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Best Pittsburgh Viewpoints

 

There are many vista points of the beautiful Pittsburgh skyline.  Some are located in residential neighborhoods on hills or on their steep slopes.  The vista points that I have selected for you are the most popular vista points and I have chosen them for their diverse and beautiful views.

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Explanation of the sights you see in downtown Pittsburgh from Mount Washington

Driving from the airport to downtown through the Fort Pitt Tunnel

 

When you come from the airport or I-79, then you are up for one of the greatest transformations in scenery in the US.  While you drive along I-376, you pass forested hills and some building from the various townships that border the highway.  At some point, you pass under tall rusty elevated train tracks and, if you are lucky, then you may even see a freight train rolling over it.  A minute later, you pass a building with golden windows and some more rural areas with lots of green.  At one point, the road makes a long left turn and you drive into a valley with trees and rocks everywhere on the sides of the road and then you see the opening of the Fort Pitt tunnel.  This is the time to say goodbye to the rural scenery, turn your car A/C to recycle, prepare for a 0.7 mile (1.1km) drive through the tunnel and brace yourself for what comes afterwards.  After the drive, which seems to go on forever, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and then, suddenly, there it is, downtown Pittsburgh – in all its beauty and all its colors.  To the right, you will see the Monongahela River and behind it Pittsburgh.  After a few seconds you can see the fountain at Point State Park and the two stadiums Heinz Field (Football, yellow seats) and PNC Park (Baseball, blue seats).  Don’t get too distracted, because you will now need to decide if you turn left (North Side, Strip District), go straight (Downtown) of make a right towards the Grant Street exit or further down to Oakland, Squirrel Hill and eventually Monroeville.

I have driven this route more often than I can count since 2003 and the transition and the sheer beauty of the city still puts a smile on my face – every single time.

Below is a video of this drive.  Personally, I find it more intriguing if you have driven through the green landscape of the Parkway West (I-376) for a while and then you get into the tunnel and then you get to see the Golden Triangle.

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Mount Washington Overlook (map)

 

The viewing platforms on Mount Washington are the most popular overlooks in Pittsburgh for a good reason.  If you walk or drive along Grandview Ave, then you will have a chance to catch many other great views, but the two overlooks are the most popular.

The photo explains what some of the main sights are:

1 = Ohio River

2 = Heinz Stadium           

3 = Fountain

4 = Allegheny River

5 = Fort Pitt Bridge

6 = Point State park

7 = PNC Park

8 = Monongahela River

9 = Gateway Center

10 = Fifth Avenue Place

11 = PPG Place

12 = USX Tower

13 = Mellon Tower

14 = One Oxford Centre

15 = Cathedral of Learning

 

There is another nice overlook to the west.  Drive to the tiny “Point of View Park” (map) and see Pittsburgh and its Point State Park from here.

Point of View Park on Grandview Avenue on Pittsburgh's Mount Washington

If you get a chance, drive down P. J. McArdle Roadway (map) after your visit of Mt. Washington.  You have some good views from there too, but you will actually at one point drive under the tracks of the Monongahela Incline and maybe, with any luck, the incline will pass above you while you are driving down the road.

West End Overlook Park (map)

 

While Mount Washington is the most popular up-and-close viewpoint, taking in the Golden Triangle from the confluence in all its beauty is possible from the West End Overlook in Elliott.  Some of the most famous pictures of Pittsburgh are actually taken from this park.

The photo explains what some of the main sights are:

gallery/pittsburgh3-1

Gateway Clipper River Cruise (map, reviews, website )

 

A different way of taking in city views is by boat.  You can either rent a kayak and paddle on the 3 rivers (website) or buy a ticket for a Gateway Clipper river cruise.  There are different cruises at various times of the day, including adult-only and sunset cruises.  The cruises give you the opportunity to see the city from all three rivers and take wonderful photos of the Golden Triangle, the bridges and different neighborhoods.

Please see my detailed review here.

Gateway Clipper ship in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Travel Guide showing the Point State Park Fountain
Pittsburgh Travel Guide showing Fifth Avenue Place
Pittsburgh Travel Guide showing an aerial view of the Golden Triangle
Pittsburgh Travel Guide showing the Golden Triangle from Mount Washington

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