Party Like the Pittsburgh Penguins: A Hockey Lover’s Guide to the Steel CityBy Lucas Aykroyd
The Pittsburgh Penguins are one of the world’s hottest hockey teams after winning the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017. The team boasts a multinational roster and an exciting, fast-paced style.
Whether you’re a passionate hockey fan or just love tourism, shopping and dining, it’s a great time to tour the Steel City with a hockey theme that’s fun for the whole family.
Here are four ways to maximize your puck pleasure in Pennsylvania’s second-largest city.
Attend a Live Hockey Game
The Pittsburgh Penguins play at PPG Paints Arena, and this state-of-the-art, 18,387-capacity facility completed in 2010 burgeons with fan-friendly features.
“There isn’t a bad seat in the house” doesn’t just mean sightlines and acoustics — the comfy seats are up to 24 inches wide, with tons of legroom.
Pick up Penguins jerseys, caps, toys and more at the 4,000-square-foot PensGear store. Grab a Morty’s Steakhouse burger with peppercorn-crusted beef and horseradish cheddar at the on-site Burgatory.
Outside the arena, admire the 4,700-pound bronze statue of legendary team owner and Hockey Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux.
In case you don’t have a ticket but still want to soak up all the live energy, the Penguins show playoff games and out-of-town games on a giant video screen at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Washington Place, with live local media broadcasts, special promotions and giveaways, and food trucks.
Football and baseball fans will be fascinated to learn that PPG Paints Arena was designed by Populous, the same architectural firm behind Heinz Field, home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, and PNC Park, home of MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates. PPG Paints Arena also hosts college basketball with the University of Pittsburgh and Dusquene University.
Follow the Puck to Pittsburgh Attractions
The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center offers a top-notch exhibition of Penguins memorabilia.
View the jersey Mario Lemieux wore when he led Pittsburgh to its first Stanley Cup in 1991 — and the resulting Wheaties cereal box. Another cool artifact is Sidney Crosby’s hockey stick from his rookie season. Hundreds of photos from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper illustrate the team’s history since 1967.
Across the Allegheny River at the Carnegie Science Center’s Highmark SportsWorks, kids love the hockey-themed interactive experiences.
In Reaction Time Speed, you can find out how quickly you react compared to a pro goalie. Deke It! is a fun opportunity to test your puck-handling skills. And make sure you play a game on the world’s largest “bubble hockey” table.
Prefer biology to physics? Head to the award-winning Pittsburgh Zoo.
This institution, founded in 1898, is home to some 4,000 animals and 475 species and houses real penguins named after Penguins hockey stars. Crosby, Kessel and Letang are among the names of these cute, flightless birds from the Southern Hemisphere.
The National Aviary also gives its African penguins names like Sidney and Stanley. You can get photos with them or even take home a painting they created with their feet.
Shop for Sports Memorabilia
If you just can’t get enough hockey souvenirs, check out Sports World Specialties, in business for more than 30 years. This downtown Pittsburgh emporium is the perfect place to look for an autographed Jaromir Jagr hockey card, a ticket stub from Sidney Crosby’s first Stanley Cup run in 2009, or wacky Pittsburgh Penguins bobbleheads.
The nearby Strip District hosts a bustling marketplace, and it’s easy to score deals on inexpensive Penguins gear here.
The pedestrian-friendly area also features dozens of restaurants with Italian, Mexican, Vietnamese and other flavors.
Dine Out Hockey-Style
Want to watch hockey on TV while you eat? Visit the flagship, 1933-launched location of Primanti Brothers in the Strip District for lavish pastrami and Italian ham sandwiches named after Penguins players.
Dive bar aficionados dig Carson City Saloon, which has hockey memorabilia aplenty plus huge servings of pulled-pork nachos and fried pickles.
The Souper Bowl might sound NFL-themed, but it’s right next to PPG Paints Arena, and the soup du jour in a bread bowl is popular among the hockey fans who pack this casual restaurant.
For upscale carnivores, Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse dishes up New York strip steaks named after Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux.
To indulge more exotic tastes, check out Kavsar Halal, Pittsburgh’s only restaurant serving Russian and Uzbek dishes, from cherry pancakes to beef stroganoff. It’s a favorite of two-time NHL scoring champion Evgeni Malkin.