Visiting Pittsburgh any time of year is always a good bet. But if you’re visiting on a budget, knowing where to find the Downtown Pittsburgh freebies is even better. From gorgeous parks to stunning architecture (and art displays), here are 15 free things in Downtown Pittsburgh to do right now.
Free Things in Downtown Pittsburgh to Do Right Now
Pittsburgh, PA, is my big city, even, though I live in Ohio. But, having the best of both worlds (the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions) at my doorstep makes for some very easy road-tripping. So, when I visit Pittsburgh, in addition to its fun museums and amazing food options, I always look for ways to save some money. Here are 15 free things in Downtown Pittsburgh that won’t cost you a penny.
Only have time for a 24-hour visit to The Steel City? Here’s my ideal one day Pittsburgh itinerary to make the most of your visit.
Take a Stroll around the Picturesque Point State Park
When I think of iconic Pittsburgh places, Point State Park is always at the top of the list. No matter what time of year, walking. to the tip of the park to spy the picturesque views of Mount Washington, the North Shore, Station Square, and the city proper never ceases to amaze me.
My advice is to take a picnic lunch, find a quiet, shady spot, and simply enjoy the beauty that is in Pittsburgh.
Relax and Enjoy the Scenery at the Three Rivers Heritage Trail
If you enjoy light activities, you’ll want to head to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail to explore. The 33-mile, nonlinear trail was designated a National Recreation Trail System and has segments along all three of Pittsburgh’s famous rivers.
90% of the trail is paved and offers not only walking and running options but feel free to take your bike as most of it only has a 1-2% grade.
Visit the Allegheny County Courthouse for a Peek into The City’s Architectural Past
Designed by H.H. Richardson in 1888, the Allegheny County Courthouse is considered to be one of the best examples of Romanesque Revival Style architecture ever constructed.
In 1973, the gorgeous building was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is also considered a National Historic Landmark.
Enjoy the Stunning Views of the City from the North Shore Riverfront Park
If you dig hanging out near a gorgeous waterway, North Shore Riverfront Park is your go-to place to visit. With over 11 acres of both public and green space, it’s ideal for walking, running, jogging, and biking, but the most impressive feature of the area is definitely its Water Steps. Families with children, donned in swimsuits, head to the steps on hot summer days to splash in the water, and others simply enjoy the gorgeous view of the city proper, especially if it’s a gorgeous Pittsburgh sunset.
Immerse Yourself in Art at the Wood Street Galleries
Contemporary art meets transportation at Wood Street Galleries. With a focus on technology and its developments (and in the same building as the Wood Street “T” stop), it’s a small gallery but definitely packs a punch.
Check Out Local Fun in Market Square
I absolutely adore Market Square. During the holiday season (and especially on Pittsburgh Light-Up Night), it’s filled with German Market buildings. In the summer, there are plenty of free activities including concerts, games, and events.
Add in the fact that it’s surrounded by restaurants and coffee shops and it’s perfect for hanging out for a couple of hours.
Walk Across the Iconic Sister Bridges
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: how is walking across a bridge a fun thing to do in Pittsburgh?
Hear me out, here. Pittsburgh has three Sister Bridges dedicated to hometown heroes and celebrities. There’s one dedicated to baseball player Roberto Clemente and one for Rachel Carson who’s considered one of the finest writers of the Twentieth Century. Lastly, and probably the most iconic, there’s a Sister Bridge dedicated to pop art sensation, Andy Warhol.
While you may have walked over a bridge before, you probably won’t have seen the beautiful view of Pittsburgh’s sports stadiums from it or attended a free festival, either.
Admire the Dazzling Display of Colors at Randyland
Randyland is so quirky, it’s cool. Created from a love of turning junk into something special, its location on the Northside of Pittsburgh is hard to miss. Feel free to walk through its open spaces and take in the beauty of former junk.
Visit the City-County Building to Explore the Rich History of Pittsburgh
Another gorgeous piece of Pittsburgh architecture, the City-County Building houses the seat of government for the city. Designed by architect, Edward B. Lee, its Beaux-Arts style exterior was one of Pittsburgh’s first attempts to include a “City Beautiful Movement” design.
Explore the African American Cultural Center for Illuminating Exhibits and Events
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a true gem of Downtown Pittsburgh. Located on Liberty Avenue (only a couple of blocks from the Strip District), the light and airy building is all about connecting all people with beauty.
All of its AWAACC galleries are free and open to the public during normal business hours, but if you want to see a live show, they are paid ticketed events.
Walk Under a Rainbow-Filled Hidden Light & Art Display
If we’re talking about Pittsburgh’s hidden art gem, it’s Garrison Canal on Garrison Place. Designed by Andrea Polli, the alleyway was transformed unto an “imaginary underwater future world of big data”.
You’ll definitely want to see this gorgeous piece after dark and have your camera ready for photos.
As for additional Downtown Pittsburgh public art displays, there are loads more to view by walking around the city.
Visit the Fred Rogers Statue
Not only can you see Fred’s smiling face while he’s tying his shoes, a few years ago songs from the show were added to make us all feel like we’re right there in his living room with him.
Find a Weekend Festival and Hang with the Locals
Honestly, there’s barely a weekend that goes by that there’s not some type of free festival or event in Downtown Pittsburgh. And if I’m talking about the most popular ones, be on the lookout for Three Rivers Arts Festival, Picklesburgh, and Pittsburgh Pride Fest if you really want to see how the locals live it up.
Ride the “T” Train System
Think about it for a minute: have you visited a city that offers free subway and light rail trips? I, personally, can’t which makes the “T” System in Pittsburgh not only unique, but highly affordable.
If you’re in the Golden Triangle area of the city, as long as you stay within its borders or ride to the North Shore, your passage is free no matter how many times to take it.