- 6 Things to Do Under $10 in Pittsburgh
- 1. Driving through the Fort Pitt Tunnel.
- 2. Self-guided walking tour of Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle.
- 3. Visiting Museums around the city.
- 4. Cathedral of Learning and Nationality Rooms
- 5. Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines.
- 6. Primanti Brothers
After covering Baltimore in Maryland and Dunedin in Florida the other day, it’s time for us to go back to the United States as we will cover another city in America. This time, we’re going to Pennsylvania and talking about how far you could get with your $10 USD in Pittsburgh.
Thanks to Rudy of Backpack & Snorkel, we’re going to find out how to explore the city on a budget this week!
So, what could you get in Pittsburgh for $10 USD?
6 Things to Do Under $10 in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh in southwestern Pennsylvania is known as the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team and as the “Steel City”, because in the early 1900s Pittsburgh produced more than half of all the steel in the United States. Uncontrolled pollution led to the infamous characterization of Pittsburgh as “hell with the lid taken off”.
Pittsburgh underwent a complete metamorphosis in the 1970s and 1980s and is now known for high tech jobs in healthcare, IT and robotics and it was voted most livable city in the US numerous times.
Many visitors are drawn to Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle and it is here that they realize why the city is also called the “City of Bridges”. This is, because Pittsburgh has 446 bridges – more than Venice.
Did you know?
From the late 19th through the mid-20th centuries, Pittsburgh was the center of industry throughout the United States. The city was responsible for many of the raw materials that powered the current American economy. One of them was the polio vaccine that was invented by dr. Jonas Salk in 1950.
While large parts of Pittsburgh can be explored on foot, it is definitely a good idea to have a car.
1. Driving through the Fort Pitt Tunnel.
Having your own car allows you to experience your first wow factor. Driving from the airport on I-376 East, you will pass green hills and small townships until you get to the Fort Pitt Tunnel.
Once you exit the tunnel, the scenery abruptly changes and you see Pittsburgh’s skyscrapers, the three rivers, the Point State Park Fountain, and a lot of yellow-painted steel. This change in scenery has consistently been named one of the most dramatic in the US.
You can watch a video here.
2. Self-guided walking tour of Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle.
Did you know that the Oil Rush in the US started when oil was discovered in 1859 in Titusville, PA, which is located north of Pittsburgh?
During that time and well into the 20th century, what is now the Fourth Avenue Historic District, became the center of finance and banks and the location of the Pittsburgh Stock Exchange.
Are you a history buff and want to see where Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt used to stand and explore historic buildings?
Look no further, you can do all of this on a self-guided walking tour of Pittsburgh. The self-guided walking tour can be found here.
3. Visiting Museums around the city.
Pittsburgh has a number of museums that are definitely worth a visit. Most of them charge more than a $10 admission. But there are notable exceptions.
Fort Pitt Museum
Fort Pitt Museum is located in a recreated bastion of Fort Pitt in Point State Park at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers.
The fort was built in 1758 by the British after taking over French Fort Duquesne and razing it.
The museum explains the role that Fort Pitt played during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, the Whiskey Rebellion and the founding of Pittsburgh.
Just outside the museum you will see the Fort Pitt Block House which was constructed in 1764 as a redoubt of Fort Pitt. Fort Pitt is long gone and that makes it the oldest existing structure in all of Western Pennsylvania.
Heinz History Center
The Heinz History Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and it is Pennsylvania’s largest history museum. On six floors, there are more than 40,000 artifacts showcasing the history of Western Pennsylvania.
The permanent exhibits are:
- Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood – see original set pieces and artifacts
- Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation – celebrate 250 years of Pittsburgh innovations
- Heinz – experience 150 years of the H.J. Heinz Company
- From Slavery to Freedom – 18th century Africa to 21st century Western PA
- Special Collections Gallery – Western PA’s unique blend of cultures and people
- Glass: Shattering Notions – before becoming the Steel City, Pittsburgh was America’s Glass City
- Eyes of Pittsburgh – photographs from Pittsburgh’s newspapers
- Discovery Place and Kidsburgh – for kids to learn about Pittsburgh history.
- Clash of Empires: The British, French & Indian War, 1754-1763
- Rediscovering Lewis & Clark: A Journey with the Rooney Family
- SmartSteps – take the steps and discover colorful murals with health & wellness tips, and facts about Pittsburgh’s history
- Senator John Heinz: A Western Pennsylvania Legacy – learn about his life, public service, and contributions to arts and culture, the environment, economic development, and society
- The Prine Collection of Woodworking Planes – see more than 200 woodworking planes from the early 19th century in Western PA
Admission: $9 for students
Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919) was an industrialist, union buster and art collector. “The Frick” houses several historic buildings and museums and the 19th century Frick family home which is known as “Clayton”.
What you can see with your free admission are:
- Frick Art Museum – features a large collection of Renaissance and Baroque bronzes, 19th century European, Late Medieval and Renaissance paintings, photographs, prints, and costumes
- Car and Carriage Museum – showcases many 1881 to 1940 historic cars the Frick’s owned
- Greenhouse – rebuilt based on the original 1897 structure; a variety of flowers and vegetables are grown here
- The Clayton, but only from the outside, house tours cost extra
- Well maintained museum grounds
Admission: free, paid only required for Clayton tours and special exhibitions.
Andy Warhol Museum
The Andy Warhol Museum is the largest museum in North America dedicated to a single artist – Pittsburgh-born pop art icon Andy Warhol.
The museum’s exhibits are displayed on 7 floors and consist of 77 sculptures, 900 paintings, over 1,000 published unique prints, almost 2,000 works on paper, 4,000 photographs, and more than 4,300 films and videotaped works.
Admission: $10 for students, seniors and children 3-18.
Anthony Bourdain in “Parts Unknown” said that Randyland is essential for the “Perfect Day in Pittsburgh”.
Randyland is an “outsider art” museum and one of the most colorful artistic landmarks in the country. It is named after its creator Randy Gilson who lives here and you will be visiting his backyard! Randyland is a museum of color and happiness and you will likely meet friendly and energetic Randy when you visit.
4. Cathedral of Learning and Nationality Rooms
The Cathedral of Learning is the most iconic landmark of Pittsburgh’s Oakland section. This 535ft (163m), 42-story Late Gothic Revival Cathedral belongs to the University of Pittsburgh and it is the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere and the 2nd tallest university building in the world.
The first 4 floors house the massive gothic “Commons Room”, which looks like the inside of a cathedral, but you will not find any Christian symbols. It is used as a general study area.
The (currently) 31 “Nationality Rooms” are specially designed classrooms on the 1s and 3rd floor. When the Nationality Room Program was founded in 1926, immigrant communities from the Pittsburgh area were invited to decorate one classroom per nationality according to their heritage. The individual immigrant groups took this very seriously and created stunning and artistic classrooms. Typically, the majority of the materials were imported from the respective nations and the work performed by native craftsmen and artists.
Admission: free; you can rent a tape recorder for $3 with information on each class room.
5. Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines.
The Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines are the last two funiculars in Pittsburgh.
Both have very different histories even though they are located within walking distance of each other. While the Monongahela Incline was built in 1870 for passenger traffic and is now the oldest continuously operating funicular in the US, the Duquesne incline, which was built 7 years later, was originally only used to transport coal and other cargo up and down Mt. Washington.
Both inclines have their top stations at Grandview Avenue from where you have fantastic views of the city. The city has even built some viewing platforms to let people enjoy those marvelous views.
Fare: $3.50 round trip (Monongahela Incline); $2.50 one way (Duquesne Incline).
6. Primanti Brothers
Last but not least, Pittsburgh’s most iconic food: The Primanti Bros. Sandwich
These signature sandwiches have grilled meat, melted cheese, tomato slices, oil & vinegar-based coleslaw, and French fries (!!!) between two thick slices of Italian bread.
The sandwiches were invented because the main clientele of Primanti Bros. were truck drivers who were often short on time and needed to eat their sandwiches while hauling their loads. So, Primanti loaded up their sandwiches with grilled meat and all sides including the fries, wrapped them in a sheet of newspaper, and handed them to their customers who then consumed the sandwiches while driving. And the rest is history.
Some people go as far as saying that you have not seen Pittsburgh if you have not had a Primati Bros. signature sandwich.
Price for sandwiches: $6.49-$10.49
In summary, Pittsburgh is a wonderful city with tons of attractions. Some of the top attractions are free or can be seen on a budget. There are many other attractions that are worth seeing, but you will need to spend more than $10.
Contributor: Rudy from Backpack & Snorkel
Rudy has made Pittsburgh his adopted hometown. He and his wife travel the world and bring you ideas and itineraries for relaxing vacations. For them, traveling is all about Making Memorable Moments. They don’t rush from one country (or attraction) to the next.