The Ultimate List of Completely Free Things to Do in Pittsburgh
As one of the top destinations in the region, it isn’t hard to find great things to do in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. However, if you are looking for free things to do in Pittsburgh, that can be a bit trickier.
Compared to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh’s museums and cultural attractions are more likely to charge, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t dozens of free things to do in Pittsburgh. In fact, I was able to find more than 40 great things to do in the city that are completely free.
So, whether you are looking for a free museum, a free walking tour, or a free gallery, check out this list below to help you save money on your trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- The view from Mount Washington: If you’re going to do one free thing when you visit Pittsburgh, make it Mount Washington. Located on a hillside on Pittsburgh’s South Shore, the park along the edge of this hillside provides an amazing view of downtown Pittsburgh. For more information on what to see when you visit, check out my full article about this amazing and free view.
- Allegheny Observatory: Located in Pittsburgh’s Riverview Park, Allegheny Observatory offers free tours on Thursday and Friday nights from April through October. Visitors have a chance to learn about the observatory and look through its powerful telescope. While tours are free, reservations are required. Find out more here.
- Public Art in Public Places Self-Guided Walking Tours: If you’re looking to explore some of Pittsburgh’s best public art, the Office of Public Art has put together five great walking tours for various parts of the city. Explore both traditional art pieces as well as architectural art while exploring the city. All five tours have been put together into one large brochure, which can be found here.
- Randyland: Probably the most colorful and happiest place in Pittsburgh, Randyland has to be experienced to be believed. The work of local artist Randy Gilson, Randyland is a fascinating place to visit, and a talk with Randy can’t be missed. Find out more in my full article about visiting Randyland.
- Ride the T Downtown: If you want to get around downtown Pittsburgh for free, hop on the T, the city’s light-rail system. Rides between the six stops downtown (Allegheny to First Avenue) are completely free all the time. This makes travel around downtown Pittsburgh incredibly easy. For more information, check out this map of Pittsburgh’s T.
- Drive Up the Canton Avenue: The steepest street in the US and the second steepest in the world is located on the outskirts of Pittsburgh in the Beechview neighborhood. Canton Avenue is less than 700 feet long, but its 37% grade is seriously steep. Vehicles are only allowed to drive up the street, but even that was very intimidating, and I felt like my car would fall back any second. For more information about visiting, check out this site.
- Nationality Rooms: Located inside the Cathedral of Learning, the tallest academic building in the western hemisphere, the Nationality Rooms are a collection of thirty room designed to represent the many cultures that have made Pittsburgh such a diverse city. While the 18 rooms of the first floor require a small fee to enter, the 12 newest rooms on the third floor are free whenever there is no class being held in them. For more information about visiting, check out this article that I wrote about the Nationality Rooms.
- Old Allegheny County Jail Museum Self-Guided Tour: Completed in 1886, the Old Allegheny County Jail used to house the city’s criminals. Today, portions of the cell block have been restored, and visitors are invited to take a self-guided tour through the museum. Tours are available on most Mondays. Make sure to check the calendar on this website to ensure that it is available when you want to visit.
- The Frick Art Museum: One of the city’s best European art museums is the free Frick Art Museum. Located in the Point Breeze neighborhood, this museum is known for its collection of Italian and French art. Also on the grounds is the free Car and Carriage Museum, Children’s Playhouse, and Greenhouse. Find out more about visiting on The Frick’s website.
- St. Anthony’s Chapel: This small chapel located in Troy Hill is home to the largest collection of Catholic relics outside of the Vatican. The chapel has more than 5,000 relics that have been certified by the church as being authentic. These include bones of the Apostles, pieces of Jesus’ cross, and part of Mary’s shawl. The chapel offers free self-guided tours and guided tours at various times. Find out more in our full article about St. Anthony’s Chapel.
- Summer Farmers’ Markets: During the summer months Pittsburgh is home to farmers’ markets throughout the city. These markets offer a great chance to sample local produce or just take a stroll through a colorful and vibrant scene. Information on the markets and their operating times can be found here.
- Walking tour of Pittsburgh: This one-hour, self-guided audio tour of downtown Pittsburgh will guide you through some of the city’s most interesting sites. Tours are available for a free download in 11 different languages and take you to 15 different spots in the area. Find out more and download the tour here.
- Bicycle Heaven: Bicycle Heaven is the world’s largest bicycle store and museum and features hundreds of vintage bicycles. Many of these bikes are rare antiques and some were even used in Hollywood productions. Find out more about visiting this amazing museum in our article about Bicycle Heaven.
- La Hutte Royal: What looks like a normal home from the outside is actually one of Pittsburgh’s most interesting art installations. Every room in this three-story home has been creatively reimagined as a unique art installation. Find out more about touring the home on their website.
- Cinema in the Park: For two months every summer, Pittsburgh’s parks welcome movie lovers to check out some great movies under the stars. These free weekly movies run in seven different parks throughout the city. Find out more on the city’s website.
- West End Overlook: There are many great spots for great views of downtown Pittsburgh, but one of the best is West End Overlook. From here, you can get a perfect view of the Point, as well as the North Shore and South Shore. For more information, read our article about West End Overlook and many of the other great vantage points in the city.
- Pittsburgh Banjo Club Performances: If you love banjos, you won’t want to miss the free, public practices by the Pittsburgh Banjo Club. Every Wednesday from 8-11pm, the club holds a practice session at Elks Lodge #339 on Pittsburgh’s North Side. While food and drinks are available, visitors are welcome to come just to check out the free performance. Find out more on the Pittsburgh Banjo Club’s website.
- Rodef Shalom Biblical Botanical Garden: Located in downtown Pittsburgh, the Rodef Shalom Biblical Botanical Garden features over 100 different plants. These plants range from those featured in the Bible to those with Biblical names. The garden welcomes visitors to take a self-guided tour through their replica of ancient Israel. Find out more about visiting on the garden’s website.
- The remains of Forbes Field: From 1909-1970, Forbes Field was the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team. When the team moved, the stadium was torn down in 1971 to make room for the University of Pittsburgh. However, that doesn’t mean the stadium has been lost to the ages. In fact, two parts of it remain: a portion of the outfield wall and home plate. Click here to find out where you can see these original remains of Forbes Field.
- Hiking in Frick Park: Frick Park is Pittsburgh’s largest park and features miles and miles of wooded trails throughout its 600+ acres. The park also features a great playground, a dog park, and great bird watching destinations. For more information, visit the park’s website.
- Exhibitions at the Society for Contemporary Crafts: Since 1971, the Society for Contemporary Crafts has been focused on providing free exhibitions for non-mainstream art. Their exhibitions feature art in a variety of mediums and from a very broad range of subjects. They also offer drop-in activities for both children and adults that are also free. Find out more about their current exhibitions on the society’s website.
- The Center for PostNatural History: Pittsburgh has many strange museums, but the Center for PostNatural History might be one of the strangest. The world’s only museum dedicated plants and animals that have been intentionally altered by man, this small museum features a variety of fascinating specimens, including their ‘Biosteel’ goat. Find out more about visiting on their website.
- Free Salsa Lessons: If you’ve always wanted to learn how to dance, Latin Bistro Seviche should be in your plans. Every Monday at 9:30pm. they offer free salsa dancing lessons for beginners. Once you’ve got the steps down, hang around until closing time and dance the night away. Find out more on their website.
- North Shore Water Steps: If you’re looking for somewhere to cool off on a hot summer day, the North Shore Water Steps are a great destination. This 8,000-square-foot water feature is made entirely of sandstone and features cascading water and a number of shallow pools. Find out more about this unique attraction on their website.
- First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh: I’ve been in many churches in Pennsylvania, but few are as beautiful as Pittsburgh’s First Presbyterian Church. While there is no official tour of the building, its beauty is worth taking the time to see. The stained glass windows inside the church were designed by a variety of well-known artists, including Tiffany and Co. Find out more about the church on their website.
- Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University: If you want to see some of the best upcoming artists in the Pittsburgh area, head to the Miller Gallery on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University. This Contemporary art gallery features primarily the works of students of the university with frequently rotating displays. To see what’s currently showing, head over the Miller Gallery’s website.
- Free iPhone Walking Tours from Tagalong: If you’d rather do a walking tour with your iPhone, download Tagalong Tour Pittsburgh. The app has six downtown walking tours that guide you through points of interest in the city and give you a lot of great information about them. Find out more on their website.
- Fort Pitt Blockhouse: Built in 1764, the Fort Pitt Blockhouse is the oldest remaining structure in Pittsburgh (and the oldest structure west of the Allegheny Mountains). Originally part of Fort Pitt, the blockhouse is now a gift shop, but also has a small museum with artifacts related to the fort. The interior retains much of the feel of an 18th-century fort. For information about operating hours, visit the website of the Fort Pitt Blockhouse.
- Walking Tour of Allegheny Cemetery: Allegheny Cemetery is one of Pittsburgh’s largest and oldest burial grounds. This 300-acre cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and features many beautiful gravestones and several famous inhabitants. The cemetery has put together this free walking tour that takes visitors past some of the most famous and interesting burial sites in the cemetery. You can find the walking tour here.
- The Wooden Roslyn Place: If you like unusual sites, Roslyn Place definitely fits the bill. Made entirely of wooden blocks, this 18-house cul-de-sac is the last street in Pittsburgh made entirely of wood. In fact, it might be the only such street in Pennsylvania. Find out more about the street’s history here.
- Heinz Memorial Chapel: Completed in 1938, Heinz Memorial Chapel was built by John Heinz (of Heinz Ketchup fame) to honor his late mother. The chapel is now owned by the University of Pittsburgh and sits adjacent to the Cathedral of Learning. This impressive chapel is unlike any other church you’ll find in the city. Find out more about visiting on the chapel’s website (and don’t miss the 360-degree tour).
- Whirlwind Downtown Walking Tour: If you are really interested in the history of the buildings and sites of downtown Pittsburgh, this self-guided walking tour is for you. Despite calling it a “whirlwind tour” this guide lists 34 stops with enough history to fill a book. However, if you want the most possible detail in your tour of the city, this free self-guided walking tour of Pittsburgh is a great resource. Get your copy here.
- Spray Parks: Pittsburgh is home to five Spray Parks that are sure to keep you cool on a hot day. Fully accessible for kids of all ages, and even those in wheelchairs, these spray parks will keep you playing all day. Find out more about their locations on the city’s website.
- Baseball Hall of Famers Gravesites: If you want to honor some of Pittsburgh’s best baseball players, you’ll be delighted to know that there are three Baseball Hall of Famers buried inside the city limits. The most well-known is Josh Gibson, who played his entire career in the Negro Leagues. To find out more about the three players buried in Pittsburgh, as well as three others buried in Allegheny County, check out our full article on their gravesites.
- Highland Park Super Playground: If you’re looking for a great playground for the kids, look no further than the Highland Park Super Playground. Located in the same park as the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, this playground features a large wooden castle, tire swings, and picnic tables. Find out more about it here.
- Mellon Park Walled Garden: Located in Mellon Park, the Walled Garden is a beautiful and historic garden. However, while it is nice during the day, it is best visited at night thanks to a recent art installation. Designed to honor a local resident, the ground near the garden comes alive at night with lights designed to recreate the night sky on the night of Ann Katharine Seamans’ birth. Find out more about this unique attraction on Discover the Burgh.
- Point State Park: Point State Park is the only one of Pennsylvania’s state parks that’s located within the Pittsburgh city limits. This urban park features a beautiful fountain and is popular with both city residents and visitors. Don’t miss the recreated outline of Fort Pitt on the grassy area in the center of the park. Find out more about Point State Park on its official website.
- St Paul Cathedral: Completed in 1906, St. Paul Cathedral is the largest Catholic Church in Pittsburgh. While it might lack the history of some of the city’s other churches, its beauty makes it well-worth visiting. Find out more about it on the church’s website.
- The Workers Sculpture: The Workers Sculpture gets my vote for the coolest public art display in Pittsburgh. Commissioned in 1997, this statue is made out of steel repurposed from surrounding industrial sites. Located along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, the sculpture commemorates Pittsburgh’s great industrial Heritage. Find out more about it here.
- Top of the Cathedral of Learning: While there are taller buildings in Pittsburgh, there is no publicly-accessible point higher in a Pittsburgh building than the 34th floor of the Cathedral of Learning. After stepping off the elevator, you’ll have to look through rather small and oddly-shaped windows, but the view from the top of the building is quite stunning on a beautiful day.
- The Strip District: Pittsburgh’s Strip District is full of restaurants and shops, and it’s this bustle of activity that draws visitors to this part of Pittsburgh. Walking down the streets, looking at the unique options in the variety of ethnic grocery stores, and exploring Pittsburgh’s cultural past is completely free. If you’re looking for a bit of a guide, my friends at Discover the Burgh have put together a great one.
- Trinity Cathedral: This beautiful downtown church was originally built in 1871 and features a stunning stained-glass window and several unique architectural features. However, the real interest at the church is the burial grounds that surround it. This cemetery contains some of the oldest graves in the city, including Revolutionary War soldiers, Native American chiefs, and Dr. Nathaniel Bedford, the founder of the University of Pittsburgh.
- Johnny Angel’s Ginchy Stuff: Located next to the aforementioned Bicycle Heaven, Johnny Angel’s Ginchy Stuff is part museum and part music shop. The museum covers the history of Johnny Angel, one of Pittsburgh’s most well-known local musicians and includes his impressive collection of memorabilia from his 50+ year career. For more information, check out this great recap from my friends at Discover the Burgh.
Do you know of any other completely free things to do in Pittsburgh’s city limits? Let us know in the comments section below.