There are so many amazing things to see and do in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, sometimes our wallets contain more dust than dollars. These 9 places in The Steel City have free admission so you can still explore without breaking the bank. Here are free places to go in Pittsburgh that are low on cost but rich with fun.
1. The Fort Pitt Block House
Stand where history was made. The Fort Pitt Block House, built in 1764, played an important role in the French & Indian War. The only remnants left of Fort Pitt, the block house served as a British fortification, designed to protect the British army from the Native Americans. Admission is free and visitors will get insight into the history of Fort Pitt by viewing digital demonstrations and exhibits and by talking with educators. The Fort Pitt Block House is open every Wednesday through Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from April through the end of October. Winter hours, from November to the end of March, are Friday through Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
2. Allegheny Observatory
Drink in the beauty of the night sky at the Allegheny Observatory at the University of Pittsburgh. Run by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Allegheny Observatory offers free public tours every Thursday evening from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. from April through August and Friday night tours in September and October. Each tour, which requires advanced reservations, consists of an introductory video, a guided tour of the Allegheny Observatory, and the chance to view the night sky from the facility's telescopes.
3. The Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning
Travel around the world without leaving the Burgh when you visit the Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland. Each room will introduce you to a different country – from Africa to Yugoslavia – and to a different culture. Free self-guided tours are limited during the school year but are open daily during summer break, which typically runs from the end of April until the beginning of September. You can also take an online tour of the Nationality Rooms.
4. Old Allegheny County Jail
Local lure tells stories of a jail so haunted that former prisoners begged the warden – and were obliged – to move to another part of the jail due to constant wailing from a ghostly figure. The Old Allegheny County Jail Museum is now all that remains of the jail; the rest of it has been renovated into the Family Division of the Allegheny County Courts. Head to the museum every Monday, through October 31 this year, at 11:30 to receive a free tour with information provided by a local docent.
5. Pittsburgh Glass Center
Discover the art of glass blowing at the Pittsburgh Glass Center which, in addition to holding classes for a fee, features an exhibition area of artists' work. View the glass art, watch artists work, and, if you're lucky, catch a glass blowing demonstration, as you stroll through the free self-guided tour. The Pittsburgh Glass Center is open daily, although the artists' studios are closed on Mondays.
6. Big Mac Museum Restaurant
Head just outside of Pittsburgh to North Huntington and you'll find the Big Mac Museum Restaurant. That's right – the Big Mac has its own museum, in part because the famous burger was invented by a Pittsburgh franchisee, Jim Delligatti. Tour the museum for free (be prepared to plunk down some cash for a meal or a snack) where you'll discover the World's Largest Big Mac (okay, a replica of one), view the high tech displays, and send the kids to play in McDonald's best play place. The museum is open daily.
7. Pittsburgh Parks: Cinema in the Park
Several area Pittsburgh parks become outdoor movie theaters every summer with Cinema in the Park. Pittsburghers are invited to bring their blankets, their lawn chairs, and plenty of snacks to one of several area parks to watch such feature films as Maleficent, The Wizard of Oz, and Selma. Area parks that host the free Cinema in the Park, which runs from June through August, include Arsenal Park, Brookline Memorial Park, Schenley Park, Highland Park, Grandview Park, Riverview Park, and Overlook Park.
8. Downtown Pittsburgh: Three Rivers Arts Festival
Experience the artistic side of Pittsburgh when downtown transforms into an art and a music lover's haven during the Three Rivers Arts Festival for 10 days every June. The arts festival features countless exhibits and opportunities for purchasing artwork and other handcrafted products. Several concerts, including one by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, are scheduled daily on the weekend. The 2016 Three Rivers Arts Festival runs from June 3rd through the 12th .
9. Downtown Pittsburgh: The Three Rivers Regatta
The Three Rivers come alive every August when the annual Three Rivers Regatta takes over The Point and Downtown Pittsburgh. Thousands flock to the free event annually, which features plenty of boating, concerts, and Pittsburgh's favorite foods. Build your own boat and enter it into the Anything That Floats contest. The family-friendly event culminates with a spectacular fireworks show. The 2016 Three Rivers Regatta runs from August 5th to the 7th.
Do you know of any other free places to go in Pittsburgh? Feel free to share in the comments!