Pittsburgh: Why the city made Nat Geo's Best of the World list for 2012

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Did you know that the city of Pittsburgh was named as one of National Geographic’s “Best of the World in 2012”? Neither did we, until our local guide Phil, brought it to our attention. And for this we thank him! While many people still associate Pittsburgh with its industrial past, its days as a gritty blue-collar city are long gone. As National Geographic writes: “this western Pennsylvania city changed jobs and reclaimed its major assets: a natural setting that rivals Lisbon and San Francisco, a wealth of fine art and architecture, and a quirky sense of humor.”

Movie buffs might be interested to learn that Pittsburgh’s dramatic and sometimes moody architecture persuaded director Christopher Nolan to use the city’s downtown as a stand-in for Gotham City in this summer’s latest Batman movie Dark Knight Rises.

With that introduction done, I’ll let Phil tell you about his city’s top five attractions! Keep this info handy, because how could you not want to go to Pittsburgh?

1) The first stop for every visitor is the view of the city from Mt.Washington! Ride the Incline (cablecar) up the side of Mt.Washington to one of the overlooks. From here you can see The Point, the convergence of the three rivers where it all began in the 1750s with a struggle between the French and British for domination over the Forks of the Ohio, a National Historic Landmark.

2) Downtown's Cultural District is a 14-block area that has the highest concentration of performing arts venues between New York City and Chicago. Beautifully restored performance halls and contemporary spaces are home to the world-renowned Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Dance Council, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera and more. You’re spoiled for choice: the seven major theaters offer more than 2,000 performances each year!

3) North Side, just across the river from Downtown, was originally the city of Allegheny but is now part of the city of Pittsburgh. It has maintained its historic 19th century neighborhoods of Mexican War Streets (named after battles of the Mexican-American war of 1845), such as West Allegheny and Deutchstown, all having a number of restored homes and shops.

4) The Strip District (not what you might first think!) sits right next to Downtown and is the warehouse/commercial district, now home to many restaurants, shops and innumerable ethnic food outlets from around the world!

5) Don’t miss the Oakland area, just east of the city. It’s home to the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon University, the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Schenley Park and many fine restaurants, shops and galleries.

It's no wonder that Pittsburgh was named one of National Geographic Travelers Magazines "Best of the World in 2012"!

If either Phil or I have convinced you that Pittsburgh is a city to be reckoned with, then be sure to get in touch with Phil before you arrive. He’ll have a ton more ideas for how you can spend your time in his hometown!
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