The Best of Pittsburgh
Bob and Dad on the Ballpark Tour in 2008

In September of 2008, Dad and I brought our Ballpark Tour to Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

This was a strange trip. We landed in Cleveland on a Monday, got in our car, and immediately drove to Pittsburgh. Then, after two nights there, we checked out of our hotel on Wednesday morning and returned to Cleveland for the last day and night before leaving early on Thursday for home.

And yet, amazingly enough, after considering some of the chaos and travel, this trip is likely the one that will most resemble our future trips in the quest to see a ballgame played in ever major league baseball stadium. We have previously journeyed to Fenway, Wrigley, Camden Yards, Shea and Yankee Stadium. This time though… it wasn’t a day trip (Boston, New York)… it wasn’t a trip we had both made with another purpose to it and a ballgame tossed in (Baltimore)… it wasn’t a “see the Sox play the Cubs at Wrigley” journey with alot thrown in (I feel compelled to say Chicago and continue what I started, but since I said Wrigley I would hope you know it was Chicago).

This time we deliberately sought out the stadium tours available at PNC Park and Progressive Field. We used lessons learned mainly during the Chicago trip to give us a few local attractions we would be looking at for sightseeing or meals. And… amazingly smart to do, always there in some way before, but really contributing this time… we asked people we met where they would go if they were us. In Cleveland we found The Winking Lizard thanks to this approach… in Pittsburgh we walked across the Sixth Street Bridge into the city for lunch.

For this particular travel log, things are a bit different. All of this… from the travel to the companion columns that will focus on each ballpark… means no traditional diary for you, and no single list of good and bad. Instead, here are some of the things we really enjoyed in Pittsburgh and a few thoughts to go along with each one. Just a simple list of things we enjoyed.

The city of Pittsburgh was absolutely filled with surprises… great surprises… unexpected surprises. From the moment you exit a tunnel to find yourself in Pittsburgh through an amazing array of sections and neighborhoods that just dazzle the mind. Heck, Dad and I were impressed with Market Square… and the city unveiled plans to revive that area after we visited.

The Good Stuff

Ball park tour – PNC Park
Our tour was with a great young girl named Kate. She was enthusiastic about leading our group (and about the Pirates). She was knowledgeable about things and impressed our group… not easy considering we took the tour with a couple of other old-timers, who, like Dad, were capable of going way back over decades of trivia while readily recalling names. And, her socks (alternating stripes of black and yellow) led to a great conversation about how all professional sports teams in Pittsburgh use the same colors. (Seriously… that had never occurred to me before.)

The tour covered all of the major areas of the ballpark… press box, club levels, and indoor batting cages. I’ll leave some of the great other details for the next section… because PNC Park may be the best ballpark in major league baseball today.

PNC Park
Outside of PNC Park are three statues… Honus Wagner, Willie Stargell, and Roberto Clemente. (You already knew that. And if you didn’t… those are the three you probably would have guessed. There is one for Bill Mazeroski on the way.) These statues are part of the charm at a brilliantly designed ballpark.

Let’s take Clemente. His statue faces into the stadium… effectively allowing him to watch right field, his regular playing position. His number… 21… is found in the height of the outfield wall in right field, which rises 21-feet. In other words, the history is there, in amazingly subtle and wonderfully appropriate ways.

The view of the city is breathtaking… and just a beautiful feature at night. It is as gorgeous a sight as you could possibly imagine for a baseball field.

And then there’s Legacy Square and a Negro League exhibit (including the Legacy Theater). There are statues commemorating some of the greats, with interactive displays. Words fail me on this one. Maybe it was because the park wasn’t busy once the gates opened for the game… allowing us to not only enjoy some of this area during our tour, but also after we arrived that night… it is simply not to be missed in a visit to the park. For something built inside a baseball stadium, it is a tremendous element.

We enjoyed this park as much as any we’ve been to. It may not have been the most exciting and lively… sold out and loud, so to speak… but when it comes to including everything there aren’t many that could claim to have done it any better.

Mount Washington overlook
We drove along Grandview Avenue and stopped a couple of times to take in the sight of the city across the Monongahela River. The street name says it all… grand view. Simply incredible. In a city that was filled from beginning to end with surprises… including the amazing unveiling of the city when using the Fort Pitt Tunnel… this was one of the best. I’m almost ready to declare it a must-do if you visit the city, because it really brings the entire picture together… the rivers… the city… the sporting venues… fantastic. Heck… let’s do it…

The overlook is a must-do when visiting the city. I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this, but between Mount Washington and the outfield at PNC Park, Pittsburgh has some of the most gorgeous views of a city that I’ve ever seen.

Day’s Inn (Coraopolis)
We stayed roughly thirty minutes outside of Pittsburgh, and overall this was a great place for us. Because we were a bit unfamiliar with the drive… the city and surrounding areas are an interesting network of highways and crossroads… it did seem a bit strange at first. Still, we couldn’t have asked for a better inexpensive hotel.

It was clean, offered a continental breakfast, and was right next to the highway. Everything we wanted we found very easily.

North Park Clubhouse (Robinson)
According to what I can find on the internet, there are two locations for the North Park Clubhouse. Since we stayed in Coraopolis, I’m pretty comfortable saying we ate in Robinson. Even my notes say that.

Trouble is… the web site I found pretty much lists only their other location, in Gibsonia.

This was a very unexpected find for us. Basically we flew in the morning… stopped at a McDonald’s near Youngstown, Ohio on the drive to Pittsburgh… and took it easy all afternoon. A bit of sightseeing… a bit of bakery stopping (for some incredible reason my notes list Enrico’s Biscotti, even though there is no location listed near where I know we were, a few blocks from the Monongahela… but since Enrico’s does sell at other outlets, try them, because what we had were incredible)… and had nothing really planned at all for dinner and the evening.

We debated going to the game that night as well, but decided instead to kick back, find a place to eat, and maybe watch some of the game wherever that turned out to be. What we found worked perfectly… with the Clubhouse offering one television showing the Pirates game and another broadcasting the NESN feed of Boston and Tampa.

According to my notes Dad had a steak wrap, and I went with an order of honey BBQ wings and a jalapeno pretzel. Looks like the menu has changed, either over time since our visit or because of the location problem I mentioned a moment ago. Whatever… the atmosphere was friendly… the food was very good… we relaxed while watching a few innings of baseball… and overall had a great time.

Primanti Brothers (Market Square)
I’m about to insult a legend… but I have to…

Give me the fries on the side.

(There… I said it… and I’m not sorry about it. We liked the place, and I’d go back.)

The location was perfect. We walked from PNC Park over the Sixth Street Bridge (Robert Clemente Bridge). (This bridge is actually closed to vehicles during games to allow pedestrian traffic to the stadium. Pretty cool.) Nearby is the Pittsburgh Plate Glass building (ok… fine… PPG Industries building)… which forms an entire plaza on its own and is definitely worth visiting, even if just walking around outside for a few minutes.

(Ok… got it… Primanti Brothers… getting back there…)

It was good. We both enjoyed our sandwiches. (I went with turkey and Dad had steak.) It’s just that we both found them better after we removed alot of the fries and left a single layer of them in place. When left as served, the fries were a bit mushy and just overwhelmed everything else in the sandwich with the taste of a baked potato.

And… the Not-So-Good Stuff

Usually there are a few things that deserve mention if only to be a warning sign for those yet to travel on the road. So… a thing or two that might not have been so great… mentioned to help those that follow.

In Pittsburgh? I’ve got nothing.


I was going to mention the car… but that belongs with the rental agency and the vehicle type, and not here because we spent most of our time in Pittsburgh.

We found plenty of things to do, and enjoyed everything we tried.

Pittsburgh… you’ve got a beautiful ballpark, a great city, some hidden treasures and fantastic people. Thanks for everything.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at