travel log: three hours in pittsburgh, pa

October 9, 2019

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh, PA for a family engagement – and we had three hours to sneak away and do whatever we wanted to! Here’s what you can do if you have an afternoon to spend in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! What to see, where to eat, and unique landmarks all within walking distance.

three hours in pittsburgh, pa

In May of this year, Mike and I (and his whole family) traveled to Pittsburgh, PA for a family wedding. We flew in for the long weekend and stayed just outside the city. Although most of our time was taken up by family obligations, we did have the chance to sneak away and do some exploring in the city after the wedding on Friday night.

I’ve been to Pittsburgh before (travel for work several times) and I kinda knew the vibe of the city. But that didn’t stop me from texting Isabel of Isabel Eats since she spent a ton of time living there. She gave me some awesome recommendations and also told me what to skip as well!


We got into the city around 11 o’clock and headed to The Mattress Factory. The past couple years I’ve been traveling, I’ve visited several art museums at my destinations and I never regret it. It’s always informative, fun, and usually inside of the air conditioning.

three hours in pittsburgh, pa

I tend to gravitate towards more contemporary art, and the Mattress Factory definitely fit the bill. It was easy to find via Google Maps, and we got there just in time to snag a primo free parking spot. We paid $20 a ticket and it was well worth it. We were in the museum for 2 full hours and had plenty to do.

three hours in pittsburgh, pa

The Mattress Factory is actually split into three buildings. The main building, where you purchase your admission is 4 floors, and you can travel by elevator to some floors and stairs to other floors. Then, after you explore the main building there are two annexes in townhouse-type structures with all sorts of goodies.

I obviously loved all of it, but the standout exhibitions for me was the Greer Lankton art and Pleiades by James Turrell. The museum was decently busy but not overcrowded for a Saturday.


After we were finished at The Mattress Factory, we walked down the street to a landmark that I had seen when we were driving up – Randyland. Honestly, Randyland is REAL hard to miss. When you drive up, there’s a building and a courtyard just covered with colorful art. All over! It’s really kind of hard to tell what it is when you’re just driving by. Is it a restaurant? A large gift shop?

three hours in pittsburgh, pa

When we walked up we realized — it’s just a landmark. It was there to make people happy. There were around a dozen people milling around taking pictures and some just sitting in the chairs. Randyland was created by Randy Gilson. Apparently every day he would work on painting his location (that he purchased on a credit card) bright colors to make people around him happy. Well it does just that!

three hours in pittsburgh, pa

According to the Wikipedia page, he uses upcycling and dumpster diving to create something new and different. And also according to the Wiki page, Anthony Bourdain calls a visit to Randyland “essential to the perfect day in Pittsburgh.” Excuse me while I go cry. I loved taking photos and just being submerged in colorful artistry. It really is a cool location that’s off the beaten path, free, and beautiful.

three hours in pittsburgh, pa


By this time, we were getting hungry. Like I said earlier, I texted Isabel for food recommendations and she came through! We made our way over to Federal Gallery, for some eats and drinks. We could have walked there, but it was honestly really hot, and we also had a minor snaffu with our flights that we had to take care of in the car.

three hours in pittsburgh, pa

Nevertheless, we made it there! Federal Gallery is a food hall, or restaurant incubator. We didn’t have these in OKC yet, so the only one I had been to was one in Chicago, Revival Food Hall. So I was familiar with the concept of an upscale food court. Don’t shoot me. It’s true. But we loved it!

Mike and I both got local beers, and I can’t recall now what they were. But we also ended up ordering from Provision PGH. We had the crispy buffalo cauliflower and I had the fried chicken sandwich which had a Korean flair to it, while he had the pork sammy. Everything we ate was AWESOME and the location just had a great atmosphere. Would recommend to anyone visiting Pittsburgh!

three hours in pittsburgh, pa

And that rounded out just about three hours! We made our way back to the hotel for a well deserved nap before dinner with Mike’s entire extended family. 🙂

three hours in pittsburgh, pa

So I’m curious – where else would you like to see these three hour guides! I’d love to start creating them for maybe Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and driveable areas around the Midwest. Sometimes you don’t have a ton of time to be in one place and I would have loved a reference like this for past work travel!

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  • Meg Miller

    Sounds like a fun time!

    October 14, 2019 at 3:52 am Reply
  • AffiliateLabz

    Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! 🙂

    February 16, 2020 at 3:47 am Reply
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