Pittsburgh is a great destination for an easy One Tank Trip with the kids.
For openers the location is beautiful, from the top of four hundred foot high Mount Washington overlooking the confluence of the Ohio, Monongahela and the Allegheny Rivers, the towers of downtown Pittsburgh absolutely sparkle. A network of bridges lace the town together with its suburbs. In fact this is a city of bridges. There are over two thousand bridges, eight foot or better in length that carry pedestrians, autos and railroads across the three rivers.
A great way to start a visit is to take a ride on one of the two, historic cable-powered incline cars (known in some places as funicular railroads) that whisk you nearly four hundred feet up the sides of the surrounding mountains. The Monongahela Incline is located near the Smithfield Street Bridge and was first built back in 1870. It’s operated today by the Port Authority of Allegheny County, which also operates Pittsburgh’s Transit System. . The other railway is the Duquesne Incline, built in 1877. Buses on West Carson Street serve its lower station and it is located just west of the Fort Pitt Bridge. Be sure to bring along a camera.
THE DUQUESNE INCLINE, 1220 Grandview Avenue, Pittsburgh, Penn. 15211, 412-381-1665, www.incline.cc. THE PORT AUTHORITY OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, 345 Sixth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Penn. 15222, 412-442-2000, www.ridegold.com
We had great fun on a recent visit taking a tour that mixed land and water. Just Ducky Tours utilizes some World War Two Amphibious Vehicles known as “DUKW’s” or “Ducks”. It’s like a truck that can also float. The tour starts at Pittsburgh’s popular Station Square shopping area. Each “Duck”, painted in bright colors, holds about 35 people and a captain-pilot as well as a knowlegable tour guide. The first half of the tour is through downtown, over several bridges and around the new baseball and football stadiums. Then the real fun begins as your craft leaves the road and lumbers into the river. For the next half of the journey you get to see downtown from the water as the guide points out sights along the famous Pittsburgh skyline. “Just Ducky” tours are a great way to get acquainted with the town.
JUST DUCKY TOURS, 125 West Station Square Drive, Pittsburgh, Penn. 15219, 412-402-3825, www.justduckytours.com
Some sights you don’t want to miss.
The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is world class. Here you can walk through a tunnel of Plexiglas while surrounded by giant stingrays, also there is a two story tall tank filled with sharks. By the way, my grandkids told me that the best part of the visit was the very long escalator ride from the parking lot to the zoo. You will also find most of the animals in real-life habitats, duplicating the environment they came from.
PITTSBURGH ZOO AND PPG AQUARIUM, 1 Wild Place (1 Hill Road) Pittsburgh, Penn. 15227 412-665-3640, www.pittsburghzoo.com
The Carnegie Science Center sits on the edge of the river. This is a museum that offers everything from a real World War II Submarine, to a host of hands-on exhibits. Inside the museum there is a room where you can experience what an earthquake feels like. There are over 250 exhibits that invite you to touch, feel and experience. See what it’s like to walk through a bank of clouds, or you can take part in a science experiment that you can eat when you are done. Kids of all ages will love this place.
CARNEGIE SCIENCE CENTER, One Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh, Penn. 15212, 412-237-3400,
When it’s time to break for lunch, try a Pittsburgh original. Primanti Brothers operates several restaurants around the town. They are most famous for their “meal in a sandwich”. In addition to the meat, like hamburger or turkey, you also get French Fries and Pittsburgh-style coleslaw (no mayo on the slaw) all piled together between two pieces of bread. It’s a real handful.
PRIMANTI BROTHERS, 46 18th Street, Pittsburgh, 15222, 412-263-2142
Pittsburgh is packed with things to do, everything from the Andy Warhol Museum, to The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, (where you can meet some of the puppets from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood). And don’t forget sports. There is Heinz Field, new home of the dreaded Steelers Football team, and another riverfront facility, PNC Park, new home of baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates. While smaller (38,365 seats) than Cleveland’s Jacobs Field, the Pirates new home has a million dollar view of downtown and perhaps is one of the few baseball stadiums where you can arrive by car, foot, or even by boat.
PNC PARK 115 Federal Street, Pittsburgh, Penn. 15212, 412-323-5000. www.pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com, HEINZ FIELD, 100 Art Rooney Avenue, Pittsburgh, Penn. 15212, 412-323-1200, www.pittsburghsteeleres.com
And remember, Pittsburgh really is just a “One Tank Trip.”