We drove along winding country roads and through the lush green mountains to the entrance of the PA Turnpike for our 4-hour trek toward Pittsburgh. The turnpike is a scenic drive through a patchwork of farmland, abundant forests, and tunnels carved through the mountains. The rest areas along the way had plenty of food, drinks, and restrooms.
When we arrived at Pittsburgh, we found our way to the Wyndam Garden Hotel, just down the street from the thriving University of Pittsburgh. The hotel lobby was inviting, with warm earth tones and subdued lighting. White peace lilies graced a water fountain in the lobby center. A circle of plush, red-velvet chairs around a glass-covered oak table sat off to the side. Rich shades of plum decorated the comfortable rooms.
After meeting up with our friends from Chicago, Mark and Dave, we played a few rounds of billiards while enjoying some ice-cold beer. It was time to eat dinner before the Pirates vs. the Cubs game at the PNC Ball Park. The hotel offers free limo service within a 3-mile radius, so we took advantage of that to get to the restaurant.
Mark had made reservations at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The service was impeccable. The steaks here have received the “Best Steak” in Pittsburgh award eight times by Pittsburgh Magazine. Its no wonder since every steak is hand-cut, then cooked to order in a high-temperature broiler that sears in the mouth-watering flavor at a mere 1,800°F. The filet mignons, topped with sautéed onions, were cooked to perfection. Creamy mashed potatoes topped with freshly chopped garlic, zesty Italian salad, succulent browned mushrooms, and warm homemade bread rounded out the meal. We were all too full to even think about dessert.
After finishing dinner, it was off to the game. A taxi dropped us off at the Roberto Clemente Bridge (formerly known as 6th Street), which is closed to traffic during game times. We walked across the river bridge to the stadium. The developers of the stadium say that there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Not only did we have a great view of the game, but we could see past the backfield, where we watched the twinkling lights and candle-lit windows of the paddlewheel boats cruising up and down the peaceful Allegheny River. Bright white and red lights shimmered off the mirrored skyscrapers of the Pittsburgh skyline. Oh, by the way, the game had some great plays, and the Pirates won.
After the game, we stopped for a drink at Aria’s, a quaint little club with a sidewalk café. The café had huge outdoor butane heaters that warmed the crisp night air. After doing some people-watching, we crossed back over the bridge and hailed a taxi for a ride back to the hotel, where we reminisced and laughed for a few more hours before calling it a night.
In the morning, we enjoyed a bountiful breakfast buffet at the hotel of bacon, sausage, potatoes O’Brien, fresh fruit, and golden croissants. The cooks will whip up an omelet, pancakes, French toast, or waffles made to order. After breakfast, we said farewell to our friends, who flew back to Chicago and headed home.
Wyndam Garden Hotel: Wyndam Hotel
Ruth’s Chris Steak House: 412-391-4800 (6PPG Place, Pittsburgh)
Pittsburgh Information: Pittsburgh