Big East Tailgate Guide: Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh downtown skyline as seen from PNC Stadium

This is one of a series of tailgating guides for Big East football schools written by Syracuse fan and tailgate aficionado TexanMark. If you have any feedback or additional information you think belongs in this guide, please drop an email message to Mark by clicking here.

First Things First: Getting There

Pittsburgh is the most centrally located University among the football members. All teams’ fans (except USF) can drive to Pittsburgh in less than 7-8 hours. If you decide to fly to the Pittsburgh Airport.

you will find it is huge (once the main hub of USAir) and only 15 miles west of the stadium. If you decide not to rent a car there are several other ways to get downtown.

The official airport guide should give you more specific information.

Southwest, Air Tran and Independence are some of the several discount carriers. Amtrak and Greyhound both have stations downtown not too far from Heinz Field and might be another good option for those who don’t want to hassle with driving or flying.

If you driving to Pittsburgh for the first time I would suggest you find a motel near the stadium and leave your car parked most of the time. Pittsburgh due to the topography and geography is very tough to navigate around. Apply the "K.I.S.S. Principle" (Keep It Simple Stupid) and you’ll do okay.

The stadium as most of you know is shared by the Steelers and it is located across the Allegheny River from downtown in an area called the "North Shore". The University is actually located a few miles away to the east.

A tour of the campus is a must and is well worth your time.

University of Pittsburgh Campus

If you are visiting in September or even October (if the Pirates do well) you could get lucky and get the opportunity to take in a major league baseball game.  The PNC is located about a mile east of Heinz Field.

Getting to Heinz Field

Heinz Field

These directions are courtesy of Kimberly and Albrecht Powell, who have done a wonderful guide to Pittsburgh that should be checked out.

Driving Directions to Heinz Field

400 Art Rooney Avenue
Pittsburgh PA

From the East:
Take I-376, US-22 and go West for 14.2 miles. Take Exit 1 to
North Shore and I-279 North. Bear left on ramp at sign reading Exit 11B - North Shore

From the North:
Take I-79 and go South to I-279. Follow I-279 to Exit 21 I-279 South to
Pittsburgh. Take Exit 12 to North Shore

From the South:
Take I-79 North to Exit 14 for I-279 North towards
Pittsburgh. Follow I-279 through the Fort Pitt Tunnel/Bridge (Left Lane) to the sign reading Exit 11A, 11B PA-65 North to North Shore/Ohio River Blvd and US-19. Take Exit 11B - North Shore

From the West and Airport:
From the PA Turnpike (I-76 East), take Exit 1A Rt-60-South towards
Pittsburgh (Portions Toll), or from the Pittsburgh Airport follow PA-Route-60-South towards Pittsburgh. Continue to Pittsburgh following signs for US-22, US-30 and I-279 through the Fort Pitt Tunnel/Bridge. Follow I-279 through the Fort Pitt Tunnel (Left Lane) to the sign reading Exit 11A, 11B PA-65 North to North Shore/Ohio River Blvd and US-19. Bear left on ramp at sign reading Exit 11B - North Shore


This is a great place to start learning about Heinz Field.

This guide has laid out all your options and is the best source I found.  Bottom-line: If you don’t have connections forget about parking at Heinz Field proper. The Station Square Option is a very good option for out of town visitors. Another option is to hunt around the Northshore for private lots. More options are below. If you (the reader) know of any good tailgate spots in private lots pass them on. I’ll need an address, cost, charity if any they support, and how many cars it can park and when does it fill up. Email me.

Station Square (Tailgate Alternative)

If you don’t need to tailgate in the traditional way, this might be your best option.  It is going to cost you $8.00 for parking but it is a good deal if you plan to stay after the game.  There are a ton of things to do in Station Square.  You can even stay at the Sheraton during your visit.

The neatest thing is the ability to take a riverboat over to the game. It costs $8 roundtrip per person.  Here is a decent overview of the Station Square in map form.

Map of Station Square Area

More Parking Options

More Heinz Field Parking/Tailgating Options can be found here.


For "out of towners" seeking convenience and don’t mind paying a higher price should check out the Sheraton at Station Square first, if you want an east way to use the Gateway Clipper. Be advised by the time you read this it is probably already too late to find a vacancy unless you get lucky.

Sheraton at Station Square

North Shore Lodging

The Priory Hotel is located on the Northshore near PNC Ballpark.  It draws rave reviews by almost all.  If you want a smaller boutique hotel, this is it.

The Priory Hotel

The Bridgestreet Lincoln at Northshore is also nearby. It might be worth a look.  100 Anderson St., phone: 412-665-2971

The SpringHill Suites by Marriott is located right next to the PNC stadium, and within walking distance to Heinz Field.  It looks to be a very good option.


There are seven major hotels downtown I found using Yahoo.  Staying downtown over the weekend is often a good way to stretch your dollar.  Many downtown hotels have weekend rates since their business stays are low over the weekend.  The major hotel chains represented downtown were: Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton, Marriott, Omni, Ramada, Renaissance and Westin.

Staying a Few Miles Away Near Campus?

This website gives you directions to the Pitt campus.

The university recommends these places near the campus.

I see there is a Quality Inn nearly and also the University Club.

One thing must be noted about the Oakland area where the Pitt campus is located. This is an urban area with urban crime. When walking about, use common sense.


I’d like to thank "PittFan7" and my future brother-in-law Don Lancaster for giving me the local insight as follows in this guide.

Pittfan7 lists five places that you should look into for hang outs, bars, food, etc…

1. South Side which info can be found on Yahoo or Google and type it in as I wrote it. This place is every college guys dream; 70 some bars all on one street (East Carson Street) and all within walking distance. That street is called. This is one of the busiest streets on weekends. It has everything... Bars, Restaurants, Hotels, Movie Theatre, Grocery Stores, Shops, EVERYTHING!!

2. The Strip District (on the Allegheny River near downtown) offers lots of produce/artist's markets in the day time and night life/restaurants at night for the "Club" people that enjoy dancing. Several neat, original, must do eating places are detailed below.

Strip District During the Day  

3. Oakland which is where the Pitt campus is located. They have quite an array of entertainment, including a 24hr Beer Distributor. Good food not as many bars but a good college environment.

4. Station Square (mentioned above) has bars, clubs, food, hotels and the Gateway Clipper Fleet for river tours and concerts etc.. You also have the option of taking the Monongahela Incline, which will take you to the outlooks of Mt. Washington, from which you and your main squeeze can have a romantic view of the city skyline. Also, awesome at night to take loved ones to. 

Station Square at Night

5. Homestead Waterfront This area isn't quite the bar scene atmosphere, but it has a huge variety of entertainment. They have a huge outdoor shopping plaza, movie theatre, a few bars here and there but a lot of bar/restaurants. Great food, comedy club, an overall great environment for fun.

If you want to eat near Heinz I can personally recommend one place I ate at.If you want your fill of the taste of Pittsburgh, try Peppi’s before or after the game.

My future brother-in-law knows Pittsburgh and knows the great local food joints. He has shared a few of them with us.

Peppi's (927 Western Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15233, (412) 231-9029) This is a local chain that specializes in submarine/hoagie/hero/grinder type sandwiches, both hot and cold. This Peppi’s is located on the North Side about 2 blocks from Heinz Field. Go up the hill from Heinz Field on Allegheny Ave. When you reach Western Ave. (There is a 7-Eleven there.), turn right. Peppi’s is located mid-block on the right. Peppi’s is the quintessential mix of classic great tasting but mostly high calorie food.

Primanti Brothers is a Pittsburgh institution.

Primanti Brothers

The original shop is in Pittsburgh’s Strip District and is open all night.  (The Strip District is the produce area of Pittsburgh.)  Their sandwiches are served on thick slices of Italian bread and have the cole slaw and French fries on them.  There are Primanti Stands at Heinz Field.  Review.

The Original Hot Dog Shop is located in Oakland next to the Pitt campus. It is open all night and is known for inexpensive food.  The hot dogs are good; the old fashion deli dogs that make a crack when bitten into.  If you order fries, you will get fresh cut potatoes.  WARNING - A regular order is enough for 3 to 4 people.  It is a basket full. (This is a college eatery.)  Also, you order different items from different stations.  This speeds up the lines for anyone getting just one thing.  Review.

The Original Hot Dog Stand

Jo Jo's is another Strip District eatery. Jo Jo’s serves meals all night but closes during the afternoon. Good cheap eats. WARNING, the Jo Jo omelet is enormous.

DeLuca's is in the heart of the Strip District. They are open early and close in the mid-afternoon. Good cheap eats.>

Benkovitz Fish is located in the Strip District. They are a fish store that of course also serves excellent fish sandwiches. There is NO seating but stand up counters. It closes in the afternoon. There are Benkovitz stands at Heinz Field.

Robert Wholey & Co. (Fish) is located in the heart of the strip district and is a fish and grocery store that serves excellent fish sandwiches. It closes in the late afternoon.

A small, growing chain that has developed a strong following in the area is Quaker State and Lube.  Yes, it is a name of the motor oil and yes, the place serves food.  BTW, you can try these Wings at Heinz Stadium.  Check it out.

Lastly, Fatheads is a institution in Pittsburgh.  It features truly great wings, mega varieties of beer and something called a "Headwich".  Review.

Diversions/Shopping for the nonfootball Watching Spouse

Below are a few suggestions to do while in Pittsburgh.  Some of these places are within walking distance of Heinz Field.  This might come in handy for a spouse who might not want to go to the game.

  1. Andy Warhol Museum
  2. The National Aviary
  3. Ft. Pitt Museum
  4. Carnegie Science Center
  5. SportsWorks  NOTE:  This is a great place to take kids for several hours.  BTW, if you are an educator tell them and receive a nice discount.

A good place to visit if Pitt is playing at night is the Western Pennsylvania Sports History Museum at the Heinz History Center.  The Heinz History Center is an excellent history museum that is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute.

If your spouse wants to shop there are a few close by choices.  A few miles away is Southside Works.  It has food, movies and quite a few popular store brands.  Another option is Station Square.  The nice thing about Station Square is you can tailgate/go to the game while they shop.  One last option is to take in the big department stores downtown.  You can find more info on Pittsburgh shopping here.

H.J. Heinz Local History Museum


Thank you, Pitt fans "Willemakit" and "Pittee3" for the following suggestions:

A comprehensive list  of courses in the Pittsburgh metro area shows a wide range of prices. If you are a hacker or just want a quick, cheap round of golf try Schenley, North Park (county course), Holly Hill (9 hole course), Pittsburgh North, Oakmont East, or Maplecrest (9 hole course). 

Schenley Golf Course

If you want a more challenging round, consider the following courses:

4 star course.  You can play 9 or 18 holes for between 30-60 bucks (includes golf cart). You'll need a tee time and there is a dress code. Overall, it is a class operation and a wonderful course.

Quicksilver Golf Course

Champion Lakes
About an hour east of downtown, this excellent and challenging course should also be considered.  Note that they have a dress code (collared shirt, no jeans) and tee times are required. $40.00 includes cart.  Rated one of the top 50 public courses in the US by Golf Digest.

Championship Lakes

Grand View
This is not your normal 'hit driver 14 times' type course.  You need to play target golf.  Great test for your course management skills.  Not recommended for the high-handicapper (if you are, bring lots of balls).  This course is very close to downtown and features some great views of the industrial areas of Pittsburgh.

Grand View Golf Course

Never played there but it's not far from downtown and the reviews are good

Very nice course that is relatively new.  A subtle links-style beauty, the Pittsburgh-area course opened in May 2003 and features more than 100 deceptively treacherous grass and sand bunkers between whisker-wide fairways. Seven two-tiered greens yield more than two tears for three-putters.  It is reasonably priced and represents a good value, but is a fairly long  drive from downtown (50 miles north of Pittsburgh).  There are a lot of other golf courses in this area.

Birdsfoot Golf Course

I hope this helps.  I'd like to thank "Pittfan7" and Don Lancaster for helping me with this guide. TexanMark

The opinions expressed in this guide are those of TexanMark.  While every effort has been made to ensure all the information presented is accurate and current, it would be wise to verify things when possible`.  Please note that this guide is not endorsed by, its site publishers, administrators and/or moderators.

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