Staff Picks: Pittsburgh Winter Hangouts


Amaya Lobato | For The Pitt News

Two people skate around PPG Place ice skating rink Sunday night.

By The Pitt News Staff

Winter has set its hooks into Pittsburgh, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be leaving anytime soon.

Maybe you’re hoping for another snowstorm, just to get outside and build a snowman. Or maybe you’re more of a “stay inside with a cup of hot chocolate” kind of person. Whatever you’re feeling, we suggest that before winter ends, you take a step outside to one of Pittsburgh’s finest winter hangout spots. Luckily, not all of them are so far from campus. You can get some winter shenanigans going on in your own backyard.

South O // Diana Velasquez, Culture Editor 

Ah, nothing can stop a young determined college student in their quest for a decent party. Not even an ice-encrusted Oakland after the biggest snowstorm of the year. Did I fall on my ass, stunting in my thigh-high leather boots two weekends ago on my way to a friend’s house? Well, that’s between me and the butt-print still lingering on the sidewalk on Dawson Street.

South O may not be the most picturesque, romantic or decent-looking of the winter wonderland spots on this list, but there’s charm there. It’s not far, first of all, and sometimes you don’t want to make a big trip somewhere for a day of winter fun. Besides, whatever you get up to in South O will be a funny story to tell to your children later in life — especially if the party you’re going to was delayed by a slip and a fall here, an unexpected jump into a gray snow-sloshed puddle there. Wintertime isn’t all foamy Starbucks lattes and glitter-bombed holiday cards. No, some of us are down in the trenches, tipsy and ready to brave any kind of weather for some late-night fun.

The UPMC Rink at PPG Place // Patrick Swain, Staff Writer

If you’re an experienced ice skater who wants to watch your friends struggle for two hours, look no further than PPG Place. There’s no better feeling than bundling up, lacing up some skates and striding down the ice while the friend you dragged along hugs the wall. The serene Downtown setting, just steps from Market Square, will make you almost forget that you can’t feel your fingers.

My friends and I made the trip earlier this winter from Oakland to downtown Pittsburgh to see what the rink had to offer. The experience level among us varied from lifelong hockey players to complete newbies. The moment we hit the ice, that skill disparity quickly became apparent. My roommate and I had to prop up our friend “Weekend at Bernie’s” style to prevent him from collapsing every few seconds. The rink at PPG Place provides the perfect opportunity to produce video evidence of your friends face planting on skates that you can keep to blackmail them for years to come.

The rink offers a skate rental and an hour and 45 minutes of skating for $16. Find a group of 10-19 friends for a significant discount. There are student nights on Wednesdays in January and February, with another discount available with a valid student ID. You can order tickets online here.

61C Cafe // Maria Scanga, Senior Staff Writer

If there happens to be a day during the Pittsburgh winter when the roads are actually plowed, it’s the perfect excuse to ride any of the 61 buses for a few minutes to Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill. Conveniently located right at the corner of Murray Avenue and Bartlett Street, the 61C Cafe is a cozy little coffee shop that never gets too busy but always has a fair bit of traffic to people watch.

Their menu is limited, but you don’t need much variety here to be satisfied — with the coffee shop’s classic lattes, teas and indulgent pastries, it’s the best way to fight cabin fever and still have the comfort of home. Even when the sky is perpetually gray and there’s a new snowstorm every other week, the golden hues inside the 61C Cafe keeps the winter blues away. Or if you’re anything like me, it’s the best way to warm up and bask in the beauty of the pretty flakes drizzling the streets. Cozy up in the corner with a good book and a warm drink, and just let the worries of the outside world dissipate for a little while.

Right now all you need to focus on is not drinking your coffee too fast because it is that good. Just remember to leave before the pretty snow flurries become snow showers and the sidewalk becomes indecipherable from the road. I love you and your consistently terrible road conditions, Pittsburgh!