It’s time to ditch the snow shovel and head for the great outdoors at some of the best parks in the world, right here in Pittsburgh. Sure we may be known as the Steel City, but one look at our parks will change your thoughts from bridges and steel to nature, beauty and relaxation.
500 Panther Hollow Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Being a college town, it’s no wonder that one of the top parks in Pittsburgh borders both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, but don’t mistake Schenley Park for one of those urban parks with just a patch of grass. With over 465 acres to cover, Schenley runs the gamut of beautiful meadows, woods and terrific hiking trails. In addition to the great outdoors, Schenley is home to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, considered one of the “world’s greenest public gardens.” For the more athletic types, Schenley has a public swimming pool that offers classes at all levels, and features the Schenley Oval Sportsplex, consisting of a “NCAA-regulation running track, sports turf soccer field and high jump area in addition to tennis courts and cross-country trails.” If more relaxing sports are your cup of tea, you can simply tee off at the 18-hole Bob O’Connor Golf Course, or play a few rounds of Frisbee golf at Schenley’s 18-hole disc golf course.
6750 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15221
Ever try lawn bowling? You can check out the 13th century sport at Pittsburgh’s largest regional park named after Henry Clay Frick, who donated the initial land that expanded into the 644-acre park of today. The Frick is ideal for jogging, hiking, walking and biking with numerous trails crossing the expansive lush nature and scenery. If you’re looking to give your dog a bit of freedom, the Frick Park offers an off-leash walking area, which includes “Hot Dog Dam” where your pup can go for a swim. Once you’re done at the park, be sure to visit The Frick Art and Historical Center at the north side of Frick Park. It is one of the few free museums in Pittsburgh that contains both Henry Clay Frick’s expansive collection of historic art and special exhibitions.
159 Riverview Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15214
At the top peak of Observatory Hill sits the Allegheny Observatory, used by stargazing students from the University of Pittsburgh and open to the public on Thursday and Friday nights. This is just the start of all of the offerings available at the 287-acre Riverview Park. For those who enjoy walking and hiking though woods, hills and natural surroundings, it’s hard to beat Riverview’s wooded trails, available for the novice, intermediate and expert hikers. They are even open for horseback riding and lessons. For dog owners, the entire park is available for walks with your best friend so long as Fido is on a leash, but there is also an off-leash dog run area adjacent to the Observatory. For a family outing, Riverside has not only a 5,400-square-foot swimming pool, but also a space aged-themed playground and the historic Chapel Shelter, a Presbyterian church that was converted into a relaxing picnic area. As a bonus, Riverview Park hosts numerous events throughout the year, including sporting events and outdoor concerts.
Related: Best Parks For Kids In Pittsburgh
Evergreen Community Park
3430 Evergreen Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15237
Evergreen may not be the largest park in Pittsburgh, but it certainly is one of the best, and with it comes a great sense of community. Not only does the park feature a beautiful wooded area with hiking and nature trails that include great locations for shutterbugs, but the park also has a pond for relaxing or catch-and-release fishing. For sporting activates, the park includes a baseball field complete with bleachers, two basketball courts, two tennis courts, a soccer field and a volleyball net. For mealtime, you don’t have to leave the park as its pavilion has a grill for cooking, electrical outlets and a seating area that can accommodate up to 75 people. If you’re planning a big event, Evergreen Park also has a full kitchen on the premises that’s available to rent. Just give the park a call to make arrangements.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
One of Pittsburgh’s premiere parks, Highland Park was built around the city reservoir, which feeds the lush nature throughout the park as well as supplies Pittsburgh with drinking water. Among the numerous hiking and walking trails is the Reservoir Walkway, a 3/4-mile path around the reservoir that is ideal for leisurely strolls among nature or jogging. Highland is also home to the city’s only Olympic-size “long-course” swimming pool, a volleyball court and a half-mile oval loop bike trail. For the kids, Highland has two playground areas.
Related: Best Walking Trails
David Cohen is a freelance writer whose work can be found on Examiner.com.