Discover Pittsburgh's Hidden Escapes

Adventure awaits, in your own backyard.

overlook of pittsburgh

Image courtesy of Visit Pittsburgh Facebook Page, contributed by Dave DiCello Photography

Occasionally, we all need a break from routine. It’s not always possible to hop a plane to an exotic location, but luckily some intriguing points of interest are hidden in plain sight. Some modest spots have managed to fly under the radar and are just waiting to be discovered.

Here is our list of great places worth exploring, some of them may have eluded you, until now. GiftYa makes it easy to send giftcards of these experiences and more, so bring a friend along for the fun!

1. Peace, Love and Zen Himalayan Salt Cave

peace love and zen

Peace, Love and Zen is the ideal place to recharge through the ancient remedy of Salt Therapy. Their hand-built salt cave houses 12,000 pounds of Himilayan Salt Crystals and a specialized halogenerator that infuses the air and will leave you feeling revitalized. Image courtesy of

East Liberty
6023 Broad St.

(412) 661-0777

Mon-Sat: 10am-8pm
Sun: 11am-5pm

You might think you’ve heard it all, but then find out about a rejuvenating salt cave right here in the East Liberty! Take a relaxing retreat inside the calming Himalayan Salt Cave at Peace, Love and Zen. Breath in the cleansing air and experience the healing properties of this ancient remedy.

This holistic sanctuary was handmade with 12,000 pounds of Himalayan salt crystals. While sitting in a zero gravity chair, you will relax in weightless bliss for 45 minutes while soft nature sounds wash over you.

Among a long list of benefits, these sessions have been shown to reduce stress, boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, sooth skin and improve respiratory conditions.

Book an appointment for you and a friend and bask in the salty splendor!

“Took a Chakra Balancing class in the Salt cave. The class was $25 which is reasonably priced for 2 hours. Very informative with small activities within the information about each level.

The salt cave is really beautiful! Gravity chairs set up in our session, dim lights and "lamps" within the walls. Salt pebbles on the floor so wear socks. So relaxing!” - Yelp Review

<span class="yelp-review" data-review-id="LWmh5YLXxu_151P6r6H5Uw" data-hostname="">Read <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Molly H.</a>'s <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">review</a> of <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Peace, Love & Zen</a> on <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Yelp</a><script async="async" src="" type="text/javascript"></script></span>

2. Cruisin’ Tikis Pittsburgh

cruisin tikis on the river
Take a tropical themed voyage around the Point and enjoy Pittsburgh from a new view. Cruisin Tikis are guided by a licensed captain who will make sure you and your friends are on your way to a great time. Image courtesy of Cruisin’ Tikis Pittsburgh

(833) 744-8454

Experience a Pittsburgh paradise as you cruise down the three rivers on a tiki hut! This 2 hour sightseeing tour starts on the North Shore and is guided by a licensed coast guard certified captain.

Charter the tiki hut with up to 6 people for around $70 a person. They will take you from the Allegheny River, around the Point and to the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers.

You’re free to bring food and beverages aboard and they supply a cooler with ice. The hut has a 4 speaker bluetooth stereo system to set the mood for this relaxing escape.

“It was a very intimate river experience.  Did you read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?  If you didn't, there's a part in the book where the author talks about the difference between experiencing the road via motorcycle or viewing it from a car.  In a car, behind a windshield, it's almost like you're observing your own trip, rather than experiencing it.  On a motorcycle, he opined, you feel the wind, the grit, the sun on your face, smell the grass, EXPERIENCE the trip.  The Tiki Cruise reminded me of that.  The Tiki Cruise was the motorcycle to the Gateway Clipper's car.  You're at the water...hell, if you really want, the Captain might even let you take hold of the tiller (is it tiller?  wheel? whatever).” - Yelp Review

<span class="yelp-review" data-review-id="MW-8P7_zrzbeUiXJDR3aFA" data-hostname="">Read <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Jim W.</a>'s <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">review</a> of <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Cruisin' Tikis Pittsburgh</a> on <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Yelp</a><script async="async" src="" type="text/javascript"></script></span>

“Outrageously fun experience. The captains are well trained, knowledgeable, and have lots of cool stories to tell. The tour is a great way to experience Pittsburgh's Rivers.

The pace is relaxed and unhurried, about 3-4 miles an hour, which allows you plenty of chances to appreciate the scenic views. You can bring 6 guests, children are welcome, too.

They provide bottled water and an ice cooler, the rest is BYOB.” - Yelp Review

<span class="yelp-review" data-review-id="UHBWngyNz4ErmniZZL0mKw" data-hostname="">Read <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">David B.</a>'s <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">review</a> of <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Cruisin' Tikis Pittsburgh</a> on <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Yelp</a><script async="async" src="" type="text/javascript"></script></span>

3. Biddle’s Escape

biddle's escape

When you stop by for a sip of coffee at this community favorite, you will be be welcomed by friendly locals, creative decor and intriguing aromas from specialty drinks. Image courtesy of Biddle’s Escape on Yelp.

outdoor seating at biddle's escape Image courtesy of Biddle’s Escape on Yelp.

Regent Square/Wilkinsburg
401 Biddle Ave.

(412) 999-9009

Mon-Fri: 7am-8pm
Sat: 8am-8pm
Sun: 8am-6pm

Appropriately named, Biddle’s Escape is more than a coffee and tea house; this homey retreat packs a lot of personality. The cafe has a large deck with outside seating and a colorful purple and yellow exterior, but the character doesn’t stop there. Once inside you’ll find brightly colored rooms spanning 2 floors, decorated with hanging plants, Cambodian statues, ritual masks and a variety of intriguing local art.
The cafe provides gallery space for local artists, poetry readings, and open mic nights. Biddle’s has a small bead shop and pinball machines in the back. Stop by to make a bracelet or to enjoy live music. Check out their upcoming events on facebook:

Biddles offers a menu of delicious homemade pastries, sandwiches, soups and snacks. Enjoy a bite with a specialty drink like a Rosemary or Lavender Vanilla Latte. This is one of the few cafes that offers almond, coconut and soy milk dairy alternatives. They also have an extensive selection of Green, Oolong, White, Black, Red, and Herbal teas.

“This coffee shop is adorable and tucked away in Regent Square. The decor is quirky and fun with a nice patio to take advantage of in the warmer months. I love how if you order a coffee to drink there you'll be given a ceramic (often mismatched) mug to drink it from. Cute detail! Overall, if you want to take a break from getting your coffee from Starbucks or a chain, Biddle's Escape is a nice change of pace.” - Yelp Review

<span class="yelp-review" data-review-id="blasEANgLv1HQpu6V63oAg" data-hostname="">Read <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Lauren B.</a>'s <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">review</a> of <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Biddle's Escape</a> on <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Yelp</a><script async="async" src="" type="text/javascript"></script></span>

4. William Penn Speakeasy

william penn speakeasy

Speakeasy, located in the Omni William Penn is a revitalized prohibition-era bar from the 1920’s and it is a great place to have a date. Image courtesy of Speakeasy on Trip Advisor.;aggregationId=101&albumid=101&filter=7

530 William Penn Place

(412) 281-7100

Leave the modern world behind! Your new favorite hideaway awaits below the lobby of the opulent William Penn Hotel. Speakeasy is like a secret club drenched in the glamorous mystique of a bygone era. In fact, this secluded social lounge truly was a speakeasy, planned by Henry Clay Frick himself.

After hearing whispers of prohibition, this titan of industry included a speakeasy in the plans for the Omni hotel. Always a step ahead, he even planned an escape route in case of raids. This exciting backstory will add a subtle thrill to your underground date night.

Speakeasy has rekindled its jazzy and elegant atmosphere of the past with genuine details, like dim lighting, tin ceilings, wall sconces and plush velvet chairs.

Have a seat and order a delicious appetizer like the Pâté, which comes with  cornichon, manchego, blackberry compote and assorted breads. The  carefully curated list of flavorful small plates will perfectly compliment your classic cocktail. Sip on an Apricot Sparkling Gimlet or an Old Fashioned. These authentic libations will have you roaring for the 20s in no time.

“Hidden gem! Located in the Omni hotel. Great place to sit, relax, and talk. Wait staff is friendly. Definitely reminds you of an old time speakeasy. They give you complementary candies mixed nuts which were great! We enjoyed the old time music as well.” - Trip Advisor Review

“The place is reminiscent of what the 1920s and 1930s bars would look like. Padded backrests, grand chairs, little padded stools and bartenders dressed very fashionably with black pants, white shirts and black suspenders.” - Trip Advisor Review

Buy a GiftYa To William Penn Speakeasy >

5. The Zenith

The zenith pittsburgh
The Zenith is an antique shop and vegan restaurant in one, with eye-catching treats wherever you look. Stop by for a feast of a brunch on Sundays! Image courtesy of NEXTpittsburgh

South Side
86 S 26th St.

(412) 481-4833

Thurs-Sat: 11:30am-8pm
Sun: 11am-2:30pm

Zenith started as an antique shop and later expanded with a vegan restaurant. You can experience a little bit of everything at this bohemian oasis. If there is a wait for lunch, you won’t mind browsing through their fabulous retro treasures to pass the time.

The dining space features eclectic art-lined walls and the tables are set with antique glasses and assorted vintage utensils. The amazing vegan menu is as flavorful as the decor and Sunday is the best time to experience it.

The brunch buffet is an amazing picnic-like spread that makes the perfect match for the decadent venue. You won’t know where to start, but know that wherever you land will be great. Fill your plate with favorites like the peanut noodle salad and stuffed grape leaves.

The unlimited trips the buffet will serve you well, with so many delicious concoctions and a variety of pies and cakes, you will want to try it all!

“This place is dreamy. They have an incredible buffet, where everything tastes amazing. They have bundt cakes that won't let you down. They have a tea list that's long and varied.  

I love taking people here from out of town, especially if they're vegan or vegetarian.  

The interior of this place is a thrift shop, mismatched sets of dining, all kinds of crazy cool old art and junk that just make a beautiful mish-mash of an old antique home-y vibe. It's lovely and I can't wait to go back.

On buffet days, if you don't come as a party, there's a chance you will sit at another table with other couples or singles.  It's actually a lot of fun!” - Yelp Review

<span class="yelp-review" data-review-id="icFVBXy6sIKe3a4oziHLpw" data-hostname="">Read <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Jenn G.</a>'s <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">review</a> of <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">The Zenith</a> on <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Yelp</a><script async="async" src="" type="text/javascript"></script></span>

6. The Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems

hillman hall of minerals

If you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to open a treasure chest of jewels like that scene in The Goonies, you can experience the magic for yourself at the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems, in the Carnegie Museum. Image courtesy of Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems Facebook Page.

a selection of displays at hillman hall Image courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History website.

4400 Forbes Ave.

(412) 622-3131

Fri-Mon & Weds: 10am-5pm
Thurs: 10am-8pm
Sun: 12pm-5pm

Located on the 1st floor inside of the Carnegie Museum is a treasure trove of sparkling gems and magnificent minerals. The Hall of Minerals houses some of the world’s finest specimens.

You’ll come across glittering geodes, precious gems and fluorescent minerals that glow under ultraviolet light. They also have an amazing display of birthstones, so stop by the hall if you’re looking for a memorable way to celebrate.

Some visitors of the museum manage to miss this tucked away exhibit even after years of patronage. If you’re one of them, you’ll want to see this striking collection stat.

“We have never seem such an extensive and beautiful exhibit of minerals and gems before. The variety and beauty is amazing. The display cabinets, themselves, are wonderful. We loved this

part of the museum. It is well worth a visit.” - Trip Advisor Review

7. Schenley Park Visitor Center & Panther Hollow

schenley par

Panther Hollow is a picturesque valley in the heart of Oakland. Image courtesy of Panther Hollow Lake Facebook page, contributed by Bruce Jia-Chi Chan.

101 Panther Hollow Rd.

(412) 687-1800

Tues-Sun: 10am-4pm

After touring the latest Phipps exhibit, take a stroll across the street for a bite at the Schenley Park Visitor Center Cafe. This charming 100 year old building was once the concession stand for Phipps. The building was restored to its former glory in 2001.

The cafe is open for lunch and features a menu of quiche, sandwiches, soup, salad, baked goods, coffee and espresso drinks. After a light lunch, enjoy an enchanting stroll down the trail to Panther Hollow.

As you head down the wide trail through lush trees, past old stone steps and picturesque waterfalls, you will find a lovely lake. If you walk farther past the lake, you will come to train tracks and a view of the Cathedral of Learning. This scenic experience is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

“The visitors center is rustic looking with some great fruit slushies and includes a lot of background info about the park.” - Yelp Review

<span class="yelp-review" data-review-id="qCdQj5VfP-6xEHeZAdf2uw" data-hostname="">Read <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Carrie B.</a>'s <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">review</a> of <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Schenley Park Visitors Center</a> on <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Yelp</a><script async="async" src="" type="text/javascript"></script></span>

“Gorgeous park. Again, hard to believe it's in the middle of a city. Rolling hills. Great, well-marked trails.” - Yelp Review

<span class="yelp-review" data-review-id="GSNDWTDRwP4bApcmvFNiqg" data-hostname="">Read <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Darcy M.</a>'s <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">review</a> of <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Schenley Park Visitors Center</a> on <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Yelp</a><script async="async" src="" type="text/javascript"></script></span>

8. Artifacts

artifacts store front

Explore Artifacts in the West End, this museum is curated with worldly wonderments worthy of an Indiana Jones movie. Thousands of rugs, interesting artwork, furnishings and oddities are available to purchase at this one-of-a-kind museum. Image courtesy of Artifacts Facebook Page

selection of wares from artifacts;aggregationId=101&albumid=101&filter=7&ff=163534148 Image courtesy of Artifacts Trip Advisor Page

West End
110 S Main St.

(412) 921-6544

Mon-Fri: 10am-5pm
Sat: 10:30am-4pm

Artifacts museum in the vision of PA native Rick Hvizdak, a purveyor of magnificent antiques. After a full renovation of St. James Church in the West End, he filled it with treasures collected during his world travels.

As their slogan states, it’s “a museum with a price tag” and though the price tags might be more than you bargained for, nonetheless, patrons are invited to own a piece of history.

Browse through an eclectic variety of curios from other eras and you’ll be transported back in time to the glamorous styles of the past. Grand furnishings, oriental rugs, chandeliers, artwork and finery will fill your imagination, even if not your home.

“It isn't just an antique store. It's Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, a classical art museum, and an opulent hunters' african mansion rolled into one.” - Yelp Review

<span class="yelp-review" data-review-id="q0Rvv9247iCBf3or5UZCtA" data-hostname="">Read <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Alberto T.</a>'s <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">review</a> of <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Artifacts</a> on <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Yelp</a><script async="async" src="" type="text/javascript"></script></span>

“Went to Artifacts for a party. Owner is the nicest guy ever and has so many awesome stories. The place is two floors of cool stuff-African masks, circus posters, antiques, amazing furniture (new and old) and so much more. It's the kind of place to do multiple laps in because you'll see something new each pass through. Be sure to look up down and all around there is awesomeness everywhere. A must see!” - Trip Advisor Review

9. Row House Cinema

outside row house cinema pittsburgh
Escape the everyday run-of-the-mill Netflix bingefest and grab a seat at the Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville instead. This theater is your gateway to geeking out; they feature weekly film themes in a variety of genres and styles. Image courtesy of Cinema Treasures

4115 Butler St.

(412) 904-3225

This cozy theater has a lot of character, hospitable staff, great amenities and a fantastic film selection that mainstream theaters can’t match. The Row House Cinema shows classic and contemporary films set to weekly themes in an intimate setting.

If there is a certain category that you can’t get enough of, get unlimited viewings with a weekly pass. Some examples of past themes are Sci-fi, Silent, Japanese, Anime, Tim Burton and Spielberg. Last year they hosted a Harry Potter Festival and the theater ran the complete series for 24 hours. Fans enjoyed trivia, games, live music, food trucks and goods sold by local vendors.

The Row House also has a pinball machine and an adjoining craft beer store called Bierport, so grab a craft brew before the show. Don’t forget to try their famed Chocolate Popcorn or locally made iced cream. This hidden gem is a great place to gather with friends for a chill evening.

“Oh my god oh my god oh my god. I'm not kidding when I say I adore this place. I've seen the BEST movies in this theatre. I've never heard of nor had friends that knew of loads of the films that they play, though they  play well deserving classics too, and it's absolutely exciting. It's a little, cute place with genuine personality, and their schedule is well organized ahead of time so you don't have to plan any events last minute. It's the most creative place for watching movies I know of. I feel strongly about this theatre and I recommend it to anybody with an open mind amidst Pittsburgh!!!” - Google Review,1,,,

“I was so skeptical of Rowhouse when it opened. How can a one screen theater exist in the world of on demand?

Here's how:

Special events like Dan Savages film festival and WigTraxx commentary on films like Showgirls.

Showings of documentaries and lesser known films.

Special screenings of family movies like Willy Wonka, with tie in activities and themed menu items

Hundreds (thousands?) of beer choices at Bierport

Exceptional menu items like Millies Ice Cream and Smith's Hot Dogs

Discount for Lawrenceville residents

Amazing staff

Clean facility

Diverse offerings

Buy a GiftYa To Row House Cinema >

I'm a believer. I go to films at rowhouse more now than when I lived two blocks from there! They're doing an incredible job curating programming and delivering a really high customer experience. I can't imagine it's an easy business model, but they are killing it. So happy to have this gem in our city.” - Yelp Review

<span class="yelp-review" data-review-id="eta0kF_hNUuX3m_eyiXWNw" data-hostname="">Read <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Molly K.</a>'s <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">review</a> of <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Row House Cinema</a> on <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener">Yelp</a><script async="async" src="" type="text/javascript"></script></span>

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Trae Bodge is the shopping expert here at GiftYa. Trae helps people find the best deals and ideas on popular new items to purchase.

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