By the end of February, the heavy lifting of the financial statement season is over and the travel itch needs to be scratched. A quick five-hour (it feels even quicker on the way home) from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh's a great long weekend escape offering world class museums and other unique, cultural attractions; dining options that range from high class to must-have local specialties; and a distinct, steelmill-infused subculture. But rather than explore "inner" Pittsburgh, this trip would focus on visiting family in Cranberry Township, about thirty minutes north of the City's business district. Instead of focusing on Pittsburgh's transaction, this trip would be a loop through the northern and eastern suburbs. A Pitts"burb" trip.
Eat'n Park is a Western Pennsylvania diner chain - 57 restaurants across Pennsylvania (although I don't believe any Harrisburg and east), Ohio, and West Virginia) - known not just for their breakfast but also their Smiley cookies. The Somerset location is a little over an hour from Pittsburgh and a good stopping point before making the final push. Plus, for some unknown reason, this location has a giant Elephant in its parking lot.
Nothing like Smiley cookies and milkshakes to start the day.
When is a bakery a destination? When it is the Oakmont Bakery. I thought we'd just pull up, hop in, and be out with a few donuts in less than five minutes. I did not fully comprehend the massive operations and following of the Oakmont Bakery. If you are fortunate to find a parking spot, there may still be over 100 people in front of you to order. The place was out of control bonkers on President's Day. Rather than wait thrity minutes to pick a few donuts, I grabbed a box of pre-made Paczki's, a Polish donut-type thing - an overstuffed, cream-filled monster donut.
The Oakmont Country Club has hosted several U.S. Opens over the years and as one may suspect, the town of Oakmont has a quiet, upscale feel to it. Albeit a small strip. The brick paved Allegheny River Blvd sits above a former rail line and has a few shops and restaurants, however, Oakmont's main attraction is the aforementioned bakery.
For dinner, we drove "down" to Sewickley. Pittsburgh's landscape can is defined by its rivers and the rolling hills that lead down to those rivers. It was a windy drive to Sewickley and we passed homes that reminded me of Lower Merion - wooded and remote but still close to the city. Sewickley felt similar to a Narberth or Admore.
For breakfast the following morning we went to the Lincoln P&G Diner in Millvale. Part diner, part drug store, part Pittsburgh spots team paraphernalia store, it was a 100% Pittsburgh experience. Ok pancakes but a unique dining experience and insight into one of Pittsburgh's steel industry created suburbs.
One last suburban town stop before heading home: Aspinwall. Supposedly a hipster community. I can see that. A bit of a revival is taking place here with a quaint shopping street.
We stopped in Bedford on the return drive to see one of America's great roadside attractions - a giant coffee pot. We needed to head into Bedford for an actual cup of coffee. In an alternate universe, my dad takes a job with Walmart in Bedford in 2000 or so. Bedford is a nice, little town, but the emphasis on little is likely why my parents never followed through and moved out here. In 2023, Bedford has all the necessities, a cool coffee shop, a handful of cool little stores, and a few decent restaurants. A nice way to end the trip.