7 spots to add to your Pittsburgh summer bucket list


Image via Wikimedia Commons

A view of downtown Pittsburgh.

By Renee Dubaich, Staff Writer

The semester is over, and Pitt’s campus calms down from its usual hustle and bustle of students heading to classes, but there are many students who stay in Oakland over the summer. 

The campus can certainly have a different feeling once classes end and you have more time on your hands to explore the city. So, if you find yourself in Pittsburgh for the summer and are yearning to get out and explore, here are some fun, easily accessible and most importantly free places to visit to cure your summer boredom. All you need is yourself, your phone for directions and your student ID to take the bus.

There is no doubt that Pittsburgh is home to many artists and creative minds. When walking down any neighborhood in Pittsburgh, especially South Oakland, you will notice brick and cement walls or even mailboxes decorated with graffiti. Graffiti is such an integral part of almost every city and allows people of all generations to say “Hey, I was here,” and leave it for others who may notice it one day in the future.

The most notable graffiti location in Pittsburgh is the Color Park. Located in South Side — along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail between Liberty Bridge and the 10th Street Bridge — this vibrant space is the perfect place for graffiti lovers and those looking for cool backgrounds for their Instagram posts. Graffiti is also completely legal here, so feel free to bring some spray paint and let your creativity run wild in this free outdoor canvas. 

Off the beaten path of Fifth Avenue, one is transported to a garden filled with over 100 plants that were valued in Biblical times by ancient Israelites. Olives, dates, pomegranates, figs and cedar trees flourish right in the city behind the Rodef Shalom Congregation. The garden aims to represent plants and landscape that were important to the ways of life of the owners’ Near Eastern ancestors.

The Garden officially opens back up this year on June 4, and all are welcome to explore the garden and learn about its history and importance. The entrance is located on Devonshire Street and is a perfect place to spend a morning or afternoon. The garden also features small bodies of water that symbolize the geographical setting of the Holy Land of Israel. This natural paradise is the perfect and easily accessible place to go to if you are craving connection with nature.

A house can tell a thousand stories of the people that live there. Sampsonia Way, a street dedicated to the City of Asylum, is filled with multiple houses covered in art and poetry that depict lives of exiled writers. “House Poem” acts as a house and a piece of street art which tells an entire story of Huang Xiang’s life on its exterior. Another house on the street is the “Comma House” created by Tuhin Das. The house is painted a bright lime green, and gets its name from a poem painted in the shape of a comma in front of the house that represents time and connecting with other people.

Located within the Mexican War Streets and near the well known Randyland, these houses are the hidden gems of Pittsburgh, showcasing the importance of freedom of speech, expression and creativity. You can stop in the City of Asylum bookstore on West North Avenue, only an eight minute walk from the houses, to pick up some reading material during your summer months.

No, not the Central Park in New York City — there’s in fact a central park right here in Pittsburgh that’s based off of the renowned location. Pittsburgh’s own central park is located in West Oakland on a once overgrown hillside. The park is now an open public half acre space filled with lush greenery, walking paths, sculptures and other art that makes you think you’ve entered a secret world unknown to the rest of the city.

The space is at the very end of Moultrie Street, and you’ll know you’re at the right place when you see a D.I.Y. welcome sign that reads “This ain’t Uptown! Welcome to WEST OAKLAND.” The park also has an impressive free library which was modeled off of the Carnegie Library. It also contains a few easter eggs that play off of its New York City counterpart, such as a subway station sign. 

Want a place to explore that’s out of the sun? The Copacetic Comics Company in Polish Hill contains creative works from comics, zines, books, films, music and more. Here you can explore stacks and stacks of art pieces, both vintage and new, and even some that were made right here in Pittsburgh! There is no doubt you will get lost for hours on end exploring different stories — and sorry Marvel and DC fans, this place specializes in alternative and lesser known comics. 

The local business aims to show everyone that comics can be about anything, and there is something here for everyone of all ages.

If you loved Color Park, then you have to hear about Clement Way in Bloomfield. This free and legal graffiti wall is located in an alley between Liberty Beer and Trace Brewing. The wall is constantly being updated with new street art from various local artists and encourages graffiti and street art of all kinds. 

Among the urban infrastructure, Pittsburgh is known for its abundance of hiking trails and other outdoor destinations. You may have driven past this hidden trail without even realizing — hence the name Seldom Seen Greenway. Another hidden gem of Pittsburgh, the site provides a scenic trail that will fuel your craving for an adventure. 

You will find the parking area along Saw Mill Run Boulevard on the edge of the Beechview neighborhood. The park can be identified by a small trailhead sign in front of an old stone bridge. One step under the historic Seldom Seen Arch, and you’ll feel like you’ve entered a magical fantasy land. As you follow the trail, small waterfalls, neat rock formations and crossing train track bridges covered in graffiti will all cross your path. This is the perfect hiking place for those who love when nature and human-made structures merge into something beautiful.