Forget any preconceived ideas; today’s Pittsburgh is thriving with art, culture and a gay scene capable of satisfying your diverse desires.
Greatly evolved since the days of the steel industry, today’s Burgh of Pitt is bearing much fruit—in every sense of the word. Christened “America’s Most Livable City” for the past four years, Pittsburgh is increasingly becoming one of our gayest and most diverse.
Just last month, the city’s Pride weekend featured both an outdoor concert by R&B legend Patti LaBelle, and a decidedly more private performance by porn superstar Matthew Rush at Club Pittsburgh (1139 Penn Ave-4th floor, clubpittsburgh.com), the city’s “24- hour, private men’s club.” From July 28-31, the city hosts Black Pride (pittsburghblackpride.org), and on October 14, kicks off the 26th Annual Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (pilgff.org).
But you don’t need to wait for a special event. Pittsburgh was the home of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and its friendly residents will happily be your neighbors any time of the year. Head to Spin (5744 Ellsworth Ave, spinbartini.com) and 5801 Video Lounge (5801 Ellsworth Ave, 5801videolounge.com) in the Shadyside neighborhood for a fun, loungey vibe; Images (965 Liberty Ave) and 941 Saloon (941 Liberty Ave) for a downtown, neighborhood bar; P-town (4740 Baum Blvd, ptownpgh.com) for sexy, nude dancers; and Donny’s Place (1226 Herron Ave) for its basement leather bar and backroom. This summer is also welcoming Cruze (1600 Smallman St, cruzebar.com) and Headquarters (2016 Smallman St), two new dance clubs within blocks of each other in the trendy Strip District.
If daylight still finds you in the Strip, stumble over to Pamela’s Diner (60 21st St, pamelasdiner.com) for their famous Crepe Style Pancakes, so popular President Obama invited their chef to make a special stack at the White House. After, it’s time for a tasty tour of Pittsburgh, led by the knowledgeable guides of ‘Burgh, Bits & Bites (burghfoodtour.com). Sample the city’s diverse culinary history while walking through the unique neighborhoods featured on these deliciously informative food tours. Still hungry at dinnertime? Choose from the extensive wine list and savor the variety of the tasting menu at downtown’s Sonoma Grille (947 Penn Ave, thesonomagrille.com).
It’s time to explore the city’s art scene. Pittsburgh is considered the birthplace of Pop Culture, and there’s no better place to celebrate this heritage than at the shrine of the world’s most famous Pop artist. The Andy Warhol Museum (117 Sandusky St, warhol.org) is the largest single-artist museum in the United States, housing an extensive permanent collection of the artist’s work along with temporary guest exhibitions throughout the year. For full artistic immersion, hop over to the Mattress Factory (500 Sampsonia Way, mattress.org). This contemporary art museum and laboratory allows artists complete freedom to create site-specific art installations in each of its rooms. Complete your artistic tour viewing distinguished American and European works from the 16th century to the present at the Carnegie Museum of Art (4400 Forbes Ave, cmoa.org).
You’ve earned a little fresh air. For the best view of the city, take a ride on the Duquesne Incline (1137 West Carson St, duquesneincline.org). This wooden cable car has been climbing to the top of Mt. Washington since 1877, staging breathtaking views of Pittsburgh’s rivers, bridges and soaring skyline.
Tired yet? Stay classy at the historic, grand Omni William Penn Hotel (530 William Penn Pl, omniwilliampenn.com), or sassy at the sleek, modern Fairmont (510 Market St, fairmont.com/pittsburgh)—both centrally located downtown.
Forget any antiquated ideas of a gray, second-tier city. The Pittsburgh of today is vibrant, with world-class museums, a multi-cultural heritage, and a thriving gay scene. Popping with culture in every neighborhood you will find “America’s Most Livable City” truly is full of life!
(This article was originally published in Next Magazine)