Valei Travels – Pittsburgh PA

For my first travel log, I decided to start with the city I was born in. Pittsburgh, the Steel City home of big french fry sandwiches where people like to say “Yinz.” This year my girlfriend and I traveled to Pittsburgh, not once but twice, for a variety of fun activities and sites. In this article I will introduce you to a handful of my favorite essential stops in Pittsburgh. Let’s begin!


Travel N00bs: So we’ve arrived in Pittsburgh, now what?

Valei: Arrgh, yinz have arrived… Hope yer ready… TO WALK THE PLANK, ARRGHH!

Travel Noobs: Oh lord jesus, he’s crazy! Honey, kids, get back in the car!

Valei: Easy neewbs, I was talking about Pirates Baseball.


          Go see: The Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park

          Address:  115 Federal Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

          On the web: http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=pit


If you want to get a quick hit of Pittsburgh culture, go see a Pirates game. I’m not the biggest sports fan, but there is really nothing like sitting in the beautiful PNC Park with thousands of Pittsburgh natives going wild after every play. There is literally not a single bad seat in the ballpark. The park also offers a beautiful view of downtown Pittsburgh. Grab an IC beer and a hot dog and root for the BUCS!


Pro tip 1: Get tickets for Friday night. Every Friday home game is a Free T-Shirt Friday. The first 20,000 fans get a free Pirates T-Shirt.

Pro tip 2: Park at Station Square and take the Gateway Clipper Fleet ferry across the river for a scenic (and cheap) ferry ride of the city.



Travel N3wb: But Valei,what if we can’t stand loud people and don’t like sports?

Valei: Not one for a crowd, huh?


           Go see: The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall

          Address: 600 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

          On the web: http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/pso_home


If you want a more enchanting experience during your visit to Pittsburgh, I would recommend seeing a performance by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The show we attended was Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions (yup, Pokemon the orchestra. Don’t hate, I know you jelly!). Having been to see Video games live the previous year in Rochester, I was expecting this show to be of similar quality. However, the overall performance given by the PSO was far superior. Every number was performed with care and stunning precision. It was a joy to the senses. This stop is highly recommended.

Pro tip: The food and drink prices in Heinz hall are ridiculous. There are plenty of bars and pubs in the surrounding area to eat and drink before or after your show.



Travel Nub: Ok, I’ve been entertained but now we’re hungry. Where should we go?

Valei: Hope you’re ready to eat ‘cause the next recommendation is COLOSSAL!


                   Go to: Primanti Bros.

                 Address: Various (Original Location: 46 18th Street Pittsburgh, PA 15222)

                    On the web: https://www.primantibros.com/



If you’re looking to feed the need and you’ve never been to the Burgh, you gotta go to a Primanti Bros. Their signature sandwiches all come with a heaping mound of french fries and coleslaw, making just one sandwich a whole meal. Go hard and go hungry!

Check out the Colossal Fish Sandwhich:


Even Psyduck is amazed! Psyai, yai, yai!

Pro Tip 1: You can add a fried egg to all their sandwiches… Do it!

Pro Tip 2: Instead of ordering a side of fries, just be a man and order another sandwich.


Travel Newb: Ok Valei those recommendations were great, but what about something fun for the kids?

Valei: Don’t worry boss. Pittsburgh can be just as fun for you and your lumpy-headed kids!

          Go to: Kennywood

          Address: 4800 Kennywood Boulevard, West Mifflin, PA 15122

          On the web: https://www.kennywood.com/


While not technically in Pittsburgh, it’s close enough. Kennywood is a small amusement park filled with fun, excitement, and CORN DOGS!


That’s right, they make ‘em the way they’re ‘sposed to be! Straight up dunkin’ ‘em in corn bread batter and deep fry’n ‘em to crispy golden perfection! Mmmmrrrrrrmmmrmrmrrmrmr, mmrmrmrr…

Moment of silence…………

Travel Newbs: Daddy, I think Mr. Valei’s gone mad…

Valei: Soooo good, just one more, mmrmrrmrmrm…. Ok, I’m good.

Corn dogs aside, Kennywood has great rides, games, and food for the whole family. The lines on a hot day can be pretty long but not nearly as bad as most commercial theme parks (cough, cough, Six Flags). Kennywood also has a sweet retro arcade with an impressive selection of classic coin op arcade games: Pac man, Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, and Frogger, just to name a few. It’s also home to the world’s only Street Fighter 2 x Tekken machine…



Nailed it!


I’ve been coming to Kennywood since I was a kid, and I have to say after all these years it still retains its charm.

Pro Tip 1: Get a Corn dog! Seriously… Just do it… Get 2… If you don’t want the second one to just send it to me and I’ll eat it!

Pro Tip 2: The Potato Patch is not a ride. If you want french fries covered in cheese and bacon, be prepared to wait a bit in a line that’s just as long as a thrill ride…

Pro Tip 3: Buy your tickets at a Giant Eagle store for a discount.



Travel N00b: Ok, Valei that was great but we’re gettin’ hungry… Again!

Valei: Don’t worry amigo, I got you covered.

            Go to: The Strip District

          Address: between 11th and 33rd Street

          On the Web: http://www.neighborsinthestrip.com/

 strip district


           Home to the original Primanti Brothers, The Strip District is your one-stop shop for all the tastes of Pittsburgh. Street vendors are there serving up food flavors from all over the world: Asian, Indian, Mexican, Greek. Markets are selling fresh produce, fish, baked goods, pastries, and even little donuts! You name it and you can find it all on The Strip! On both of our visits I stopped in for breakfast. The first stop we tried Pamela’s. Highly recommend by Barack Obama himself, I had to try the breakfast. I was not disappointed. Everything was delicious and served promptly despite the line going out the door and around the corner. Well worth the wait. On our second trip we tried Deluca’s diner, another highly-regarded Pittsburgh breakfast stop recommend on Man vs. Food. Again, everything was superb and left me wanting more than I could possibly fit into my stomach.

Travel NooB: Ok, that was fun but is there anything we missed? Anything special that only a native from Pittsburgh would know?

Valei: Looking for them legendary secrets, eh?

Go to:  Giant Eagle

            Address: Various (They are everywhere, you can’t miss em!)

On the Web: http://www.gianteagle.com/

Giant Eagle is a grocery store chain that was founded in Pittsburgh in 1918. What should you be looking for in this specific grocery store?



Behold!  Tom Tucker Mint Ginger Ale!



My mother introduced me to this soda when I was in my late teens on a trip to Pittsburgh. At first I thought mint and ginger ale wouldn’t mix well, but once I tried it I was sold. The flavor is light and refreshing, but not as sweet as normal ginger ale. It’s almost like drinking carbonated spearmint Listerine. Anyway, you should probably pick up a few bottles of Tommy T to bring back home because you probably won’t ever see it anywhere else. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

Pro Tip: Due to it’s popularity among the yinzers, Tommy T may be out of stock at several locations. Be prepared to hunt this shit down.

Travel Noooooob: Ok, well I think I’ve had enough of going up and down hills… and all this black and yellow everywhere.

Valei: I feel you newb, time to say goodbye.

Go to: Home

Address: Your house.

On the web: Facebook/TravelN00b

In conclusion, I highly recommend stopping into Pittsburgh if you ever have the chance. The Steel City is full of hills, tall buildings, amazing food, and crazy, awesome people that are full of character and pride. There is no place quite like it. I enjoyed each visit immensely. It could be partly because I was born there, but if you check out my recommend stops I’m positive the city will win you over. If not… well then the next corn dog is on me!

Next up on Valei Travels: Las Vegas! Stay tuned!

Have a Pittsburgh story to tell or recommended stop? Please share! Let me know on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!


Juan Valei

Buffalo-based gamer, artist, and adventurer. Blogging about life, games, art, entertainment, health, and everything else in the universe.

One Comment

  1. I grew up in Ambridge,about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh and left when I was 27. Everything that you discussed is true. A fun place to visit.Don’t forget the new Heinz museum also.

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