AOL PICK from our Editors
Pittsburgh isn't really known as the place to buy anything in particular, but once you know the history of the different areas, shopping can be an educational and rewarding experience. For example, you may have noticed that there's a lot of “old money" in Pittsburgh. What does that mean for shoppers? Antiques! Antiques of exceptional quality, vintage clothing and custom clothing (for those who still have that kind of money) can be found in abundance. You'll find the usual chains downtown, but if you venture into the outer neighborhoods, you can find unexpected things in refreshingly quirky and unusual stores. There's no shortage of museum gift shops to satisfy your craving for a unique-to-Pittsburgh souvenir, and you won't have trouble finding a market of almost any ethnicity. Best of all, most of Pittsburgh’s best shopping areas are historic in some way, from The Strip's markets to the Waterfront shopping center with its large brick chimneys (which belonged to the steel mill that once stood in its place).
Neighborhood: The Strip District
Pittsburgh’s Strip District offers a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Locals come here to purchase fresh produce, meats, seafood and bread. The aroma coming from the sidewalk grills serving ribs, chicken, burgers and more will tempt you to spoil dinner with multiple spontaneous meals. There's more than just food; sidewalk vendors here peddle everything from T-shirts to sunglasses and some surprisingly good-looking jewelry. Check out the Society for Contemporary Craft for unique arts and crafts items. If you're a sports fan, you can find great deals on sports themed T-shirts, some as little as $5! Also, no visit is complete without breakfast at Pamela’s—try the pancakes!
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Neighborhood: South Side
The indoor mall at Station Square is alive with unique retail shops like Jezebel and St. Brendan’s Crossing. Here, you can find everything from one-of-a-kind gifts to the latest Steelers and Penguins sports merchandise. Almost two dozen retailers inhabit this historic complex located in two restored railroad buildings. In addition to shops, you’ll find a wide variety of restaurants to choose from at every price point. The casual Hard Rock Café and family-style Italian restaurant Buca di Beppo vie with the more upscale Grand Concourse. Don’t miss a walk along the river near the complex’s fountain, which has a water display choreographed to music. This is also a perfect photo spot with a beautiful view of the city skyline. The Station Square “T” stop provides easy access to and from Downtown Pittsburgh.
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Neighborhood: South Side
Some of the city’s finest shopping can be found on the site of this former steel mill in South Side Flats. The Southside Works indoor/outdoor mall complex contains many local boutiques and an assortment of chain retailers like Steve Madden, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, H&M and the city’s largest REI. On warm days, children can play in the fountain in the “Town Square,” where there’s also a 10-screen cinema. Restaurants abound here—the hardest shopping decision of the day might be choosing between The Cheesecake Factory, Hofbrauhaus (a German brew house and restaurant), and McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant. You can also grab a cup of coffee at Caribou Coffee or Crazy Mocha. Love Southside Works? You can actually live here, too.
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Just 25 minutes by car from downtown Pittsburgh, the town of Sewickley is one of southwestern Pennsylvania's hidden treasures. The quaint atmosphere and eclectic array of retail stores, antique shops and boutiques on Beaver Street and Broad Street make it one of the most enjoyable shopping experiences in the greater Pittsburgh area. As you browse, you'll come across a number of cafés (Sewickley Café is a favorite) and pastry shops to satisfy your cravings and fuel your sprees. You also can stop by the Aveda spa for some pampering. The affluent community here hosts an annual Harvest Festival that is not to be missed if you're visiting in September.
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On the site of the former Homestead steel mills, in the hometown of the great Negro League team the Homestead Grays, the Waterfront is the city’s largest shopping and entertainment development. The complex contains a wide range of stores including a massive Macy’s, Barnes and Noble and Best Buy. There are restaurants at every price range here, and though most of the stores are chains, you'll be surrounded by "real" Pittsburgh shoppers. Make sure that you don’t miss out on the Village Square, which is surrounded by many smaller shops with a Starbucks in the center. There's an AMC Loew’s Theatre here, should you need to dump a friend or spouse somewhere while you shop. Take a moment to admire the large brick chimneys that still remain from Homestead’s era as a steel mill.
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