- Michael DiBartolomeo
Best Parks in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is a city full of memory, with significant monuments scattered throughout and more historic bridges than anywhere else in the world. The three rivers that run through the area tie everything together, breathing life into the nature surrounding them- and what nature it is!
Nestled beside the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Pittsburgh’s landscape is dramatic and beautiful, from the imposing mountain range to the endless acres of woodland and park areas that break up the busy cityscape. The view of these parks from the Pittsburgh Incline is stunningly breathtaking. The parks are one of the biggest attractions and where many a Pittsburgher choose to spend a pleasant afternoon.
With so many dotted around, picking just one is near to impossible, but here is a guide to some of the highlights to add to the list of must-dos.
The biggest is not always best, but in this case, it might be true. At over 600 acres, Frick Park is a sprawling oasis and one of the highlights of the Pittsburgh area. This historic parkland has miles of trails through wooded valleys and slopes that make visitors forget about the bustling city center a mere ten minutes or so away.
Frick Park is home to a spectacular array of flora and fauna. A true bird watcher’s paradise, over 100 species have been spotted over the years. Perfect for walking, running, or biking, with the added bonus of being dog-friendly, this park is a great escape for someone looking to unwind and de-stress.
Families are also taken care of! Inside the park, you can find an excellent children's playpark and educational environmental center, as well as tennis courts, a bowling green, and other sports areas. There is nothing you could want from a day at the pack that you can’t find at Frick. Make a day of it and enjoy a well-earned lunch at one of the exquisite cafes or taverns around the area.
There is no better picnic spot in all of Pittsburgh than Riverview Park. Giving Frick Park a serious run for its money, this 259-acre haven is a firm favorite amongst many locals for its glorious landscape, excellent choice of activities, and welcoming atmosphere. Whether for a walk, jog, cycle, or horseback ride, everyone is invited into Riverview- including dogs in the designated off-leash area.
Inside, expect to find dramatically steep woodland slopes and miles of trails weaving their way through the diverse terrain. Families love Riverview Park for the swimming pool, playground, and the famous Allegheny Observatory. The ball field within the grounds is a hit during the warm months, followed up with an outdoor concert in the park on a perfect Pittsburgh summer night.
The Pittsburgh Botanic Gardens
Far more than just a pleasant afternoon walking through breathtakingly vibrant nature, the Botanic Gardens are an educational experience. Interest in how to conserve and care for plant life is essential to install in the youngest generation to ensure the survival of the places on this list and all the others like them. This is the ethos behind the gardens in this wonderful city: inspiration, education, and cultivation.
Nature-loving parents simply must bring their children to this park when in Pittsburgh. Although there is a heavy focus on the littlest visitors through the educational program, the grown-ups are well taken care of. A stroll through the Botanic Gardens is an instant stress reliever. Take time to relax on a bench and enjoy one of the many art displays set up along the trail. Enjoy the serenity of this hidden gem in the middle of the big city alone or with friends and family.
You cannot talk about the best parks in Pittsburgh and not mention Schenley. Many residents and students are likely to name this their number one, in fact. The 456 acres of hiking and biking trails are secondary to the activity program available within the grounds. Home to some of the city's major annual events, including the Vintage Grand Prix, Schenley is an integral part of Pittsburgh life.
The acres include a golf course and swimming pool for making the most of the sunny months. It is hard to plan a more perfect summer afternoon than an afternoon concert in Schenley Park surrounded by nature, followed by lunch and a dip in the pool.
In winter, the full-size ice rink is a fan favorite. Skating in the park on a frosty December evening has something pretty magical about it. The sports hall is open year-round, so no matter when you visit, plenty is going on.
Any one of these parks can provide an unforgettable day out, one that goes so far beyond a simple run-around on the grass. This list does not even scratch the surface of the parks and woodland Pittsburgh has to offer, but it does give an idea of the exceptionally high standard.
It may be known as The Steel City, but that steel has a soft side- and what a stunning soft side it is.
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