Worth the Drive

Mister Rogers’ Real Neighborhood

With the recently released film and documentary about Fred Rogers, the national spotlight is shining on the man who changed the face of children’s television. He was known internationally, but since he resided in Pittsburgh and created “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” here at WQED, he is often associated with the city. However, his roots are less …

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Nuts About Nutcrackers

When Steubenville comes to mind, you probably don’t think of the Rust Belt town as a travel destination. Mayor Jerry Barilla has been intent on changing that and the narrative of industrial decline that has dominated the town. Its population of 18,000 is less than half what it was in 1940—between 1980 and 2000, Weirton-Steubenville …

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George Washington DID Sleep Here

Forbes. Grant. Braddock. Duquesne. Washington. While these read like a list of Pittsburgh streets, they have immense significance to both Pittsburgh and its place in American and world history. But that history began around 50 miles away in Westmoreland County, in what is now the borough of Ligonier. It’s been kept alive and can be …

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History, Charm and Vitality

Saxonburg was founded as a German farming settlement in 1832 by brothers Friedrich C. and John A. Roebling, immigrants from Mühlhausen, Prussia, who purchased 1,582 acres. Destined to become history’s most famous Saxonburg resident, John had studied surveying, engineering, architecture and hydraulics in Europe. He soon lost interest in farming and began developing a crucial …

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A Different Kind of Pharmacy

Susan Merenstein tells people that she has “pharmacy” in her blood. Her late father ran Drug Lane, a Washington, D.C. drugstore, and she spent lots of time there, working the cigar and candy counter at age 10 and, ultimately, being a technician. She attended the University of Pittsburgh and became a registered pharmacist, working at …

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Meadowcroft—Western Pennsylvania’s time machine

Most people are aware of western Pennsylvania’s rich history, but few know just how far back that history reaches. A trip to Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village in Avella in Washington County indicates how significant our region is. Meadowcroft comprises 275 acres on part of the former Miller farm, and is celebrating its 50th season …

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Escape to Gateway Lodge in Cook Forest

If you find the heat and noise of “summer in the city” oppressive, escape it all in an under-two-hour drive from Pittsburgh. Take the scenic trip to Cook Forest State Park, and stay at the Gateway Lodge. Built in 1934, the Gateway Lodge is the perfect combination of woodsy charm and contemporary amenities. The family-owned …

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New Age Nuances

Spring. A time for renewal and rejuvenation, especially if you’re feeling tense. A great place to start your revival is with your body. The best defense against burnout is a peaceful, relaxed offense. There are several companies in the area that can help you reach nirvana naturally. Peace, Love & Zen Holistic Wellness Center is …

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The New Way to Entertain

As the holidays approach, so might a corresponding sense of dread—at the thought of entertaining. While enthusiastic hosts and hostesses can get lots of things ready in advance, preparing and serving a holiday meal or hors d’oeuvres at the last minute can be overwhelming. Some people choose to simply go to a restaurant or club, …

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Bring on the Meat!

Years ago, the Sunday roast inevitably came from the neighborhood butcher. The relationship between the homemaker and butcher was once so significant, that the television series “The Brady Bunch” included “Sam the Butcher,” who was both meat purveyor and love interest for housekeeper Alice. This was before mega-grocery stores and warehouse clubs with inhouse butchers, …

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Secrets of Oakmont

With the gaslights along the brick-paved Allegheny River Boulevard, the small, independent shops and the 1889 Carnegie Library, visiting Oakmont can feel like a welcome trip back in time. That’s especially true if you walk into the Kerr Memorial Museum on Delaware Avenue. Dr. Thomas Kerr built the Queen Anne-style home in 1897 for his …

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Cleaner to the Stars

It’s time to don your best apparel for holiday parties, dinners and events. And then, of course, you’ll need to have those clothes cleaned. There are countless options, but Jerry Montesano’s Shadyside Valet is a standout. Jerry was born into the business—his father owned a dry cleaning company in Penn Hills and then sold dry …

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Now Entering “Happy Valley”

The Pennsylvania State University has more than 645,000 living alums. Obviously, they know about “Happy Valley,” as do the throngs who attend football games each fall. But if you’ve never visited Penn State, State College or Centre County, it’s well worth exploring, especially on a quieter, non-football weekend. While there are chain hotels available, go …

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Exploring the Maridon

Most people do not associate Asian art with Butler, Pa. However, the only museum dedicated to ancient and contemporary Chinese and Japanese art and culture in western Pennsylvania is tucked away on a residential street in this city of around 14,000 — epitomizing the concept of “hidden gem.” The Maridon Museum is home to the …

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Boom, bust and disaster

Located at a horseshoe bend of the Monongahela River in Washington County—the heart of today’s Rust Belt—what would become Donora, Pa.was a farming community of 12 people in 1900. Within one year, it exploded to 4,000—as hordes of workers built and manned numerous factories. Its population topped 14,000 by 1920, but today numbers only 5,500. …

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The shrine on Troy Hill

The story of how St. Anthony Chapel in Troy Hill came to house the largest collection of Christian relics outside of the Vatican begins in the 1850s with a young man from a wealthy Belgian family. After attending medical school, Suitbert Mollinger became a Catholic priest who followed his vocation to America. By 1868, he …

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Having a great time in Beaver, Pa.

Rudyard Kipling visited Beaver, Pa, during the summer of 1889 and referred to it fondly in “Sea to Sea: Letters of Travel.” Spend a day or two there, and you’ll understand why. Established at the confluence of the Ohio and Beaver rivers in 1802, Beaver is the Beaver County seat with an historic district built …

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Days of Wine and Music

There are few things more enjoyable during beautiful weather than sitting outside with family or friends, listening to live music while sipping on wine. Fortunately, there is a charming, local, Tuscan-themed venue where one can do just that. Narcisi Winery, on route 910 in Gibsonia, is a family-owned endeavor that began in Italy generations ago. …

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Remembering the Great One

Walking into The Clemente Museum at Engine House No. 25 in Lawrenceville, one word comes to mind: passion. The athletic passion of one of baseball’s greatest players, his passion for helping the less fortunate and making the world better for his and all children, and the passion of the man who created this moving monument …

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Giddy up, let’s go!

Horse-drawn sleigh rides. These icons of old-fashioned winter are lauded in carols and featured in Currier and Ives lithographs. And a great one is available just northeast of Kittanning, in Cowansville. Denise and Flavius Brinsfield grew up with a love of horses. Denise enjoyed an equine way of life, both riding and driving horses. Flavius …

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Chagrin Falls

Sometimes it’s nice to escape to a place with a slower, more relaxed pace—a quaint community that isn’t teeming with chain stores and traffic, where kids ride their bikes into town to have a cone and hang out with friends. There is a town, just this side of Cleveland, that fits the bill—Chagrin Falls, Ohio. …

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North by northwest

Summer has finally arrived, and there is no better time for a weekend (or mid-week) getaway. McKean County is a few hours from Pittsburgh and a great area to explore, play, relax and have fun. Whether your interests are historic, outdoorsy, culinary or sporty, you will find no lack of things to do. For the …

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