Summer in YOUR city!
It’s summer and time for some travel! Will it be a beach, the mountains or a foreign city? I do enjoy discovering unique destinations and sharing those travel ideas, but, I also know that travel can be expensive and exhausting. After an abundance of travel last year, I feel ready for a “Staycation” this summer. In case you are wondering, Webster’s defines a “staycation” as “a period in which a family or individual stays home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance of their home and does not require overnight accommodations.” Ahhh . . . sounds perfect!
It helps that I live in a great hometown, Pittsburgh, Pa., and own a local custom tour design company called Passport to Pittsburgh. My work designing tours over the years has enabled me to explore my hometown with fervor, and I pride myself with discovering the hidden gems of the city. My signature Pittsburgh 101 tour provides a “crash course” adventure that features a little bit of everything and makes for a truly memorable day. Why not do a little research and create your own Hometown 101 tour and experience summer in YOUR city. It’s easy…. Let me show you how to create your own staycation adventure with Pittsburgh as the example. You’ll need something to do from each category, a planned itinerary, and your GPS. Then get in the car, and go!
Why not start your adventure with a little local history? I always tell my tour guests, “We cannot understand who we are if we do not know where we came from.” Every city has a story to tell about its past, and Pittsburgh’s is rich in industry. I love to take people to the Duquesne Incline, one of only 2 funiculars left in our city. At one time, the city had 17 funiculars that transported coal, livestock, tools, and people up and down the mountains that are part of Pittsburgh’s topography. It has been operating by a simple pulley system nonstop since 1877 and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Today the Duquesne Incline transports people to a breathtaking view of the city skyline which has been voted one of the best views in America.
Every city has their famous sons and daughters. Take some time to research yours and then visit a monument, museum or historic site associated with that person. You will learn something new and gain a sense of pride as well. I love to take people to the Pittsburgh Tribute to Children that features a statue and memorial to Fred Rogers, the creator of the children’s television show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. The show is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and is credited with positively impacting children’s television programming nationwide.
ARTS AND CULTURE:
Arts and culture should be included in your plan, for there is creativity around every corner. You just have to look for it. Google “local artists near me,” and then go visit an art market, gallery or exhibit, maybe even take a class. One of my favorite places in Pittsburgh is a hidden gem called “Randyland.” It is an outdoor art museum created by a Pittsburgher, Randy Gilson, and is widely regarded as one of the “happiest places in America.” Guests of all ages marvel at the welcoming folk art and reuse and repurposing of trash into treasure that is a colorful part of this amazing art installation.
A staycation needs a fun activity! Look for an activity that is unique to that city, something you may not be able to do anywhere else. Pittsburgh is known as the city of bridges and converges at the point of 3 rivers—the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio River. So, it makes sense to explore these three natural resources. For the true adventurer, I suggest renting kayaks and exploring the river up close and personal. But for a more passive traveler, there is nothing better than a riverboat cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet. These nostalgic riverboats provide a variety of fun river cruises suitable for all ages.
FOOD AND DRINK:
No staycation is complete without some delicious food and drink. Step out of your comfort zone and try a new restaurant in a neighborhood you rarely visit. Seek out a locally sourced product, and try it. Microbreweries, pizza shops, and ice cream parlors provide easy tasting stops around town. Pittsburgh has recently been named the “Best Food City in America” by Zagat and is overflowing with foodie opportunities. I love to feature local businesses that produce high-quality products. Every Pittsburgh 101 tour features a cup of locally roasted coffee from Pittsburgh’s oldest coffee roaster, Nicholas Coffee Co., and a taste of the “Best Cake in America,” Prantl’s Bakery’s burnt almond torte. It’s truly delish.
Well, there you have it, an action packed, informative, delicious and fun day right in your own backyard! It just takes a little preplanning and a sense of adventure to create your very own Hometown 101 tour. When you get home after your staycation adventure, remember to put your feet up, click your heels together, and say, “There’s no place like home!”
If you go to Pittsburgh:
Duquesne Incline duquesneincline.org
Fred Rogers Tribute to Children Memorial tributetochildren.org
Gateway Clipper Fleet gatewayclipper.com
Nicholas Coffee Co. nicholascoffee.us/
Prantl’s Bakery prantlsbakery.com