5 FREE Things to Experience in Downtown Pittsburgh During Connection 2017

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(Pictured above: the awesome view from Point State Park!)

So you are coming to Connection 2017 in Pittsburgh. Great! Downtown Pittsburgh is known for many things: champion sports teams, fantastic restaurants, biking accessibility, potholes, and Yinzers. (Don’t know what a Yinzer is? Check out my Insider’s Guide to Connection 2017 post!)

In addition to all of the wonder things mentioned above, Downtown Pittsburgh also offers many free opportunities for its growing number of residents and tourists to appreciate and experience!

 

  • Point State Park

One of the most beautiful things about the city of bridges are the views, especially of the rivers. A great place to view the rivers is from Point State Park. Since 1974, Pittsburghers have been visiting Point State Park to see the actual point where the majestic Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers combine to make the Ohio River. Point State Park also commemorates the historical heritage of the area during the French and Indian War. The original fort is displayed in the form of a concrete zig zagging outline in the grass.

I enjoy walking to Point State Park with my family and sitting near the beautiful fountain while people watching and enjoying the refreshing green space. The fountain is actually visible from many angles of the city. In fact, as you travel to downtown, you too will likely be able to view Point State Park and the fountain as you enter the Golden Triangle, or downtown, from one of the many bridges.

 

  • Three Rivers Heritage Trail

The Three RIvers Heritage Trail is a 37 mile long trail connecting The Great Allegheny Passage, the developing Erie to Pittsburgh Trail, and the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Greenway. Downtown Pittsburgh is the connectivity hub of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Cyclists, runners, and those out for a casual walk along the river all find unique, beautiful views of the city from this vantage point.

I suggest entering the trail from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center 10th Street water feature that goes under the building and leads to the Riverfront Plaza. From here, you can turn right and walk to the Strip District, or turn left and walk to Point State Park.

 

  • Downtown Art Walking Tour

Pittsburgh boasts some incredible architecture and cultural objects. The Greater Pittsburgh Art Council and the City of Pittsburgh Department Planning combined forces and created the Office of Public Art. This office created the Art in Public Places Walking Tour to display Pittsburgh’s art in five separate guided walking tours.

I suggest taking the first tour: Cultural District. Contemporary art is integrated into public spaces including my personal favorite, the “eyeball park”. Officially known as the Agnes R. Katz Plaza, you can sit in one of the eyeball shaped benches and view the great heated fountain that flows year round in the heart of the Cultural District.

 

  • Market Square

A common downtown meeting place is Market Square. Located at the intersection of Forbes Avenue and Market Street, this historic area not only provides public benches to sit and people watch, but also a great variety of restaurants from fast and casual to fine dining. Market Square is the home of many Pittsburgh events including a weekly Farmer’s Market in the summer, holiday hot spot in the winter, and a common landing point for parades year round.

What I like most about the Square is the combination of historical and modern culture. For example, Pittsburgh’s oldest bar and restaurant, the Oyster House, has called Market Square home since 1871. Conversely, the interactive PPG fountain has been a family favorite since only 2003.

 

  • Bobby Mo’s Walking Tour

Robert Morris University, affectionately called “Bobby Mo” by locals, has a Walking Tour of Pittsburgh. This one-hour talking tour (available in .mp3 format here) goes beyond just the architecture and dives into the history of the city. The 15 stop walking tour starts at Sixth Avenue and Grant Street, circles around the city, through Market Square onto Penn Avenue, and then back to William Penn Place and Sixth Avenue.

I love that RMU offers this tour in 11 languages – it is truly designed for international tourists.

I hope you are able to take advantage of some of these free offerings in the City of Bridges during your stay.

 

About Connection 2017

Commonly referred to as the UN-conference, Connection is more than an event – it’s an experience. It’s an opportunity to explore new insights, the latest advances, and genius developments, all mixed with a sprinkle of grounded wisdom. More than that, it’s an opportunity to reflect in ways we often don’t have time for.

Connection brings together inspiring speakers, influential leaders, innovative practitioners, and a passionate national audience for this immersive experience. This year’s event is being held on September 20th-21st in a city known for innovation: Pittsburgh, PA.

Tickets to Connection 2017 are now sold out! If you have questions, please contact us at emily@manynet.org.

The Insider’s Guide to Connection 2017 in Pittsburgh

By | Pittsburgh | No Comments

 

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So you are coming to Pittsburgh for Connection 2017! Wonderful news!

The first 5 items on the list are logistical pieces that will help you navigate your week through all of our scheduled events. Each item includes insider tips from a Pittsburgher.

The last 5 items are a few things to help you plan your visit from a cultural perspective before you travel Dahntahn.


1. Getting from the airport to the hotel

The airport is 17 miles from Omni William Penn hotel. You may take an Uber, Lyft, or taxi from the airport. You could also take public transit. The 28X bus goes from the airport to downtown. The Liberty and Wood Street stop is the closest to the hotel. The bus comes every 30 minutes starting at 4:30 am and running until midnight every day of the week. Plan for 30-45 mins to get from airport to downtown.

Insider tip: If you are taking an Uber, Lyft or taxi, and don’t mind sitting in traffic, ask your driver to take the parkway. When you come through the Fort Pitt tunnel you will see a breathtaking city view.


2. Parking at the Omni

If you are driving to Connection, the Omni offers valet parking for guests at a cost of $36 per night and includes in-and-out privileges.

Insider Tip: If you do not need in and out access to your vehicle, you may park across the street in the Mellon Square garage. While there is no in-and-out privilege for this garage, the rates are more cost effective: $19 Monday – Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; $6 Monday – Friday, 4:00 p.m. to 5:59 a.m. (Day rates start at 6:00 a.m.) and all day Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and weekends.


3. Sign up for Omni’s Loyalty program

I know – another loyalty program. This is a really good one though! Members get immediate benefits such as free Wi-Fi, morning beverage delivery service, a complimentary bottle of water on the night of arrival, and complimentary pressing of 2 items.

Insider Tip: sign up here before you check in.

 

4. Getting to Pittsburgh Opera House from Omni

Pittsburgh Opera House is located 1 mile away from the Omni. There are multiple ways to get there.

Walking through downtown and the Strip District is a great way to see the city and truly experience the local culture. It will take about 30 minutes to walk from the Omni to Pittsburgh Opera House.

Insider tip: If you have a time for a longer walk, check out Three RIvers Heritage Trail. (see my post 5 FREE Things to Experience in Downtown Pittsburgh for more on this trail!)

 

Pittsburgh is a cycling friendly city. Penn Avenue is one way for vehicles in order to allow for a bike lane. Didn’t travel with your bike? No problem! Healthy Ride is a bike share service available in downtown Pittsburgh. Bikes are available 24/7. You may rent a bike using the keypad or app from one station and return it to another closer to your destination. The bikes cost $2 per 30 minutes.

Insider Tip: Healthy Ride is currently running a promotion. You may ride for free using voucher code: 436243. Note that they do not have helmets, so you will need to travel with your helmet.

 

Pittsburgh public transportation is also an option. The 87S has a stop close to the Omni at Grant Street and US Steel Building, and drops off 1 block away from the Pittsburgh Opera House entrance at Liberty Avenue and 25th street. This bus route will cost $2.75 and take about 10 minutes.

Insider tip: view their trip planner and schedule your own customized trip, complete with maps and route options.

 

If you are driving to the Pittsburgh Opera House, there is plenty of metered street parking. The meters are zoned and you will pay the meter in your zone. You may use the kiosks located on the street, or you can download the Go Mobile PGH Parking app. To use the app, enter the zone number marked on the kiosk nearest your car, choose the duration you wish to park, confirm information, and begin your session. The hourly costs vary by hour, but zone 5958 near the Opera House costs $1.50 per hour. The app also has an option for expiration alerts and the option to extend your session.

Insider tip: There is a 4 hour time limit.

 

If all else fails you can take an Uber, Lyft or taxi. Plan for about a 10 minute drive from the hotel to the Pittsburgh Opera House – perhaps a bit more if traffic is heavy.

 

5. Schedule

There is a lot happening during Connection week!

 

September 19:

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Informal Happy Hour – offsite

 

September 20: (all events at Omni William Penn)

8:00 am – 9:00 am: Strategy Session Registration

9:00 am – 5:00 pm: Strategy Session

4:30 pm – 6:30 pm: Connection Ticket Will Call

5:00 pm – 6:30 pm: Connection Opening Session

 

September 21: (all events at Pittsburgh Opera House unless otherwise noted)

8:30 am – 9:30 am: Progressive Welcome (breakfast provided)

9:30 am – 11:00 am: Session 2

11:00 am – 1:00 pm: Experiential Station I (lunch provided offsite)

1:00 pm – 2:15 pm: Session 3

2:15 pm – 3:15 pm: Experiential Station II

3:15 pm – 4:45 pm: Session 4

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Session 5 (heavy hors d’oeuvres provided, offsite)

 

6. Learn to Talk the Talk

Before traveling to Pittsburgh, it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with Pittsburghese. Pittsburghese is the language of the locals. It includes such phrases and words as: Raise the Jolly Roger, Stillers, Jagoff, N’at, Here we go, Yinz, Let’s go Pens, Nebby, and Dahntahn.

Resources:

 

7. Music with a Pittsburgh Connection

Pittsburgh is home to some great musical and performance artists. Some have a strong local following, while others have taken the national and international stage.

These songs may not be by Pittsburghers, but they are still hometown favorites to all Steelers fans!

 

8. City of Bridges

Pittsburgh boasts 446 bridges within the city limits, which is more than Venice, Italy. The bridges range in styles from arch, beam, to suspension. In fact, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center’s design is patterned after the suspension bridges the building’s architect Rafael Vinoly saw when visiting the city. More than 29 bridges cross the three rivers, including the famous Roberto Clemente Bridge, which is closed to Pirates games to allow pedestrians to walk from Downtown to PNC Park on the North Shore.

Want more info on bridges? Heinz History Center has a great article about The City of Bridges. .

 

9. Pierogies!

There are a ton of great restaurants in the ‘burgh. However, to really get a taste of old school Pittsburgh cuisine, have a homemade pierogi. Why? Because they are delicious n’at! One of the best places in the city to get a pierogi is at S&D Polish Deli in the Strip. As the website describes:

Pierogi we offer are made of the freshest and best quality ingredients. Polish flour that contains less gluten than the one available in American stores, causes the dough to be soft and stretchy. As a result the Pierogi have a thin and delicate shell of dough covering plenty of delicious filling in 15 different flavors. Once cooked and dressed they just melt in your mouth!

Watch a Pierogi Race and try a homemade pierogi. You will thank me.

 

10. City of Champions

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that Pittsburgh truly is the City of Champions. So, wave your Terrible Towel, yell “Let’s go Pens,” and Raise the Jolly Roger as you read just how many championships the hometown sports teams have won.

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl in 1975, 1976, 1979, 1980, 2006, and 2009.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 1991, 1992, 2009, 2016, and 2017.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series in 1909, 1925, 1960, 1971, and 1979.

Think you are ready to visit Pittsburgh? Test your knowledge!

 

About Connection 2017

Commonly referred to as the UN-conference, Connection is more than an event – it’s an experience. It’s an opportunity to explore new insights, the latest advances, and genius developments, all mixed with a sprinkle of grounded wisdom. More than that, it’s an opportunity to reflect in ways we often don’t have time for.

Connection brings together inspiring speakers, influential leaders, innovative practitioners, and a passionate national audience for this immersive experience. This year’s event is being held on September 20th-21st in a city known for innovation: Pittsburgh, PA.

Tickets to Connection 2017 are now sold out! If you have questions, please contact us at emily@manynet.org.