Walk With Me, Pittsburgh: "Explore Like A Local"
As an avid traveler, there are a few tips I’ve picked up on my adventures over the years. Little life hacks to make traveling easier, or bite sized information on the cultural norms in the area I’m visiting. But there is one line that has stuck with me, one I feel is a solid guideline for travelling, it would be, “Explore like a local.”
What does it even mean to “explore like a local”? I’m talking about heading off of the beaten path and wandering into different areas of wherever you’re visiting. I have found a number of sequestered spots because I decided to step away from the bustling tourist attractions and venture into smaller local places, or struck up a conversation with a friendly native who would then divulge about an unknown spot not marked on my Google map. Let me make one thing clear: there is nothing wrong with traveling to tourist destinations. I’m not going to spend money to travel out to Arizona only to ignore the Grand Canyon and instead invest time in finding some underground cat cafe/bookshop hybrid that only a select number of people know about (but if you do happen to know of one, help a cat loving, coffee drinking bibliophile out). I’m merely suggesting that if you happen to have spare time in your travel itinerary, I urge you to use it to try and find a local spot that’s not listed on your TripAdvisor print out. I got to stand at the easternmost point of Ireland because of a tip from a kind local. I watched a shoal of iridescent squid swim around a bay area in the Bahamas because a friend and I decided to pick a spot on a map and walk to it. There is no telling what sights or experiences you might encounter when you make that spontaneous left instead of following the GPS and going right.
With that said, I am writing a series of posts to shed light on some of the under-reported hidden gems within the 90 neighborhoods that make up the city of Pittsburgh, and even some of the surrounding townships and boroughs. Unlike New York or Los Angeles, Pittsburgh is not a large city. At only 58.3 square miles (55.6 of which is land, the other 2.8 square miles is water), it’s ranked as the 26th largest city in the United States. Don’t let its size fool you, there is a lot of history and culture packed into this mini metropolis. A quick search on the city will highlight the number of museums, universities, parks, theaters, and sports stadiums sprinkled about the shores between the Al, Mo, and Oh rivers. I believe everyone should experience the popular attractions Pittsburgh has to boast, but should also take into consideration some of the lesser-known destinations. These hole-in-the-wall type places help to show off some of the cultural aspects that add to the city as a whole, and offer a completely different experience that you would otherwise miss. These areas tend to remain pocketed in their respective neighborhoods and can be easy to overlook if you’re not familiar with the area. From walking trails to restaurants, public oddities and historical sites, I plan to report on as many as I can.
These stories are for the travelers who like to delve into the roots of a place and dig out its secrets. They are also for the Pittsburgh native who hasn’t explored outside of their own familiar neighborhoods. While it’s exciting to find great hideaway spots abroad, I feel it’s just as exciting when you discover hidden nooks within your own hometown. It entices you to wander farther and look harder into a city you once thought you knew everything about. I invite you to join me on my journey to find to find the unknown or underrated attractions, eateries and natural wonders throughout Pittsburgh.
Bloomfield photo courtesy of madeinpgh.com