I recently had the amazing opportunity to hop on a plane and head over to Pittsburgh with Porter Airlines on what they call a Porter Escape. Porter Escapes are like a gift from above. As somebody who works full time in a 9-5- when you only get ten vacation days a year- they count. Unfortunately it’s not feasible to jet set across the world every month, and ten days can be tough to stretch into the amount of travelling I would personally like to do. The solution?
An escape is essentially a quick and easy package deal that Porter puts together for all 23 of their destinations. (Quebec City, Stephenville, Montreal, St. John’s, New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh- to name a few). They have partnerships with a wide variety of awesome hotels (seriously!) that gets you a cheaper combined hotel + flight rate than if you were to book them individually yourself.
At first, I was a bit skeptical of the whole “package deal” thing, as I take a lot of time and effort to choose really unique and interesting hotels. So when I was looking into the Porter Escapes, the first thing I did was click over to the hotel list.
Damn son, Porter has been doing their homework. Not only did they have multiple hotels on my hit list- (Hotel Monaco, SOHO Grand, Chicago Athletic Association, The Boxer Hotel) they even had a few I hadn’t heard of yet. I was really expecting to click in and see more of the chain-run-of-the-mill hotels on the list, but I was very pleasantly surprised to see how selective and carefully curated the list of hotels was. Go Porter!
When I was looking through the list of destinations trying to pick a place to check out, Pittsburgh was definitely not at the top of my list- but after checking out some of the incredible hotels on the list in Pittsburgh and researching a bit about the revival of the city, the art and the architecture- I was sold! Weekend trip to Pittsburgh here I come.
Honestly guys, a weekend getaway doesn’t seem like a lot of time- but it is totally just enough to feel like you’re actually on a trip, exploring a new place. You would be floored by the amount of things you can do, see, and drink.. *smirk*.. in three days.
This wasn’t my first time flying Porter- but it was my first time seeing the Porter Lounge. I have a really good friend who works at Porter and we’ve flown to his hometown in Timmins in the past. I think he likes to do cardio right before a flight because we always seem to be running onto the plane ;)!..
This time, we left ourselves a smidge more time to relax in the lounge.. and relax we did. And eat cookies. Lots of free, delicious, hand made cookies. Like, way too many cookies. Like, if Porter all of the sudden puts a cookie limit on the lounge you can totally blame me. #sorrynotsorry
Our flight, was the shortest flight in the history of flights. I had to chug my beer because by the time I started drinking it we were descending. Did I say free beer? Yeah, it was free too. And I probably had to chug it because I was preoccupied before that mowing on the most amazing chips ever. Does your airline feed you awesome food? Because Porter does. DID I SAY FREE YET?
K but seriously, it’s only 45 minutes to Pittsburgh- you could go every weekend- it takes me longer to get downtown on the bus sometimes.
After we landed, I connected to the Pittsburgh airport WIFI and called myself an Uber. Hillariously/ Awesomely- the signs at the door in the airport said UBER/LYFT. Pretty damn cool- the airport supports Uber so much that it’s actually on the sign. We stayed at the Ace Hotel (More on that later, but BEST DECISION EVER).. and it was about a half hour drive= AKA about a $40 US Uber- which from our quick research seemed to still be a lower price than if we were to use a shuttle service, and certainly cheaper than if we were to cab it. I’ll also mention that we used Uber the entire trip and every single driver was FANTASTIC. The people in Pittsburgh were so inviting and so passionate about sharing their city- it was truly adorable. Every single driver turned into a little tour guide operator as soon as we hopped in- and they all thanked us for choosing to come to Pittsburgh. All in all I think we spent about $150 CAD on Ubers getting around the city- but we were taking some lengthier Ubers to check out different areas.
Okay, on to one of my favourite parts… The Hotel! (BTW, I have a separate post with more details for all you hotel lovers, because one hotel post is not enough!)
The Ace Hotel in Pittsburgh
Get ready to die.. in a good way.
The Ace Hotel is what my dreams are made of. F’real. F’real.
Mid century modern furniture in every direction? Check.
Neighbourhood Tavern (The Whitfield) in the front lobby serving up breakfast, lunch, dinner & happy hour? Check.
Incredibly cool front desk boss ladies who make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Check.
The dopest vintage gym you’ve ever set eyes on? Check
I could go on.. And I do, in this post on the Ace. Basically, I loved the Ace, like a lot. And I heard they have 8 more locations………….!!! You can read more about the Ace right here.
Pusadee’s Garden- Thai Food
The first night in Pittsburgh we hit up Pusadee’s Garden for Thai in Lawrencevile. We had already been doing a little pre-drinking at a Mad Mex close to the hotel, so we were mostly here for the great atmosphere & a little bit of pad thai. This place was ADORABLE and had the cutest backyard patio. It was covered in overgrown leafy bliss in every direction with little string lights creating a quaint little dinner spot. Having been to Thailand and Costa Rica, both Bo and I felt like we were “somewhere else” on this back patio, somewhere in the jungle. (Side note- the first time I ever tried Pad Thai was actually IN Thailand- pretty wild.. Pusadee’s brought back some pretty awesome memories.)
We read online that Pusadee’s tends to book up fast- so we made our reservation in advance and there was only one spot left- so definitely book ahead. Also- fun fact about Pittsburgh. A lot of the restaurants are actually BYOB. Not only that- they don’t serve their own alcohol so you have to bring your own. Lucky for us there seem to be amazing craft breweries on every single corner so we easily found some nice bevvys for our meal.
Phipps Botanical Garden
I have never been to a botanical garden, and Phipps was a great place to start. It was utterly breathtaking. It is really hard for me to believe that all of the plants in the botanical garden are real and are all growing so perfectly. It’s incredible to see so many different kinds of plants up close and personal. My favourite area was definitely where the cacti were housed. This is a MUST SEE if you’re heading to Pittsburgh. Green thumbs and urban jungle ladies- enjoy!
Andy Warhol Museum
Next up on the itinerary was a quick pop into the Andy Warhol museum. The Warhol museum has 900 paintings, around 100 sculptures, and over 7000 papers, prints and pictures (among much more). Pretty nuts. I couldn’t believe how many drawings were in there- and I was so surprised by the amount of “half finished” work. The work that I knew Andy for was probably what most people typically knew him for.. big pop art of different celebrities & enlarged paintings of brand advertisements like Coca Cola and Heinz soup. I wasn’t aware of how much drawing Andy did- so that was a pretty interesting takeaway. There were also a couple trippy films on loops that I enjoyed.
We loved the video so much we made our own screen test. Warhol’s filmmaking was motivated by his fascination with individuals, but he was also driven by his desire to capture the actual experience of living. Viewers at the museum were invited to create their own screen test- which essentially is like a living portrait. Andy would keep the camera in a still position and just film his subjects sitting as if they were taking a photo.
The food at The Vandal is just as good looking, trust. When I was searching for places to eat in Pittsburgh I stumbled upon the Vandal and I knew I had to go. It did not disappoint! We shared the fettuccine and it was perfect. I was drawn to The Vandal for it’s fantastic design. A big open concept kitchen where you can see your food being created. A lovely bright white interior with a smattering of hand made ceramic centerpiecew with simple singular leaves. Marble tabletops with white farmhouse metal chairs- just a dream boat through and through. Again, Vandal is BYOB so be sure to grab that champy before you arrive. Champy is champagne….
Now this is definitely hands down the most interesting little adventure that happened to us during our stay. We didn’t realize that Vandal was BYOB until we arrived, so we had to go in search of some drinks to bring with us. On our way to a brewery we saw a very curious sign that said:
Curiosity shop, ring no: 116.
Huh?? If that isn’t good marketing I don’t know what is. Obviously we HAD to know what was in this shop- even with it’s totally discreet nondescript indication of what the store even was. And the fact that you had to ring a buzzer to be let in was even more interesting.
We were about 6 blocks away, so after 3 blocks we were wondering if it was worth it to keep going towards .. who knows what! (It was really hot too!) We kept trucking and were brought to this sign:
Ahh.. a little more info.. And interestingly- totally on my page. Tattoos, vintage, oddities- what a great place. We went up to the buzzer and the voice on the other end asked “Do you want to come in?”.. (So cool).. Obviously we said Yes! And we were buzzed up.
This place, was the best hidden gem of our trip. Seriously so so so so so cool. The shop was packed wall to wall with the wildest vintage trinkets and treasures. Vintage pin up oil paintings, taxidermy animals, brass and gold mirrors, animal lamps, books, vintage signs, shriner caps- you name it.
Quick Hitlist: Places Mentioned
We also ate at Round Corner Catina (Best Mexican! Dat salsa verde though!)