attractions. First I want to give you our impression of the city overall.
I’m sort of a country girl, having grown up in the middle of a cornfield and living in a very rural area now so cities, while exciting, can be a little intimidating to me. All the traffic and rushing, bustling people are not really my thing. I could tell right away when we drove into Pittsburgh that this city isn’t like that at all. Sure there was some traffic and lots of people on the streets, but it wasn’t overly crowded with cars jamming on their brakes. All the folks on the sidewalks were happily doing some window shopping or maybe making their way home from work or school. We even saw one man hop off his bike to help a young girl that was trying to capture an injured bird on the street corner. I think I was won over right then and there.
We arrived at our hotel, the Westin Conference Center, right in the heart of the city and were totally *WOWED*. They currently have a ginormous Christmas tree (complete with big presents!) right in the lobby. There are two restaurants in the hotel, a pool and really nice fitness center, a business center, free wi-fi, and a lot more amenities. We actually had a little glitch with our check in and our reservation was only made for one night and it should have been for two. I showed the gentleman at desk the paperwork I had and he immediately took care of it, switching us to a great corner suite that we could stay in for two nights. These things do happen, and we were impressed with the way it was corrected without it being a big deal for us.
Our room was SO nice and really perfect for a family traveling with little kids. We were able to put the kids to bed in one part of the suite earlier in the evening and then my husband and I hung out together in the other part until we were ready to go to bed. And I have to mention to dual shower heads in the shower. *Heaven.* The customer service at the Westin was outstanding. We had no idea where anything was in Pittsburgh. Where’s a family-friendly restaurant within walking distance? How do you get to Station Square? The folks answering the service phone and the gentlemen at the bell and concierge desks were a huge help, always going above and beyond to give us maps, explicit directions, even walking us to the correct elevator to find our car! We had a great stay and if you’re headed to Pittsburgh I highly recommend the Westin Convention Center.
Not only was the hotel itself great, its location was perfect. We were in town to go to Lego KidsFest at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and it is literally across the street from the Westin. There’s even a skywalk to take you there without having to go outside! We also walked from our hotel to a delicious pizza place (hit Pizza Parma if you’re in town), and on our way home from that we stopped for ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s. There are a bunch of fancier restaurants within walking distance too. We had a couple of tired kids with us so we decided to play it safe, but if you’re in town and want to go out for a drink you have lots of options all within a block from the Westin.
Pittsburgh is a really cool city, unlike any I’ve ever been in before. The first you’ll notice are all the bridges! The city is in the midst of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, which form the Ohio River, so you need a lot of bridges to get from here to there. They add an awesome feel to the area. My kids especially thought going over all the bridges was cool. Surprisingly, it was really easy to get around. You might think it would be confusing with all the bridges in a city but the roads are well labeled (of course you need to be paying attention!) and they’re wide. There are no narrow, tight streets, at least not that we drove on. And traffic wasn’t bad at all which was also a pleasant surprise. You’d think on a weekend it might be but it wasn’t hard to get around at all. Of course, the Steelers had an away game, so…
Finally what stood out to us about Pittsburgh is how well it’s thriving. We didn’t notice any depressed areas in the city. It seemed like businesses were busy, lots of people were walking around downtown going to and from work and school, the city is clean and well-lit. Pittsburgh has received many mentions this year from noteworthy sources as ranking in best cities to retire to, best cities for business friendliness, best family-fun destination, best cities for working moms, and TONS more. I think the one that sums it up best for me is this one:
“FoxNews.com has named Pittsburgh as one of the top US revival cities worth visiting. Citing Pittsburgh as “an urban city with a small town vibe,” the news station highlights Pittsburgh’s wonderful hotel accommodations, delicious restaurants, and unique eighty-nine neighborhoods as just some of the many factors that make Pittsburgh a definite travel destination.”
I agree on all counts! If you’re looking for an affordable getaway for your family, definitely consider Pittsburgh. We loved the city and my kids are still talking about all we did there! We could have easily spent a whole week seeing all the sights and probably still wouldn’t have been able to take it all in.
Check out all of our Pittsburgh adventures:
- Lego KidsFest in Pittsburgh December 2012
- Visit Pittsburgh: A Thriving City Full of Hospitality & Family-Friendly Attractions
- Visit Pittsburgh: The Duquesne Incline & One Amazing View
- Visit Pittsburgh: The Carnegie Science Center Is Hands-On Fun & Learning!
- Visit Pittsburgh: Close (and Awesome!) Encounters at The National Aviary
I was provided with complimentary and/or discounted accommodations and admission to attractions in exchange for this review. The opinions in this post are 100% mine. You can read my full disclosure policy here.