If you’re new to Pittsburgh, or even a native, there’s always help to be had in getting around town and finding things to do. In order to get that help, you only need a smartphone to chart these streets. That smartphone, filled with these useful apps will undoubtedly get you to where you want to go, and you might just discover that Pittsburgh has more to offer than you ever imagined.
TAKING YOUR OWN CAR
Waze (free, available for iPhone/android) is the best option for navigating your path around Pittsburgh. Not only is Waze a great GPS app for drivers, but it also incorporates social aspects. Drivers can report traffic jams, accidents or a speed trap around the corner. Wazers accrue points for reporting activity on the roads, as well.
Other free options for GPS apps include Google Maps and MapQuest.
THERE WILL BE TRAFFIC
If you want to check things out before hitting the road, take a shot with MultiCam Pittsburgh ($1.99, available on iPhone). The app lets users access traffic web cams around Pittsburgh to see where the jams are. The app has around 200 camera views, so wherever you’re going, you’re covered.
PARKING COULD BE A PROBLEM
If you’re limiting your trip to Downtown Pittsburgh or the North Shore, parking could be an issue, especially on the weekend. ParkPGH (free, available for iPhone) can be your guide. The app from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust provides real-time parking availability for Downtown Pittsburgh and the North Shore. The app has some bugs and it’s limited in scope, but it’s a nice option when parking is limited.
WHAT? YOU DON’T HAVE A CAR?
No need to worry about not having your own ride. There are plenty of options.
— ezRide Pittsburgh (free, available for iPhone/android) is a solid guide for public transportation around town. The app provides detailed information as to when the bus or T is coming, and even allows users to plan their trips. It’s a great resource for getting around town without a ride of your own. Another free option with public transportation is Google Maps, as it also provides route information and arrival/departure times for the T and bus.
— If you don’t feel comfortable jumping on public transportation, why not catch a ride from your own front door? That’s where Uber (free, available on iPhone/android) and Lyft (free, available on iPhone/android) come in. Both services allow you to catch a ride to your destination. Money is handled through the app, as riders just plug in their information from a credit/debit card. Prior to catching that ride, you have to have an account, though, so plan ahead.
— In the old days, folks used to walk to a lot of places. That’s another option, especially if you’ve parked across town. A good option for walking is the City Maps 2Go Pro — Offline Map and Travel Guide app ($2.99, available on iPhone/android). The app doesn’t require an internet connection, so it won’t suck up your data plan or battery. Besides maps, it also has plenty of content in regard to restaurants, shopping or popular attractions.
SO, YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A GOOD PLACE TO EAT
There are plenty of apps — probably hundreds — that will lead you to a good meal in Pittsburgh, but a handful of them are better than the rest. So, if you’re hungry, put these apps in your phone.
Yelp (free, available for iPhone/android) is one of the most popular apps around, and it gives users listings of all of the possible restaurants in your area. Yelp does a fine job of categorizing your choices, and it includes user reviews which are very helpful. Much like Yelp, the Urbanspoon app (free, available for iPhone/android) also delivers a comprehensive listing of dining choices in Pittsburgh. Both are great, not to mention, easy to use.
AND YOU NEED RESERVATIONS
There are a couple of good apps that allow users to make reservations right from the phone. So, after picking out a place through Yelp or Urbanspoon, check out the Pittsburgh-born NoWait app (free, available for iPhone/android). The app allows users to skip those hard benches in restaurant lobbies and receive texts when their tables are ready. Another option for reservations is OpenTable (free, available for iPhone/android), an app that partners with Yelp. Both of these apps are easy to use, and allow for convenience from your smartphone.
TALK TO THE EXPERTS
LocalMind (free, available on iPhone/android) is a great app for not looking like a tourist to Pittsburgh. The app allows you to survey the scene and find places to eat or drink. Just send a question out to the LocalMind community — for example, what’s a good dive bar in the area? — and an answer is right around the corner.
Fieldtrip (free, available on iPhone/android), a creation of Google, is an app that allows users to explore the area that they’re in. Users can find popular architecture, historic places and markers, popular lifestyle spots, art and museums and spots that are just unique. Even better, the app lets you know when you’re close to one of these places.
WHAT TO DO …
There are some great apps that allow you to navigate the goings on around Pittsburgh. Below is a specific list of apps that will help you find things to do.
— The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra app (free, available on iPhone/android) provides plenty of info on the PSO and their next performance. It also carries recordings of the orchestra, so you can also listen on the go.
— While Kennywood doesn’t appear to have an app, The Roller Coaster Guide app (free, available on iPhone) is a good look at what the West Mifflin park has to offer. It allows users to explore the roller coasters on display, and includes rankings.
— The Rivers Casino has been around for about five years, and it’s a popular spot for lots of Pittsburghers. Of course, the casino has an app (free, available for iPhone/android). It carries detailed information about the casino, as well as special mobile offers and alerts. Additionally, Rush Reward members can check their accounts on their phones.
— If the weather doesn’t look so good, and you should decide on a movie, there are two apps to choose from. Fandango (free, available for iPhone/android) and Flixster (free, available for iPhone/android) offer movie times for films being shown all over Pittsburgh. Both apps also allow users to buy tickets and check out what the critics have to say.
— If you’re a music fanatic, there are a couple of good apps that allow you to find concerts. Songkick (free, available for iPhone/android) allows users to track their favorite performers and find out when they’re coming to town. Once you get in the app, and apply your favorite artists, Songkick keeps you up to date, especially when new tour dates are added.
— Sports, sports, sports. The three big professional teams in Pittsburgh — the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins — all have good apps (free, available on iPhone/android). They offer schedules, team info and options to buy tickets if they’re available. Or, you could just go to the Ticketmaster app (free, available for iPhone/android) which offers tickets for just about every event.
— Pittsburgh has lots of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and there are plenty of apps available. MyPGH Parks (free, available for iPhone) gives users event listings, maps and event info for parks around the city. Walk PGH (free, available for iPhone/android) allows users to track their steps around Pittsburgh neighborhoods, and it includes a pedometer. For cycling, check out Map My Ride ($2.99 or free, available for iPhone/android). It allows cyclists to navigate the trails and streets of Pittsburgh. Finally, hikers can find trails all over Western Pennsylvania with AllTrails (free, available on iPhone/android), an informative app that provides maps, directions and reviews of trails all over town.
— Fore! Looking for a place to swing the clubs? GolfNow (free, available on iPhone/android) lets users find golf course and book tee times. Not all of the municipal courses are listed, but most of the major ones are available. It’s also easy to navigate.
— Pittsburghers love their fireworks, and the WPXI Pittsburgh Fireworks app (free, available for iPhone) lists all of the fireworks shows throughout Western Pennsylvania. Now, you can see fireworks whenever you want.
AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING EVENT APP, PLEASE
— Eventbrite (free, available on iPhone, android) is an app that allows users to see most or all of the events happening around Pittsburgh in the present or future. Users can also hook up with their friends and buy tickets. The app has a wide range of events listed, even tipping off users to things like job fairs. Descriptions of each event are also included. Time To Enjoy (free, available for iPhone) is another all-encompassing app that hooks into your calendar and gives you a rundown of upcoming events. Just enter the zip code, and you’re on your way.
NOW, WHAT DID WE MISS?
There are so many useful apps out there for smartphones, especially for getting around. Give us some ideas of what we missed, so we can update this list with new info.