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Best of Places

By Pitt News Staff

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Web site | Place to take a walk | Web site | Place to take a walk | Street to live on (off campus) | Place to get hit by a car | Pittsburgh neighborhood | Hotel for parents | Museum | Place to study | Place to meet people | Place to get lost | Place to escape to | Place to break up | Place to study abroad | Spring break destination | Place to smoke | Residence hall | Place to nap | University building | Place to be alone | Place to get arrested

Place to take a walk

Schenley Park

Just across Panther Hollow Bridge lies the third largest public park on the Eastern seaboard, Schenley Park.

Touching the tips of Oakland, Squirrel Hill and Greenfield, Schenley’s 456 acres serve as the ideal place for a relaxing stroll, a smooth bike ride or a peaceful afternoon sunbathing on Flagstaff Hill.

Pathways adjacent to Panther Hollow road take you to the pool, the ice skating rink and the Schenley Oval, where the soccer greens, baseball fields and tennis courts host a plethora of activities. The serene atmosphere of Schenley’s nooks and crannies counter the hustle and bustle of campus life, making it a perfect rest stop for any student needing a breather.

Depending on the season, you can kick back on Overlook Hill with that special someone and watch the sunset behind the Downtown skyline or sled ride to the bottom of the 300-yard hill, give or take a few yards.

– Erik Arroyo

Street to live on (off campus)

Atwood Street

It starts with the University Beverage Center. Then, there’s Dave and Andy’s, the best ice cream in Oakland. And Cumpie’s, the best bar/fruit stand/18-and-over hip-hop dance club in Oakland. And it just keeps getting better.

From the state wine and spirits store to the convenience store at the far end, Atwood Street has everything that a South Oakland resident could need and then some. For those wanting an escape to exotic cuisines, there’s the Spice Island Tea House, Ginza and the exotic Road to Karakesh. And for those who need some true South Oakland spirit, there’s the ever-popular Antoon’s Pizza, plus the bars Pub IG and Mad Mex.

The homes on Atwood exemplify the Oakland spirit, inspiring the great pop artist Keith Haring to inhabit one of them, although the debate still rages as to precisely which one. From the authentic home-cum-restaurant of La Fiesta to huge windows with a life-size cutout of Homer Simpson, Atwood Street has all the eclectic character of Oakland balled up into one awesome thoroughfare.

– Greg Heller-LaBelle

Place to get hit by a car

Bigelow Boulevard crosswalk

Most drivers don’t seem to realize that the white stripes on Bigelow Boulevard represent a safe passageway for pedestrians. Up in their big SUVs, those drivers get so upset when college students use the crosswalk. Occasionally, they can’t take it anymore and someone gets hurt. That someone is usually a student.

Pitt police Chief Tim Delaney spearheaded an operation to cut down on “student mowing,” as motorists like to call it, by putting up reflective signs that show a pedestrian not getting hit by a car. Most drivers feel they are being taunted, and like to nick a sophomore just for fun.

But “fun” doesn’t make it legal. Which is why every time you hear a honk on Bigelow Boulevard, you usually see a retaliatory middle finger or two from a student. It’s a hard war, but we sure fight tough.

– Eric Lidji

Pittsburgh neighborhood

Shadyside

Shadyside is definitely pricier than hanging out in Oakland, but one can bet on encountering a more refined collegiate crowd than those found at a fraternity party.

Whether it’s the posh, trendy clothing stores or the variety of bars and restaurants up and down Walnut Street, Shadyside has a lot to offer. The best part is it’s only a 10-minute bus ride from Oakland.

Walnut Street stretches across seven blocks from South Aiken to South Negley avenues covering everything from Max n’ Erma’s to Banana Republic to the Pottery Barn and down to Cappy’s Cafe, Doc’s Place, and Gap.

But wait, it gets better.

There is more to Shadyside than just Walnut Street. There are Ellsworth and Highland avenues, which are also loaded with things to do, such as more bars and restaurants, antique shops, beauty salons and coffee shops.

Living in Shadyside will tug at your checkbook a bit more than a dive in South Oakland, but many people believe it’s well worth the cost.

– Christine Claus

Hotel for parents

Holiday Inn

110 Lytton Ave.

(412) 682-6200

They’ve arrived. No, not the aliens from outer space or the zombies from the great below, this breed of visitor is much more harmless and often brings food or cash – they’re your parents.

This innocent joining of family relations can easily go awry if a few important steps aren’t taken. The first step is to stave off any attempts by the parents to stay with you. Their delicate systems cannot handle the aura of dirty laundry and vomit emanating from your living area.

The best option to go for is the Holiday Inn. In the center of campus, your parents will be just a short walk away. It’s close enough to join the parents for breakfast, yet far enough to avoid exposing them to a good percentage of the wild partygoers, backless shirts and all.

So relax, enjoy the family reunion and the free food. Just don’t forget to book a Holiday Inn room.

– Lauren Unger

Museum

Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History

4400 Forbes Ave.

(412) 622-3131

Although free bus rides beat out the free Carnegie museum admission for the best free thing Pitt offers, two of the Carnegie’s museums, the Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History, took the prize for best museum.

Since it’s free, the museum should be more than just a place to visit on special occasions – a walk through its latest large-scale exhibit, “Panopticon,” or a quiet lunch in its courtyard could be a recipe for stress relief between classes.

Whether you crave the elementary-school field trip flashbacks brought on by visiting the museum’s exclusive collection of dinosaur bones and archaeological artifacts, or whether you prefer strolling through the museum’s Hall of Architecture, which holds a large collection of casts from famous architectural landmarks around the world, the museum is not only a great museum, but a great place to visit.

– Leslie Hoffman

Place to study

Hillman Library

According to one popular urban legend, Playboy magazine once ranked the first floor of Hillman Library as one of the best places in the country to meet women. Perhaps that is why so many young men love to “study” there. But poor, predictable innuendo aside, Hillman has much more to offer than flocks of available ladies.

The library’s Web site boasts 1.5 million volumes, more than 200 devices for computing, study capacity for 1,500 users, numerous departments, service points, and specialized collections. It’s the best place to study because it has the most options. Lit majors pour over texts on the fourth floor, social studiers congregate on the first. Those serious about their books gather in the reading room on the third floor, quietly honoring its sanctity.

Hillman is huge, comprehensive and flooded with female students. It has everything you could ask for in a library. But perhaps most importantly, it’s close. Because let’s be honest, those other factors deserve consideration, but there’s no way you’re walking an extra hundred yards to Carnegie.

– Eric Miller

Place to meet people

Towers lobby

Ah, another Friday night curled up with your Instant Messenger and biology reading assignment. Nothing but the lull of “you’ve got mail” and the sounds of your ultra loud neighbors to keep you from getting to bed before 11:30 p.m. or so.

Need some friends?

Well, sign off, change out of the week-old pajamas and get out into the world. The world of the Towers lobby, that is. Three freshman dorms joining into one small area make a virtual vortex of freshman fun.

With a constant stream of people traveling through its neutral-toned halls, you’re sure to find someone who you can share a laugh with. At the very least, you’ll find actual human interaction and perhaps stop using phrases like “laugh out loud” and drawing smiley faces on your papers.

So, be adventurous, be bold, even be bashful, but at least be something other than the kid stuck in your room on a Friday night.

– Lauren Unger

Place to get lost

Downtown

You’ve finally mustered up the courage to leave your dorm or apartment and head “Dahntahn.” You’ve selected the correct bus and have arrived in the concrete jungle, but where the hell are you?

The perplexing grid of streets and unfamiliar buildings can cause you to lose your bearings.

As businessmen and women slither by like pythons, you feel hopelessly lost. The sun begins to set behind the steel and glass skyscrapers and ominous shadows chase after you like a pride of lions.

After a brief chase, you’ve managed to arrive on the banks of the piranha-infested Allegheny River. But where should you go from here? You’ve heard ghastly stories about the Hill District and you don’t know how to ride the “T.”

Thankfully, Tarzan the bus driver is always willing to drop by and swing you back to the safe confines of Oakland.

– Ben Greiner

Place to escape to

Schenley Park

When the toils of college life seem overwhelming, why not escape to Oakland’s oasis, Schenley Park?

Nestled just south of Carnegie Mellon University, the 456-acre utopia is a far cry from Oakland’s panhandlers, traffic and renegade buses.

The land that is currently Schenley Park, the third largest city park on the East Coast, was donated by wealthy heiress Mary Croghan Schenley in 1889.

Visitors to Schenley Park can take advantage of its numerous amenities and allow their troubles to melt away. Such features include tennis courts, baseball diamonds and Phipps Conservatory.

Schenley’s rolling hills provide the perfect opportunity to sunbathe in the summer and jog on crisp autumn mornings. Whether you need a study break or are looking for the perfect place to toss the Frisbee, Schenley Park is heaven.

– Ben Greiner

Place to break up

Over the phone

Whether you’re scared, heartless or just plain ignorant, the telephone is the perfect place to break up.

Breaking up in person can be messy. The arguing, the tears and the confessions of past affairs – they’re all unnecessary. That’s why the phone is great for dumping someone.

After your ex-to-be picks up on the other end, you can rattle of the phrase you’ve spent weeks practicing in front of the bathroom mirror: “Hi I just wanted to say it’s not you it’s me and I decided I’d better tell this to you now so anyway, can we just be friends?”

Phew! Your task is accomplished and you’re feeling much better about yourself. But there’s a problem: Your girl/boyfriend was on speed dial one and you hit speed dial two by accident. You’d better get dear old grandma back on the horn and tell her you called her by mistake. But look on the bright side, you have a practice round under your belt.

– Ben Greiner

Place to study abroad

London

It’s nice to get out of Oakland for a weekend, a week, or even a whole semester. Have yet to master Spanish, French, or German? There is no better place to spend a semester abroad than London.

Pitt’s Study Abroad Office offers Pitt In London programs each fall and spring semester. While in Europe, students are required to take field trips to Bath and the ever-puzzling Stonehenge. The beauty of Europe is that while you may be stationed in London for the semester, that doesn’t mean you have to stay there. Europe is at your fingertips, and weekend excursions to places such as Italy, France and Amsterdam are all possibilities to see how the other hemisphere lives.

In addition to taking classes in London, students can also earn up to six internship credits. Real world experience is always impressive on a resume, but even more so if it is in another part of the world.

– Katie Mavrich

Spring break destination

Cancun, Mexico

One week with no classes, no homework, no tests. One week filled with white sandy beaches, crashing waves, Corona, Dos Equis, tequila and margaritas. One week in Cancun, Mexico, this year’s best place to escape for spring break.

With packages that are all-you-can-eat or drink in a place where women – and men, don’t forget the men – have gone wild, it’s hard to say you have experienced college if you haven’t experienced spring break in Cancun.

The day presents spring breakers with a choice: Relax on the beach, go scuba diving, parasailing, or sit at a pool bar and drink. When night falls, hop along the strip and hit up Senor Frogs, Fat Tuesdays and many other clubs.

The rule is don’t drink the water, unless you want to spend the week in the bathroom. If you want this to be the best spring break ever, remember to stay away from the ice, too.

– Katie Mavrich

Place to smoke

The Ashtray

Towers Patio? What’s that? Oh, you mean the Ashtray.

People are in the Ashtray at almost anytime of night, you can always find someone to talk to, and party invites occur at the most random of times. Rain, snow, Pathfinder tours – nothing stops the denizens of the ‘tray.

It’s a place to make life-long friends, a place to catch up with people you haven’t seen in a long time, and a great meeting place to head to parties in the wilds of South Oakland.

If you live above it, it’s an annoyance because the people down there never shut up. Ever.

But above all, it’s a place to smoke. Someone will always let you bum a cigarette. And the answer to the question “You got a light?” is always “yes.”

– Natalie Preston

Residence hall

Sutherland Hall

It’s got its own computer lab, 7-Eleven, mailroom and dining hall. Buses exist for the purpose of delivering students straight to its doors, and all around there are places to party. What other residence hall could win this category?

Fondly referred to by some as “the Red Roof Inn,” Sutherland is made up of two wings, both with their own laundry facilities, with nine floors of dormitory rooms. Each floor has its own television and study lounge, and the bathrooms are all at least semi-private.

Conveniently located above the Petersen Events Center on the hill, Sutherland Hall is every student’s dream, unless that dream doesn’t include cleaning your own bathroom.

– Natalie Preston

Place to nap

Your own bed

You’ve tried it in class, but those seats are too uncomfortable. You’ve given it a shot on the bus, but those other passengers give you weird looks when you wake up with saliva running down your chin. Any drowsy student knows your best bet for a nap is definitely your own bed.

Sure, this may require shifting that massive pile of books, clothes and other clutter from your bed to the floor. But the comfy dent you’ve put in the mattress and pillows is all your own, and the sheets have your own comfortable, familiar scent. And it’s a great feeling to wake up and know exactly where you are and that nobody strange or important has been watching you.

Feel free to drool, snore, or sleep in your underwear. Your door is shut, the music’s off, and your alarm is set for the seven minutes left before your next class. Go for it.

– Michelle Scott

University building

Cathedral of Learning

The Cathedral of Learning is the only place you can study, eat, attend a class and get a vigorous workout.

If you procrastinate before your big exam, as many of us do, the Cathedral offers multiple tables for last-minute studying room.

Of course, if you don’t have an exam that day, you can procrastinate for the one you have later on in the week by getting something to eat on the ground floor in the Cathedral Cafe or by getting a cup of coffee from the Starbucks stand.

After eating, you can work off the calories by climbing your way up to class via stairwell.

And for those who are too tired to do any of those things because they are not ditching their class to sleep, they can take a quick 10-minute nap while waiting for the elevator. Then they can take another five-minute nap in the elevator, because they will never be rid of those people who insist on taking up time and space to go from the first floor to the third floor.

– Rochelle Hentges

Place to be alone

Your room

Is it cramped? Most likely. Is it cluttered? Probably. Is it a poorly lit cave? If you live in the Towers, that’s without a doubt. But your room is the best and perhaps only place where you can shut the door and wallow in the pleasures of your own company.

You can limit your human contact to flashing Instant Messages or talking on the phone, smirking and rolling your eyes with the delicious knowledge that only you are aware of your body language.

You’re free to sit immersed in your unique stuff – posters of obscure movies and bands from your hometown, photographs of you and your best friend that have spawned hundreds of inside jokes, the worn teddy bear you’ve had since you were 6 and still refuse to part with.

It’s the think tank you can run off to when you just can’t put off that calculus homework any longer. It’s a haven where you can sprawl out on your bed and do nothing but listen to the oldies CDs you’d never tell the kids on your floor about.

It probably needs to be vacuumed and laundry dangles from every flat surface, but your room is your own little chunk of the planet where you can simply be yourself.

– Michelle Scott

Place to get arrested

Towers lobby

When it comes to drinking, experience is key.

And when it comes to experience, freshmen have a rather short supply.

And when it comes to drinking to the point of utter stupidity, throwing up in public, or attempting to hug a police officer, most freshman make Towers lobby their venue of choice. So it’s no surprise that there’s often a Pitt police officer in the area – after all, this isn’t the first year freshman have gotten drunk.

So it’s no surprise the Towers lobby was voted the best place to get arrested. In fact, Towers lobby received more votes than frat parties, dorm rooms and football games combined.

The moral: If you’ve avoided the long arm of the law thus far, maybe you should think twice before setting up your beer pong tournament next to the e-mail kiosks. After all, your luck has to run out sometime, and it seems likely that might happen in Towers lobby.

– Dave Hartman

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Best of Places