While the Conference is ideally situated just above Downtown (which is steadily becoming a destination spot for residents and tourists alike), the ‘Burgh scene is still dominated by its neighborhoods. Places like the South Side and North Shore, or East End neighborhoods like Lawrenceville, Shadyside, Oakland and Squirrel Hill, offer their own distinctive appeal and numerous must-see attractions. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh isn’t exactly renowned for its navigability and intuitive city planning. Three rivers cutting the landscape into a triangle and two opposite shores will do that to you, and the mass tangle of one-way streets and suddenly appearing construction zones can make driving through town as frustrating as dealing with an irate tenured professor.
The good news is that using public transportation or one of the local rideshare companies takes a lot of the complication out of getting around town. Furthermore, the Marriot Pittsburgh City Center is located near a lot of transportation hubs that will carry you wherever you want to go with a minimum of effort.
First up, the bus system. Much (and fairly) maligned by residents, for your purposes the Port Authority is a reasonable and easy way to navigate East End neighborhoods like the Strip District, Lawrenceville, Oakland, Squirrel Hill and Shadyside. There are three main routes up the edges of the Golden Triangle – Liberty Avenue, Forbes Avenue, and Fifth Avenue. Buses along these routes are plentiful and frequent. Keep a few dollars and quarters handy (rides are $2.50 apiece), make sure you have a clear idea when and where to hop on for your return trip, and you will find the buses a relatively painless method of exploring the city. Also, for short-distance riders, trips within the Downtown area are free of charge.
Second, the subway. With a stop right around the corner from the Marriot – across from the US Steel building, the tallest Pittsburgh skyscraper - The T is a great way to get across two of our three rivers and explore the North Shore and the Station Square/Mt. Washington/South Side triumvirate. Even better: trips to the North Shore are free and basically drop you between the Rivers Casino and Heinz Field. Routes to the south arrive in Station Square, from which the South Side (Pittsburgh’s answer to Bourbon Street) and Mount Washington (with its spectacular views, historic inclines, and mix of funky and high-end restaurants) are a short distance away.
Both the buses and The T are operated by the Port Authority.
For more intrepid tourists (or late-night stragglers), there are rideshare and taxi services. I’m sure many of you are familiar with apps such as Lyft and Uber, and if you’re planning on heading out of walking distance from the Marriot it’s probably a good idea to sign up for one or both as a fallback option. Like taxi cabs driven by reasonably sane, reasonably clean individuals, Lyft and Uber are a more reliable version of the services offered by mainstays such as Yellow Cab and Classy Cab.
Despite its hilly terrain and narrow streets, improving Pittsburgh’s bike accessibility has been a major project in recent years. In addition to a slew of new and safer bike lanes, you will see bike rental stations set up all over town, rows of silver two-wheelers with the Healthy Ride logo waiting for someone to walk up, swipe their credit card, and hop on board. And while the Healthy Ride bikes are nice for zipping around the neighborhood, other bike rental services like Golden Triangle Bike Rentals and Bike PGH offer a wider variety of bike and the chance to explore other parts of the city via group or self-guided tours.
For those among you who’d like to have a set of motorized wheels to get you around, Pittsburgh has the typical set of car rental services (Avis, Budget Car Rental, Enterprise,Hertz), many of which are convenient to the hotel. One alternative you may like to explore is Zipcar, which allows you to simply pick up a car parked at various locations throughout the city and drive around for as long as you’d like at an hourly rate. It’s a members-only service, but it may appeal to you if you don’t want a car for an entire day, or if you think you’ll be driving a little bit at a time for a few days but don’t want the hassle of taking care of a rental car for the duration of your stay.