One of the best ways to spend a summer afternoon in Pittsburgh is by enjoying the beautiful three rivers. There are many ways to do this, but my personal favorite is via a guided river tour on a boat from the Gateway Clipper fleet. Not only do you get to sit back, relax, and take in the gorgeous views of the city unlike any other, but you also get to learn tons of cool facts about Pittsburgh. Experiencing the city from the water is magical no matter what time of day, or season of the year. And, the Gateway Clipper is open year round!
Be in The Know
Here are some things that are helpful to know so that you can be fully prepared to have the best possible experience while taking a ride on the Gateway Clipper.
Getting to the Docks
There are several great parking options in Station Square and within walking distance from the Gateway Clipper. If you are looking for public transportation options, there are busses that go to Station Square, and both the "T" and the incline have stops there as well. Also, Uber and Lyft drivers are very familiar with this attraction and will know exactly where to drop you off.
Gateway to Pittsburgh Murals
On your short walk to board the Gateway Clipper, you'll pass by an amazing collection of murals. These are called "Gateway to Pittsburgh" murals and stretch along both sides of the ramp leading down to the Monongahela River where the Gateway Clipper Fleet docks. The murals depicts the history of this area from the late 1600's to the start of the 21st century. Take some time to examine them as they function as a visual history of Pittsburgh through the ages.
- The Gateway Clipper fleet is made up of five different boats. There's a barge, several paddle wheel boats, and even an open air riverboat. When you're boarding, make sure to ask a staff member if you're unsure you're in the right place. You don't want to board the wrong boat!
- Bring a jacket on board with you if you're riding in the morning, evening, or the cooler months. It can get quite breezy on the top deck!
- Speaking of the top deck, the prime seats are up there and they fill up quickly. Arrive early to grab your perfect seat for taking tons of photos!
- If you do sit on the top deck, realize that with the panoramic city views comes the fact that there is no cover from the sun. Bring sunscreen and apply liberally if you come in the sunny summer months.
Three Rivers Sightseeing Cruises
One tour, four different narrations to choose from! Sightseeing cruises are the most popular options that the Gateway Clipper offers. These are one hour cruises sailing all three rivers with different themed narrations you can choose from. The experience is focused on sightseeing and not on food and drinks, but the boats do have a snack area and full service bar available for onboard purchase.
The "Classic Sightseeing Tour" narration shares historic stories about Pittsburgh and points out landmarks, bridges, and landscapes as well as significant buildings from the vantage point of the three rivers. On this cruise you'll learn interesting facts and tidbits that even born-and-bread Pittsburghers may not know.
A new narration this year called "How 'Pittsborough' Became Pittsburgh" focuses on the historic role Pittsburgh has played in many national conflicts including the Civil War, the French & Indian War, and the Whiskey Rebellion. It also educates guests about the region's history as a steel, glass, and iron manufacturing industry leader. This is a perfect tour for the history buff in your life.
If you want to spend an hour learning weird and interesting facts about Pittsburgh, the "Fun, Interesting & (even a little) Strange Pittsburgh" tour narration is the best choice for you. Perfect for tourists and locals alike, this cruise shares some of what makes our city so unique with fun facts about Pittsburgh "firsts", local lore, and other stories of Pittsburgh's innovation.
Finally, on select Tuesday and Thursday evenings in June - September and Friday evenings in October, check out the new "Haunted Pittsburgh" tour narration! Hear true local ghost stories and mysteries that have taken place at historical landmarks. You'll hear more about the fates of famous figures, and the spooky legends of Pittsburgh on this cruise.
There are other amazing ways to enjoy a cruise on the Gateway Clipper. The Fleet offers nine different holiday cruises. This is an awesome way to celebrate Mother's or Father's Day, New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day or enjoy the Fourth of July Fireworks from the water.
For the little ones, there is a big selection of weekday, weekend, dinner, or midday cruises pick from. Try a superhero, pirate, or princess themed dinner cruise, or the new Trolls & Pup Patrol cruise. For those kiddos who are more academically minded, a weird science cruise might be just the thing.
For those over 21 who are looking to indulge, there are regular wine tasting and beer festival tasting cruises as well as a chance to do it all over again at Second Chance Prom nights. If dancing late into the evening is what floats your boat, book a Moonlight Dance cruise and rock out to DJ ROC's blend of hip hop, R&B and old school beats on the water.
The Chicken & Ribs Lock & Dam dinner cruise is on my personal Pittsburgh bucket list. Enjoy delicious BBQ food while your boat passes through a functioning lock & dam, the process of which is narrated by the Captain. On the way back you will be entertained by some great music, the beautiful sights of the three rivers, and some interactive games led by the DJ. Other dinner cruise options include Mexican Fiesta, Festa Italiano, and a lovely Sunset Dinner cruise.
Captain's Dinner Cruises
As the signature trip on the Gateway Clipper, the Captain's Dinner Cruise is not to be missed. The DJ will be spinning today's hits along with favorites from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Get up and dance, or head to the top deck and enjoy a cocktail with the view. You can't beat a fabulous dining experience on the water, and you can enjoy the buffet whenever you please throughout the evening. Let the crew know if you're celebrating a special occasion and they'll try to make it even more special!
Take Advantage of Discounts & Special Offers
Don't let the cost of a ticket keep you from experiencing this awesome Pittsburgh attraction. The Gateway Clipper offers some amazing deals and discounts that ensure that everyone can get on the water this summer. Below are just a few of the discounts they offer, but check out their discounts and special offers page for more. Be sure to bring proof to receive these discounts.
- Seniors over 55 and college and university students receive half price admission when booking a Monday-Friday sightseeing cruise.
- On summer holiday weekends (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day) kids under 12 ride for $1.
- There are customer appreciation days which gives passengers in each of the following industries one free sightseeing ticket on their industry day. These include: The service industry, teachers/education workers, nurses/healthcare workers, federal, state, and local government employees and more.
- Active duty and veterans can ride free on any cruise at any time.
There are so many amazing options to choose from on the Gateway Clipper that no matter how you decide to experience your time on the water, you can customize it to you and your group. Try a few different tours or cruise types this summer and pick your favorite. Make a great memory with your family and friends, and learn a little more about the 'Burgh while you're at it!