Guide to Valentine's Day in Pittsburgh: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

Love locks on Schenley Bridge in Pittsburgh.

Codemaster / Getty Images

A city historically associated with steel production and industrialization may not be the obvious choice for Valentine's day getaways, but Pittsburgh today is better known for its hip vibe, rich cultural events, and stunning beauty, both natural and architectural. Take a stroll along one of the hundreds of bridges in the city (there are more bridges here than in Venice, Italy), enjoy an elegant dinner cruise along the three rivers that converge in downtown, or embrace the winter weather with a date on the ice rink.

If you want to escape from the clichéd date of dinner and a movie, Pittsburgh offers all types of out-of-the-box ideas for you and your loved one this Valentine's Day.

01 of 09

Clay and Wine at the Union Project

Union Project Pottery Making

Union Project

If you want to get dirty this Valentine's Day, sign up for a ceramics class. The community center Union Project, located near Highland Park, puts on workshops throughout the year for participants to learn how to mold clay, but on February 14 you can take part in a special holiday class that includes clay, firing, and wine. Shake up the usual Valentine's plans of a fancy dinner out and try something new; you'll even get to bring your creation home as a romantic memento.

This out-of-the-box idea is great for couples, first dates, or an evening with friends, and it's even a chance to meet new friends. Everyone gets a chance to throw the wheel and use their hands, and if your pottery doesn't turn out how you imagined, you can always enjoy the free wine.

For Valentine's Day 2021, the event is taking place virtually. Participants are able to pick up clay and supplies from the studio and then take part in an online tutorial for shaping their products. Afterward, drop off your creation at the studio and they'll fire it for you.

02 of 09

Valentine's Day Skates

PPG Place iceskating Pittsburgh

 PPG Place

Few wintertime activities are as romantic as ice skating, and Pittsburgh has plenty of options for you to hit the rinks. The two county rinks, one up in North Park and the other in South Park, offer a buy one, get one admission special on Valentine's Day, which is perfect for an inexpensive date idea.

Schenley Skating Rink, which is run by the city of Pittsburgh, is more centrally located and offers a treat-filled special deal on Valentine's Day.

The Rink at PPG Place is privately owned and a little more expensive, but in exchange, you can skate on a rink that's sure to be less crowded and sits underneath the gorgeous PPG skyscraper for an unforgettable night of romance.

For the 2021 season, all Pittsburgh ice rinks require tickets to be purchased in advance, usually with a reserved time slot of when you're allowed to visit. Confirm the entry guidelines at the specific rink that you plan to visit.

03 of 09

'Burgh Bits & Bites Valentine's Strip District Food Tour

Strip District, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

peeterv / Getty Images

If you and your partner enjoy food and adventure, then a culinary tour with 'Burgh Bits & Bites is just the ticket for a perfect Valentine's Day experience. The Strip District Market Tour on February 12, 2021, takes you both on a guided tour through Pittsburgh's historic market district. You'll both get to savor Italian pastries, Mediterranean specialties, Polish snacks, and more, all while learning about the rich history of Pittsburgh's melting pot culture on a guided tour.

04 of 09

Valentine's Dinner Cruise

Gateway Clipper Fleet Riverboat
Michael Righi / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Head out to the waters and enjoy a special Valentine's cruise on the Three Rivers. Gateway Clipper offers a romantic Valentine's Day dinner cruise that's ideal for couples looking for a romantic night together. Not only is there a full bar and buffet dinner, but a live DJ plays hits from the '70s, '80s, and '90s to keep you both dancing and warm throughout the night with the Pittsburgh skyline gliding by as a backdrop.

Parents like to celebrate Valentine's Day, too, and finding a babysitter isn't always an option. So, bring the kids on board for an Ice Princess Valentine's Ball, with special appearances by the characters from "Frozen." Interactive activities keep the kids busy so moms and dads can enjoy an intimate moment alone on the water, even if it is just a moment. However, the Ice Princess Valentine's Ball is not taking place in 2021.

For those who are young or young at heart, the Valentine's Day Moonlight Dance Party is a maritime ball with an included Tex-Mex buffet and a full bar for purchase. This floating dance club is typically a hit for couples and groups of friends, but it's canceled for Valentine's Day 2021.

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05 of 09

I Made It! Mine Market

I Made It! Market

I Made It! Market

The I Made It! Mine market is not scheduled to take place in 2021, but the event organizers have published a list of local artisans and small businesses to support while you do your Valentine's shopping.

If you want to give a homemade gift to your Valentine but don't have the talent to actually make something, the "I Made It!" market is just what you need. This regular event hosts pop-up markets around Pittsburgh featuring local vendors who have designed, created, and produced their products all by hand.

Before Valentine's Day, the organizers host a special version of the market called "I Made It! Mine," which now boasts over 100 artisans selling their crafts. The event, at The Block Northway shopping center, is a great opportunity to find a gift that your loved one will be crazy about while also supporting independent crafters.

06 of 09

RSG1 Valentine's Day 5K and 10K Race

Charity runners
Stuart Grout / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The RSG1 Valentine's Race was canceled for 2021.

Not all Valentine's plans are about eating out, chocolate, and commercialized gifts. If you're looking for plans that are beneficial for you, your partner, and the community, sign up for the RSG1 Valentine's Race at North Park. The mission of RSG1 is to advance cures and therapies for patients afflicted with brain tumors, cancer, and other neurological diseases and disorders through treatment, research, and human clinical trials. All proceeds from this special Valentine's Day race help them to advance that mission.

This aerobic and altruistic event is followed by a post-race party, so you can celebrate your good deed with your loved one and fellow runners.

07 of 09

Animal Instincts: Dinner at the Pittsburgh Zoo

Pittsburgh Zoo kissing booth

Pittsburgh Zoo

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium closed through February 2021.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium hosts a special adults-only Valentine's dinner with a four-course formal dinner that starts with hors d'oeuvres and salad, followed by an entree of artichokes with herb-crusted chicken and slow-roasted sirloin, and finished with strawberry shortcake and vanilla brandy hot cocoa, plus a cash bar throughout the entire night.

But if the menu and drinks aren't enough to entice you, the evening also includes a humorous and very informative presentation about how exotic animals mate, to keep with the theme of the holiday. Some of the smaller residents of the zoo may even make an appearance at dinner, so you can get up close and personal with the animals.

08 of 09

Pittsburgh Symphony

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Nick Amoscato / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

All concerts at the Pittsburgh Symphony were canceled through March 2021.

Every year for Valentine's Day, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performs a special composition known for its sensuality and also invites a renowned musician to grace the Heinz Hall in downtown Pittsburgh. For the ultimate highbrow Valentine's Day date, don't miss out on one of these concerts.

At the 2020 event, Composer Vasily Petrenko led the orchestra in Maurice Ravel's "Daphnis and Chloe," an opus that Stravinsky called "one of the most beautiful products of all French music." Then, the violin virtuoso Ray Chen, who has performed in top concerts around the world, treated the audience to Sibelius' "Violin Concerto."

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09 of 09

Valentine's Day Tea in a Tudor Mansion

Hartwood Mansion in Hartwood Acres Park

MikeMurphy / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

The Valentine's Day event at Hartwood Mansion was canceled for 2021.

Hartwood Acres Park is just 10 miles northeast of downtown Pittsburgh and is considered one of the most beautiful parks in the entire county. The highlight is the Hartwood Mansion, an English-style manor surrounded by gardens that look like a scene straight from a fairytale. You and your partner can treat yourselves to a special three-course tea, followed by a guided tour of the home and grounds.

This event fills up fast, so register well in advance to take part in this romantic excursion.

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