Pittsburgh is regularly ranked as one of the most livable cities in the U.S. It’s come a long way from its industrial days to become an affordable, innovative city with a hip dining and bar scene and world-renowned universities. But what should a visitor to Pittsburgh see and do to make the most of their time in the city without breaking the bank? We’ve picked out the 10 top things to do in Pittsburgh that are free or nearly free to keep you busy during your visit.
Free things to do in Pittsburgh
This colorful house and has been brightening up Pittsburgh since 1995. Randy Gilson bought a house that was set for demolition and made it his own, relying mostly on recycled materials and paints. Now, it’s covered in murals and mirrors, and is open to the public most days of the week.
The Allegheny Observatory is a working research facility run by the University of Pittsburgh. It’s closed to the public except for tours on Thursday and Friday nights at 8pm, when you get to see the building and a functioning telescope. Tours are free, but require advance reservations.
Canton Avenue is the steepest public street in America, with a gradient of 37 percent. Whether you brave the hill by foot, bike, or car, it’s definitely worth a visit while you’re in Pittsburgh! Just keep in mind that you’re only allowed to drive up, not down, the street.
Bicycle Heaven calls itself the world’s largest bike museum, and is also a working bike shop. Visit the museum to see a range of antique bikes, including a neon black-lit room and a tree trunk that grew around two bicycles. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.
The Center for PostNatural History is only open for four hours per week, but it’s worth making a visit if you can! This two-room museum hosts a variety of specimens and exhibits related to biotechnology and the human impact on nature, including genetically-modified plants and animals. It’s free to visit from 12-4pm on Sundays.
North Park is a sprawling 3,075-acre park just north of the city. You can fish or kayak on the 65-acre lake, or enjoy the pool, hiking trails, golf course and more. If you’re looking for some time in nature, then North Park is your go-to spot!
The Frick is one of Pittsburgh’s best museums, a European-style art gallery with a greenhouse and gardens. The permanent exhibit includes Renaissance paintings, statues, tapestries, and more. Admission is free, but some exhibits or special events may require tickets.
Cheap things to do in Pittsburgh
Healthy Ride, Pittsburgh’s public bike sharing program, has more than 100 stations around the city. Simply download the app, put in your payment method and rent your bike! There are many bike trails around the city to choose from, but be warned. Pittsburgh is the hilliest city in America so be prepared to go up some hills in most parts of the city! Renting a bike through Healthy Ride is $4/hr per bike.
The Duquesne Incline is one the last remaining funiculars still operating in the U.S. This inclined cable car has been operating since 1877 and will take you 400 feet to the top of Mt. Washington for stunning views of the skyline. It costs $2.50 one way or $5.00 round-trip for adults and half that for children.
The Cathedral of Learning is one of Pittsburgh’s most impressive buildings, a gothic revival style tower that reaches 535 feet high. Inside are 30 “Nationality Rooms” designed and decorated by 30 different countries to celebrate their architectural and decorative style. It costs $4 to get a key and audio guide to visit the rooms, and since some of them are still used as classrooms, it’s best to go on weekends or during the summer holidays if you want to see them all.
There are no shortage of things to do in Pittsburgh, and if you don’t mind paying admission, you can visit other locations like the Heinz History Center too. But we think this list of cheap things to do in Pittsburgh will keep you busy without costing you more than a few dollars!