Penn Hills Cinema

Penn Hills Cinema is the most affordable movie theater in Pittsburgh (tel: (412) 243-1831). They have been around for 50 years.

It can compete with the other high priced movie theaters like Waterworks ect. because Penn Hills shows newly released movies just like them. There selection always amazes me.

  • 1 ticket: $5

Besides the movies being recent they have extra incentive to choose them:

On Monday you get:

  • 1 free popcorn with every admission.
  • So, if you and a friend go or the family on Monday everyone will get their own free bag of popcorn.

On Tuesday:

  • A refill of large tube of popcorn only cost only: $1.00

On Thursday:

  • Small Drink: $0.50
  • Medium Drink $0.75
  • Refillable Large Drinks: $1.00

On Wednesday or “Wacky Wednesday” as they call it:

  • Popcorns and Drinks are buy one get one free.

The weekend:

  • Free refills on Drinks and popcorn, yay!

They are located at:

Penn Hills Shopping Center, 76 Federal Dr, Penn Hills, PA 15235

I can’t think of another reason why I on’t love them. And I don’t know any other theaters that even give you free popcorn on some days. I love it because it makes it affordable to take the family to the movies on a budget.

The best part is that they really do have new movies. So, it is a win win. People saying Waterworks has cheap tickets is a joke. They are one of the most expensive cinemas.

Penn Hills Cinema is cheapest movie theater in Pittsburgh.

May I Suggest the Carnegie Science Center

I have been coming to see the Pink Floyd light show for nearly 20 years now and for only two dollars per show (members price) it is hard to beat. It might just be the greatest thing ever. Pink Floyd still runs as the midnight show. The rest of the line up does change quarterly. One of my current favorites is “Robot Rock” which is a fun mix of techno and robot themed rock songs.

But there are many other reasons to visit the Carnegie Science Center. If you are genuinely interested in the content of the exhibits and don’t mind a lot of kids (though January is one of our slower months of the year so it wouldn’t be as bad right now) then you will enjoy it for what it is. Yes, it’s geared towards elementary level on a lot of things, but they are still fun interactives and enjoyable if you go in what that mindset.

If you are looking for something more adult oriented then 21 Nights are definitely an option. They can get busy but you don’t have to worry about running over kids or getting strange looks from parents when you start playing in the water table.

They do have other things going on besides our exhibit spaces such as evening laser shows (as I mentioned the midnight Pink Floyd is a popular staple in the line-up). Evening Omnimax documentaries also run on Friday and Saturday nights. And if the weather is nice and clear our observatory is open on Friday and Saturday nights as well. I’ve seen the rings of Saturn from the telescope and it is amazing.

They also do monthly lectures and other presentations throughout the year geared specifically to adults. I will say one thing, the science center is kinda creepy at night when you go in for the midnight show. Most of the lights are off and the exhibits look really odd.

A few of the exhibits have height or weight restrictions, but most adults fall within those.

Lake Swimming Around Pittsburgh

If you go to Presque Isle check yourself for ticks when you leave! You’ll be walking along beautiful wooded foot paths in an amazingly pretty park, but you gotta check for ticks.

They do deer culls in Presque Isle every year and take measure to lower the population but they’re obviously still there, it’s gotten much better in recent years though. There’s a large hunting community in the area which helps as well.

It is the same deal around Ohio Pyle/Luarel Highlands, just have someone rummage through your hair, check your clothes/skin.

Pymatuning and Conneaute are more geared towards fisherman, although each generally has a few nice beach areas where sand has been imported for swimming.

Erie is a massive lake with tons of sandy beachers, it feels like going to a freshwater mini ocean. I really recommend it, rum runners was always a neat bar to visit on the lake as well. There is a night life area in downtown erie, and there are tons of floating restaraunts from what I understand (boat tours w/ meals)

If you go to Presque Isle, you may want to stop in at Waldameer Park when you’re done with the beach! It’s an adorable little amusement park with free admission, if you want to ride anything you’ll have to pay, one of the best wooden roller coasters ever.

Keystone State Park has a swimming beach, have gone a few times and it’s never absurdly busy. Nice trails around there too. I think it’s about 45 minutes away from Pittsburgh.

Moraine State Park is about 45-50 easy minutes from the city, just off I-79 in Butler County. They have grassy beaches with sand for sunbathing and swimming, and you can rent a kayak or canoe if that appeals to you.

$10 Seats at Benedum Center

What would you say to Legally Blond, Footloose, and Cats for $10 per tickt, then you will love Benedum Center.

I did the $10 seats for a full season and I they are an absolute steal for the price. Are they high up? yeah. But can you still see everything. Yep. These seats are just like being in the upper deck of PNC park. You’re further away, but you’re still watching a quality performance at a fraction of the price. One word of advice, buy these teater binoculars.

You’ll thank me later.

The seats are further away, but you can definitely still see everything, you just can’t see anyone’s faces, which is actually interesting because you kind of imagine what everyone looks like.

Once the show starts, the ushers have always let me move up at intermission if there are empty seats (in the same section, not like all the way to orchestra, but even the front row of the back makes a difference.) Go for it. I’ve seen many shows in those $10 seats and have always enjoyed myself.

Still I usually go for the $15 or $20 if I have the money but anywhere in the center you’ll be able to see the stage. I like the upper tiers actually, you get a good vantage point.

First row seats are only around $50 the CLO and Broadway series are always worth it at any price.

Still, I’ve never had a bad seat there. I’ve had some that were a bit far to the sides, but you can still see pretty much everything, just the edge of the stage is a little tight.

The IMAX

The IMAX at Pittsburgh Mills is the only true IMAX-sized screen in the area, and the sound system is fantastic.

It’s not necessarily the best place to see an IMAX movie though, but I’ll come back to that in a second.

As for The Waterfront… at some point, they started letting theaters use the IMAX name on standard theaters that were retrofitted with new equipment. The front few rows are removed to accommodate a somewhat larger screen and they install a better sound system – the one at The Waterfront is one of these.

Bigger and louder than normal, but nowhere near true IMAX screen size.

The one at the Science Center is Omnimax, sometimes called IMAX Dome. The screen is gigantic, but spherical. It looks great for movies (mostly documentaries) that are filmed to be seen on that kind of screen, but pretty terrible (in my opinion) with regular theatrical releases.

Now back to the Pittsburgh Mills IMAX. Several years ago, like most true IMAX theaters, it was “upgraded” to IMAX Digital and the old 70mm IMAX film equipment was taken out of service.

Unfortunately, IMAX Digital uses projectors with the same resolution as any digital movie theater, so although the picture you’re seeing is projected onto that giant screen, there is no more detail to fill the space, so what you end up seeing actually looks softer and less detailed than seeing the same movie in a regular theater – and dramatically less crisp and detailed than an actual 70mm film print would look.

Christopher Nolan is a big fan of the IMAX format, and he specifically requires that a certain number of prints of his movies be distributed on 70mm IMAX film. Last time around, with The Dark Knight Rises, we were fortunate enough to get a copy at the Pittsburgh Mills location.

It looked fantastic.

Unfortunately, Interstellar is only going to be shown there in IMAX Digital.

If you’re in it for the big screen and big sound, by all means go there, it’s still a pretty great theater. If you’re more interested in the visual details, though, there are other screens around Pittsburgh that will be showing the movie (on standard sized screens) in the newer 4K resolution, which should offer a much sharper image.

Rooftop Weddings Are Simply Wow

When we got invited to a rooftop wedding, my husband and I got very excited. I have always found them to be so romantic and private. I really wanted to do something like that for our wedding but we did one in the park and it was also very nice.

So here are some options for people that feel the same way that I do.

I recommend the Southside Hyatt House Terrace, this is the one that we attended.

It’s a brand new, modern hotel in a vibrant city area and the reception space is on a rooftop terrace under a tent with a cool lounge/ fire pit area attached. The website could use more pics because it’s a great space but here is a link to their wedding info. It was probably one of the mid range venues for this type of wedding, not super expensive, but also not the cheapest options. And if you want a nice lounge this is my number one choice. It was, wow!

Hotel Monaco is super cool, but I do believe their biergarten space is smaller than most weddings for a seated dinner. It’s a great cocktail space though or if you wedding is under 100 guests it may work.

Heinz History center has a neat deck overlooking the city on the 5th floor for a ceremony with an inside space for the reception. Their in house caterer Common Plea is incredible.

While the Gateway Clipper was also fun locale, the couple hosted a party their shower of sorts here. It was sort of pre-thank you for the core guests. They sent invitations for a wedding shower but it wasn’t really like that. The food was good in my oppinion, but everyone’s taste is different. The woman that sat next to make complained a bit about it but, here is the thing, she cleaned her plate so it couldn’t have been that bad. It was as if it was part of the game. She also complained that the couple hadn’t decorated enough. It was planned pretty impromptu so they had zero set up time, if you want to make it more personal this is never the best.

While it was really nice for the wedding shower I don’t think that I would recommend it for the actual wedding. For the same reason I don’t recommend LeMont.

Though the Le Mont (not a rooftop) still offers a wrap-around city view both inside and on their outdoor deck. Which might be worth it to some.

The University Club in Oakland has a rooftop patio that is used regularly for ceremonies and receptions. It’s a private club for university staff, faculty and alumni. But the cost is pretty low, something around $15 dollars a month to use the dining rooms and bars, extra if you want to use the gym. But it is also open to the public to rent the ballrooms, conference rooms, ect for parties, weddings, conferences.

Unique Wedding Venues In Pittsburgh

I think that Pittsburgh has so many nice things to offer the public, it is one of those jems that doesn’t get enough attention. We have a wide number of attractions that many Yinzer seem to forget. But when I look at all of thse fancy weddings online I realize that we could do that here, and often times better.

For one we have so many parks that getting married in the city might not even seem like it.

Let me throw a couple out there for you:

  1. Carrie Furnace: I love the Carrie Furnaces photos I have seen, but their max capacity indoors is 150. I know because I once helped a friend get her wedding planned and I called around to a lot of different places.
  2. Benedum Lobby
  3. Carnegie Museum of Art

The Pennsylvanian is much more traditional. It’s really, really big, with a large covered outdoor area but the only draw back is that I beleive that they only do wedding with reception.

Other places I thought were a little more unique:

  • Kentuck Knob (Frank Lloyd Wright, 1 hour away from Pgh) – up to 200 guests
  • Polymath Park (also FLW, 1 hour away in Acme, PA) – can hold our capacity outdoors but with weather we felt it was too risky for the date.
  • Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall – there is a lot of buzz about the other Carnegie properties but this one is operated slightly differently – a very DIY venue – their first priority is booking music events, then special events as they can accommodate
  • Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens – a newer event venue, up to 130 capacity
  • Kelly Strayhorn Theater – didn’t know they did weddings
  • New Hazlett Theater – ditto above

Fishing Holes Around Pittsburgh

Mark Twain once said: “when the world ends I want to be in Pittsburgh. It won’t happen there until 10 years after”.

And when you take up the offer to fish in one of the many great lakes we have here I can almost beleive it’s true. The pace slows down and you can really begin to enjoy nature.

I fish pretty regularly up at Lake Arthur. Its around 45-55 minutes from Pittsburgh. You can rent a boat there if you want to get to some better spots.

Typically fish North Shore area, and I catch Largemouth Bass / Catfish / Panfish. I pretty much target bass, and use plastics / spinner baits. In the late evening you catch Stripers up there.

Although its fished pretty heavy, there are places on the shore to fish around the park. Go up early morning / late evening.

Parks and Rec

Within the city limits, Frick Park is great, especially that passes below below Forbes Avenue and further South. Schenley has good casual walking/hiking trails.

Both are highly accessible from most campuses.

Harrison Hills park is also a nice park. It is one of the county parks (like N. Park or Hartwood). It has a really long trail that runs along side the cliffs over the Allegheny River. To hike the full loop takes about 2 hours with good views pretty much the whole time. It is right outside of Natrona Heights. From where you live, you could take 28 North to get there.

  • Racoon Creek is great for hiking. Some of the trails can get very water logged after the rain but definitely my favorite for hiking.
  • South Park is also very nice and has a pretty good golf course.
  • The Montour Trail is obviously not a park but an awesome trail for hiking and biking. The map on the sight will show you many different places to get get on it and there are tons of little trails that spin off the main one.

Don’t forget the Three River Heritage Trail. It’s nowhere near as beautiful as dedicated parks, but it’s great for walking/biking.

For excursions, I recommend Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park. Lots of trails and lake coves.

Another Pittsburgh Urban Legend Is Born

Somebody saw a piranha at North Park Lake . . . again. I don’t know why people beleive these sort of things. Something that they know can’t be real. This is like one of those stories that remains in overly dramatic Yinzer lore for years.

Popular culture has made piranhas seem more dangerous than they really are.

Attacks on humans are rare, generally only happen when they’re starving, and are really only seriously dangerous when they’re in large groups.

On the show Penn & Teller Tell A Lie, they did a segment where Teller jumped into a tank full of Piranha. They just ignored him.

Next you will be hearing people say that they can fly like 100 yards and attack in the air! Mega Piranha, maybe, or Piranha 3D? I’m not up on my piranha movies to know what I’m up against but I am sure that this will get straightened out. Red Bellies will die in the winter as they don’t take to the cold very well. And very rarely attack humans, so i don’t think you will have to worry about that.

People, please stop applying intelligent logic to an event we can easily whip into a media frenzy.