May the 4th Be With You | A Star Wars Fan's Guide to Pittsburgh

May the 4th Be With You | A Star Wars Fan's Guide to Pittsburgh

The Force is Strong in the Burgh

There's only one way to start something about Star Wars, so we think this intro looks best as an iconic opening crawl (feel free to cue the music as this plays):

Text of the video above:

"A short time from now in a city closer than you think....

Episode IV-I-II

It is a period of surging tourism in the greater Pittsburgh area. Star Wars fans, eager to get back to travel in 2023, scour the galaxy for things to do.

Luckily, Pittsburgh has more excitement than the Boonta Eve Classic when it comes to out of this world activities for Star Wars fans as our planet celebrates the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi.

May the Fourth Be With You"

Star Wars Vending Machine

"Now THIS is Podracing" -Anakin Skywalker

Michael Jordan retired for the second time. Family Guy debuted on Fox. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was published. And Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was released in theatres.

Against all odds (and never tell me them), one relic from this film has survived in Pittsburgh, and has quickly become the must-do for Star Wars fans. Right beside Pittsburgh Bureau Fire Station 27 is a Pepsi machine still emblazoned with the original graphics from the 1999 release. Lookin' good, Sebulba.

The best part? The Star Wars vending machine in Pittsburgh still works, is kept stocked and even glows at night, making this the perfect photo op for Star Wars day or night.

C-3PO and R2D2 at Carnegie Science Center

"Never underestimate a Droid" -Leia Organa

For me, no visit to the Carnegie Science Center is ever complete until I walk past the Robot Hall of Fame on their lower levels. Tom Servo, the Iron Giant and HAL 9000 are all on display, but the Droids you're looking for are C-3PO and R2D2, who captured our imaginations and provided the comic relief from Star Wars (1977) through the most recent films.

Ready to explore even deeper into our own solar system? Go on a 300-million-mile (that's less than one parsec) journey to the Mars: The Next Giant Leap exhibit while you're there and see what our own future could look like settling on another planet. Then, head to the Buhl Planetarium for interstellar programming like a Beginner's Guide to the Universe or the Laser Symphony of the Stars!

A Special Theatrical Anniversary

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"This is the Way" -The Mandalorian

The way, to me, is seeing Star Wars as it was meant to be seen. This particular May the Fourth is even more special to megafans, as 1983's "Return of the Jedi" celebrates its 40th anniversary. 

Catch a special screening at The Oaks Theater on May 4 at 7:30 p.m. and get transported back to the moment you first saw the gripping conclusion to the original trilogy, or for us young ones, see what it was like to see those Ewoks kick Stormtrooper butt on the silver screen for the first time. AMC Theatres will also be showing the film that day.

Star Wars Trivia Nights

"Let the Wookie win" -C-3PO

Can you place the quotes I've peppered throughout this blog? Well put that Star Wars knowledge to the test at trivia nights throughout the city.

On April 28, Inner Groove will see if you're a padawan or master with a trivia night focused solely on episodes IV, V and VI. On May 4, Bakery Square will be showing the movies in release order on their big screen in the Courtyard throughout the day, capped off with trivia at 7 p.m.

Play Star Wars Video Games

"Great shot, kid! That was one in a million" -Han Solo

As an elder Millennial, the two main ways I experienced Star Wars growing up was on cable tv and by playing the video games. With the resurgence of retrotainment, barcades in Pittsburgh now make it easy to play these classic games, chucking in quarter after quarter to set the high score just like our ancestors.

To make your life easy, I did the research for you and compiled where you can play Star Wars pinball and arcade games throughout the city. My personal fave is the Star Wars Battle Pod at Barcadia, which lets you control your starfighter and blast the Death Star to pieces with awesome thruster and blaster controls.

  • Mandalorian - Victory Point, Shorty's Pins x Pints, Barcadia, Coop de Ville, Pins Mechanical
  • Star Wars Battle Pod - Barcadia
  • Star Wars (1992) - Pinball Perfection
  • Star Wars (2017) - Ace's Break Away & Play, Shorty's, Pins Mechanical, Pinball Perfection
  • Star Wars Episode 1 - Helicon Brewing, Pinball Perfection
  • Star Wars Trilogy (1997) - Pinball Perfection
  • Empire Strikes Back (1980) - Pinball Perfection

Star Wars Murals & Photos

Photo Credit: @Pittsburghstreetart on Insta

"Wait, I'm just a tourist" -Cassian Andor

Tourism is a-ok as you orbit the 90 neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, with no fear of Stormtroopers spoiling your visit. Artist and muralist Jeremy M. Raymer emblazoned a wall in Lawrenceville with our favorite tiny Jedi and photographer David DiCello went viral when he combined his stunning photos and Star Wars iconography.

From the epic space battles to the lived-in universe that has become the series' trademark, Star Wars has been inspiring artists for generations. You're sure to see space opera themed art at Three Rivers Arts FestivalArt All Night and other great arts festivals as you explore the city. 

Later This Summer...

Star Wars fandom continues throughout the year, so don't miss these later-this-summer events.

Star Wars Night at PNC Park

The Pirates are always good for Star Wars Night at PNC Park (this year on Aug. 25), where fans take home a Pirates themed Star Wars t-shirt, with lots of costumed characters and fun throughout the ballpark.

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Pittsburgh Heads to the Stars

In this case, Admiral Ackbar, that is a Moon! Our natural satellite is the destination this June or July when the Peregrine Lunar Lander, made right here in Pittsburgh, makes its voyage. 

What a year this is poised to be for Pittsburgh's robotics, tech and aerospace industry as Astrobotic completes this mission, the first of many to deliver payloads to our Moon.

Is space tourism on the Moon next? How will we make laws? Who owns what on the Moon? If questions like this fascinate you, make sure to visit Moonshot Museum adjacent to Astrobotic for the answers as well as the ability to watch Griffin, their next lander, be assembled during your visit.

Header Photo Credit: Dave DiCello