With its idyllic mix of classic architecture, family-friendly vibe, riverside locale, and decidedly modern attractions, Pittsburgh instantly charms visitors young and old. No longer a steel town, Pittsburgh is a beautiful, supremely fun city to visit, enticing families with world-class museums (focused on art, automobiles, and airplanes for starters); fantastic on-the-water activities; thrilling amusement and water parks; and an inviting, intimate venue for watching major league baseball. Families will be planning their next Pittsburgh vacation before they finish their first.
The best time to visit Pittsburgh is between April and October, when the weather is mild and visitors can take advantage of the many outdoor attractions the city offers. The top two: a Just Ducky Tour (which doesn't operate in the winter time because it's too cold for an open-air vehicle) and a hugely entertaining Pirates game (PNC Park is one of the best places in the country to see a game, there are plenty of kid-friendly elements, and the enthusiasm of the Pirates fans is contagious).
Temperatures in Pittsburgh are less extreme than other cities further inland. Winter brings high temperatures around 37 degrees Fahrenheit and usually a bit of snow; the typical summer high (in July) is a comfortable 83 degrees. Western Pennsylvania boasts cool, dry weather and beautiful foliage in the fall; springtime is pleasant, but fickle—wear layers to be ready for warm days and cool nights, and carry an umbrella during May, the wettest month.
Pittsburgh International Airport is 25 minutes from downtown. A bus ride from the airport on the Airport Flyer is inexpensive ($2.60; exact change required) and convenient, as it departs from the airport every 20 minutes and drops off passengers at a number of downtown locations. Amtrak and Greyhound both service the area. If you're driving, you can approach on I-279 or I-376.
The Port Authority of Allegheny County operates many buses, which can be useful for traveling between the downtown and outlying areas. Zipcar has an outpost in the area, allowing members to rent a car for a short period of time at lower rates than most rental car companies. An incredibly helpful sign navigation system called Wayfinder was implemented in 1995 and 1996 that makes getting around Pittsburgh easy. Understanding how it works is critical to being able to use it—bone up before your trip by reading about the system and the five main districts where it's in place.
Before you go, review the information offered on Visit Pittsburgh. Once you're in town, visit one of their four welcome centers, located at the airport, downtown on Liberty Avenue, in the Senator John Heinz History Center, and on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
If you're staying more than a few days, a Pittsburgh Entertainment Book (which includes coupons offering as much as 50 percent off at many attractions and restaurants) will be well worth the $25 price tag.