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Budget-Friendly Day Trips Near Pittsburgh

Add these Pittsburgh-area gems to your day-trip bucket list.

Photo courtesy of Dave Chadwick
Photo courtesy of Dave Chadwick

Written by Sarah Cocchimiglio

Uncovering hidden local treasures doesn’t have to cost a king’s ransom. These wallet-friendly locales will give you a feeling of discovery on the cheap. The best part? These destinations are only a tank of gas (or less) away.

 

Mount Washington

The Duquesne Incline

1197 W. Carson St.

Pittsburgh

(412) 381-1665

Why Go? A neighborhood named for one of the most beautiful views in America, the Mount Washington scenic overlook is located just south of downtown Pittsburgh and offers sprawling views of the city and the Golden Triangle.

Insider Tip: Ride the Monongahela and Duquesne inclines. Two of the world’s oldest funicular railways, they once carried people and freight up and down the steep slopes of what was then known as Coal Hill.

Must Do: Enjoy a meal at one of the many upscale restaurants the neighborhood has to offer.

Fine Print: One-way adult fare is $2.50.

 

Old Economy Village

270 Sixteenth St.

Ambridge

(724) 266-4500

Why Go? A National Historic Landmark, Old Economy Village captures the essence of a 19th century communal society. “Guests are able to step back in time and see how a 19th century village looked," said Mary C. DeMars, marketing and development associate for Friends of Old Economy Village .

Insider Tip: “Before you come, [put on] comfortable shoes, and know what the weather will be,” DeMars said. “It is a walking tour, and we take visitors out rain, snow, sleet or shine.”

Must Do: Children’s activities include pumping water, washing clothes and visiting the 19th century one-room schoolhouse, where kids and adults can write with a quill pen and use a slate and stylus.

Fine Print: The village is open year round, Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Get tickets at the visitor center. Click here for tour schedule, rates and admission info.

  

Pittsburgh Glass Center

5472 Penn Ave.

Pittsburgh

(412) 365-2145, Ext. 201

Why Go? “Pittsburgh Glass Center is a hidden gem in Pittsburgh,” said Paige Ilkhanipour, the center’s marketing director, “and a great place to visit on a budget because there is no admission fee.”

Insider Tip: Come inside and warm up. “PGC has two furnaces full of molten glass at 2,200 degrees, running 24/7,” Ilkhanipour said. “You can feel the heat from the furnace when you come to watch a glassblowing session.”

Must Do: Visit on the first Friday of the month, from 6 to 9 p.m., for a free open house featuring live glassblowing and flame-working demonstrations. Or sign up for a Make-It-Now workshop and try your hand at glassmaking.

Fine Print: Parking is available in the adjacent lot. Click here for hours and other important info.

 

Phipps Conservatory

700 Frank Curto Dr.

Pittsburgh

(412) 622-6914

Why Go? The conservatory and botanical gardens are cultural attractions, with ever-changing exhibits and themes. The Winter Flower Show and Winter Light Garden runs through Jan. 12, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. for the flower show and from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. for the light garden.

Insider Tip: “Visit both during the day and at night to have two completely unique visitor experiences,” said Liz Fetchin, director of marketing and communications. Better yet, visit between shows to get a behind-the-scenes look at the gardens being transformed from one season to the next.

Must Do: Take a free docent-led tour of the Center for Sustainable Landscape, one of the greenest buildings on earth, Thursdays through Sundays at 1 p.m. Also, enjoy a local, organic and sustainably produced lunch at Café Phipps.

Fine Print: Click here for hours and admission info. 

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