What are the five best free things to do in the Pittsburgh area?

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Although it was known as the Steel City for decades, Pittsburgh has been steadily gaining recognition as a thriving cultural capital for years now. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s also a place with so many culture-rich activities. Thankfully, many are also free. There are your five best bets for free fun in the city:

1. Check out a summer festival. Summertime visitors to Pittsburgh have a wealth of free activities to choose from, and at the top of the list are the Three Rivers Regatta and Three Rivers Arts Festival. The Arts Festival stretches on for ten days, and features top-notch live music and the work of hundreds of visual and performing artists. The Regatta, meanwhile, is a riverside festival featuring all manner of boat races and water sports.

2. Explore the city on a walking tour. The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation offers a wide range of walking tours that explore the little-known architectural history of the city, especially the downtown area. For self-guided tour ideas, visit the websites of both the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and the Pittsburgh Department of City Planning, where you’ll find a handful of creatively themed itineraries.

3. Join a gallery crawl. The family-friendly Gallery Crawl organized by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust takes place, appropriately enough, in the heart of the downtown Cultural District. Dozens of venues both large and small open their doors to a gallery-hopping public every three months, and some venues offer live performances, live music and libations. Schedules can be consulted online at pgharts.org. Unblurred, meanwhile, attracts an edgier and younger crowd on the first Friday of every month in the Penn Avenue Arts District. What’s more, Unblurred events tend to resist easy categorization; visitors can expect to encounter experimental art, music and performance of all sorts.

4. Explore the legacy of a Pittsburgh entrepreneur. Situated in the East End neighborhood of Point Breeze, the Frick Art and Historical Center is a collection of museums and buildings on the land once owned by Henry Clay Frick, a pivotal 19th-century industrialist. Wandering the grounds here is a free experience, as is admission to the Frick Art Museum, where a selection of Frick’s famous collection of paintings is on display. The Car and Carriage Museum, also free, is home to a vintage automobile collection. A visit to Frick’s former mansion, known as Clayton, is in fact the only experience you’ll pay for here.

5. Watch a movie in the great outdoors. Watching a film and enjoying a picnic as evening turns to night is a summertime tradition in Pittsburgh. Cinema in the Park is the program that screens the mostly family-friendly fare at six different city parks from June through the end of August. Movies are shown nearly every day of the week at one of program’s six locations — Oakland’s Schenley Park is a perennial favorite. And while alcohol is forbidden, picnics are encouraged, and the atmosphere is one of conviviality and joy.

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