GET OUTSIDE: THE BEST PARKS AND GREEN SPACES IN PITTSBURGH

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Reyna Scott

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When it comes to parks and green spaces, Pittsburgh is pretty spoiled. From exploring the outdoors within the city to more adventurous outings just a short drive away, there’s no shortage of opportunities to get outside around here. Especially when someone (ahem!) compiles a list of everything you need to know about our region’s city, county, and state parks in one place.

This state park is perfect for the adventurers out there. Bring your own kayak or canoe and you can whitewater raft down the Slippery Rock Creek. If you provide your own equipment and you and your buddies can traverse the Rim Road Climbing area. This park even offers hiking trails for all ages and experience levels. Looking for more of a leisurely activity? Fishing is permitted almost anywhere along the creek. McConnells Mill is sure to please everyone!

Conveniently located in downtown Pittsburgh, this park is a great lunch break destination. And that’s not all: it’s built on top of a parking garage. The 1.37-acre area is a perfect refuge to relax from the hustle and bustle of downtown’s office-goers (or at least sit somewhere more scenic than your desk).

Located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Shadyside Avenue, Mellon Park is a great place to stop as you’re driving through Shadyside. The Walled Garden underwent a restoration of several years and was completed in June 2010. Since the update, the park has been offering events throughout the summer, including live classical music. Not interested in Beethoven? Don’t worry — you can schedule your own private events here, too!

This park may be small to some, but large to nature-lovers, and especially tree-lovers. Here, you will find some of the oldest tree groves in PA. The garden within the park is also a hidden gem for weddings (shhh)! Of course, there are trails and a playground to enjoy as well!

The 31-room mansion is definitely the most recognizable part of this park. The mansion was lived in until 1974, and has since been used for weddings, tea parties, mansion tours, and parties. Aside from the iconic mansion, this park offers 15 miles of trails being shared with hikers, bikers, and cross-country skiers. Hartwood Acres provides entertainment, too! It’s known for its performance stage and Summer Concert Series. Be on the lookout for who’s performing next!

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So, this park is pretty cool because it’s the only county park that has a professional diving well! After working up a sweat from the rugged hiking and biking trails, or playing tennis against your besties, cool off by taking a dip in the water. That’s right… you can drive, jump, or cannon ball into 17-feet deep water from a one, three, or 10-meter concrete platform (hopefully you’re not afraid of heights). Or, so you know, the wave pool’s an option.

This park is ideal for any of the winter-lovers out there. Here, you’ll find snowboarding, tubing, downhill skiing, and trails for cross-country skiing. Don’t panic summer lovers — Boyce Park has activities for you too, including 21 miles of trails for hiking and biking. While you’re here, be sure to check out the Nature Center, organic greenhouse, and take an art class or two!

This state park has just about anything you can think of. Everything from horseback riding to camping to snowmobiling—pretty much you name it, you can do it here. Come here for a peace and quiet hike through the woods or a family camping trip. No matter the season, you will be sure to stay busy whether it is just for the day or for a week-long vacation.

This 1,100-acre park is great for field trips because it’s actually a working farm. That’s right — this means there are cows, pigs, goats, horses, and more. There’s even a milk house and a duck pond that the kids will be sure to love. While the park is extremely educational, stop by to enjoy the trails, picnic shelters, and water spray park on those hot summer days.

Just because this park is the smallest in the county doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do or see, especially for nature lovers. This spot is ideal for kids and bird-enthusiasts, offering guided walks and nature camps. There’s also plenty of room to stretch your legs here with three soccer fields, a children’s play area, and 20 miles of trails. A lot of options here, gang.

Deer Lakes is known for its three spring-fed lakes, which provide year-round fishing opportunities—it’s a fisherman’s paradise. This park also sits on one of the highest points of all of Allegheny County, allowing for picture-perfect views of the stars and planets. In fact, visitors can take a “tour of the sky” throughout the year.

Finally, a beach in Western PA! Moraine State Park provides not one, but two beaches along the shore of Lake Arthur. While we all love to catch some rays and go for a swim during the summer, this is only one of the amenities the park offers. While you’re here you can even book a cruise. Okay, so maybe it isn’t to the Caribbean, but hey, who wouldn’t enjoy the scenery and wildlife that surrounds Lake Arthur? Or, if you’d rather take your own boat out on the lake, you can do so at the Davis Hollow Marina.

This park may be the oldest in the county but that doesn’t mean it’s outdated by any means. 17 miles of trails is only the beginning. Here, you will find a sand volleyball court, tennis courts, a golf course, and an ice skating rink. Oh, and don’t forget the wave pool or amphitheater for summer concerts! But wait, there’s more… the BMX track is considered the best in the county.

Being that North Park is the largest in the county, you are sure to stay active and busy here. Walk, run, bike, or hike on the trails totaling 43 miles. During the summer go for a dip in what was once the largest pool in the world, or go paddle-boarding, kayaking, take a ride on a pedal boat, or even go for a horse back ride. Don’t worry — there are winter activities at the park, too. When the lake freezes over, maybe you want to try cross-country skiing or ice fishing.

For the past two years August Wilson Park, formerly Cliffside Park, has been under a redevelopment project. Before the renovation, the park didn’t offer much, with overgrown shrubs, cracked pavement, and drainage problems. Thanks to the hard work from residents, the park now holds two play areas, a picnic area, a half basketball court, and a great view of the river.

This park is conveniently located where the three rivers come together, known appropriately as “the Point” or the “Golden Triangle.” As a part of this National Historic Landmark, Pittsburghers indulging in watersports including boating, paddleboarding, and kayaking are a very common sight. Be sure to check out the Fort Pitt Museum while you’re visiting, too — it tells of the role Western PA played during the French and Indian War (very educational)!

This park includes three different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, not to mention best view of the city. You can even catch a movie at the park every week as a part of the free “Cinema in the Park” during the summer. When you’re looking to be a little more active, Emerald View Park also has basketball courts, baseball fields, and even a boxing club (a great way to relieve some stress)!

When most people think of South Side, they think bars, shops, and restaurants. Well, now its time to think hiking and biking, too! The park isn’t easily spotted because it’s in the shadow of Hofbrauhaus, but once you find it, you’ll never want to leave. After exploring the wilderness for bit, don’t forget about East Carson Street — stop down for a drink at Fat Head’s Saloon or a “sammich” at Primanti Bros.

West Park, better known as Allegheny Commons, is a 64-acre park and the oldest in Pittsburgh. Built in 1867 in what was Allegheny City, the park once featured four fountains that have since been demolished. But, thankfully, community groups are currently hard at work raising funds that would restore the park surrounding Lake Elizabeth to its original splendor.

For many college students, Schenley Park is the perfect study spot only a few minute’s walk from both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie University. While Schenley Park offer a fantastic view of the Cathedral of Learning, you would never even know you’re still in the city. A swimming pool in the summer, an ice skating rink in the winter, and an 18-hole golf course are just a few of the conveniences you can access to escape reality for a bit.

This 259-acre park offers something for everyone. Hikers, bikers, and runners can enjoy the deeply-wooded trails, while residents can also enjoy a swimming pool, playground, ball field, and even horseback riding. One of the landmarks at the park is the Allegheny Observatory (a major astronomical research institution owned by the University of Pittsburgh). You may also notice the Chapel Shelter, which after a restoration completed in 2008, now allows for a great picnic spot.

This is the largest city park in Pittsburgh, covering 600 acres of trails and baseball fields. Not only are the amenities endless at Frick Park during the warmer months, but also in the winter, which includes Blue Slide Park: the go-to spot for sledding. Yes, Mac Miller’s Blue Slide Park.

The entrance of the park welcomes you with a large Victorian-style garden, which leads up to one of Pittsburgh’s many reservoirs, along with running and dog walking trails. If you’re looking for something to do with the entire family, you may want to check out the 50-meter swimming pool, the kiddie pool, and the volleyball courts. And let’s not forget you’re right next to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium!

Probably most popularly known for the marina, a trip to Washington’s Landing is an excellent way to spend the day. Don’t worry — you don’t have to have a boat to check out the area. Here, you get the best of both worlds: a park and a view of the three rivers. If you need to regain some energy while exploring, there is a riverfront restaurant—Redfin Blues—nearby where you can watch the boats while enjoying a drink.

24/7 ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE
UPMC Health Plan

24/7 ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE

Right from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

24/7 ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE
UPMC Health Plan

24/7 ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE

Right from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.