Six places every Panther must visit around campus


John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Oakland.

By Serena Garcia, Staff Writer

Being a Pitt student has its perks, especially when you can visit various cool places for free. 

With your Pitt Student ID, you can venture throughout the city and experience Pittsburgh, all without spending a single penny. Whether it’s a sports event, a day at the museum, or even just cool sights, Pittsburgh has it all. If you find yourself needing a break from schoolwork, wanting to get off-campus, or just feeling ready to explore, this is the article for you! Below you can find some of the best on- and off-campus places to visit that won’t cost you anything! 

1. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

If you love nature, think of your plants as your children, or just love looking at beautiful displays of flowers, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is for you. Known simply as Phipps on campus, it is a must-see. As a Pitt student, you can go to Phipps for free — just visit the student affairs website for safety protocols and present your student I.D.

Each season, Phipps highlights a different flower and botanical show. Right now, you can attend their summer flower show, Monet in Bloom, which is showing through Sept. 25. The conservatory features new exhibits such as Butterfly Forest and Tropical Forest Hawai`i

Phipps also allows guests to learn more about plants in general. A bonus is walking around their gardens and taking amazing photos throughout the exhibits. With its close proximity to campus, don’t wait to see this amazing place!

2. The Mattress Factory

The Mattress Factory has got to be one of the coolest places I’ve visited here at Pitt. Located at 500 Sampsonia Way in the Northside of PIttbsurgh, this art museum is only a 20-minute drive from Oakland. You can also take the 54 bus for a 44-minute commute. To check bus routes, you can always download apps like Moovit and Transit. Like Phipps, the Mattress Factory’s photo opportunities will not disappoint. 

Composed of three different buildings, the Mattress Factory not only features interesting artwork, but allows you to interact with some as well. You can see all of the art that is featured throughout the exhibits here. Similar to Phipps, as a Pitt student you can get into the Mattress Factory for free with a Pitt ID. But you must reserve a time in advance, so you’ll need a student promo code provided by Pitt Arts which can be found here.

Mattress Factory in Northside.
(John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer )

3. Randyland

When visiting the Mattress Factory, you can make a full day out of your visit by going to Randyland as well. Randyland is another must-see when it comes to exploring Pittbsurgh. Known for its vibrant and colorful artwork on display, Randyland is the perfect spot to visit on a day-trip. 

Located on 1501 Arch Street in the North Side, it’s just a quick five minute walk from the Mattress Factory. Randyland is free for everyone who attends and accepts donations from visitors. Whether you want to explore the public art museum or just find some cool spots to take a few pictures for your Instagram, Randyland will not disappoint. 

Randyland in Northside. (John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer )

4. Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History

If you’re looking to stay close to campus, then the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History are for you! Located right next to campus and only a short walk away from the Cathedral, these museums have a lot to offer. With stunning exhibits, both the Carnegie Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History are simply one of a kind. You can check what exhibits are open and running during this summer and fall here

At the Carnegie Museum of Natural History you can discover their newest exhibit, Nature’s Amazing Machines, which will run all the way through Jan. 2, 2023. Or see another classic exhibition at the museum, the Dinosaurs in their Time exhibition. Visit here to learn about the other exhibitions offered at Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

If you’re an artist or feel inspired by any of the paintings, you are also allowed to bring a sketch pad and pencil into the art museum’s galleries with you. Similar to the Mattress Factory, you have to plan out your visit and reserve tickets via their website. In order to access the Pitt student discount, you need a student promo code which can be found here. If you find yourself wanting to become an artsy girl or you love to look at art and enjoy a museum aesthetic, this is the place for you!

Carnegie Museum of Art courtyard in Oakland. (John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer )

5. Andy Warhol Museum

If you’re looking for something that screams Pittsburgh, you must visit the Andy Warhol Museum. Dedicated to the Pittsburgh native and Carnegie Institute of Technology alumni, the museum is a classic spot in the ‘Burgh. 

Located on the North Shore, the museum not only showcases all of Warhol’s artwork and masterpieces, but also tells his story to visitors. It’s also unique in that it’s the largest museum dedicated to a single artist in the United States and North America. If you want to learn more about Pittsburgh history and one of its distinguished natives, this museum is a bucket list must. 

The museum is also home to the largest collection of Warhol’s pieces and features many of his classics. But not every visit to the museum is the same. Each new visit brings different Warhol pieces to life through different exhibitions. Make sure to reserve your ticket before you go and, like always, find the code needed through Pitt Arts here.

The Andy Warhol Museum in Northside. (John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer )

6.  Athletic Events

Last but not least is Pitt Athletics. Here at Pitt, there are several different ways to cheer on your fellow Panthers. Whether you find yourself in the Panther Pitt at Acrisure Stadium cheering on the 2021 ACC Football Champions, rooting for both basketball teams in the Petersen Events Center, or watching Pitt Volleyball make it to the Final Four, there are many ways to provide your fellow Panthers support and cheer them on to victory. All athletics, except football and men’s basketball, are free to Pitt students. To find specific information on student tickets, visit here

For most athletic events, except football and men’s basketball, students can enter by showing their Pitt ID at the entrance. Whether it’s in the stands at a soccer game, rooting on the softball team, or being at Acrisure Stadium, the atmosphere at any Pitt sporting event is electric and something that you never want to miss. 

So, after a long week of studying, the places listed above are great ways to explore the city you will be living in for the next year! They also serve as excellent ways to take a break and get off campus for a little bit. If you’re worried about transportation, don’t forget that you can ride the Pittsburgh Regional Transit buses for free with your Pitt ID. College is what you make of it, so don’t forget to visit some cool places and make long-lasting memories — all for free, except the college part!

PNC Park in Northside. (John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer )