5 Best Photo Opportunities in Pittsburgh

Photo Opportunities Pittsburgh

Lee Van Grack

Hidden in the lush green valleys of southwestern Pennsylvania, there is nothing pretentious or showy about Pittsburgh, Pa. Those are the reasons that "America's Most Livable City" is often overlooked by leisure travelers. The truth is that Pittsburgh is a city of manageable size with an eclectic yet harmonious mix of nature, culture and fun that is appreciated by all its inhabitants. Whether you are a temporary visitor or a lifetime resident, there is something for everyone to enjoy and always something new to discover here. And for the shutterbugs, there are many photo opportunities Pittsburgh offers, so don't miss out on them.

1. The Romantic Photo: Phipps Conservatory

Located on the edge of Schenley Park via Schenley Drive, Phipps Conservatory is often selected for college first dates by nearby University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University students. Its elegant botanical garden is also one of the most selected locations for beautiful outdoor weddings in Pittsburgh. Dubious that a college hangout would be grand enough for your "Wedding of a Lifetime"? Don't be – the grand glass Victorian greenhouse at the conservatory has hosted dignitaries such as President Obama in 2009. For the casual lovey-dovey visitors, the beautiful and educational botanical exhibits will make you yearn to learn and love nature – and one another. Phipps is open daily from 9:30AM ET to 5PM ET, and until 10PM ET on Fridays. Admission is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors and students, and $9 for children. Children under 2 get in free.

2. The Quirky Photo: On the River

If you ate enough meals and got enough sleep to sustain yourself for two weeks, you could climb into a yellow Kayak Pittsburgh boat and paddle all the way down from Pittsburgh to New Orleans! Not really, but that was one of my thoughts as I paddled on the Allegheny River in downtown Pittsburgh. Located on the Allegheny River under the 6th Street Bridge, Kayak Pittsburgh rents out solo kayaks for an affordable hourly price of $15 and tandem kayaks for $20, for Pittsburghers and visitors alike to go on a splashy and refreshing urban adventure. Get a picture of yourself braving the waters – or even flipping over the boat (in a life vest, of course)!

3. The Family Fun Photo: PNC Park

Enjoy some baseball, America's favorite pastime, at PNC Park with an extended family. The Pittsburgh Pirates may not play consistently well, but on the bright side, that makes tickets a whole lot cheaper. Tickets start at $9, including promotional events during every home game that is on Thursday through Sunday. Thursday is always Free T-shirt Day, Saturday is Fireworks Night and Scratch 'n Win (everyone's a winner!), and Sunday is Kids Day with great souvenirs for children. Take snapshots of the Parrot, the playful Pirates' mascot, as it shoots free hotdogs and T-shirts 20 feet up in the air, or bet on which pierogi will win at the most entertaining Great Pierogi Race you've ever seen. That's a contest between innings run by four costumed pierogies: Jalapeno Hannah (green hat), Cheese Chester (yellow), Sauerkraut Saul (red) and Oliver Onion (purple). Regardless of the game's outcome, an afternoon/evening out at PNC Park never disappoints adults or kids. The park is at 115 Federal Street, within an easy walk of many downtown hotels.

4. The Scenic Photo: Aboard the Gateway Clipper Fleet and/or Mt. Washington

There is something exhilarating about touring the city's three rivers on a riverboat. The Gateway Clipper Fleet features dinner dances and sightseeing, experienced while the boat glides along. See the towering skyscrapers of downtown Pittsburgh, the massive glittering structures of Heinz Field and PNC Park, the leafy green of the waterfront park areas, while drifting under Pittsburgh's unique and picturesque yellow bridges. There lies a perfect photographic moment at every turn. One-hour sightseeing tours run from $12.50 for adults and $8.50 for children, while the cost of dining cruises vary. Find the Clipper on the Southern Bank of the Monongahela River in Station Square. Call (412) 355-7980 for costs, reservations and additional information.

For an alternative panoramic view, take the Duquesne Incline across from Station Square, the neighborhood that is home to downtown Pittsburgh's trendiest and bawdiest hangouts, up to Mt. Washington. You'll get a spectacular view of the entire city from this location rated as "The Third Most Romantic Spot in America" by www.msn.com. The Duquesne Incline and Mt. Washington is also a most-favored spot for locals to bring their out-of-town guests, and the reason is obvious – it's one of the best views to be had of our beautiful city. The incline operates Monday to Saturday from 5:30AM ET to 12:45AM ET, and Sundays and holidays from 7:00AM ET to 12:45AM ET, every day of the year. Round-trip fares for the incline are $4 for adults, $2 for children and free for children under 5 and senior citizens over 65.

5. The Classic Photo: Strip District and Frick Art & Historical Center

Penn and Liberty avenues, which run through the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, lead into the Strip District. As the past location of Pittsburgh's wholesale produce business, the Strip District is now a bustling community of gourmet and ethnic food stores, where one can expect to buy organic spices, fresh seafood and meats, and products from China, Italy, Mexico and so on. For Pittsburgh Steeler NFL football memorabilia, ethnic crafts and other fun stuff, head down to the Strip on a weekday around noon or on a Saturday afternoon, when vendors offer their wares. Bring your camera to capture this fun, semi-cultural experience.

For more sedate classic photo opportunities Pittsburgh offers, head towards Pittsburgh's East End to experience the refinement and tranquility of the Gilded Age at the home of Henry Clay Frick, one of America's greatest industrialists and art enthusiasts of the 19th century, and one of Pittsburgh's most respected luminaries. Enjoy an elegant luncheon in the cafe or take a tour through the stately old Frick house. A lovely day on the grounds can be concluded with a stroll through the Frick Art Museum and a photo shoot in the Car and Carriage Museum, both of which are free to the public. The Frick is located at the corner of Penn and South Homewood avenues in Point Breeze. The site is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10AM ET to 5PM ET. It is closed Mondays and major holidays.

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