Pittsburgh Point state park downtown

Pittsburgh Point State Park
Photo credit: VisitPittsburgh

Who said you have to spend money to have a good time? There are plenty of free activities in Pittsburgh for families to enjoy—from galleries to star gazing to free music!

1. See Downtown Pittsburgh Make an Entrance
Wondering why the New York Times called Pittsburgh the “only city with an entrance”? Simply drive from the Parkway West (I-376) into downtown via the Fort Pitt Tunnel and Bridge (the main route from the airport). Watch for it: You won’t want to miss a detail of the spectacular skyline and sparkling rivers as they appear suddenly before you.

2. Enjoy Free Wireless Internet
You won’t have to pay to stay connected in the ‘Burgh. For two hours, connect to the Internet anywhere downtown for free!

3. Get Around for Free
Go underground in Pittsburgh’s subway, called the “T,” which you can ride for free within the Golden Triangle. Downtown stops include Wood Street Station, U.S. Steel Tower, First Avenue Garage and Gateway Center.

4. Take a Downtown Walking Tour
See skyscrapers and soak up stories. Download a one-hour MP3 walking tour of downtown Pittsburgh to hear surprising tales from the past, see the best classic and modern skyscrapers, and sit down for coffee or Pittsburgh’s legendary lunch. These tours were created and recorded by Robert Morris University students and are available in 10 languages!

5. Visit Pittsburgh Glass Center
Experience contemporary glass art as well as other extravagant and unique exhibitions at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. Exhibitions change to include a number of different experiences. In one exhibit, visitors enter the Hodge Gallery through a replica of the Fort Pitt Tunnel and emerge to see a kaleidoscope view of the city.

Pittsburgh Glass Center6. Enjoy Live Jazz
Every Tuesday  from 5-11pm, families can relax and enjoy smooth jazz music played year-round at The Cabaret at Theater Square, Backstage Bar and Agnes R. Katz Plaza. Open to the public, this popular Pittsburgh Cultural Trust music series showcases some of the region’s finest jazz musicians.

7. Pittsburgh Banjo Club Practice Sessions
Receive a friendly welcome from the loyal crowd that gathers to sing along during the Pittsburgh Banjo Club‘s polished practice sessions on Wednesday nights at 8pm. Sessions typically include 40 or more banjo players with a little brass backing from a tuba and horns. The mood is lively, the beer is cheap and the entry at the door is free (just ring the buzzer).

8. See the Stars at Allegheny Observatory
Thursday nights, May through Aug; Friday nights, April through Oct, 8-10.m.
Turn your eyes to the skies during a free tour at the historic observatory. Enjoy a short slide or film presentation followed by a walking tour of the building, which ends at the Fitz-Clark refractor. On clear nights, view celestial objects within the telescope’s range. Reservations required; call (412) 321-2400 from 1-5pm Monday through Friday.

9. Old Allegheny County Jail Museum Self-Guided Tours
Mondays (except on government holidays), February-October, 11:30am-1pm.

The Old Allegheny County Jail, as seen in the film “Mrs. Soffel,” was completed in 1886 and in use until 1995. A portion of one of the cell blocks has been preserved as the “Old Allegheny County Jail Museum.” Enter the facility through the main Ross Street entrance (between 5th and Forbes avenues behind the Courthouse) or through the courtyard arch on Fifth Avenue. At either entrance, you will have to go through security.