One of the best things about Pittsburgh can also be one of the worst: the city has four seasons. This means hot, humid summers followed by icy winters (often with no transition in between). But having four seasons also means happenings in the city are fresh and constantly changing.
Pittsburgh has a rotating cycle of events that give residents something to look forward to all year long. To help you make the most of every season, here are the best times to visit Pittsburgh, and what to do while you’re there
Best time for exploring nature
Vibrant blooms mark the start of spring, but that doesn’t mean the city is out of the woods for a late-season snowstorm. If the weather is nice, take a walk and appreciate the Redbud trees. Washington D.C. has its cherry blossom's and Pittsburgh has Redbuds. These native trees coat the city pink for weeks in the spring.
Spring is also punctuated by Lent - specifically Lenten treats. Pittsburgh’s Polish community celebrates by making pączki, a stuffed Polish donut. Find them at bakeries on or before Fat Tuesday.
Once Lent begins, it’s officially the start of Fish Fry season. Churches, fire halls, and restaurants compete to offer Pittsburgh’s best fish sandwich. Even if you don’t observe Lent, it’s a Pittsburgh tradition to hunt down this season’s best fish fry. It’s a serious endeavor, so be prepared to wait in line for your sandwich.
Hotels this time of year are generally reasonably priced, though they rise on game nights if the Penguins are in the playoffs.
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Best time for festivals
As one might expect, summer is the busiest time of year. Now that the ice has thawed, explore Pittsburgh’s three rivers by boat, kayak, or paddleboard. The Gateway Clipper, a touristy (but charming) riverboat runs tours multiple times a day. Baseball season is in full swing, so cheer on the Pirates at PNC Park, one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country.
Festivals happen nearly every weekend. July means the Greek Food Festival, as well as Picklesburgh, a festival dedicated to anything and everything pickled. August has Little Italy Days and VegFest, a vegan festival held on the Northside.
Summer in Pittsburgh wouldn’t be complete without at least one trip to Kennywood. This vintage amusement park features classic arcade games and three wooden roller coasters.
Because so much is happening, hotel prices do rise in Pittsburgh during the summer, but it’s not too egregious. Weekends with concerts and festivals will see the steepest rise.
Best time for exploring the countryside
Heading into fall, the city shows no signs of slowing down. Thanks to Pittsburgh’s German heritage, there are a slew of Oktoberfest celebrations. The city also honors its unofficial mascot and beloved dumpling, the pierogi, with the Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival.
In the rolling farmlands surrounding Pittsburgh, there’s no shortage of places to pick apples, carve pumpkins, drink cider and get lost in a corn maze. After a long summer, both the Steelers and Penguins begin their seasons, and the relief is palpable. However, that does mean hotel prices Downtown and on the North Shore will rise correspondingly with the home game schedule.
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Best time for sporting events
Sports get the city through the dark days of winter, and most people are happy to stay inside and cheer on the Penguins and Steelers. If you're brave enough to trek out, there’s plenty to do. December offers an exhausting lineup of events, including the Lawrenceville Cookie Tour, Phipps Conservatory Holiday Show, and Krampusnacht.
If winter sports are your thing, check out Pittsburgh’s cross country ski trails, ice rinks and skiing at resorts like Seven Springs and Hidden Valley. Don’t miss your chance to take a hike; when the trees are bare, many hilltops provide views that aren’t visible the rest of the year.
Another way to warm up is by exploring the libation scene. Pittsburgh is home to dozens of craft breweries and distilleries. A few favorites include Wigle Whiskey in The Strip, Grist House in Millvale, and Hitchhiker Brewing in Sharpsburg.
During the holidays, hotel prices will hike up, but they swiftly drop again once the new year begins. This is a great time to get a good deal on a hotel. However, be sure to watch out for Steelers and Penguins home games, as prices will rise again.
Nights may be long, but they’re kept interesting with hockey and football games. Local restaurants offer a discounted menu during Restaurant Week.
Key events: Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, Fire & Ice Festival, Northside Sandwich Week
The weather flip-flops between snow storms and 70° F days, but don’t be discouraged. Use the Pittsburgh Lenten Fish Fry Map to track down the best fish sandwich in the city.
Key events: Pennsylvania Maple Festival, Lent
One of Pittsburgh’s best events, Art All Night, is held in April. Anyone is welcome to submit a piece to this 24-hour art extravaganza that has no judges or censorship. Baseball season begins at PNC Park. '
Key events: Baseball opening day, Art All Night
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Summer is officially here. Farmers Markets are in full swing.
Key events: Three Rivers Art Festival, Juneteenth BBQ Competition, All-Star Craft Beer, Wine and Cocktail Festival
The month kicks off with Fourth of July fireworks at Point State Park, but it doesn’t stop there. There's no shortage of things to do in July, including rooftop dining, riverside biking, outdoor concerts and food festivals.
Key events: Picklesburgh, Deutschtown Music Festival, Fourth of July
Events and festivals keep rolling. Football season kicks off with the annual Rib Fest at Heinz Field.
Key events: Vegfest, Heinz Field Kickoff and Rib Fest
Fall festivals begin with regional Oktoberfest celebrations. The Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center hosts their annual Pow Wow in Dorseyville.
Key events: Steelers season opener, Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center Pow Wow, Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival, Oktoberfest, Penn's Colony Festival, Ebensburg PotatoFest, Pittsburgh Lebanese Festival, Steel City Big Pour
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Things get spooky in October. Fans of the cult-classic movie, Night of the Living Dead, should check out the Living Dead Museum at the Monroeville Mall, where the movie was filmed.
Key events: Triple B Farms Fall Festival, Trax Farms Fall Festival, Shenot Farm Fall Hayrides, Freedom Farms Fall Festival, Mars Applefest, Monster Pumpkin Festival
If you’re going to visit during the winter, December is the perfect month. Nearby Indiana, PA, honors hometown-hero Jimmy Stewart with their It’s a Wonderful Life Festival while Canonsburg, PA, transforms into a Hallmark movie set for their Old Fashioned Christmas event.
Key events: Lawrenceville Cookie Tour, It’s a Wonderful Life Festival, Canonsburg Old Fashioned Christmas, Phipps Conservatory's Winter Flower Show, Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland’s Light Show, Holiday Tours of the Clayton Mansion, Krampusnacht In Market Square, Handmade Arcade craft fair
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