Things to Do in Pittsburgh
Our Beta Delta Sisters share their favorite local “don’t miss” attractions.
Heinz Field Tours: When it comes to Pittsburgh, one of the things we’re most proud of is our sports teams. One way to see what it’s all about is to take a tour to Heinz Field! The stadium is a great spot to really feel the heart of the city, especially considering the great views of downtown that you get. Just hop on the T (Pittsburgh’s free underground subway system) and ride it to the North Shore stop; Heinz Field is just a short walk from there. For groups under 12, it is just $8 a ticket. These tours are available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
The Strip District: The Strip District is located in Northern Pittsburgh and spans a large majority of Penn Avenue. Whether you’re just looking for something to do on Thursday before the General Session, or dinner on your own on Friday, the Strip District is the perfect way to spend a few hours in Pittsburgh while getting a taste of all the different cultures of the city. From famous restaurants like Pamela’s Dinner or the original Peace, Love, and Little Donuts to home goods, Steelers jerseys, and discount shoe stores, the Strip District has everything a tourist needs. Some AΣT favorite places in the strip include The Allegheny Coffee Company, Deluca’s Diner, Sweet Lily’s Bakery, Yinzer in the Strip, Bradley’s Books, and Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop. The Heinz History Museum is only a few blocks from the Strip District, so if you have a bit of extra free time, be sure to stop by.
South Side: As you walk along East Carson Street, it will be easy to see how much character and culture the South Side has to offer. Keep an eye out for art on the sides of buildings — there are plenty of fun places to take some amazing Instagram pics! As you walk along, you will see restaurants that represent different cultures such as Nakama Japanese cuisine or places like our local classic Primanti Brothers. Any place you choose to dine in South Side will be amazing, but be sure to top off your meal with one of our two treasured milkshake places, the Milkshake Factory or Fudge Farm. After dessert, walk down to South Side Works to see a movie at the local theater. If you aren’t in the mood for a movie, there are plenty of shops in the Works too. From Forever 21 to Urban Outfitters, you’ll surely find anything that you could ever want or need.
Join us for this excursion on Saturday! Learn more here.
Point Park: Pittsburgh is nationally known for its three rivers and the multitude of bridges. A great place to experience both of these is at Point Park. This area is right at the tip of the city – it is literally a point. There is a beautiful fountain that frames the view of the city in one perspective while giving a grand view of the rivers and the sky from the other. The park is a great place to just go and relax and get to know your Sisters from all other chapters! It’s a hotspot for many, so you’re sure to be entertained. Point Park is definitely a must-do when visiting the city!
Pittsburgh’s Inclines: The Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines are cable cars used since the 1870s to transport workers up the slopes of Pittsburgh’s south side neighborhoods. Today, you can ride in these cars while seeing a great view of downtown Pittsburgh. When you ride the Incline and reach the top of Mt. Washington, you’ll find a walking path and observation decks which arguably provide the best views of the city. Once at the summit, check out the history of the city and the incline at a small museum, and then grab a bite to eat or a sweet treat at a local ice cream shop. You can’t visit the Steel City without taking a trip to the Incline and seeing the iconic views of the city! It’s a short ride and inexpensive, but they only accept cash for trips. If you need it, there is a change machine at the ticket booth.
Join us for this excursion on Saturday! Learn more here.
The Mattress Factory: The Mattress Factory is a museum located on the North Side of the city. It is essentially a collection of multiple art exhibits that people can walk through and enjoy. There are so many different mediums of art displayed, in various styles as well. The museum is a unique way to get a flavor of the city and those who inhabit it. It is also a great source of photography if that is something you’re interested in. Tickets are $15 for students, so be sure to bring your university ID with you!
Eat Like a Local
Our Pittsburgh Sisters share their favorite local eating spots.
Shelby Cassesse, Beta Delta
Best Item on the Menu: Lyonnaise Potatoes
My take: If you are looking for a great breakfast spot, look no further than Pamela’s! It’s a retro-style diner with breakfast and lunch, although it is best known for breakfast. There is something for everyone, including options on the healthier side. The original restaurant is in the Strip District, but there are five other locations around Pittsburgh. A few of the locations, like Oakland, are on Nowait (iPhone and Android), but the Strip District location is first come, first served. To keep with the retro-style theme, Pamela’s Diner is cash-only. Don’t miss out on the best breakfast in town!
Fun Fact: Barack Obama has been to Pamela’s!
Cassidy Cooper, Beta Delta
Best Item on the Menu: Tacos
My take: Condado is new, fresh, and so unique. It offers a wide selection of tacos, fantastic guacamole, and other delicious food options for lunch and dinner. Not to mention, the atmosphere itself is so fun. The wait staff is friendly and quick to help, offer recommendations, or simply chat. You can build your own taco (for only $3.50 each!) or select one of the chef-curated tacos; plus, there are vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options!
My take: Double Wide Grill is located in the South Side of Pittsburgh. It has the appearance of a trailer park and if that wasn’t surprising enough to find in a city, it also offers one of the most diverse menus. Double Wide offers all your typical American favorites, but my favorite part is the entirely separate vegan/vegetarian menu; it is super accommodating in addition to being delicious. The prices are affordable and the atmosphere is casual. With such a unique menu, it is a place you do not want to miss!
Anissa Gilbert, Beta Delta
Recommended Spot: Nicky’s Thai Kitchen, locations in downtown, Northside, and North Hills
My take: Nicky’s is the go-to Thai place for the downtown lunch and dinner crowd. The service is fast and the people are friendly. Most importantly the food is enjoyable. I will typically choose a rice dish, but also recommend the curry!
Other Recommended Spot: Wingharts, locations in downtown and Southside
Best Item on the Menu: Tallulah Hula Burger
My take: If you love a good burger, Wingharts is absolutely the place to go. There is a location downtown in Market Square, and in the Southside. Though the entire menu is great, I would definitely go for a burger or one of the mac and cheese options.
Ashley Phillips, Beta Delta
Best Item on the Menu: Lasagna
My take: I recommend Piccolo Forno on Butler Street in Lawrenceville. It’s a cute BYOB Italian restaurant and near a lot of the businesses on Butler. My favorite thing to order there is the lasagna.
Briana Simko, Beta Delta
My take: There are a few locations around the area, with one downtown in Market Square. Lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch are offered. The Yard specializes in grilled cheese and there’s a wide variety of delicious options. There is a decent selection of appetizers and other options as well – I get the Greek salad and it’s so fresh, crisp, and delicious.
It has a cool vibe, with lots of brick and wood, and it’s in a great location. It tends to be pretty busy during happy hour and dinner, but the wait in my experience hasn’t been horrible for brunch when I go around 10:30 a.m. (but it’s getting busy when I leave).
Best Item on the Menu: Burgers and milkshakes
My take: There are a few of these around the area, but I love the North Shore location. It’s a great walk on a nice day from town, across the bridge to the North Shore and it’s near some nice views of the city and the river (and other great places, including PNC Park).
Burgatory has GREAT burgers and amazing milkshakes! I love to build my own burger and there are lots of options – including the “impossible” burger (plant based, but resembles a medium-cooked beef burger) and there are GREAT fries and chips. The milkshakes are unbelievable and decadent; every week there is a specialty milkshake- which is sometimes a unicorn milkshake, my favorite!
It can get really busy, but takeout is available (for shakes and burgers), so you could have a picnic and overlook the city – a great Instagram opportunity!
Leah Smith, Beta Delta
Best Item on the Menu: Panini with chicken meatballs and basil pesto cream sauce; French fries
My take: Emporio is a restaurant with a menu completely centered on meatballs. You can get them as sliders, in paninis, on salads, with poutine, and so much more. Even the desserts come in the shape of a ball- like the red velvet cake balls, YUM!
My favorite thing to order is a panini with chicken meatballs and basil pesto cream sauce, and a side of fries for the table (the side of fries is large, so you can definitely split between 2-3 people). Vegetarian? No problem! Emporio offers a selection of salads and also has a vegetarian meatball available.
Best Item on the Menu: Arancini
My take: Visiting Pizzaiolo Primo in Market Square is like visiting a little slice of Italy right in the middle of Pittsburgh. It features all kinds of authentic Italian foods including wood-fired pizzas with my favorite tomato sauce in the city! The pastas and entrées can be a bit on the pricey side, but a lot of items here can be split. When I go here with friends, we like to order a few items and share them family style. Usually, this includes a margherita pizza, arancini (rice balls stuffed with cheese), and a salad. If it is a special occasion, dinner for me always ends with my favorite dessert- tiramisu. If you are looking to have an extra special meal while in Pittsburgh, I highly recommend splurging a bit at Pizzaiolo Primo.
Making the Most out of Your Convention Experience
By Cassie Cristea, Gamma Theta
I was lucky enough to attend my first Alpha Sigma Tau National Convention in 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. I remember eagerly awaiting the days to be united with hundreds of Sisters from all around the country, but also anxiously wondering what to expect.
If you are attending Convention this year, here are some tips and tricks on how to completely nail it!
Create An Action Plan
Convention is all about making new connections with Sisters. Make a plan of who you want to meet and then follow it when you arrive!
If you are a Delegate or Alternate Delegate, you will help make important leadership decisions that will impact our Sorority for years to come. Making an informed decision is crucial. Familiarize yourself with what you’ll be voting on and be sure to collect the thoughts and preferences of your chapter’s Executive Committee.
You will be given a lot of useful information to bring back to your chapter, but how will you go about getting what is most useful to your chapter? Before going to Convention, create a plan. What is your chapter’s biggest concern? What information are you looking forward to learning the most? Taking some time to think over these things beforehand will help guide you for which sessions you want to attend. You and your Chapter Sisters can attend different sessions in order to get the most value out of your experiences. Be sure to bring something to take notes so that you can easily bring back all your newfound knowledge to your chapter.
Meet New People at Meals and Events
I attended Convention with one of my closest friends and my Little. It would have been easy to keep to ourselves throughout Convention, but it was a much richer experience because we branched out to meet new Sisters. There will be plenty of time to get to know new Sisters at the different events and the opportunity to sit with them at meals. You might even find Sisters who are in chapters in areas close to you! When I attended Convention, I was even lucky enough to connect with Sisters who had the same flight home!
Not only are you creating new friendships, but finding a new resource. You will likely meet women who hold your same position in another chapter. This is a unique opportunity to hear all about the different ideas and plans they have had, and to share yours.
Connect on Social Media With People You Meet
Not only can you make new friends, but you can connect with them on social media to stay in touch! Connect on Facebook. Exchange phone numbers and Snapchat handles. You can follow each other on Twitter and Instagram and see what she and her chapter are up to! You can find some inspiration from all her chapter is doing and show some support with a comment. I still follow Sisters I’ve met from places ranging from Florida to Texas to a chapter right by me in Pennsylvania! It’s fun seeing what all they are up to and being able to easily check in with them.
Connect With Alumnae
Convention also provides a wonderful chance to connect with alumnae. I was able to connect with alumnae from both my own chapter and other chapters. Hearing the stories of women who have been impacted by Alpha Sigma Tau for over 50 years brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me how we all share this lifelong Sisterhood and it’s indescribably special bonds.
Keep an open mind, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, and say yes. Say “yes!” when other Sisters ask to sit with you and go to the different social events. Convention was one of my favorite experiences as an Alpha Sigma Tau and I cannot wait to attend future conventions as an alumna. Soak up every ounce of your time there.
Insider Tips for Booking a Flight
By Lindsay McDowall Davis, Gamma Mu
Convention is just a few months away, so it’s time to start thinking about how to get there! Whether it be by plane, train, or car, it’s sure to be a fun adventure.
If you plan to travel by plane, then it’s time to start thinking about booking your ticket. Follow these simple tips to make sure you get a good, affordable flight to Pittsburgh!
Find the Best Price
Studies have shown that, on average, the best time to book a flight is 54 days before you plan to take off. That would be around April 28, 2018. However, it’s always advisable to start looking before then to make sure you get the best rates.
To keep an eye on flight prices, you can sign up for price alerts at Google Flights. You’ll enter your origin, destination, and number of travelers. Google Flights will track prices from different airlines and alert you when the prices drop or rise.
Book Your Flight
Once you’re ready to book your flight, the first step is figuring out what day and time you want to fly. Check the Convention schedule and plan enough time to arrive before your first Convention session. Account for travel time, possible flight and traffic delays, and time to deplane, get your bags, get from the Pittsburgh airport to the hotel (approx. 45 minutes), and get ready for the session.
Also take into account travel time to the airport and, if the airport is in a city, traffic. For example, the Atlanta airport is in the heart of Atlanta, so I usually opt to fly first thing in the morning. For me, this means leaving the house around 4 a.m., but there’s less traffic on the interstate and the airport is less crowded. Earlier flights also tend to be cheaper and there’s less chance of a delay because the aircraft has been parked there overnight.
Once you have your day and time roughly chosen, it’s time to head to the web. Before you search for flights, turn off cookies in your browser or use your browser’s private mode (like Google Chrome Incognito) to avoid cookies. In short, cookies allow a website to track your activity. For sites like Delta and Expedia, this can mean that prices will increase the more you visit the site.
Once you have cookies turned off, head to your preferred travel site. You can choose to either book directly through an airline or through a travel site like Orbitz or Expedia. There are pros and cons to each, and the processes are slightly different.
Travel sites can sometimes be cheaper, depending on the airline and the travel cities. Travel sites also make it easier to bundle your costs – you can book your flight AND your rental car all in one place!
Travel sites tend to have more customization than airline sites – it’s very easy to narrow down the time you want to leave if you want to have a layover and if you have a particular airline you wish to fly. Sometimes, the least expensive option is flying out on one airline and back home on another. Once you’ve chosen your flight (both arrival and return flights), you’ll start the booking process. When booking, enter your name (exactly as it appears on your driver’s license), phone number, sex, and birthday.
Something to be wary of, however, is that cancellation policies are not the same on a travel site versus the direct airline. If this could potentially be a concern for you, you may want to book directly through an airline. When booking, you’ll also usually be asked if you want to “protect your flight” with a cancellation plan. This is an extra cost, but entirely up to you. Make sure you read the cancellation plan in its entirety before you decide to invest or not. You’ll then enter your payment information, billing address, and an email address that the travel site will send the itinerary to. If booking through a travel site, enter in your departure and arrival airports. Airports are designated by airport codes that are three letters long. Most, if not all, sites will auto-fill this information once you type in the city, but for your convenience, the airport code for Pittsburgh is PIT.
Major travel sites include:
Booking your flight directly through the airline is mostly a similar process to a travel site, but you’re limited to the flights offered solely by that airline. However, if you are or plan to be a frequent flyer, it can be worth it because you receive “miles.” Miles are awarded to an individual for every flight completed and can usually be exchanged for other flights, upgrades, and other services.
If your city is the headquarters for a major airline, consider flying with that airline – there will be more availability and thus easier to get the flight you want. They may also be less expensive.
Some of the major airlines and their headquarters are listed below:
For all Sites
For all sites, make sure you input each traveler’s name exactly as printed on her driver’s license.
Regardless of the method of booking, there are some final post-booking tips to follow. Make sure to print your itinerary. It has the confirmation number you’ll need to obtain your ticket. Download the app(s) of the airline(s) you plan to fly. Through the app, you can opt to get alerts about your flights through texts and/or calls. Some apps also allow check-in through the app itself, so you can get through the airport faster.
Use the Proper ID
Before traveling in June, make sure the state that issued your driver’s license complies with the federal REAL ID Act. If your state is not compliant and has not been granted an extension, you will not be able to board an aircraft with your driver’s license (or other state-issued forms of identification). For these cases, other acceptable forms of ID (such as a passport) are listed on the TSA website.
Booking a flight can seem daunting the first time you do it, but it’s easy once you know your way around. Don’t be afraid to call up another Sister who’s done it before and ask for help! You can also reach out on social media – some Sisters travel frequently for work and vacation and may have some insider tips on particular airports and/or airlines. In the end, relax and get excited – you’re one step closer to Convention!