Day 3 – Tuesday, July 2 (Pittsburgh, PA)

Today we spent a typical tourist day in Pittsburgh. Our first — and longest — stop was at the Carnegie Science Center, right on the water (what in Pittsburgh isn’t right on the water?). We received free admission because of reciprocity with the Boston Museum of Science, of which we’re members. In case you don’t know this, there are more than 100 science museums/centers around the country that share reciprocity, so if you’re members of one you can usually get in free at any of the others (so remember to take your membership card with you when you travel!). There were lots of great exhibits; my favorite was probably one of the least-science-based — the miniature railroad exhibit, which was incredible. A guide who works there told me that the number of trees in the exhibit numbered about 250,000 — each created by hand. It was by far the most fantastic miniature railroad exhibit I’ve ever seen. Another nice exhibit was about bicycles (and the science thereof) and included approximately 50 of them, including some nearly 150 years old. Entry to the museum also included a self-guided tour of a decommissioned WWII submarine, moored in the water right outside the museum. Like most science museums I’ve visited, many of the exhibits are geared toward younger children, but there was certainly more than enough for everyone to enjoy.

After three or so hours at the museum (including lunch in the cafĂ©), we spent most of the rest of the day walking around the downtown area and riverfront (where several key scenes from “Jack Reacher,” one of Tom Cruise’s recent films, were shot). After a few minutes pondering the existence of the Fred Rogers memorial/statue, we walked over the Smithfield Street Bridge to cross the Monongahela River; on the other side we rode the Monongahela Incline cable car / tram up to Mt. Washington for some incredible views of the city and its rivers. Unfortunately, the Mt. Washington area at the top of the tram is pretty dumpy, except for a few small shops/restaurants, but I would still say that riding the Monongahela Incline is a must-do, particularly around sunset, when the views of the city are spectacular (I hear the Duquesne Incline, about a mile away, is also very nice).

So a fine day, with overall great weather and lots of walking.