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Pittsburgh: Mile-High Sandwiches and Kayak Adventures

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Its heavy industrial days well in the past, Pittsburgh is now an exceptional place to live and a multifaceted destination
for visitors.

drive time: 4 hours, 45 minutes.

stay here: The Parador Inn is a lovingly restored Victorian mansion furnished with antiques and decorated with whimsical Caribbean-themed, hand-painted murals and accents. All nine guestrooms have gas fireplaces. Full breakfast is included. 939 Western Ave., (412) 231-4800, www.theparadorinn.com.

eat here: Named for its emphasis on meat dishes and its collection of more than 350 whiskies, Butcher and the Rye is one of the
hottest tables in town, so reserve early. Small plates are $8-$16, large plates $14-$29. 212 Sixth St., (412) 391-2752,  www.butcherandtherye.com.

At Cure, be sure to start with the house-made salumi. The focus here is on Mediterranean dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Entrées are $22-$42. 5336 Butler St., (412) 252-2595, www.curepittsburgh.com.

The hotcakes at Pamela’s Diner are actually plate-size crêpes. Order them with strawberries. Breakfast is $5.25-$8.95 (cash only). Pamela’s has six locations. Hit the one in the heart of the Strip District, with its ethnic food shops and eateries covering over two dozen nationalities. 60 21st St., (412) 281-6366, www.pamelasdiner.com.

Primanti Bros. sandwiches—any meat piled high with cole slaw and french fries on soft Italian bread—are to Pittsburgh what the cheesesteak is to Philly. Open since 1933, this local institution now has 17 locations, but the original shop is on the Strip. $6.50-$8.50. 46 18th St., (412) 263-2142, www.primantibros.com

to-do list: Pittsburgh is a city of numerous distinct neighborhoods and three rivers—the Allegheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio. To get your bearings, start with a guided excursion on the Pittsburgh Tour Company Double-Decker Tour Bus. You can hop on and off at 21 stops. $29.95/adults, $19.95/kids. 445 S. 27th St., (412) 381-8687, www.tourspgh.com

Pedal 24 miles of riverfront trails on a rental from Golden Triangle Bike Rental. $8-$10/hour, $30-$40/day. 600 First Ave., (412) 600-0675, www.bikepittsburgh.com.

Another great way to see the city is from the water. Kayak Pittsburgh is open daily through September and on weekends in October. Solo kayaks are $16 an hour, tandem $21.50. (412) 969-9090, www.kayakpittsburgh.org.

More than 600 exotic birds, including many endangered species, live in natural habitats and free-flight exhibits at the National Aviary. $14/adults, $12/kids. Shows, flamingo and penguin encounters, and lorikeet feedings additional. 700 Arch St.,  (412) 323-7235, www.aviary.org

The Andy Warhol Museum offers seven floors of exhibits chronicling the life and works of Pittsburgh’s native prince of pop art. Create your own work using some of Warhol’s signature techniques. $20/adults, $10/kids; half-price on Fridays 5-10 p.m. 117 Sandusky St., (412) 237-8300, www.warhol.org.

Youngsters can build flying machines, create art, climb mazes, and get wet at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, which has an entire floor devoted to indoor water play. $13/adults, $12/kids. 10 Children’s Way, Allegheny Square, (412) 322-5058, www.pittsburghkids.org

The Mattress Factory is a contemporary art museum made up of several buildings. It features room- and multiroom-size installations by artists from around the world. Call in advance for a guided tour. $15/adults, $10/students. 500 Sampsonia Way, (412) 231-3169, www.mattress.org

for thrifty types: Pittsburgh is built on some seriously high hills. The best way to enjoy the panoramic view of the city and its three rivers is from the top of Mt. Washington. To get there, you can ride a 137-year-old cable car up the Duquesne Incline. $5 round trip. 1197 W. Carson St., (412) 381-1665, www.duquesneincline.org.

Randy Gilson has turned his Victorian home and the surrounding area into a colorful piece of public art he calls Randyland. Come between 1 and 7 p.m., when he opens his courtyard to visitors. Donations welcome. 1501 Arch St., (412) 342-8152, www.randy.land.

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