I never meant to end up in Pittsburgh-- I know, I know-- I feel like every transplant says that!
I was through and through a Californian until 2011, when I ended up moving to Pittsburgh for college. Somehow, when it was time to move back to California, I fell in love with my partner, and gained a city along with it. I couldn’t be more grateful. Now in 2020, I’m itching to be able to explore my city again.
Hotel Monaco in Downtown Pittsburgh would have to be on my list for my perfect day. That rooftop bar, Beirgarten, calls my name all summer long, and the claw foot bathtubs in the rooms are perfect for those of us without bathtubs here in Pittsburgh. I know there’s a lot of us that are itching to take a bubble bath again! Staying in Downtown also gives you easy access to all my favorite neighborhoods.
I’m so excited to eat at my favorite places again. Food that is made with love can build community, spread cultural awareness, and bring so much joy. It really bridges different experiences, and I’m lucky to say that I’ve found places in Pittsburgh that have become a home away from home.
I’m looking forward to sitting in Bae Bae Kitchen’s greenhouse, getting to crunch on some crispy Korean fried chicken, and people watching in Downtown Pittsburgh. My partner loves the bulgogi beef, so I’m definitely going to eat some of his food as well—just being honest!
After eating at Bae Bae’s Kitchen, I would have to swing by the North Shore to visit the Mattress Factory, and Randyland. Those are my two favorite museums in Pittsburgh, and they’re right next to each other, which is SO convenient. They’re so different, but both are quintessential Pittsburgh experiences. The Mattress Factory is a contemporary museum filled with modern art, including a Yayoi Kusama exhibit, which may be one of Pittsburgh’s best kept secrets!
Randyland was created by a local artist. He bought a house over 25 years ago, and made what others would consider garbage, into art. It’s such a joyful, vibrant, beautiful (and free to visit!) space.
After finishing up at the North Shore, we would head over to Lawrenceville. If you know me, you know that my perfect day definitely includes bubble tea, and Banh Mi and Ti’s lychee green tea with lychee jelly, and boba is honestly the best thing ever. We would have to stop there, get boba and get a sandwich to split as well! My current favorite is the Viet Special, but you can’t go wrong with any of their options.
If I’m going to be in Lawrenceville, I’d have to swing by Skelton Jewelry. Samantha Skelton, the owner, is so lovely, and I miss shopping in-person for her beautiful handmade jewelry. I’m obsessed with her concrete cuffs, and I never take mine off. It’s the perfect reminder of Pittsburgh.
For a late night bite, you’ll find us tucked away in Umami, where Roger Li and his crew are always whipping up amazingly simple, but delicious, bites of sushi. I can’t wait to have melt-in-my-mouth nigiri again! Told you, I love food!
After all of that food, I want to take a walk on the Southside Riverfront Park. It is one of Pittsburgh’s first riverfront park trails and goes from Birmingham Bridge to SouthSide Works. I used to live in Southside, and I have such a soft spot for all the boats, the river, and all the trees along that walkway! You can bike, and there are boat launches and canoe launches from the trail as well. It really feels like a hidden forest within the city.
Such a cliché, but I would have to end my night in my own neighborhood. Is there anything that’s more quintessentially Pittsburgh than the Mt. Washington Overlook? There’s just nothing like that view to remind you of why we love Pittsburgh.
I can’t wait to do all of these things again soon. I never thought I would say this, but I miss crowds of people. I look forward to the day when it’s safe out, and I can be with my partner, surrounded by other Pittsburghers who are also out and about at all of their favorite places. I’m looking forward to rediscovering Pittsburgh with everyone!
Sophia is a Pittsburgh transplant who has lived in the Steel City for the last 9 years! She's passionate about food, and spends her free time sharing what it's like living (and eating!) as an Asian-American woman in Pittsburgh. You can find her exploring new restaurants, making foodie friends, and trying all the different bubble tea shops in the city.