Typically, in years past, July was a time many of us were organizing our vacations and Irish Festival trips. I have attended festivals since July 1986, and although I never attended a bad one, there were some that were better than others, they had more personality and music, but they all offered something good.
However, this year, things have changed, with Covid rearing its ugly head and the level of so much gun violence in many cities around the country. I am apprehensive to travel anywhere. Of course, staying home is not a guarantee of safety.
There has been a tremendous increase in the number of people being shot, and some killed, no matter where you are or what you are doing. For several others and I, we are taking ‘stay-cations’, and that means no festivals this year. And although there are several to attend, I find it too risky and inconvenient.
In flying somewhere, look at the time you need to spend waiting in line going through security. In taking a train, well, the cars jump off the track, and if you are driving, you will need to almost drain a bank account to drive to the destination and pay turnpike fees. So, I have decided to stay home and take advantage of some of the events and sites here in Pittsburgh.
In our Cultural District, there are several theaters with top class productions being performed. There are Broadway plays, symphonies, concerts and lesser know plays. Plus there are top quality restaurants where you can enjoy a really delicious meal before or after the event.
We have excellent museums within the Carnegie Museums in our Oakland area. Many of our colleges and universities are located here. At the Carnegie Museum of Art, world art is on display, including Monet’s and Degas’ paintings. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History where you can see dinosaurs, lions, other animals along with Egyptian mummies is close by.
On the North Shore in the North Side, there is the Carnegie Science Center, where science and life connect, and the Andy Warhol Museum is a place to learn about the world-renowned Andy Warhol. He was originally from the Pittsburgh region and was educated in our schools. Museums create and host dozens of special exhibitions each year.
In the Strip District is the Senator John Heinz History Center; much of the history of Pittsburgh and the region has been preserved. The Strip District of Pittsburgh is a most interesting destination, with family-owned shops, street vendors, and unique restaurants.
The Clemente Museum is dedicated to preserving the memory and legacy of Roberto Clemente. The museum is located in a restored historical firehouse, Engine House 25 in the Strip District. The Museum is open by appointment only for guided tours, which do require a reservation.
Would like to take a tour of Pittsburgh? There is a ‘Hop On-Hop Off’ Double Decker bus tour, either a destination tour or an all-day tour. This is a good way to enjoy the city. Or you can ride the Monongahela or Duquesne Inclines up to Mt. Washington, have a meal at a fine restaurant and see spectacular views of Pittsburgh.
In Downtown Pittsburgh is Point State Park, the historical sight of forts used during the French and Indian War, and the Revolutionary War. The park has been reconstructed to deliver history to the present. This is home to the Fort Pitt Museum (entrance fee), and the Fort Pitt Block House (free), as well as a myriad of walking/ biking paths and a large fountain. Views of the surrounding area, including the three rivers, are picturesque.
There are quite a variety of tours, including Walking Tours, Whiskey Tours, Private Tours, Pub Crawls, and most anything else to ‘tickle your fancy.’ There is the Pittsburgh Zoo in Highland Park, with amazing animals and displays, or you can visit Phipps Conservatory in Oakland with unique flowers and displays, plus fifteen acres of some of the most beautiful indoor gardens.
Kennywood is Pittsburgh’s Thrill and Entertainment Destination, located in West Mifflin. This year it is celebrating its 125th anniversary, and offers a unique mix of classic rides and modern thrills, including seven roller coasters, a Kiddieland for the little ones and several attractions that cannot be found anywhere else. Guests enjoy homemade fudge, tasty funnel cakes, and world-famous Potato Patch fries! The park hosts a number of seasonal events in the fall and winter!
There are so many more destinations to see and enjoy in our fair city, you probably need at least two to three days here. I have lived here all my life and there is still so much I have not seen, so it is a good time to stay home and explore Pittsburgh.
PICT Classic Theatre was to present ‘The Boys in the Band’ from June 16 through July 9. However, they had to postpone this production. You can check them out at picttheatre.org.
I have decided that this will be my last “Pittsburgh Happenings.” Enjoy your summer!