A Beautiful Hour On the Water – Pittsburgh River Cruise

Pittsburgh river cruise money shot Point State Park from the water Gateway Clipper cruise (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

The Pittsburgh river cruise money shot – Point State Park and its fountain at sunset from the water, on a Gateway Clipper cruise (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Sometimes, the “hokey, touristy” thing to do is popular because it is a great experience, and blowing it off means that you’ll miss something that you would very much enjoy.

That is the case with taking a Pittsburgh river cruise, especially if you go around sunset.

As I already knew from an earlier walk around downtown Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, it is easy to navigate the city both on foot and with public transportation. To get to the Gateway Clipper Fleet landing on the Monongahela River, take the T light rail to Station Square.

The Three Rivers Sightseeing Cruise (US$22 for adults) is only an hour, and packs a lot of information and views into that 60 minutes.

Sheila Scarborough sees Pittsburgh from the water on a Gateway Clipper cruise (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

I’m getting underway to see Pittsburgh from the water on a Gateway cruise (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Note – the Three Rivers cruise is available April – December.

It’s offered daily June through October, but only on weekends in spring and winter.

Pittsburgh from the water Gateway Clipper cruise 3 Rivers Queen (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Your waterborne chariot awaits – the 3 Rivers Queen with Pittsburgh’s Gateway Clipper cruises (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

You’ll see downtown Pittsburgh from “both sides” – the Monongahela and the Allegheny Rivers – plus “the tip” looking back past Point State Park from the Ohio River section (see photo at top.)

One of my favorite parts of our short journey was seeing all of the people enjoying various water sports, with interesting architecture from many eras as their backdrop.

Pittsburgh from the water rowing Gateway cruise (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

You’ll see plenty of people enjoying water sports like rowing when you take a Pittsburgh Gateway cruise. This is on the Allegheny River side of the city – the Convention Center is to the left, and a little of the Rachel Carson Bridge is showing on the right. (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

After walking back and forth over some of Pittsburgh’s many bridges, it was fun to glide underneath them, too, waving at the pedestrians above.

The cruise guide narration coming through speakers inside and out is frequent, but not annoying.

Of course, I loved all the historical tidbits, like the importance of this row of 1800s buildings below – the Firstside Historic District – to the city’s commercial waterfront heritage, contrasted with the modern glass turrets of PPG Place soaring behind them….

Firstside Historic District on the waterfront in downtown Pittsburgh as seen from the water Gateway cruise (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Firstside Historic District on the waterfront in downtown Pittsburgh as seen from the water on a Gateway Clipper cruise (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

The hour was over before we knew it, so we splurged on an elegant dinner at the nearby Grand Concourse restaurant, then took a quick Lyft ride over to the Duquesne Incline to go up and see this nighttime view….

Pittsburgh at night from atop the Duquesne Incline (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

After a cruise, catch this view of Pittsburgh at night from atop the Duquesne Incline. See the lighted Point State Park fountain at the tip? (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

I probably wouldn’t go for a dinner cruise in most destinations – they’re not exactly known for their fabulous food – but any time you can grab a short waterborne experience in a city, you should do so.

Which city has a sightseeing cruise that you love? Let us know in the comments.

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