Blairsville Underground Railroad (Blairsville)
Start at the Under Ground Railroad Center in Blairsville. Housed in a former Second Baptist Church building, it's one of the oldest African American structures in town. While at the history center, pick up an Underground Railroad Driving Tour Map for abundant stops in and around Indiana County. We suggest giving yourself a bit of time for this driving tour of the towns that made some of the strongest forces along the Passport to Freedom. Enjoy this leisurely drive through lush countryside and quaint towns from Blairsville to Center Township to Diamondville. Along the tour learn how these towns were filled with upstanding citizens who offered housing and escape routes for fleeing slaves and who risked everything to ensure freedom to all Americans.
Head an hour west to the Iron City and its historic Strip District for our next destination on the tour. It's around lunchtime, and you're in luck - this neighborhood has tons to choose from.
John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh)
The History Center presents some of the most compelling stories from American history. Check out amazing rare original copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment, Lincoln's writing desk (complete with scribbles), and that iconic top hat. The newest exhibit at the History Center Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation celebrates the city's historic accomplishments all the way through their 21st century role as a leader in medicine, higher education and robotics.
Stroll over to Heinz headquarters and view the plaque in honor of Jane Swisshelm a radical abolitionist and outspoken Civil War heroine. Dedicated to ending slavery, Swisshelm faced countless threats as editor of several radical abolitionist newspapers including the Pittsburgh Saturday Visitor. Pittsburgh doesn't name neighborhoods after just anybody - it won't be long before you understand what made her so special.
Next, it's time for the true Pittsburgh initiation: a meat-cheese-tomato-cole-slaw-and-fries sandwich from Primanti Brothers. No directions are necessary - the aroma hits you halfway down 18th Street from Penn Avenue.
The Steps of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh)
There's a reason you went to Primanti before this next stop — it's one of America's greatest stairmasters. Pittsburgh has 737 sets of steps, the most of any city in the world, with 44,415 treads spanning more than 24,000 vertical feet. This quirk reflects the city's hilly nature as much as its history. The wood stairwells were the easiest way for workers to get to the city's riverside mills. Head over to the retro-stylish South Side of the city for a good place to start and let the climbing commence. You'll pass through several gardens and what used to be the German and Italian neighborhood. Stop to enjoy the scenery, you'll earn some of the grandest views of the city.
Primanti Brothers (Pittsburgh)
Original Strip District home of the “almost famous” meat-cheese-tomato-cole slaw-and-fries sandwich since 1933. Atkins? South Beach? Forget about it. This is comfort food that commands your full attention, and plenty of napkins.
Bigelow Grille (Pittsburgh)
Head chef Anthony Zallo is known for his American spin on Mediterranean flavors in this local hot-spot. With an emphasis on innovation and local preparations Bigelow Grille is more than just a convenient place to grab a bit to eat - it's a full on experience. We recommend trying the Goat Cheese Pierogies or the Crispy Pork Belly.
Omni William Penn Hotel (Pittsburgh)
On the western end of town and convenient to everything, this 1916 gem is Pittsburgh's grande dame, a distinctive, downtown, traditional hotel with lots of old-fashioned character. The perfect bed in the perfect location.