Pittsburgh is a historic city that offers tourists opportunities to explore art, architecture, culture and natural beauty through a diverse array of tourist attractions and local treasures. The city’s most popular attractions are wheelchair accessible, including the Carnegie Museums, Heinz History Center, Point State Park, Mount Washington and more. Plan your itinerary with this list of wheelchair accessible attractions in Pittsburgh and enjoy exploring a city that was once an integral cog in America’s Rust Belt.
Andy Warhol Museum
The flag-bearer of the pop art movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Andy Warhol is widely celebrated in art museums around the world. Born in Pittsburgh in 1928 to Slovak immigrants, Warhol studied pictorial design in college and in 1949 began a career creating advertisements, album covers and other promotional materials for businesses.
Warhol experimented with a wide range of art techniques and was an early adopter of the silk screen process. He built a career around the pop art genre, producing works detailing elements of American culture, from Campbell’s soup cans to images of celebrities like Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. His art was bold, eye-catching and captured a significant following.
The Andy Warhol Museum opened in 1994 to tell the artist’s story and to help visitors discover his artistic genius. With more than 3,000 works, the museum has the largest collection of Warhol art and archives in the world. Each of the museum’s 7 floors are wheelchair accessible via an elevator. The cost of admission is $20 for adults and $10 for seniors (age 65+). For more information, visit www.warhol.org.
Mount Washington Observation Area
Downtown Pittsburgh is surrounded by rivers and bordered by a steep hill known as Mount Washington. Once the site of a coal mine and rock quarry, the hill now provides tourists an elevated spot to capture photos of the Pittsburgh skyline.
At the summit of Mt. Washington, visitors can walk along the sidewalks of Grandview Avenue, which runs the length of the hilltop. Numerous observation platforms provide an opportunity to safely capture an unobstructed photograph of the city below.
Riding the Monongahela Incline is the fastest way to the top of Mount Washington. Opened in 1870, the Monongahela Incline is the oldest continuously operating funicular in the United States. It is wheelchair accessible at both the upper and lower stations, and provides an excellent opportunity to experience the history of Pittsburgh. A second funicular, the Duquesne Incline, also climbs Mt. Washington, but it is only wheelchair accessible at the upper station.
Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History
The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History share a building located between the campuses of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. With joint admission, visitors can explore both museums for one price—$19.95 for adults and $14.95 for seniors (age 65+). Half-price admission is available weekdays after 3 p.m. Be sure to check the museum hours at www.carnegiemuseums.org.
Visitors flock to the Carnegie’s dinosaur hall, where the museum exhibits from its collection of more than 460 type specimens. The Tyrannosaurus rex holotype, pictured above, was discovered in 1902 at the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. Purchased in 1941 by the Carnegie Museum, it remains on permanent display. In addition to T. rex, the Carnegie exhibit features other holotype skeletons, including Apatosaurus louisae and Diplodocus carnegii.
The Carnegie Museum’s Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems is also a popular exhibit, featuring more than 1,300 specimens from around the world. From diamonds to sulfur, there is a touch of everything, all displayed in a visually appealing gallery.
For lovers of art, the Carnegie Museum features a constantly changing series of exhibits across numerous art forms, disciplines, time periods and techniques. To learn about current and upcoming exhibitions, visit www.cmoa.org.
Both the Art and Natural History museums are wheelchair accessible, with elevators to each floor and ramps where necessary. Accessible bathroom facilities are available. For information about special programs and equipment accommodations at the museums, click here.
Carnegie Science Center
As the most-visited museum in Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Science Center has something for everyone. Hands-on and interactive exhibits allow visitors of all ages to learn about robotics, space exploration, the human body, ecology and more.
If you’ve ever played with a model train set, you’ll enjoy the Miniature Railroad & Village, which dates to 1919. Hundreds of stories and scenes play out as the model trains make their way around the tracks. The miniature world isn’t miniature at all, measuring 83 feet by 30 feet, for a total square footage of 2,490 – the size of a 3-bedroom home!
Accessibility at the museum is excellent, with elevators and ramps to each floor. Many of the hands-on exhibits are accessible to wheelchair users, with lots of fun to be had in the robotics hall. Admission costs $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for seniors (age 65+). Special exhibits, movies at the Rangos Giant Cinema and tickets to the laser show cost extra. For more information, visit www.carnegiesciencecenter.org.
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Founded in 1983, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh occupies two of the city’ most historic structures—the former Allegheny Post Office and the former Buhl Planetarium. The museum is wheelchair accessible and offers children a unique hands-on learning experience.
The late Fred Rogers of the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood television show was deeply involved in the development of the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. His memory is celebrated throughout the museum. Visitors will be able to see his original sneakers, his sweater, and puppets used in the show.
The Makeshop, located on the first floor, gives children (and adults!) an opportunity to “mess around with materials and tools, play with ideas and make things together.” It’s a special place that is open and accessible to all.
No matter where you go in the museum, you’ll find ways to interact, touch and play with the exhibits. Whether it’s controlling puppets through movements or manipulating the Wooden Mirror, you and your children will be delighted with the diverse activities.
Admission to the museum costs $16 for adults, $14 for children (age 2-18) and $14 for seniors (age 60+). For more information, visit www.pittsburghkids.org.
Senator John Heinz History Center
Named for the late U.S. Senator Henry John Heinz, heir to the Heinz ketchup empire, the John Heinz History Center is the largest historical museum in the State of Pennsylvania. Heinz was a popular Republican senator, having won re-election in 1988 with more than 66% of the vote. In 1991, he died in an airplane crash in Pennsylvania.
Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, the Heinz History Center serves an important role in preserving the history of Western Pennsylvania. Exhibits document the region’s cultural, economic, industrial, religious and political history and fill the galleries from a collection containing thousands of artifacts.
The 275,000-square-foot facility is located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Six floors of exhibits are wheelchair accessible via elevator, and accessible bathrooms are available on multiple floors.
The museum is composed of both permanent and temporary exhibits that connect people to Pennsylvania’s past. The exhibit Clash of Empires traces the French & Indian War. In Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation, visitors learn about the major historical moments—from Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine in 1955 to the first oil well that was drilled North of Pittsburgh in 1859.
Tucked away in the Special Collections Gallery are a series of original set pieces from the TV show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. The entryway and living room set, the oak tree that was home to X The Owl, and the Castle of King Friday XIII are all there to see.
Admission to the Heinz History Center costs $16 for adults and $14 for seniors (age 62+). I recommend setting aside at least two hours to explore the museum, but you could easily spend more time there. More information on the museum is available at www.heinzhistorycenter.org.
Pittsburgh’s National Aviary is the country’s only independent non-profit bird zoo. With more than 500 birds from 150 different species, many from international environments, visitors will be exposed to many birds they have never seen before. The opportunity to discover and interact with new species while indoors makes for an incredibly enjoyable experience, even if you aren’t normally interested in wildlife.
Each of the aviary’s exhibits are wheelchair accessible, with electronic doors separating the habitats. Three free-flight exhibits, including the Wetlands (pictured above), allow visitors to share the bird’s habitat. Join the aviary’s trainers for one of the scheduled bird feedings, and be sure to volunteer! You’ll see incredible birds close-up like never before, and you may have a chance to feed them yourself. You’ll also have a chance to see the Andean Condor, with a wingspan of 10 feet, the Bald Eagle, owls and more.
The cost of general admission is $16 for adults and $14 for seniors. Special bird shows like Amazing Amazon and Soar must be purchased separately. For more information, visit www.aviary.org.
Point State Park
Located at the western tip of Downtown Pittsburgh, where the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers converge, Point State Park is a public recreation area of approximately 36 acres.
The park’s land was once the site of two 18th century military embattlements, Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt. Bricks outline where the forts were located within the park. Well-maintained sidewalks run throughout the park, and there is an accessible route to the riverfront walkway. The area surrounding a large fountain at the park’s point uses cobblestone pavements along sections of the walkway, which can prove frustrating for wheelchair users.
Point State Park is used as the venue for many of the city’s largest cultural events, including a July 4th celebration and the annual Three Rivers Arts Festival. More information on the park can be found at www.pointstatepark.com.
Fort Pitt Museum
Construction of Fort Pitt began in 1759, following the destruction of Fort Duquesne on the same site in 1758. Built by the British during the Seven Years’ War, Fort Pitt served as a garrison for English troops, until it was sold in 1772 to a pair of colonists. The fort was later used by American troops during the Revolutionary War.
Following the war for independence, the fort was dismantled and the parts sold to area residents. The Block House, pictured above, was the only structure preserved. Dating to 1764, the house was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1960. The Fort Pitt Museum was established in 1969, just steps away, to safeguard and share the fort’s historic legacy.
The museum sheds light on life in the Pittsburgh area before the city was founded, the complex nature of interactions with Indian tribes, the tug-of-war between the British and French and the fort’s role in the American Revolution. Original artifacts and story boards guide visitors through this history, and I recommend spending an hour to take it all in.
The cost of admission is $8 for adults and $7 for seniors (age 62+). The museum is maintained by the Senator John Heinz History Center, and more information is available at www.heinzhistorycenter.org/fort-pitt/.
A premier shopping, dining and entertainment development, Station Square is located directly across the river from Downtown Pittsburgh. The Station Square light rail station and Monogahela Incline station are just steps away from the food and nightlife, offering an easy, safe and accessible transportation option.
Pictured above is Bessemer Court, which recognizes the city’s industrial history. A water fountain show, choreographed with lights and music, runs from April through November. There are plenty of restaurant choices, including the Hard Rock Cafe, Joe’s Crab Shack, Buca di Beppo and more. For more information, visit www.stationsquare.com.
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Opened in 1898, the Pittsburgh Zoo has connected people with wildlife for 120 years. The zoo and its PPG Aquarium occupy 77 acres of land and exhibit more than 4,000 animals from hundreds of different species. You’ll have a fantastic opportunity to see all manner of animals, including lions, tigers, giraffes, gorillas, elephants, polar bears, flamingos, beavers and more.
Although exhibits are wheelchair accessible throughout the park, some pathways may be too steep for manual wheelchair users to manage without assistance. The zoo’s tram has a wheelchair accessible car (with a ramp) and makes stops at 8 popular locations in the park. The tram runs daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and on weekends only in April, May and September, cost $1 for seniors (age 60+) and people with disabilities, and $2 for everyone else.
Admission to the zoo and aquarium costs $16 for adults and $15 for seniors (age 60+). Parking is free. If you plan to take public transportation to the zoo, ride bus 75. For more information, visit www.pittsburghzoo.org.