Weekend Road Trip

Last Friday as I was sitting at work I had the overwhelming feeling that we needed to get out of town.  Mark is working on the never-ending freelance project, the weather has been rainy and cool and we are still several weeks away from our “official” summer vacation. I had enough Marriott Rewards Points burning a hole in my pocket for a couple of nights stay so I started trying to figure out where we could go.  I wanted someplace only 2-3 hours away, a location that would be new(ish) to all of us and a place that was very kid friendly.  So after looking at the map and Marriott locations, I booked 2 nights in Pittsburgh. I have only been there once – for about 2 hours, and Mark hasn’t been there since before we met. I DM’d Kyle Roth on Twitter, a former Pburg resident and huge Steelers fan (brave man, living in Cleveland), for some ideas and within about 15 minutes I had a list of activities and recommended restaurants.  I love Twitter!

As soon as we a got home we threw together suitcases and hit the road. We were staying in the Shadyside neighborhood and arrived around 7:30. Despite all the great restaurants in the area and suggestions from friends on Twitter we ended up at Max & Erma’s.  I normally loathe chains, especially when traveling, but sometimes when it’s late, your kid is hungry and you are in a strange place  they are they easiest choice.  I will say that we briefly checked out a couple of other places which were either too busy (a wait for seating) or too fancy to take the girl before settling on M&E. After dinner we checked into our hotel where I had booked a king + sofa bed since it was the only thing available on-line.  I asked if they had any 2-bed rooms available and the desk clerk typed furiously on two different computers for a bit and finally said “I don’t have any 2-queen rooms, but why don’t I put you in a king suite? That way you can have your own room and your daughter can have the sofa bed in the living room.” SCORE!  The room was huge – kitchen/bar area, king bedroom and a living room.  I am so spoiled – this is really the ONLY way to travel with a kid for more then one night.

Saturday morning we got up, ate breakfast out of the food we brought and headed over to the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum to be there when it opened.  It is such a fun place!  I loved the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood area …they have an actual sweater and pair of his shoes!  The whole place was great – especially the studio art area and the waterworks play area.  Mark and I were in awe of the fantastic re-use of the old buildings. We spent about 3 hours playing before we headed back to the hotel for a nap.  In the afternoon we headed over to The Strip area and strolled around. It is full of ethnic markets, knick-knacks shops, more ugly Steelers crap then you can imagine and lots of characters.  Unfortunately we got there just before most of the stores were closing.  Next trip we will go down on a Saturday morning to enjoy the markets. We checked out Kaya and while it looked very good, was not what we were in the mood for. So we headed back to Shadyside and went to Harris Grill (which was the one with the wait the night before); it’s been around since 1927 so we figured they were doing something right. They have an awesome patio and a menu filled with pub food – sandwiches and appetizers – exactly what we were after. The menu is very funny to peruse and Mark and I both got sandwiches with sides of mac & cheese.  Very good, hearty food and you gotta love a place that has “bacon night” when baskets of crispy bacon are free at the bar. They also had a great beer and cocktail list.  We were there early, but it had started to fill up when we left.
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Today we got up and arrived at Pamela’s Restaurant right as it opened and it was already just about full.  I had the flapjacks and they were everything they are said to be. Yum!  I can see why they have devoted fans of those pancakes. By the time we left there was a line about 4 tables deep. We went back to the hotel, packed up and had plans to spend a good chunck of the day at the Duquesne Incline and downtown followed by lunch at either the Original Hot Dog Shop (aka The Dirty O) or Primanti Brothers (which is very much like what we can get at Panini’s in Cleveland) before heading home. But we packed up our car in a downpour and the skies were grey and rainy in all directions.  We decided to still do the incline (which M loved; the industriousness of the people who came up with that thing is amazing) and then since it was still rainy and grey we headed home.  Of course about 10 miles out of town the skies cleared and the sun came out.
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All in all it was a great trip – lots to see and do, beautiful vistas and great food.  It’s a very easy drive and we will be going back soon, maybe for just a day trip. The only two negatives I can think of is 1) parking sucks everywhere and 2) you can’t go a block without seeing fugly Steelers junk for sale.

Of course on the way home we stopped at the new(ish) Sonic in Streetsboro and managed to spill not one, but TWO Diet Cokes all over the inside of my car. So getting home early allowed me time to scrub, wash and vacuum it all out. Welcome home!

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