1 Perfect One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary 1
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1 Perfect One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary

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Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to a perfect one day in Pittsburgh itinerary. I think Pittsburgh doesn’t get nearly enough attention from travelers.

Folks don’t realize what a fun city Pittsburgh can be! People sometimes think of Pittsburgh as Philadelphia’s rough-hewn cousin. Nothing could be further from the truth! Pittsburgh is a delightful city full of culture, great eats, great booze, and so much more.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary

#1 TOP PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
HOP ON HOP OFF BUS
✔️ Lasts all day
✔️ Takes you all over the city

#2 PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary 3

PRIVATE PITTSBURGH TOUR
✔️ Expert local guide
✔️ Customizable and personalized

#3 PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary 4

ALL OTHER PITTSBURGH TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

Then join me for 24 hours in Pittsburgh and I guarantee you’ll learn to love the city too.

On this perfect one day in Pittsburgh itinerary, which will work rain or shine, we’re going to see best that the Steel City has to offer. And it all starts with the man, the myth, the legend, the Carnegie.

24 Hour Tip

I recommend getting the Hop on Hop off Bus to get around Pittsburgh more easily.

Check rates and availability right here!

one day in Pittsburgh itinerary

One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary

Morning: Carnegie Museum of Natural History

One of the most convenient things about Pittsburgh is that its natural history museum and its art museum are basically in the same building. That means if you don’t want to do that much strolling, you don’t have to!

In my hometown of NYC, you have to walk across a whole park to get from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the American Museum of Natural History. But in Pittsburgh, you can just walk down a hallway and you’re in another great museum. That’s Pittsburgh convenience for you!

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History isn’t quite as big as the American Museum of Natural History, but it’s still an impressive and interesting place to spend a morning during your one day in Pittsburgh itinerary. They recommend buying timed tickets in advance on the website because the museum is so popular.

Allow me to share why with…

Three Fun Facts: Carnegie Museum of Natural History

one day in Pittsburgh itinerary
1) What’s the Coolest Exhibit?

The coolest exhibit in this or pretty much any Natural History Museum has to be the dinosaur section. There are many impressive skeletons in the Carnegie like a T Rex and a Stegosaurus. But the most unique has to be the Diplodocus carnegii.

How many museums have a dinosaur fossil that has the same name as the museum itself? That’s why you have to check it out during your one day in Pittsburgh itinerary. And it’s all thanks to one Andrew Carnegie.

Andrew Carnegie, who never met an expensive object he didn’t like, acquired his dinosaur collection as part of the Second Bone Wars, the period during which major museums in the US attempted to acquire as many dinosaur bones as they possibly could. (I’m not making this up. The Second Bone Wars are Very Real.)

Carnegie had the money and willpower to do quite well in these wars. He claimed to be acquiring the bones for Pittsburgh, but I think at least a little bit of his ego was involved as well.

At least Pittsburgh got to keep the dinosaur, even though Carnegie is long dead. (Also museum drama has gotten way less interesting since the turn of the 20th century. Bring on the Third Bone Wars, please!)

one day in pittsburgh itinerary
2) What’s the Cutest Exhibit?

Anything to do with animals is the cutest, and I was very partial to these bears! They are very local bears because they are from the Allegheny National Forest, which is the only national forest in Pennsylvania.

So suck it, Philadelphia! So what if you have the Liberty Bell and the Rocky stairs? We’ve got adorable bears!

one day in Pittsburgh itinerary

I was also extremely partial to this recreation of the extinct dodo bird that is over 100 years old. I find it hard to believe dodos ever really existed, but they sure are cute! Look at that funny curved nose and that skeptical expression on his face.

There are conspiracy theories about so many things, why aren’t there more conspiracy theories denying that dodos existed? We have a lot more hard evidence for the moon landing than we do for dodos.

Or alternately, why aren’t there conspiracy theories saying that dodos aren’t really extinct and they’re being kept in a shady laboratory somewhere. More dodo conspiracies for all, say I!

one day in Pittsburgh itinerary
3) Where’s the History in the Natural History Museum?

Glad you asked! There’s a large section dedicated to Native American history at the Natural History Museum, and it’s one of the more fascinating things you’ll see on your one day in Pittsburgh itinerary.

Because Native American history and culture is such a vast and complicated topic, and it would be impossible for one museum to cover everything, the Museum of Natural History focuses on five groups: Iroquois, Tlingit, Hopi, Lakota, and the Inuit.

There are many impressive artworks on display in this section of the museum, as well as information about historical events like the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The museum has a large collection, so the items on display will rotate in and out.

I particularly recommend seeing the Hopi katsinas. The exhibit provides a detailed explanation of why the katsinas are so important to the Hopi.

The museum doesn’t only feature works from the Native American past. It also showcases Native American artisans who are still creating today. Don’t miss the chance to see Tlingit artist Tommy Joseph’s beautiful totem pole, which is an excellent example of contemporary Tlingit craftsmanship.

one day in Pittsburgh itinerary

One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary

Afternoon: Carnegie Museum of Art

It’s a bit unusual for me to recommend two museums in one day, but since the Carnegie Museum of Art is literally in the same building as the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, how can we resist?

In fact, I think it would be stranger for me to suggest that you go to the Natural History Museum, skip the Museum of Art, and then come back to the Museum of Art on a different one day in Pittsburgh itinerary.

The Carnegie Museum of Art truly has an impressive collection of works for a smallish American museum, and it will be my pleasure to show you how to get the most out of it. But first, lunch!

Approximately Top 5: Carnegie Museum of Art

one day in Pittsburgh itinerary
1) Yup, Lunch!

Since we’re staying in the same building to go from one museum to another, let’s continue staying inside for our lunch! The Cafe Carnegie is a surprisingly tasty museum cafe.

It was closed for a while during the pandemic, but happily for us all it has reopened. I recommend the light and satisfying chicken salad with red wine vinaigrette because we have a big evening of eating ahead of us.

one day in Pittsburgh itinerary

And if you’re looking for a drink, try the delicious Bloody Mary. Everyone knows fine art goes better with booze. That’s just science. Some people look down on day drinking, but I say what happens in Pittsburgh stays in Pittsburgh.

one day in pittsburgh itinerary
2) Pieter Cornelisz. van der Morsch by Frans Hals

On to the art! If a docent tour is available when you’re at the Carnegie, I strongly suggest taking it. They’re free and you’ll learn so many fun facts. For example, you’ll learn that this painting above was acquired by the museum because Rembrandts were out of its price range.

Unfortunately, Frans Hals was the best Dutch Old Master they could afford. Fortunately, Frans Hals is a complete delight, and so is this painting. So I think the situation worked out best for everyone concerned.

The subject of this painting is apparently an entertainer who was famous for heckling his hecklers. The Dutch words in the painting translate to “Who wants it?” which I guess is like saying “Come and get it” to his audience of hecklers.

This dude would fit right in in New York City. He is welcome to move here anytime. I mean, he’s very dead, but his ghost could move here and become the first successful stand-up comic from beyond the grave.

one day in pittsburgh itinerary
3) The Wreck by Winslow Homer

This painting is one of the most important in the museum, and not just because it is fascinating. This is actually the first painting that was ever acquired by the Carnegie.

My docent showed me how, if you look on the docent notes of each painting, you can see the year in which each painting was acquired and the order in which it was acquired in that year. So if you see the number 48.3 written on the docent notes, that means it was the third painting the museum acquired in 1948.

(In case you’re curious about the second painting acquired by the museum, it was by another American painter, Whistler. But no one gives prizes for second place, unless you count silver medals and whatnot.)

You can tell how important “The Wreck” is to the museum because the wall behind the work is painted to pick up on the blue in the painting. My docent says the museum matches all the gallery walls to prominent works. Look for that as you walk through!

one day in pittsburgh itinerary
4) “A Peasant” by Jules Bastien-Lepage

This painting above, called “A Peasant”, was probably responsible for my finest moment at a museum.

As we passed by the painting, I told the docent it reminded me of a painting of Joan of Arc we have in the Met back in New York City, and the docent said it was by the same artist, Jules Bastien-Lepage. But I think you can see the similarities if you look at the Joan of Arc painting next to “A Peasant”.

1 Perfect One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary 5

(This is the Joan of Arc painting. It is in New York, not Pittsburgh.)

After learning that I was from NYC, the docent took me to a painting of the 10th Street Galleries, which were the place to be in the art scene of NY in the 50s and 60s. What a nice little bit of hometown history for me. See! It pays to talk to your docent. You never know what cool finds they’ll be able to show you.

one day in Pittsburgh itinerary
5) The Chariot of Aurora

And now for something completely different…a giant Arc Deco panel taken from the Normandie, a VFO (Very Fancy Oceanliner) from the 1930s. My docent said that the Carnegie Museum tries to have a work from every major period of art history, and this one represents Art Deco.

How fortunate for us because Art Deco is one of my favorite decorative styles. Just look at all that pointiness and shininess! It makes me thing of Miss Hannigan telling Little Orphan Annie that she wants her to make the floor shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.

I just wish I could get my apartment to look like this, but it’s difficult to achieve glamour when you can’t even get your super to regrout your shower every ten years.

Back to the Chariot of Aurora. My docent told me that the different figures in the corners represent the four winds and possibly the four seasons as well. Now, if I were in charge of a VFO, I would definitely want the weather to be on our side, so this is just smart thinking on the part of those guys who made the Normandie.

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24 Hour Treasure: Wigle Whiskey

You’ll probably want a break after a full day of museuming, so before dinner, head over to Wigle Whiskey. They have an excellent distillery on Smallman Street where you can fully appreciate their yummy small-batch booze. (You can also buy a bottle or three to take home with you, and I did.)

There’s a long whiskey tradition in the Eastern Pennsylvania/West Virginia area, so it’s very appropriate to stop here.

If you want to learn more about it, you can book an excellent Pittsburgh whiskey walking tour.

Check rates and availability right here!

Or, if you’re just interested in Wigle, you can even book a tour of the Wigle Whiskey distillery.

Check rates and availability right here!

I suggest getting a cocktail while you stop at the distillery. I ordered a Monhatten, which is just a Manhattan made with Wigle Whiskey’s Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey. It was super tasty and the flavors of that small-batch booze really came through.

There was an odd dude having a drink there who kept trying to chat me up, but I kind of ignored him. Maybe he was just being friendly, but I’ve met too many creepers, so I have to assume every strange man I meet is a serial killer planning on wearing my skin. Sorry, dudes!

one day in pittsburgh itinerary

One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary

Evening: Dinner at Meat and Potatoes

It’s that time in our one day in Pittsburgh itinerary for dinner, and I know just the perfect spot. Meat and Potatoes is such a perfect concept for a Pittsburgh evening out. It’s down home and cozy, but somehow glamorous at the same time.

one day in pittsburgh

Start on the more creative side with the devils on horseback, which had nothing to do with devils or horses. Rather this turned out to be dates stuffed with meat–sweet and savory all at once.

one day in pittsburgh itinerary

Then go for something heartier for the main course, like the house specialty: meat and potatoes. In this case, I had pot roast with carrots, turnips, and mashed potatoes. My favorite part of this dish was the gravy, which was just swimming in meat flavor.

I wish the portions were slightly smaller because I can never finish everything, and I hate wasting food, but I feel that way about all restaurants.

one day in pittsburgh itinerary

Finish your meal with the chocolate pot de creme, served with chantilly creme, crispy rice, and something called brownie brittle that I had never tried. The waiter told me this had been on the menu for ten years, so it’s a classic!

1 Perfect One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary 7

One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary

Where to Stay?

I suggest staying right in Downtown Pittsburgh because you’ll be right in the middle of the action and easily able to walk to many of the fine restaurants and attractions.

That’s why I recommend staying at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Pittsburgh. The staff is extremely friendly, the price was perfect given the amazing location, and a free breakfast buffet was included every morning. I would definitely stay here again the next time I am in Pittsburgh.

If you’re looking for a great deal on this hotel, just go here.

And if you’d rather explore deals on tons of other hotels in Pittsburgh, go here. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your one day in Pittsburgh itinerary. With hundreds of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

one day in pittsburgh itinerary

That’s a One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary!

If you thought this article was funny, check out my travel guide Get Lost.

What would you do with a one day in Pittsburgh itinerary? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Pittsburgh right now? Did the dodo ever really exist? And is the world ready for the Third Bone Wars? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary

#1 TOP PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
HOP ON HOP OFF BUS
✔️ Lasts all day
✔️ Takes you all over the city

#2 PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary 3

PRIVATE PITTSBURGH TOUR
✔️ Expert local guide
✔️ Customizable and personalized

#3 PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary 4

ALL OTHER PITTSBURGH TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY have a one day in Pittsburgh itinerary.

You can add 24 hours in Pittsburgh. You can also add the most fun things to do in Morgantown West Virginia. Why not add the best attractions Morgantown WV? Try a one day in Philadelphia itinerary. Go for 24 hours in Philadelphia. Experience a 24 hours in Cape May itinerary. Enjoy the best attractions Cape May NJ. Look for the best boutique hotels in Pittsburgh.

1 Perfect One Day in Pittsburgh Itinerary 11

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