No, I don’t mean drop a bunch of money and go somewhere exotic. In the wise words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time (or money) for that!”
What I mean is to pick a city that you’ve heard about, passed through, or had the chance to go to many times, but never really took the time to stay and experience it. For me recently, this was Pittsburgh. I know, I know…
What’s crazy is that Pittsburgh is only a few hours from my hometown and somehow, I never took the time to experience its sports, restaurants, nightlife, etc. until now! This was for 3 main reasons:
- When I went in college to visit friends, all I experienced were horrible streets to park on and bouncers on power trips
- As a diehard WVU fan, I was convinced that Pitt should in fact do nothing but “eat shit”
- When I drive past it now going home from NC, I am only 2 hours from my family and just want to get there, so stopping isn’t an option.
But FINALLY, I attended an event in Pittsburgh recently and took a vacation day to make it a long weekend so that I could really experience it… And as much as I hate to admit it, it’s sort of an incredible city.
The sports venues (especially PNC – best suites and views in Major League Baseball) are amazing and even if you aren’t a fan of Pittsburgh sports, you can’t help but to appreciate it.
Heinz Field, although I’ve seen better in the NFL, was a great concert venue!
I saw the Kenny Chesney Summer Tour while I was there, and the location of the field was in walking distance to bars, restaurants, a nice casino and tons of parking lots for the most important part of a Kenny concert. Highly suggested.
The dive bars/restaurants there are also perfection. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a fan of going somewhere and paying $50 a plate for a meal the size of my pinky, so I took 1 recommendation from each of my local friends on where to go. Best decision ever.
If I have any recommendations on visiting a new city for the first time, they are:
- Use your social media to remind yourself of people that you know who live there. You’d be surprised how many people from your hometown or college have moved, and how many cities you know someone in. Better to crash with an old friend than to pay for a hotel that you’re barely in.
- Ask friends/locals about the best places to go. I can’t stand doing touristy things because they get repetitive from city to city, but locals know of the TRUE best places to visit in their cities.
- Drive around on your own! Sometimes you’re close to something fun and you would have never known! You also start to get a feel for the city so that you can get around on your own… well not me. Directions and Tiffany are like taking the wrong side of 2 magnets and trying to force them together… They just don’t work.
If I have any recommendations for Pittsburgh specifically, they are:
- Go to a game! I could not have cared less about the team I saw (no offense Bucs), but Pittsburgh loves their sports, so the crowd is great and the view itself is worth it. I was also there right after they won the Stanley Cup, and picked up some knowledge on the Cup itself (and a big kiss to go with it).
- WALK! I went downtown, parked my car and walked from place to place for hours. We ended up finding a delicious dive bar, a wine tasting shop, an annual furry convention (Yes, that’s a thing. What’s a furry you ask? Look it up), a beautiful walkway along the water, a rooftop bar, and more. All just from a few hours of wandering by foot.
- Try the mom and pop restaurants! Everyone and their mother (especially if you ask other tourists) will tell you to go to Primanti Bros. In my opinion, overrated. The best places I went were the ones that we walked by and randomly chose. Try getting a pizza from the small Italian shop in Market Square, fried pierogis from a dive bar or an enormous sandwich from Alexions.
Important side note: For God’s sake, if you’ve never tried pierogi, please do. I didn’t even know that NOT eating pierogi growing up was a thing. Pierogi to the north are like grits to the south… except pierogi are actually good. (“OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH NO SHE DI’NT!”) But I did 🙂
TO ADD TO YOUR BUCKET LIST: PICK A RANDOM CITY, AND GO!
To add as an addendum… TRY A DAMN PIEROGI if you haven’t already.