With school tuition, student loans and holiday shopping bills piling up, spending some extra money for a fun day or night out is out of the question for most. But don’t worry: not everything in Pittsburgh drains your pocket. Here’s a guide to some fun events and activities that will cost you one dollar or less!
Light Up Night Weekend
One of the largest and most spectacular holiday lighting celebrations takes place right in Downtown Pittsburgh—and it’s completely free! Already in its 51st year, Light Up Night Weekend starts Friday, Nov. 18 with tons of fun lined up. The headlining event may be the holiday lighting show in Market Square; but visitors can also enjoy performances by local performers on the Market Square Stage, a Rockin’ Bridge Party on the Roberto Clemente Bridge, a Light Up Night March through downtown and a spectacular grand fireworks finale. On Saturday, check out the 2nd Annual Horse-Drawn Carriage Parade, which features over 100 horses and 30 units carrying local celebrities through downtown. With over 1.5 million people attending last year’s event, don’t plan on missing this one.
Observatory Sky Watch Evenings at Carnegie Science Center
One Allegheny Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Price: $1 Hours: Fri & Sat evenings from 9 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (times change seasonally)
Clear skies permitting
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Ever wanted to gaze up and close at the sparkling stars and planets? At the Carnegie Science Center, you can do just that—for one dollar! The Center sponsors an Observatory Sky Watch most Friday and Saturday evenings once the sky turns dark and clear. You and the family can check out the sky with their 16-inch Meade LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Expert star hunters will also be on hand to share everything they know.
Heading to the cinemas these days cost some major bucks, and you haven’t even taken a look at the concession stand yet! But at Maxi-Saver Cinema in West Mifflin, they have the most perfect formula for movie lovers and money pinchers. They offer 12 movies on any given day at just one dollar a piece. And these movies aren’t from the 1980s—they’re right behind main theatre release dates. If you just wait a few weeks, you’ll save a great deal of money and have plenty left over for some more nights out. For an even better deal, head to the theater on Super Stimulus Tuesdays and get popcorn and drinks for a dollar each. Now that’s a deal!
Free Museum Visits Program for Pitt Students
If you’re a Pitt student, then you’ve got a major perk—and could end up saving a bunch of money. During the academic year, present your I.D. at any of the following museums and you get free admission: Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art & Carnegie Museum of Natural History, The Mattress Factory Art Museum, Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center and Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum. It’s a great deal for students and a nice way to get yourself immersed in the local culture.
Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation Self-Guided Tour
The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation serves as one of the nation’s most effective non-profit historic preservation organizations with its revitalization, preservation and education in the architecture of Pittsburgh. And the foundation lets residents see all the great work they’ve done through the free, self-guided tours. All you have to do is go to their website and print out a walking tour brochure of downtown Pittsburgh. Each brochure gives you an in-depth description of the historical architecture in Pittsburgh. You’ll get the opportunity to see Pittsburgh in a totally different way than ever before.
Frick Art & Historical Center, The Frick Art Museum and the Car and Carriage Museum
7227 Reynolds St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15208
Hours: Tues-Sun, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
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With over 100,000 visitors a year, the Frick Art & Historical Center is a cultural cornerstone to the city. Lucky for us, the Frick Family wanted to make it accessible to everyone. There is free admission to the Frick Art & Historical Center, The Frick Art Museum and the Car and Carriage Museum. In November, a beautiful collection is on display (Faberge: The Hodges Family Collection), which features over 100 objects made by the Russian artist and jeweler Peter Carl Faberge. Stop by the Car and Carriage Museum to glance at the Frick family’s personal collection of cars and carriages, in addition to other collections.
Point State Park
Located at the confluence of three rivers, Point State Park is a landmark in Pittsburgh—literally. It’s been designated as a National Historic Landmark, which commemorates and preserves the rich history and heritage from the French and Indian War. It’s a beautiful park, full of plants and stunning scenery of the waterways, hillsides and bridges. Bikers can stroll through on the pathways, through the 54,000 native plants, representative of those found in the mid 18th century. You can also check out the beautiful fountain at the headwaters of the Ohio River, or take a peek at the monuments, plaques and markers that line the park, giving visitors a little bit of history. You can even look through the Fort Pitt Blockhouse for free, which is the oldest architectural landmark in Western Pennsylvania.
Christine Mouser is currently living in the Pittsburgh area, where she is an editorial intern for Pittsburgh Magazine. She is set to graduate from Penn State University this summer, with a degree in print journalism. She has written for HappyValley.com, Town&Gown magazine and Penn State’s Valley magazine.