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When most people think of Pittsburgh, they think of steel. That might be how the town started (thanks to Andrew Carnegie), but it has become so much more. We were all very surprised at the art, culture, dining and shopping. We went to drop off our oldest at Carnegie Mellon University for the summer pre-college program and decided to make a mini-vacation. 

duquesne incline

Day One

After an uneventful (thank goodness) 5 hour's drive from Eastern Pennsylvania, we arrived in Pittsburgh via a tunnel. We had no idea some tunnels ran under the city. We entered the Squirrel Hill Tunnel and emerged into a picturesque, hilly city.

  • We stayed at the Oaklander Autograph Collection in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. It is conveniently located between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. It was pricey, but the room was spacious and clean. A restaurant in the hotel (Spirit and Tales) offered breakfast and dinner. There were also plenty of places to eat near the hotel. We usually get a suite that provides a separate or semi-separate living space, but the hotel closest to Carnegie Mellon did not offer suites. 

  • After doing a "dry run" of the dorm and buildings of Carnegie Mellon, we ate at the hotel restaurant and headed off to bed for an early night.​

Carnegie Mellon Campus

Day Two

  • If you're on vacation with me, there is going to be a tour involved! We booked Molly's Trolleys for a 2-hour tour of all the downtown sites, including a ride on the Duquesne Incline. There was a lot of history, including Andrew Carnegie, US Steel, Mr. Rogers, sports, art and food. We were all pleasantly surprised with what Pittsburgh had to offer. 

  • After our tour, we had to eat at Primanti Brothers. It was conveniently located across from the trolley stop. There was no wait, but it was packed! The sandwich was ok, but I wouldn't go back. It's a bucket item list to check off. 

  • The Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Carnegie Museum of Art are staples in arts and culture. Admissions are included for both museums, but you need a day to do both. The gem room is stunning and you could spend a whole day there. The art spanned the gamut and we quickly learned that my son was not a fan of modern art. Fun fact, the museum steps were the backdrop for The Dark Knight Rises and Flashdance. 

  • Next up was the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum. The museum is a "unique military memorial dedicated to honoring the men and women of all branches of service, from all generations and conflicts." Silence of the Lambs was filmed here...when Clarice is interviewing Lecter in the cage, it's set in the iconic hall. 

  • Dinner was at The Porch, located in Shenley Park and a short walk from the hotel. The dinner was good and the atmosphere was fun. Lots of college students, professors and professionals...a good mix. 

Day Three

It was move-in day, so we only did a little except move into a college dorm and sit through hours of orientations. Nobody needs a review of that!

Day Four

  • While the daughter was off at more orientations and meetings, our day started with a Target run. It's been a long time since I've been in an urban Target and the escalator for the shopping carts confused me for a second. 

  • After dropping off the Target good at the dorm, we went to the Heinz History Center. An excellent museum that proudly displays the history of Pittsburgh, including the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. The Heinz History Center also has the complete set from Mr. Rogers, which was filmed in Pittsburgh's WQED- TV studios.

  • Bonus football fact - Dan Marino went to Central Catholic High School, which was literally in the middle of the Carnegie Mellon campus. 

  • We met up with the daughter at Carnegie Cafe in the Carnegie Museum of Art. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was relaxed with a hip vibe. There was a table of professors next to us and it was so interesting to hear their discussions. 

  • After a teary goodbye to the daughter, it was off to the hotel for an early evening. 

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