Our Pittsburgh Vacation AKA Inspiration for the Three Rivers Collection

To begin our trip to Pittsburgh, we headed out from Philadelphia with plans to meet up with Julia and her husband in Harrisburg.  On a recommendation from a friend, we stopped for dinner at the Millworks in Harrisburg. It’s a spacious, high-ceilinged bar and restaurant that features farm-to-table style food and house-made brews.  It’s also home to a number of artist studios, and has a large gift shop featuring handmade wares including flasks, mugs, prints, t-shirts, jewelry, and more. Highly recommended!

Fallingwater

The primary reason we chose Pittsburgh for our inspiration getaway was Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.  We actually adding Fallingwater to our list of vacation ideas on the day of our visit to Philadelphia’s Mid-Century Furniture Warehouse, way back in the summer of 2017.

Navona Handmade at Fallingwater

We booked our tickets for Fallingwater first, and built our itinerary around our visit there.  Honestly, when they sent us their list of rules in the days leading up to our trip, we were a little intimidated.  Fallingwater has a LOT of rules. And while they do take their “no touching” and “no photographs” rules pretty seriously, it really wasn’t the uptight or stuffy experience that we had anticipated.  Our tour guide was fantastic: she was clearly very passionate about the house and its architecture, and also of the family that had commissioned and lived in it. The personal anecdotes really helped make the house, and the history behind it, feel inviting and alive.   

We knew Frank Lloyd Wright (Mr. Wright, as our guide referred to him) had designed all the furniture in the home, but we were equally taken with the Mid Century decor that had been chosen by the family.  They even had two Picassos! 

Though we had wanted to see Fallingwater for years, we were still surprised at just how much we enjoyed our trip.  We highly recommend visiting! The way the historic home is built into the landscape is stunning, the period furniture and decor is fascinating, and you’ll be impressed with all the projecting, cantilevered terraces regardless of your level of interest in architecture.

Brady’s Restaurant

We love asking locals for recommendation, and one of the Fallingwater tour guides directed us to Brady’s, which is located right off the PA Turnpike.  The restaurant had a kitschy duck theme, a cozy and inviting atmosphere, and a huge, delicious menu. We were especially excited about the salad bar, which is something we don’t encounter nearly often enough in the city.  Additionally, there’s a duck pond behind the restaurant that you can gaze at through the large back windows.

Andy Warhol Museum

We decided to hit up the Andy Warhol Museum on Friday night for what they call “Good Fridays”.  Basically, between 5-10pm admission is half priced, and the museum hosts special programming and themed events.  The night we went, the event was “youth invasion”. There were bands playing on stage and vendors for high school kids, who were running around everywhere.  Had we known the museum would be mobbed by teens, we might have been inclined to avoid it that night, but we’re actually really glad that the youth invasion coincided with our visit.  The kids were so cute, all dressed up in their artsy clothes. Their enthusiasm, energy, and chatter were contagious, and it was really enjoyable to watch them having fun and interacting with the art.

Federal Galley

A restaurant “incubator”, this was a fun spot to get dinner and drinks.  Set up cafeteria-style, with four restaurants positioned around the perimeter of the dining space, Federal Galley is a food hall where you can pick and choose what you felt like eating.  We opted for tacos and margaritas, but other options include poke bowls, pho, pasta, pork belly, and more.

Randyland

Randyland was absolutely one of our favorite parts of the trip!  As we walked through the neighborhoods of the North Side, you could feel the excitement of the clusters of people headed towards Randyland.  As we got closer, people arrived by foot, scooter, and bicycle; it seemed that everyone was drawn in the same direction. Randyland, with it's brilliant colors and soft music, was like a beacon in an otherwise normal neighborhood.

Randyland

We traced the perimeter and peeked between the wooden slats of the fence before finding the entrance. Before entering, we posed with a life-sized picture of Randy, assuming that'd be the closest we'd get to him. Inside, we padded through an oversized sandbox, hula hooped, and took selfies in a mirror wall.  Right then, Randy arrived! The entire crowd paused to give him space and quiet while he discussed his rocky childhood, his dreams of a more connected and peaceful world, and how he wants every person to know that they're important and can help make the world a better place to live.

Union Standard

We mapped out a ton of highly recommended restaurants in Pittsburgh so that no matter where we were, we'd be about to drop into a place that was both convenient and well-reviewed.  On Saturday, our map led us to Union Standard for lunch. In the middle of the afternoon, it was spacious and uncrowded. We picked a dark booth behind the bar and ordered Bloody Marys, burgers, and pulled pork sandwiches.  It was delicious! Maybe too good, actually ... we were a little sleepy afterwards!

Duquesne Incline

Saturday afternoon, we rode the Duquesne Incline up to the lookout. Some of us weren't so thrilled about the steep trip up while on the tram (ahem, Bethany), but it was definitely worth it for the views!

Navona Handmade at the Duquesne Incline

Wigle Whiskey

We visited the Wigle Whiskey Tasting Room, which is an offshoot from the main distillery.  Situated in the downtown Cultural District, it’s an easy walk from the Pittsburgh Pirates Stadium.  We sampled a five-piece flight of whiskey, rum, and gin, along with their Bee’s Knees ginger beer mocktail.  We loved the clean, quiet atmosphere, and spent a lot of time admiring the graphic designs throughout their bottle shop.

Spirit

This was one of the bars we found on a number of “Best Pittsburgh Dive Bar” lists.  It was underground, in a wood-paneled room that reminded us of an old-fashioned bowling alley or skating rink.  The service was quick, but it seemed like the real pull to Spirit was the pizza! We weren’t hungry yet, or else we would have ordered what everyone else was washing down with their beers: a toasty pepperoni pizza.

The Three Rivers Collection

The most artistically inspiring sites we visited in Pittsburgh were definitely Fallingwater, Randyland, and the Andy Warhol Museum. In the Three Rivers Collection, you'll see hints of all of these places in the funky animals, figures, and objects scattered throughout the collection. Shop the collection here!