The Steel City has no shortage of freebies, but when it comes to finding the best free things to do in Downtown Pittsburgh, where do you begin? Thankfully, we’ve put in the footwork and compiled a list to help you plan your next visit. We promise all of these activities are free—no strings attached.
1. Visit Point State Park
Marking the confluence where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers form the Ohio River, Point State Park offers one of the best views of the main Pittsburgh waterways. On nice weather days, its fountain is a gorgeous respite from the hustle and bustle of the city and the hot weather that often accompanies it. There’s plenty of space and grassy areas for dogs as well, so feel free to take yours.
2. Take a Ride on the “T”
One of the best free things to do in Downtown Pittsburgh is using its mass railway transit system. As long as you stay within the Golden Triangle or North Shore areas, you never have to pay a dime to use it. If, however, you plan on riding across the Monongahela River to Station Square and beyond, you will incur a small fee that can be paid upon exit.
3. Shop at the Strip District
Eclectic and all-around charming, The Strip District is one of my absolute favorite things to do in Downtown Pittsburgh. Filled with mom-and-pop grocery stores, it’s THE place to go when you’re looking for fresh produce and flowers, bread and cheese, and even Pittsburgh sports team merchandise. Saturday is the busiest day of the week, but it’s open year-round except for Sundays.
4. Play at Market Square
Within walking distance of Point State Park, Market Square is small but packs a visiting punch. The center area is a place for families to play games and listen to live music, while the surrounding buildings include restaurants and seasonal pop-up bars. During the winter holidays, both visitors and locals flock to it for its German Market—complete with Santa Claus meet and greets.
5. Visit Bicycle Heaven
Created from alive of two-wheeled beauties, Bicycle Heaven on The North Shore has countless bicycles for sale and several famous pieces from the movies. With its two stories of jam-packed inventory, it’s part shop, part museum, and is the largest bicycle museum in the world. My personal favorites are the red and white bike from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and the impressive collection of vintage bikes.
6. Learn About the World Culture at the Nationality Rooms
Mosey into The Cathedral of Learning at Pitt University in Oakland, and it feels like something out of a Harry Potter movie. Start peeking behind the classroom doors (as long as there’s no instruction going on), and it becomes an entirely different, jaw-dropping experience. With 31 Nationality rooms that host classes, each is decorated both beautifully and ornately to reflect the country it’s representing. At Christmas, the rooms that celebrate winter holidays are given a refresh to include traditional seasonal decorations.
7. Bike or Hike on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail
Spanning 33 miles, including areas in Downtown Pittsburgh, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail was made for hiking, biking, and walking. Since its groundbreaking in 1991, each section is roughly under seven miles long and showcases beautiful Pittsburgh scenery, including its famous bridges and waterways. If you don’t want to pay for parking in the downtown area, you can park your vehicle a little farther out of the area at Schenley Park, Millvale Riverfront Park, or Peggy’s Harbor Marina to save some cash.
8. Enjoy Allegheny Landing
Offering gorgeous downtown views no matter what time of year, when the temperatures rise, there’s a rise in visitors to Allegheny Landing. Located on the North Shore near PNC Park, the sculpture park opened in 1984. As part of Pittsburgh’s Riverfront Trail System, it’s a pretty respite when biking or walking and offers views of the Golden Triangle and Allegheny River.
9. Turn Junk Into Beautiful Art at Randyland
Pittsburgh has no shortage of eclectic places to visit, and Randyland is one of its most famous spots. Located at the North Shore on Arch Street, Randyland started with a small loan on a rundown, two-story house. Owner Randy Gilson turns literal trash into beauty and encourages visitors to do the same by painting on pieces of junk. It is one of the free things to do in Downtown Pittsburgh, but donations are happily accepted.
10. Learn About Pittsburgh History at Fort Pitt Block House
If you’re not familiar with Pittsburgh and its war history, the Fort Pitt Block House is the only remaining portion of Fort Pitt, now Point State Park. Now over 250 years old, the small building was used for defense against Native Americans in the mid-18th century. Through the years, it was a trading post and home. These days, it’s a big reminder of Pittsburgh’s prominent history.
11. Get Some Exercise During Open Streets Pittsburgh
Once a month in May, June, and July, Open Streets Pittsburgh closes down major roads in the downtown area. Open to the public for biking, roller skating, and even dancing, it’s a fun way to get some exercise while not having to worry about busy city traffic. Learning how to ride a bike is a fun station to check out if you’re a newbie, and local vendors offer food and drinks for sale. Additionally, free exercise classes are offered as an incentive to use the closed areas.
Travel journalist, Published author, Editor, Copywriter
- Expertise: Travel content, Travel segment expert
- Education: Kent State University
- Published Work: Secret Pittsburgh (2020)
- Over 700 articles published both online and in print.
Experience: Karyn Locke got her start writing Walt Disney World reviews over ten years ago for trekaroo. Bitten by the travel bug compliments of her military brat upbringing, she’s put her passion for road trips into popular content featuring theme parks, large cities and small towns, where the locals go, and of course, Disney theme parks.
Present day, Karyn is the lead writer and editor for her travel website, Sand and Snow. She also highlights the best places to visit as the travel expert on a monthly live television segment on KDKA Pittsburgh’s Talk Pittsburgh show. Additionally, she’s proud to call herself both a travel expert and travel editor at Wealth of Geeks and uses her experience at both jobs to provide tips and tricks to all who love to hit the road.
You can find Karyn on her travel website, Sand and Snow, and on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and X @karynlocke. Email Karyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.