A Local's Guide to Visiting the Strip District

How to Spend a Day in "The Strip" for Visitors and Locals

Bicyclists and pedestrians fill the street on a weekend in the Strip District.
••• The Strip District during Open Streets Pittsburgh, filled with cyclists and pedestrians on a summer day. Photo by Rossilynne Culgan

The Strip District, dubbed “The Strip” by locals, is the quintessential Pittsburgh neighborhood. If you’re visiting, do not miss this neighborhood. If you live here in Pittsburgh, there’s more to this neighborhood to explore that you haven’t yet seen -- guaranteed.

 

Though it is a small section of the city, this half-mile of land is full of character -- from dive bars to dance clubs, coffee shops to museums, and kitschy shops to markets.

Smallman Street and Penn Avenue make up the community’s walkable business district.

To get the full Strip District experience, plan to spend an entire weekend day -- or more -- in this neighborhood. Here’s a sample itinerary:

 

9 a.m.

Start with breakfast at one of two iconic Pittsburgh greasy spoon restaurants -- Pamela’s Diner or DeLuca’s Diner. Pamela’s hotcakes are so delicious even President Obama is a fan.

 

10:30 a.m.

Grab a coffee at La Prima Espresso Co., an authentic Italian coffeehouse. Then, wander the street-side markets and check out vendors selling everything from clothing to Terrible Towels to flowers to pastries. Shop local at Penn Avenue Pottery, Mon Aimee Chocolat, and many other speciality shops. Peruse the neighborhood’s many markets, such as Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, WFH Oriental Food Market, Reyna Foods Mexican Grocery, Wholey’s Market, and Pittsburgh Public Market.

 

12:30 p.m.

After all that walking, take a break for lunch at Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, an Argentinian restaurant so popular that there’s often a line out the door. But it is worth the wait. The steak burger and the Camarones (shrimp with garlic, rosemary, lemon, and olive oil) are stand-outs. The restaurant is BYOB with no corkage fee.

Note: Gaucho is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

A few other lunch ideas: Marty’s Market for sandwiches and salads, S&D Polish Deli for pierogies, and Bella Notte for pizza.

 

1:30 p.m.

Located in the Strip District, Heinz History Center is Pittsburgh’s history museum. Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, Heinz History Center chronicles 250 years of regional history. Within the History Center is the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, a must-see for sports fans.

Or, for art aficionados, check out the Society for Contemporary Craft, which presents the work of local, national, and international artists. The gallery focuses on “cutting edge exhibitions focused on multicultural diversity and non-mainstream art.” The Society’s store has a wide range of eclectic items for purchase. Note: The Society for Contemporary Craft is closed on Sundays.

Or, for foodies, take a tour of Wigle Whiskey. Learn about the distilling process and the history of the Whiskey Rebellion, plus enjoy a cocktail and a tasting along the way.

 

5:30 p.m.

It’s dinnertime. Head to Bar Marco (make a reservation in advance) for a gourmet meal and handcrafted cocktails in a trendy setting. Bar Marco made national headlines recently when it instituted a no-tipping policy, opting instead to pay workers a salaried wage.

A few other dinner ideas: Kaya for island cuisine, Roland’s for seafood, and Eleven for contemporary American cuisine.

 

7:30 p.m.

Save room for dessert at Klavon’s, a 1920s-era ice cream parlor that has maintained its original look.

 

8:30 p.m.

For seekers of night life: Try Lefty’s if you’re looking for a dive bar, Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle for an Irish pub, Cioppino for cigars, and Cavo for a nightclub. 

 

12 a.m.

Stop by the original Primanti Bros. for the classic Pittsburgh sandwich -- stacked high with meat, cheese, coleslaw, and french fries.

Then, head back to your hotel. The Hampton Inn and Suites is located within the Strip District. Downtown hotels are within walking distance of the Strip.