Remember that famous line in Forrest Gump: “Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get?” Well, Pittsburgh is kind of like that box of chocolates, full of surprises and hidden gems that make living here so exciting. Do you know all the secrets that Pittsburgh holds? If not, maybe it’s time to open up that box of chocolates and discover the 10 hidden gems in Pittsburgh most people don’t know even exist:
1. Arcade Comedy Theater
Get ready to laugh at the Arcade Comedy Theater, located on Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. The Arcade Comedy Theater features regular improv comedy shows and also offers classes and workshops for aspiring comedians. Kids can also get into the action – literally – by checking out The Penny Arcade, an improv show just for kids, held the second Saturday of every month.
It all started with a dilapidated building Randy Gilson purchased more than 20 years ago. Today, that rundown building in the North Side has become part of a vibrant neighborhood of other buildings Gilson has purchased and has transformed into an artistic masterpiece of artfully decorated houses featuring murals, statues, and other handcrafted artwork. Randyland, located in the Mexican War Streets District, welcomes visitors daily from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
3. City of Asylum
Pittsburgh has earned a reputation as a culturally diverse city and nothing embodies that cultural diversity more than the City of Asylum, a safe haven for select literary writers who are exiled from their own countries. City of Asylum works with communities to transform run down homes into creative safe havens, which are used to house exiled writers and to host readings and performances to which the community is invited.
4. The Allegheny Observatory
Enjoy an unparallelled view of the universe at the Allegheny Observatory, operated by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Pittsburgh. A center for astrological research, the Allegheny Observatory hosts public tours on Thursday nights, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., from April through August and on Friday nights from September through October. Tours include an introductory video, a tour of the observatory, and the opportunity to observe the night sky through the telescope. Advanced reservations are required for the free tour.
5. Mystery Lovers Bookshop
Immerse yourself in a good old-fashioned mystery by stopping by the Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, which has earned the distinction of being one of the largest mystery bookshops in the United States. Along with having an extensive collection of mystery novels for sale, Mystery Lovers Bookshop regularly hosts mystery author visits and other events.
6. Conflict Kitchen
Experience authentic food and discuss cultural issues at Conflict Kitchen, which only serves food from those countries with which the United States is currently in conflict. Countries are rotated periodically, and Conflict Kitchen is currently serving food from Iran. Each meal is served in a container that features an interview with an individual from Iran to give patrons a glimpse into their lives and their culture. Conflict Kitchen also hosts scheduled events and performances.
7. Escape Room Pittsburgh
If the warden locked you in a cell and walked away, could you cooperate with your cellmates and escape before he returns in a mere hour? That's just what Escape Room Pittsburgh challenges visitors to do. Escape the jail cell? Another challenge awaits. Follow the clues to see if you can escape from Dr. Stein's Laboratory in 60 minutes. Open daily, Escape Room Pittsburgh is on Greenfield Avenue in Pittsburgh. Reserve your desired time slot well in advance.
8. The Robot Hall of Fame
Get up close to those robots who have shot to fame and secured spots in The Robot Hall of Fame, located in the Carnegie Science Center. An ode to both real and fictional robots, like R2D2 from Star Wars, the Robot Hall of Fame debuted in 2003 and is designed to bring awareness to the importance that robotics play in today's society. Among those robots currently in the Hall include WALL-E, Terminator, R2 D2 and C3PO, and Robby, the Robot. The Robot Hall of Fame is open daily.
9. Pittsburgh Glass Center
Channel your inner artist by creating glass art at the Pittsburgh Glass Center on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh. Join one of the popular glass art classes, available for individuals at all levels, or opt for a private one-on-one lesson. Make time to also visit The Hodge Gallery at the Glass Center, where glass art exhibitions are displayed. The Pittsburgh Glass Center is open daily.
10. Bicycle Heaven
Bicyclists will find themselves in Bicycle Heaven when visiting the store and museum of the same name. Located near the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, Bicycle Heaven Museum and Bike Shop takes visitors through the rich history of bicycles with bikes from different eras on display and for sale. Simply browse the vast inventory or find that perfect basket, bell, or the necessary parts for your bicycle. Bicycle Heaven is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.