Pittsburgh Has A Bunch Of Hidden Gems, Here Are The Ones That Don't Cost A Thing
Dodge the admission fees and check out these totally free to-dos.
Consider yourself lucky to live in Pittsburgh — it has been named one of America's best cities to live in year after year. There's so much to see and do here, from chowing down on a famous Primanti Bro's sandwich to touring the Carnegie Science Center, there's certainly no shortage of places to spend your money at. Alternatively, there are dozens of really cool free to-dos to check out around the city, so slow down on the spending and save a little cash by visiting these often overlooked places around the 'Burgh.
Where: 1501 Arch St
Quite surprisingly, the colorful Randyland is free to visit. This place is home to local artist Randy Gilson, who has turned it into an absolutely fascinating art museum featuring his work — free for the public to enjoy. Rumor has it Randy is a pretty cool fellow, so if you see him around be sure to say hello!
Where: North Park
This Pittsburgh oddity will sure get you and your friends talking. From balls to cars to even water, Gravity Hill is known for making things appear to go against gravity and roll upwards. You'll definitely want to bring a ball with you and test this natural phenomenon out for yourself. Not a believer, check out this video.
Cinema in the Park
Where: Several locations
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy partners with the City of Pittsburgh's Office of Special Events to host movie nights at several parks throughout the city during the summer months. There are tons of movies, dates, and locations to choose from — all for free! Click the link below to learn more.
The Cathedral of Learning
The Cathedral of Learning in Oakland is not only a gorgeous and historic old building, it also offers some of the best views of the city. The building is open to the public and you can take the elevators up to some of its top floors for an unmatched view of the city.
St. Anthony’s Chapel
Where: Troy Hill
If you enjoy the architecture and history of the cathedral, you will probably equally appreciate St. Anthony's Chapel. With over 5,000 relics, the chapel is home to the largest collection of Catholic relics outside of the Vatican. It supposedly contains some extremely rare artifacts like pieces of Jesus' cross and bones of the Apostles.
Where: 1800 Preble Ave
Pittsburgh is home to a lot of things — but not many people know it's home to the world's largest bicycle shop and museum. That's right, Bicycle Heaven, located right here in Pittsburgh, triumphs all other bicycle shops and museums in the world — and it's totally free to visit. Make it a point to check out the seemingly endless array of unique bikes and their history all at this location, open 7 days a week!
Johnny Angel’s Ginchy Stuff
Where: Next to Bicycle Heaven
After your visit to Bicycle Heaven, stop by the museum and shop dedicated to one of Pittsburgh's most notable musicians, Johnny Angel — located right next door. From his personal collections to musical memorabilia, this location will definitely keep any music lover's attention.
Rodef Shalom Biblical Botanical Garden
This botanical garden replicates the plant life of ancient Israel with over 100 temperate and tropical plants. All plants are labeled and a Biblical verse accompanies each plant. Check back often because changing seasons focus on different Biblical themes. Even if you're not particularly into the religious aspect, the exotic flora is a site to see itself.
Trundle Manor: House of Oddities
Where: 7724 Juniata St.
This "as seen on MTV" oddity museum is currently the headquarters of the Secret Society of Odd Acquisition and features a large collection of strange objects. From serial killer collectibles to preserved animals and everything in between, there's plenty of weird artifacts to view here. While visiting the manor is free, it's by appointment only and requires some sort of donation — like that bottle of liquor you have sitting around that you'll never drink.
Where: Canton Ave, Beechview
Visit America's steepest street, located right here in Pittsburgh. While it's less than 700 feet long, Canton Avenue is measured at an exhilarating 37% grade — making it the USA's steepest street and the world's second steepest. Driving downward is strictly prohibited, but driving up it is totally cool. Probably best to avoid driving on this street at all times in the winter.
Old Allegheny County Jail Museum
Where: 440 Ross Street
You can totally brag to all your friends about being in jail — the Old Allegheny County Jail is open to the public for free tours every Monday. Built in the late 1800s, this jail used to be Pittsburgh's primary jailhouse. After the new jail was built this one retired from housing criminals. Additionally, it has undergone some restoration efforts to bring back the original look.
McDonald's Big Mac Museum Restaurant
Where: 9061 Route 30, North Huntingdon
A Pittsburgh McDonald's restaurant is credited with being the founding place of the Big Mac. Nearly 40 years ago, Jim Delligatti came up with this mouth-watering recipe, now loved and ordered at McDonald's worldwide. This museum offers viewers an in-depth look at the history of the Big Mac with exhibits and artifacts, and of course the world's largest Big Mac Statue.
Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
Where: Schenley Park
This 36-year running event has always been free — and that isn't expected to change any time in the near future. Although donations are appreciated, there no formal charge to enter the Grand Prix show grounds to watch the country's only vintage street racing. All donations go towards raising funds for people with disabilities.
Allegheny Summer Concert Series
Where: South Park Amphitheatre and Hartwood Acres
From the Pittsburgh City Orchestra to Jefferson Starship, you never know who might be coming to town to play a free concert at one of these two outdoor venues. Bring a friend and even your dog for a night of free jamming out. Check the website below for upcoming concerts.
Unblurred Night Crawl
Where: Penn Avenue
Stay a while and have a beer. This art-based night crawl, sponsored by the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative, happens every first-Friday of the month. Meet up is always on Penn Avenue, but the artwork featured changes every month.
Allegheny City Historic Gallery
Where: -in process of moving locations-
From old-fashioned lifestyles to the way things used to look, this gallery features vintage photographs focused specifically on Pittsburgh's North Side region. While they still do run events from time to time at different locations, they have moved from their E. Ohio St. location and are looking for another place to set up at. Check their website often for updates on when this free gallery will be open for visits or for any upcoming events!
Trinity Cathedral Cemetery
Where: 325 Oliver Avenue
Some of the oldest marked graves west of the Atlantic Seaboard are buried at this church cemetery — dating as far back as the American Revolution period. While there are over 100 graves currently at the site, some notable people buried here are the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment Captain, Samuel Dawson, who died in 1779, Red Pole, a Shawnee chief, and the founder of the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Nathaniel Bedford.
The Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archeology
Where: 616 North Highland Ave (inside the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)
The Kelso Museum offers an exclusive look at over 90 years worth of archeological finds that the seminary has collected while excavating the Biblical lands of the Near East. Walk-in tours are welcome on Wednesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. As well, scheduled tours can be arranged.
Where: 159 Riverview Ave
For one night every week in the warmer season, one of the world's major astronomical research institutions, the Allegheny Observatory, is open for public visitations. Since the majority of the tours are spent inside the telescope domes — which maintain a temperature the same as outside — the tours are only available during April-October. Reservations are required.
Riding the Pittsburgh T
Thanks to the gridlock traffic, getting around downtown can be an absolute nightmare, especially during the most popular times of the day. Thankfully, there are several downtown stops on the Pittsburgh Passenger Rail (most commonly referred to by the locals as the "Pittsburgh T") that cost absolutely nothing. The 6 stops between Allegheny and First Avenue are always free, so hop on and enjoy the hassle-free ride to your next destination.
Pittsburgh's Annual RADical Days
Where: Most local tourism locations
Admission fees to nearly all of your favorite Pittsburgh places waived! Pittsburgh's Annual RADical Days is a celebratory event starting in late September and lasting until mid-October, featuring free admission to many of the city's recreational facilities, museums, galleries, landmarks, and more.
Local Nature Parks
Where: Several locations
Pittsburgh is also home to many free-to-visit nature parks, including: