There’s something special happening in the flyover states in America. You can call it the magic of perseverance or perhaps the unwillingness to give up, but whatever you call it just know that it is happening. What is commonly referred to as the Rust Belt has had a tumultuous past, from booming economic centers to declined and depressed states, now there appears to be a sort of 21st-century renaissance happening in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Sidewalk Hustle team recently spent a solid 48 hours in Pittsburgh exploring the city and taking in the culture rebirth. From fantastic contemporary art to classic modern American architecture, from experimental gastro incubator to a bourgeoning restaurant scene, Pittsburgh is taking their hard-working industrial know-how and applying it directly to the city.

Because we approached our visit to the City of Champions (their sports team franchises are those of legend and lore) with as no expectations we were surprised by what we encountered. Although not the metropolis sized destination that New York is, Pittsburgh offers a plethora of activities and culturally things to do.

NAs such we put together our essential “Must Do’s” from the city that we encourage you all to see when you find yourself in Pittsburgh. And we do highly recommend and encourage you to try to make some time to find yourself in Pittsburgh.

Mattress Factory Pittsburgh

The Mattress Factory

This is an absolute “Must” for any visitor to Pittsburgh. Founded in 1977, the Mattress Factory is a contemporary art museum and experimental lab featuring site-specific installations created by artists in residence from around the world. It is nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in site-specific, contemporary art and is notorious for pushing the boundaries of both artist and viewer. The unparalleled support that artists receive from the Mattress Factory, while working in residence, often results in the production of extraordinary artwork that propels the artist’s career and significantly impacts the field of contemporary art.

Smallman Galley - Restaurant incubator

Smallman Galley – Restaurant Incubator  

Smallman Galley is a launch pad for the best new restaurant concepts in Pittsburgh. For 18 months, four chefs run their own restaurants and have the autonomy to run their businesses the way they’ve always dreamed. This process helps expose the chefs to a network of real estate developers and financiers to make their restaurant dream become reality. The food is diverse and delicious and located in the heart of the Strip District.

Andy Warhol Museum-1

Andy Warhol Museum

No trip to Pittsburgh is complete until you visit The Andy Warhol Museum. Housing one of, if not the largest collection of art from Pittsburgh’s famous native son, the museum presents unique and intellectually stimulating exhibitions all year-round, continually displaying never-before-seen Warhol pieces. The artwork is on display within The Warhol’s six floors of gallery space which frequently rotate, providing an ever-changing experience for visitors. So no visit is ever really the same experience twice.

Butcher the Rye interior

Butcher & the Rye

Richard DeShantz is the chef and owner of Butcher and the Rye, in the Cultural District of Pittsburgh. The two-story restaurant is a destination for its extensive whiskey collection and creative menu, which offers contemporary riffs on rustic American dishes.  A definite must for any foodie or cocktail connoisseur.          

Phipps Conservatory

Phipps Conservatory

The is nothing more refreshing than taking a break from everything and wondering around a botanical garden. There is something about the beauty of flowers that helps you find your inner tranquility and Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is no different. House in a great steel and glass Victorian greenhouse, the conservatory has been inviting visitors to explore the beauty and mysteries of plants since 1893. Set amidst one of Pittsburgh’s largest greenspaces, Schenley Park, Phipps Conservatory stands as a cultural and architectural centerpiece of the city’s Oakland neighborhood.

The Whitfield at the Ace Hotel

The Whitfield at the Ace Hotel

The Whitfield is a neighborhood tavern that honors the rich and varied culinary traditions of Pittsburgh and greater Pennsylvania. It celebrates the region’s citizenry, bountiful agriculture and distinct way of life and is located inside the newly opened Ace Hotel.  The Whitfield offers a world-class seasonal menu showcasing locally sourced, sustainable vegetables and proteins. Working closely with small, independent farmers, ranchers and purveyors, Whitfield’s kitchen team crafts honest, approachable, simple and satisfying fare perfect for any occasion. The restaurant serves brunch daily, and breakfast is available all day, along with lunch, dinner and late-night menus. It is quickly becoming one of the coolest new hangouts and meeting spots in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty area.

Frank Lloyd Wright Falling Water

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water

Although it is a bit of a way outside of town, this is a MUST for anyone visiting Pittsburgh. Fallingwater, built on a cantilever over a waterfall, is a masterpiece of  the iconic American architect who changed the landscape of 20th-century design. Frank Lloyd Wright transcended notions of interior and exterior, between earth and artifice and Falling Water is perhaps the best example of this.

48 Hours in Pittsburgh-1

Now that you’ve read our Pittsburgh “Must Do’s” we strongly encourage you to make the trip and spend a couple days exploring and participating in the rebirth of a great American city.