Peak viewing for brilliant fall foliage in southwestern Pennsylvania will be through this week, 90.5 FM’s Allegheny Front is reporting. Learn more here.
Sharing from Fitt PGH / Written by Reyna Scott
When it comes to parks and green spaces, Pittsburgh is pretty spoiled. From exploring the outdoors within the city, to more adventurous outings just a short drive away, there’s no shortage of opportunities to get outside around here. Especially when someone (ahem!) compiles a list of everything you need to know about our region’s city, county and state parks in one place.
Conveniently located in downtown Pittsburgh, this park is a great lunch break destination. Wait, a park in the middle of the city? Yep, that’s right! And that’s not all: it’s built on top of a parking garage. The park reopened last May after being restored due to the 60 years in use. The 1.37-acre area is a great spot to relax from the hustle and bustle of downtown’s office-goers.
This 259-acre park offers something for everyone. Hikers, bikers, and runners can enjoy the deeply wooded trails, while residents can also enjoy a swimming pool, playground, ball field, and even horseback riding. One of the landmarks at the park is the Allegheny Observatory, a major astronomical research institution, owned by the University of Pittsburgh. You may also notice the Chapel Shelter, which after a restoration completed in 2008, now allows for a great picnic spot.
Probably most popularly known for the marina, is Washington’s Landing. Don’t worry; you don’t have to have a boat to check out the area. Here you get the best of both worlds: a park and a view of the three rivers. If you need to regain some energy while exploring, there is a riverfront restaurant, Redfin Blues, located nearby where you can watch the boats while enjoying a drink.
The entrance of the park welcomes you with a large Victorian-style garden, which leads up to one of Pittsburgh’s many reservoirs, along with running and dog walking trails. If you’re looking for something to do with the entire family, you may want to check out the 50-meter swimming pool, the kiddie pool for the little ones, and the volleyball courts. Last but not least, we can’t forget about the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium!
This is the largest city park in Pittsburgh covering 600 acres of trails and baseball fields. Not only are the amenities endless at Frick Park during the warmer months, but also in the winter, which includes Blue Slide Park: the go-to spot for sledding. In fact, there is so many different activities to do in Frick Park, rapper Mac Miller even wrote two songs about it: “Frick Park Market” and “Blue Slide Park.”
For many college students Schenley Park is the perfect study spot being that it’s only a few minute walk from both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie University. While Schenley Park offer a fantastic view of the Cathedral of Learning, you would never even know you’re still in the city. A swimming pool in the summer, an ice skating rink in the winter, and an 18-hole golf course are just a few of the conveniences you can access to escape reality for a bit.
Better known as Allegheny Commons, this 64-acre park is the oldest in Pittsburgh. Built in 1867, in what was Allegheny City, the park once featured four fountains that have since demolished. But, thankfully, community groups are currently hard at work raising funds that would restore the park surrounding Lake Elizabeth to its original splendor.
South Side Park
When most people think of Southside they think bars, shops, and restaurants. Well, now its time to think hiking and biking, too! The park isn’t easily spotted because it’s hidden back in the slopes of Southside, but once find it, you’ll never want to leave. After exploring the wilderness for bit, don’t forget about East Carson Street… stop down for a drink at Fat Head’s Saloon or a “sammitch” at Primanti Bros.
Emerald View Park
This park includes three different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, not to mention best view of the city. You can even catch a movie at the park every week as a part of the free “Cinema in the Park” during the summer. When you’re looking to be a little more active, Emerald View Park also has basketball courts, baseball fields, and even a boxing club (a great way to relieve some stress)!
Located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Shadyside Avenue, Mellon Park is a great place to stop as you’re driving through Shadyside. The Walled Garden underwent a restoration of several years and was completed in June 2010. Since the update, the park has been offering events throughout the summer, which includes Summer Soul Line Dancing. Not interested in dancing? Don’t worry. You can schedule your own private events here, too!
August Wilson Park
For the past two years August Wilson Park, formerly Cliffside Park, has been under a redevelopment project. Before the renovation the park didn’t offer much, with overgrown shrubs, cracked pavement, and drainage problems. Thanks to the hard work from residents, the park now holds two play areas, a picnic area, a half basketball court, and not to mention a great view of the river.
After you’ve checked out all of the Pittsburgh parks, it’s time to see what the county parks have to offer. At some of these parks you will find longer trails, perfect for hiking and taking your dog for a walk, water spray parks for the kids (or adults…we don’t judge) and even a BMX track. You can be sure to stay active no matter the season!
Being that North Park is the largest in the county, you are sure to stay active and busy here. Walk, run, bike, or hike on the trails totaling 43 miles. During the summer go for a dip in what was once the largest pool in the world, or go paddle-boarding, kayaking, or take a ride on a pedal boat, or even go for a horse back ride. Don’t worry; there are winter activities at the park, too. When the lake freezes over maybe you want to try cross-country skiing or ice fishing.
This park may be the oldest in the county but that doesn’t mean it’s outdated by any means. 17 miles of trails is only the beginning. Here you will find a sand volleyball court, tennis courts, a golf course, and an ice skating rink. Oh and don’t forget the wave pool or amphitheater for summer concerts! But wait, there’s more… the BMX track is considered the best in the county.
This park is ideal for any of the winter lovers out there. Here you’ll find snowboarding, tubing, downhill skiing and trails for cross-country skiing. Don’t panic summer lovers; Boyce Park has activities for you too, including 21 miles of trails for hiking and biking. While you’re here be sure to check out the Nature Center, organic greenhouse, and take an art class or two!
Deer Lakes is known for it’s three spring-fed lakes, which provide year round fishing opportunities-a fisherman’s paradise. This park also sits on one of the highest points of all of Allegheny County, allowing for picture perfect views of the stars and planets. In fact, visitors can take a “tour of the sky” throughout the year. But that’s not all… enjoy the 18-hole disc golf course and water spray park while you’re here.
Just because this park is the smallest in the county doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do or see, especially for nature lovers. This spot is ideal for kids and bird enthusiasts, offering guided walks and nature camps. There’s also plenty of room to stretch your legs here with three soccer fields, a children’s play area, and 20 miles of trails. Great for the entire family!
The 31-room mansion is definitely the most recognizable part of this park. The mansion was lived in until 1974, which has since been used for weddings, tea parties, mansion tours, and parties. Aside from the iconic mansion, this park offers 15 miles of trails being shared with hikers, bikers, and cross-country skiers. Hartwood Acres provides entertainment, too! It’s known for its performance stage and Summer Concert Series. Be on the look on for who’s performing next!
This 1,100-acre park is great for field trips because it’s a current working farm. That’s right… this means there’s cows, pigs, goats, horses, and more. There’s even a milk house and a duck pond that the kids will be sure to love. While the park is extremely educational, stop by to enjoy the trails, picnic shelters, and water spray park on those hot summer days.
So, this park is pretty cool because it’s the only county park that has a professional diving well! After working up a sweat from the rugged hiking and biking trails, or playing tennis against your besties, cool off by taking a dip in the water. That’s right… you can drive, jump, or cannon ball into 17-feet deep water from a one, three, or 10-meter concrete platform (hopefully you’re not afraid of heights) or take a ride in the wave pool.
This park may be small to some, but large to nature lovers, especially tree lovers. Here you will find some of the oldest tree groves in PA. The garden within the park is also a hidden gem for weddings (shhh)! Of course there are trails and a playground to enjoy as well!
If you ever need to get away from the city for a little bit (it’s OK, it happens sometimes) check out these four state parks. Make it a weekend camping trip at Raccoon Creek State Park or go rock climbing at McConnell’s Mill. The great thing is that these state parks aren’t even too far away from home!
Point State Park
This park is conveniently located where the three rivers come together, known appropriately as “the point” or the “Golden Triangle.” As a part of this National Historic Landmark, Pittsburgher’s indulging in water ports including boating, paddle boarding, and kayaking are a very common sight. Be sure to check out the Fort Pitt Museum while you’re visiting, too… It tells the story of how Western PA plays a role during the French and Indian War (very educational)!
This state park is perfect for the adventurers out there. Bring your own kayak or canoe and you can whitewater raft down the Slippery Rock Creek. Provide your own equipment and you and your buddies can traverse the Rim Road Climbing area. This park even offers hiking trails for all ages and experience levels. Looking for more of a leisurely activity? Fishing is permitted almost anywhere along the creek. McConnell’s Mill is sure to please everyone!
Moraine State Park
Finally, a beach in Western PA! Moraine State Park provides not one, but two beaches along the shore of Lake Arthur. While we all love to catch some rays and go for a swim during the summer, this is only one of the amenities the park offers. While you’re here you can even book a cruise. OK, so maybe it isn’t to the Caribbean, but hey, who wouldn’t enjoy the scenery and wildlife that surrounds Lake Arthur? Or, if you’d rather take your own boat out on the lake, you can do so at the Davis Hollow Marina.
Raccoon Creek State Park
This state park has just about anything you can think of. Everything from horseback riding to camping to snowmobiling, pretty much you name it, you can do it here. Come here for a peace and quiet hike through the woods or a family camping trip. No matter the season, you will be sure to stay busy whether it is just for the day or for a week long vacation.
Riffing on – but apparently not affiliated with – the wildly popular Goodnight, Moon, it is one in a series of children’s board books heralding places across North America in hopes of “instilling an early appreciation for the continent’s natural and cultural wonders… starring a multicultural group of people visiting the featured area’s attractions and rhythmic language guides children through the passage of both a single day and the four seasons while saluting the iconic aspects of each place.”
Others include Good Night, New York; Good Night, New Orleans and – in Spanish – Buenas Noches, Estados Unidos.
Featured in Good Night, Pittsburgh are dreamy depictions of our region’s three rivers, parks, museums, zoo, aviary, sports teams, Cathedral of Learning and the Pitt Panther.
Check it out, young Pittsburghers!