The Ultimate One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary for Every Touring Style

Ultimate One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary: Mount Washington

Have only one day to spend in Pittsburgh? While you could literally go weeks without doing the same thing twice, there is a way to hit all of the best spots when visiting. From where to eat to what to see and do, here’s my ultimate one day in Pittsburgh itinerary. Have fun!

Ultimate One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary: Duquesne Incline at Mount Washington
Downtown Pittsburgh is gorgeous from Mount Washington no matter day or night.

Planning the perfect day in Pittsburgh, especially when you only have a single day in the city, can be tough. I mean, what museums do you hit and where do you go to eat? And what about freebies? What can you do for free in Pittsburgh? With only a day to spend, you’re going to have to be ambitious.

When looking over this itinerary, please remember I gave you the most bang for your proverbial buck when it comes to locations. Pittsburgh has amazing restaurants and things to do all over the city and its neighborhoods but I didn’t want you to spend half the day driving to get to a bunch of places. Dig?

You’re also going to have to navigate efficiently. Lastly, you’ll need to determine what time of day you want to see a couple of iconic views of the city. Here’s a sunrise to sunset touring plan to help you decide.

Ultimate One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary: The Strip District Wholey's
Wholey’s in The Strip District – and an up close look at a lobster. Photo Credit: Steven Locke

One Day in Pittsburgh: Morning

When asked where the prettiest view of Pittsburgh proper is, there’s an overwhelming response: Mount Washington. And if I’m being honest, that view has won plenty of accolades. So, taking that into consideration, when you only have one day to spend in Pittsburgh, seeing the city from high atop Mount Washington is a must. The real question is when to see it: sunrise or sunset.

While both times of day are lovely, it’s all dependent upon when you’d like to visit. The easiest way to see Mount Washington (and that view) is via a trip on the Duquesne Incline. Yes, there’s another incline to the area as well (Monongahela Incline), but the observation deck at Duquesne is ideal for photos. 

Hours of Operation for the Duquesne Incline are Monday through Saturday 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Sundays and Holidays 7:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. It’s operational 365 days a year, too. Fees are $2.50 each way for adults, $1.25 each way for the kiddos. 

Breakfast: There are a couple of iconic breakfast spots that you can pick from, both in  The Strip District. Pamela’s Diner is hugely popular for its crepe-style pancakes. Trust me, they’re delicious. Then there’s DeLuca’s. It’s a no frills, grab a seat when you can type of restaurant.

It also generally has plenty of folks waiting inline to dine, so be prepared for that, too. If you don’t have a preference, each is only a couple of blocks away from the next, so check the smallest line and dine there. 

After Breakfast: Since you’ll already be in The Strip District, my pick is to head to Heinz History Center. It’s here you can brush up on all-things Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. It has an amazing Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood exhibit (including set pieces), tributes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and even an homage to Pittsburgh theme parks including Kennywood Park.

Before lunch, if you have any time leftover, spend it checking out the eclectic shops in The Strip. I adore Wholey’s fish market. It’s so quintessential Pittsburgh. 

Ultimate One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary: Try the Turkey Sandwich at Primanti Bros.
When visiting Pittsburgh, a visit to Primanti Bros. for one of its famous sandwiches is a must. Photo Credit: Karyn Locke

One Day in Pittsburgh: Afternoon

This part of the itinerary has room for flexibility:

Lunch: When it comes to lunch, there’s one place that top my list: Primanti Bros. Known for its stacked sandwiches filled with fries and savory cole slaw, the sandwiches are THE Pittsburgh food to try if you only have one day in the city.

In Downtown Pittsburgh, there are a couple of locations to choose from: Primanti’s in The Strip and in Market Square near Point State Park. 

Of course, if you’d like more choices, here’s my list of five foodie finds in Pittsburgh that are definitely worth a visit

After Lunch: Here’s where you have a couple of choices. Depending on what you’d like to enjoy most, my take is head to another museum or take in more of the gorgeous Pittsburgh photographic hot spots.

If you want more of an educational visit, on the North Shore there’s the Carnegie Science Center and UPMC Sports Works. After you’re done, head across the street near the Allegheny River and check out “Tribute to Children”, the giant, 11-foot tall Fred Rogers statue

Drive a little farther and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and National Aviary (it has sloths!) are within walking distance of each other. Each museum, particularly with kids, is going to take at least two hours. While not giant, National Aviary has some fun shows and feedings that let guests customize their visits.

Ultimate One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary: Phipps Conservatory

And if you like quirky museums, then it’s Mattress Factory, Randyland, and Andy Warhol Museum – all on the North Shore.  The CSC and Children’s Museum are at least 2-3 hours of touring time each. As for the last three, if you hustle, you can see them in an hour or two each. 

If you want to see Oakland, head to Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and/or Phipps Conservatory. The area is highly walkable, so if you have time before dinner, visit the Cathedral of Learning (literally across the street from the museums) and check out its Nationality Rooms. If you’re in town during the winter holidays, it’s especially nice to visit then. 

Note: The “T”, Pittsburgh’s light rail system, is free to ride anywhere in the Golden Triangle or North Shore areas. Take advantage of it and save your feet. Of course, it also goes to Station Square and additional areas in the Pittsburgh boroughs for a small fee. 

Ultimate One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary: Duquesne Incline at Mount Washington at night
The view of the Golden Triangle. from high atop Mount Washington

One Day in Pittsburgh: Evening

Dining: It’s here where you’ll have the most flexibility, especially for dining options. The hot restaurants right now are Meat + Potatoes, Butcher and the Rye, and Sienna Mercado. M+P is not reservations required, but they are super popular so try to make one.

As for Sienna, it’s three floors of different meal offerings. My fave is definitely the first floor with its creative meatball dishes. And, if you love whiskey and rye, you’ll definitely dig Butcher. 

But, if you want more of a quick-but-delicious bite to eat, give täkō in the Cultural District a go. It melds So-Cal meets Steel City in its flavorful, Mexican-inspired dishes. Another fun option, if visiting during warmer weather, is Food Truck Park in Millvale. It’s a rotating food truck daily offering with beer, cider, and wine. Enough said. 

After Dinner: Make a beeline for Point State Park. How many chances have you had to stand on the exact point where three rivers meet? Exactly. Also, there a walking and  biking trails (Pittsburgh bike tours, too!) and Point State Park Fountain when the weather’s nice. 

Heading to Pittsburgh, PA, but only have a single day to see EVERYTHING? From where to eat to what to see, here's an ideal itinerary for one day in Pittsburgh! #Pittsburgh #LOVEPgh #VisitPA #OneDayItinerary #VisitPittsburgh

If you visit during baseball/football/hockey season: Pittsburgh Pirates games are very affordable and fun! PNC Park is located right on the North Shore, so take the T or walk across one of the Sister Bridges to access. As for the Steelers and Penguins games, they’re not as affordable but they are fun!

Want the scoop on where to catch the best Pittsburgh sunsets? Here are my seven favorite spots. 

If you didn’t see Pittsburgh from Mount Washington, now’s your chance to do it. The Duquesne Incline makes a trip every 20 minutes and closes at 12:30 a.m.

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