Now that it's summer, my husband and I have been taking mini vacations to some popular U.S. cities. I have been incorporating a race or running tour/adventure wherever we travel. Should your travels ever take you to these same locations, I would like to share our itinerary with you, and hopefully provide you with some useful travel tips. You will find these itineraries also helpful if you plan to run a race in this same city. For example, you can bookmark this post if you plan to run the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. My passion is traveling and running, hence my blog name: Travel. Run. Repeat (T.R.R.). I'm beginning a new blog series: TRRip Itinerary! Enjoy.
Located at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers ("Three Rivers"), Pittsburgh is known as the City of Bridges because of it's 446 bridges, and the Steel City, for its more than 300 steel-related businesses. It is home of the World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers (who happen to be my favorite professional football team) and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Here is our 2 day TRRip itinerary.
Drive to Pittsburgh
Pre-race/run Coffee: Commonplace -Mexian War Streets location. Commonplace has other locations around Pittsburgh. I got a latte and a cookie with sprinkles for my pre-race snack! I loved this cafe. It has everything that I look for in a coffee shop: charm, good quality coffee, friendly service and a chill atmosphere that causes you to lose track of time.
A side note: One thing you should know about me, is that I love coffee, donuts and anything with sprinkles. So I will always try to find the coolest coffee and donut shops when I'm exploring a new part of the world.
Race: Yinzer 5k at Heinz Field. A delightful, scenic 5k race that starts at Heinz Field and runs down the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Walkers welcome! They have the best post race food: pierogies and kielbasa! Runners will truly experience the 'burgh!!
Alternate races to consider in Pittsburgh: The Pittsburgh Half or Full Marathon. I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2013 and loved it. I highly recommend it. The Pittsburgh 10 Miler is another one worth checking out.
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Run: Three Rivers Heritage Trail North Side. If you're not running a race in Pittsburgh, but are visiting for work or vacation, consider running along this trail. If you need other suggestions on where to run, check out this great article that I used.
Explore: Randyland. This unique, hidden open air art museum is worth the visit. If you're running in the North Side of Pittsburgh, north of the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, you can always stop in Randyland to take some pictures. There is also a porta-john inside! I always make sure there is a place to use the bathroom along any of my running routes. These are the important things! Pictures above
Must See and Do: Duquesne Incline. This inclined plane railroad located near Pittsburgh's South Side neighborhood, scales Mt. Washington, and is an excellent way to see the city. Riding at night is also extra special. For anyone visiting Pittsburgh, you must take a ride on the incline!
Lodging: Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel. I highly recommend this hotel for its close proximity to Pittsburgh stadiums, the convention center and the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. It is located on Fort Duquesne Blvd, across from the Roberto Clemente Bridge and is just a couple blocks away from the David Lawrence Convention Center (where the Pittsburgh Marathon Expo has been held in the past). Family members who are spectating will find this location to be very convenient for them as well. If you're attending a baseball game, the walk from this hotel over the Roberto Clemente Bridge gently ushers you into Pittsburgh. Be sure to take a picture on this bridge!
Alternate hotels downtown with great proximity to the Convention Center and stadiums: Hyatt Place Pittsburgh North Shore, Residence Inn by Marriott Pittsburgh North Shore or Holiday Inn Express Pittsburgh North Shore. These locations are also great if you're racing downtown.
Lunch: Pork & Beans. A Texas inspired BBQ and smokehouse. Located near the Renaissance Hotel and the theater district. Sit down and enjoy an appetizer, snack or drink before the game. Famous chef and owner Richard DeShantz is a Pittsburgh native and has other highly recommended restaurants in Pittsburgh.
Explore: Leisurely walk over the Roberto Clemente Bridge, which is closed to vehicular traffic for games. Take a picture on this famous yellow arched bridge.
Pre-game bites/drinks: Beerhead Bar
Post-game: The Duquesne incline at night is also pretty! Game N'at - an archade on the South Side.
Dinner: Meat & Potatoes. I highly recommend this gastro pub if you're visiting the 'burgh. Make reservations ahead of time. Try anything on the menu with meat and potatoes in it! I had the Pot Roast and my husband had the Wagyu Flat Iron. Both were amazing! They also have pasta dishes, if you need to carb load.
Dessert: Braddock's Pittsburgh Brasserie. Located in the lobby of the Reneissance Hotel, this spot is great for an after game meal, drink or dessert. Plus there were voted the number 1 spot for Sunday Brunch. You can't beat the location either.
Parking: Valet parking: 37 USD daily. Self-parking: 13 USD for 24 hours at city garage across from hotel entrance. No 'in/out' privileges.
Pre-run morning coffee at Starbucks in the hotel lobby. If you're like me, you need a cup-o-joe before you head out for a run. I am a Starbucks fan, so this was perfect for me. My husband chose this location for the lobby Starbucks :)
Run: Three Rivers Heritage Trail. There are 24 miles of trail here for your running pleasure. There are several paths or routes you can take on this trail. I would stick to the North Side or Downtown sections of the trail. I made the mistake of trying to run along South Side portion, and I got lost. I ran through a not-so-good section of town, and honestly I was lost and scared. I decided to run across one of the bridges to find the Color Park (images below). The recommendations for accessing the Color Park have runners go a different way than I took. I should have stuck with their advice. Check out this excellent article on other trails worth visiting if you're in Pittsburgh.
My route: I ran along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail to Point State Park (which I highly recommend visiting anyway, even if you're not running). I crossed the Smithfield Street Bridge, and this is where I got lost. Somehow I ended up connecting with the trail again, and finally found the Color Park. The Southside Riverfront Park and trail was lovely. I would also highly recommend finding this section and running around here. You will have an excellent view of Pittsburgh from this trail. It is paved, clean and seemed safe to me. You can easily run back or connect to another trail from here.
Post run/race treat and coffee: Peace, Love & Little Donuts. I stated earlier that I am a big fan of donuts. This place was amazing...a little overwhelming, but worth the visit. Plus, the donuts are SMALL, so you don't have to feel super guilty about the calories! Peace, Love and Little Donuts is located in the Strip District. If you want breakfast, see my next suggestion.
Breakfast: Pamela’s Diner. This popular diner food spot has people lining up at 7:30 a.m. It's worth checking out, if you're visiting the Strip District in the morning.
Explore: Strip District. For more information on what's here, read this article.
Next stop: Fallingwater. Located about an hour outside Pittsburgh, this place is a must see on your way home or go out of the way to find it.
Fallingwater is a house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, 43 miles (69 km) southeast of Pittsburgh. The house was built partly over a waterfall on Bear Run. Located in the Laurel Highlands of the Allegheny Mountains, the house was designed as a weekend home for the owner's and family of Kaufmann's Department Store.
After its completion, Time called Fallingwater Wright's "most beautiful job," and it is listed among Smithsonian's "Life List of 28 places to visit before you die." The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. In 1991, members of the American Institute of Architects named Fallingwater the "best all-time work of American architecture" and in 2007, it was ranked 29th on the list of America's Favorite Architecture according to the AIA. Source.
If you need a snack or meal before heading home, check out their cafe. The avocado toast was amazing!
Honorable Mentions: Anthony Bourdain produced an episode of Parts Unknown in Pittsburgh. Here are some of the restaurants he went to and suggests: Spoon. Cure. For the full episode and more insight from this episode, click here.
We had a fun time in Pittsburgh. There are so many running trails; I didn't have enough time to explore them all. But I will be back, that's for sure!
A big THANK YOU to the race director & volunteers of the Yinzer 5k. I really enjoyed this race and I hope to run it again!
If your travels ever take you to Pittsburgh, I hope you will have just as much fun as we did. And, if you are on the fence about signing up for a race in Pittsburgh, just do it!