Oakland Outlook: Fun activities to kick off fall

Oakland Outlook is a bi-weekly blog written by TPN staffers chronicling their experiences as college students living in Oakland.


Image via Wikimedia Commons

The Pittsburgh Monster Pumpkins Festival will be held Oct. 19 to 20 on the North Shore.

This weekend — with its seasonal temperatures — marks the true start of fall. With the spooky spirit exciting everyone, Pitt students should think outside of the box during their free time and get a little festive. Take a walk through Schenley Park, spend an afternoon with friends taking “fall” photos — tacky we know, but you’ll be grateful for those photos later. Treat yourself to a free event, some good food and produce, or maybe a performance.

Leave your summer routine behind and adventure both in and around Oakland this fall. Digital staff writers Megan Williams and Ana Eberts share their favorite fall activities to do around the City in this week’s edition of Oakland Outlook.

Megan’s recommendations

I’m Megan, a 20-year-old nonfiction writing major. I’ve lived in Pittsburgh all my life. Most of my favorite fall activities are family traditions I still try to keep alive now that we’re scattered.

Neighborhood Flea

Living in Pittsburgh, I often took frequent trips to the Neighborhood Flea with my family. The last one of the season, spent shopping for fall delicacies and warm clothing, is always the best. The vendors always bring the most inventory in October and sell it for the best prices. I still have fond memories of going with my sister. From getting our faces painted like cats as little girls to browsing through wool sweaters while scarfing down strawberry ice cream as teens, we had a blast at our monthly trip to the Flea.

Staff writer Megan Williams (left) and her sister eating ice cream at the Neighborhood Flea in the Strip District.

This Sunday, Oct. 13, marks the final Neighborhood Flea in the Strip District for the year, one of the first signs that fall is here to stay. There are numerous clothing, bath and furniture vendors as well as eight food trucks with options like Burrito Bus and Coop Chicken & Waffles. Two adult workshops are also available to walk-ins — the first, from Pisarcik Flower Farm on how to hone your green thumb in fall, and the second from Workshop Pittsburgh on a yet-to-be-revealed artistic skill. Grab a latte from Zeke’s Coffee Pittsburgh and browse offerings from small businesses based in and around Oakland. Best of all, bask in the sun without overheating — it’s going to be 64 and sunny, the perfect weather for the final Flea.

Frick Park After Dark

Enjoy one of the first cool weekends of the school year on Oct. 11 at the year’s final Frick Park After Dark. For $25, you can enjoy the weather in your favorite flannel while browsing the workshop in the Frick Environmental Center, hosted by Third Day Luxury Soaps & Herbal Gardens. You can warm up while eating Revival Chili and drinking Wigle Whiskey (both included in your ticket, though you can only drink if you’re 21+). When the sun goes down, Rhythm ‘n’ Steel, a local Pittsburgh acoustic band, will play live at the park for the last time — until next summer begins, that is. Best of all, the entire event occurs between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., so you can bounce to your next spot before the night is over.

If you’re like me — wary of anything ‘outdoorsy’ and sober — don’t fret. The real focus of Frick Park After Dark is the music, and most of the events take place with lovely views of the outside in a nice, warm room. All ages are welcome, so refreshments besides alcohol are provided.

Ana’s recommendations

I’m Ana, a junior majoring in English writing and French. I moved to Pittsburgh from Ohiopyle when I was in high school. When I started at Pitt, my first-year roommate and I began exploring the City together, and in the process, we discovered some of the amazing fall activities that Pittsburgh has to offer.

Pittsburgh Monster Pumpkins Festival 

Though this may be one of the first chilly weekends of autumn, it also happens to fall right in the middle of midterm season. If this weekend is too full of studying and test prep, wait until the weekend of Oct. 19 to 20, and head to the Pittsburgh Monster Pumpkins Festival. The event is free, though there will be food and drink available for purchase from various independent vendors located all along Pittsburgh’s North Shore Riverwalk — mainly the area between Jerome Bettis’ Grille and Heinz Field.

This event is not just about gawking at gigantic pumpkins — you can also watch people ride in them or eat them really fast. The former refers to the “Great Pumpkin Paddle,” in which participants paddle the Allegheny in hollowed out pumpkins weighing more than 1,000 pounds. If that’s not your speed, watch a hands-free pumpkin pie eating competition. If you’re in the mood to do some shopping, Sperdute Farms of New Castle will be selling produce, and if you’re in the market for something a bit more upscale and permanent, Vessel Studio Glass will be selling its artisan-blown glass, as well as demonstrating the glass-blowing process.

Highmark Presents Giselle with the PBT Orchestra

Fall doesn’t have to be all about chilly weather and changing leaves — not everybody loves sweater weather. If that’s the case, there is still time to use your Pitt Arts Cheap Seats discount and get some tickets for a cultural event. Make the weekend before Halloweekend a peaceful one by spending it at the ballet, with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s production of “Giselle” from Oct. 25 to 27 at the Benedum Center. “Giselle” is the perfect ballet for the Halloween season. It tells the story of a young woman who dies of a broken heart and eventually comes back from the grave to join the Wilis, a group of spirits who command their former lovers to dance to their deaths.

I’ve been attending ballet productions for as long as I can remember. I’ve seen the classics, like “Nutcracker” and “Sleeping Beauty,” and the more contemporary story ballets, like “Alice in Wonderland” and “Dracula.” In my experience, “Giselle” is one of the easiest traditional ballets to follow, and even if the story line doesn’t catch your interest, the costuming is stunningly ethereal and the choreography gratuitously dramatic.

If you are stressed with school or just looking for a chance to escape Oakland life, take two hours from your weekend, get dressed up, journey to Pittsburgh’s downtown Cultural District and immerse yourself in a beautiful story of heartache and betrayal, hauntingly enshrouded in the supernatural. Whether you’re an old pro in the ballet world, or just someone looking to see their first production, “Giselle” is a great choice. Tickets are still available with prices beginning as low as $16 with your Pitt Arts student discount.