If you’re a native to Pittsburgh, you’re familiar with the one-way streets, the bridges, the tunnels and other yinzer type things.
Because of that, I ‘ve often steered clear of downtown. Sure my day job is on the North Shore, but that’s so much easier than the latticework of side streets downtown.
We’ve missed so much!
The Pittsburgh Holiday Market is one of those missed and yet wonderful things. We spent last weekend getting lost together in the Christmas spirit.
What is the Pittsburgh Holiday Market?
It’s an event sponsored by People’s Gas and located in Market Square, a cute area of town with cobblestone roads, ample seating, and beautiful storefronts. Inspired by German marketplaces, there are dozens of booths set up with treasure troves of Christmas ornaments, local art, wool wears, handmade toys and more.
What did we do?
We parked a few blocks from the main event near the skating rink at PPG Place. Which is bigger than the rink at Rockefeller Center (way to go Pittsburgh!). Parking is free on the weekends during the Holiday Market. There are even a few downtown garages that participate.
At the tree, we made a left and found some shiny things beckoning our attention….
Dinosaurs are one of the things you’ll see around town in Pittsburgh. There’s even a guide to locating them around town. So it was no shocker for us to see a glittering Stegasaurus and ketchup bottle Triceratops.
What surprised us more, was what greeted us inside PPG Place…
It was the Wintergarden, a gallery type space filled with life-size Santa Clause figures from various cultures around the world. (Not all are named Santa or even begin with an “S!”) Lining the perimeter were dozens and dozens of gingerbread houses. Apparently there is a yearly contest. I saw several schools, youth groups and even houses made by single children. Such a “sweet” sight to see 😉
While exiting PPG Place, we spotted the Holly Trolley. Only a few people were boarding so we decided it was worth a try. It was free! The trolley runs on the weekends in December, ushering visitors to various holiday stops in the downtown area. There is a clearly marked sign at each stop, so it’s super easy to follow along. They run two trolleys and make it to each stop about every 15-20 minutes. Not a bad way to see the city at all.
Our first stop off the Holly Trolley was the holiday windows display. It’s a long held tradition for Pittsburgh to decorate the display windows of the old Kaufman’s building. They may have been closed for years, but the magic still lingers. Many of the windows are animated and all are sponsored by some of the best businesses and organizations in the city.
We gazed at the windows with other onlookers for what seemed like a long while. I’m a sucker for magic and I could feel it here.
The trolley came by again and we hitched a ride up to the Pittsburgh Creche, the word’s only authorized replica of the Nativity Creche at Saint Peters Basilica in the Vatican. If you’re a fan of nativity scenes, stop for a few moments and check this out. It’s larger than life and extremely realistic!
One last hop on the trolley and we were back to the holiday market. I spent far too long browsing blown glass Christmas ornaments, but kept my wallet closed 😉 We did shell out for a homemade hot chocolate. At $4 a pop for a small cup, I’m convinced we could’ve waited to make a cup of Swiss Miss at home, which would have made our date free!
#CheapDate total cost: $8 (2 cups of hot chocolate)