For quirky attractions, outdoor adventures and delicious native foods, our tailgate expedition radar points AFC North.
With the bizarre November weather taking its toll on the east coast, these next two cities might seem less than desirable, but it would only be fair to visit two places where we get the full-on seasonal experience at a football game. There are a few staples in most vacations: going out to eat, shopping, experiencing nightlife, etc. However, Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the AFC North have plenty of quirks and unique activities that will leave you with plenty of interesting sights to write home about. Plus, there are plenty of options available to help you take advantage of winter activities, as well. So pack an extra pair of gloves and get ready for an adventure you can only find in Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Baltimore is very famous for its aquarium and the Orioles, but there are a few places to see that are entirely unique to the city. Anyone interested in poetry or history might want to check out the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, as well as the great writer’s gravesite just a few streets away. Another interesting find that will entertain your inner nerd is Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, featuring a plethora of comic books owned by the CEO of Diamond Comics distributors.
For the tree hugger of your group, Cylburn Arboretum is 207 acres of beautiful nature all within city limits. There, you can find rare trees, native plants and wild flowers. Oh, and it’s free! Another quirky find that also happens to be free is the Baltimore Tattoo Museum, with all kinds of tattoo artwork on display, from black and grey to portraits, photo realism, flash designs and Japanese-style tattoos. Looking for more “traditional” art? The Baltimore Museum of Art is FREE as well, and Walter’s Art Museum allows free admission on select days and times of entrance.
Keeping with the creative theme, Artscape is the nation’s largest free arts festival, and it features both national and local artists on multiple outdoor stages, and both indoor and outdoor visual arts exhibitions. A three-day event, Artscape’s range of activities and artwork displayed is immeasurable, with film, theatre, sculpture, crafts, dance and kids’ activities all incorporated into the festival. Films on the Pier shows free movies on Wednesday nights starting at 8:45 on Broadway Pier. Baltimore is clearly a go-to for a tight budget!
For shopping and dining (who doesn’t want to try some Maryland crabs?), head to the Inner Harbor for all the seafood your stomach can muster. If you’re traveling with kids, the Maryland Science Center happens to be there as well, and it actually appeals to all ages and audiences, just bring your curiosity! Remember Philadelphia’s Xfinity Live! barplex? Baltimore has its sister, Power Plant Live!, and all the bars and dining you can fit into your away game experience just a block from the Inner Harbor. Like Philadelphia, you can hop on a mechanical bull at PBR (Professional Bull Riders) before checking out the huge selection of clubs and restaurants, including a comedy club. Come thirsty, get your abs workout with laughs, and leave with all kinds of wonderful memories. Baltimore is sure to provide you and your companions with a vacation experience you won’t soon forget!
Pittsburgh is widely regarded as a Western Pennsylvania city with a Midwestern feel. Undoubtedly, the friendliness of the city’s citizens largely contributes to this commonly held belief. However, it’s worth noting that Pittsburgh is one of the best U.S. cities to have a “seasonal” football experience, which those who love the game often hail as the only way to do so.
Within 100 miles of Pittsburgh lie eight different ski resorts that are generally open by January 1st. From the small and more economical lodges that might cater to the more inexperienced, to the challenging and pricier options, there is definitely an option that suits the needs of your crew. For other nature activities, hiking, camping, and stargazing are all phenomenal outdoor adventures, as well.
While actual Midwestern city Kansas City is renowned for its fountains, Pittsburgh has more bridges than any other city in the world. While that might not be a genuine tourist attraction, it’s certainly and interesting piece of trivia if you ever need a creative premise for drinking games at your tailgate.
The Warhol Museum happens to be in Pittsburgh, as is the Seldom Seen Mine, which has a history of being haunted for fans of the paranormal. Tours of the Seldom Seen Mine are led by miners who actually worked in its depths as well as by their descendants.
For food, one name in particular stands out: Primanti. The Primanti Brothers is a sandwich joint that originated in Pittsburgh, and the idea behind their signature sandwich originated with the idea of having a whole meal that you can eat easily on the go. Thus, a sandwich with french fries inside was born. Thirteen local locations and two locations in Florida later, it’s safe to say The Primanti Brothers have a sandwich worth the hype. At the very least, pick one up and walk through one of Pittsburgh’s many bridges and do some site seeing!
Although the Pirates are not one of the best teams in the country, a visit to PNC Park is a must! ESPN rated PNC Park the highest a few years ago while grading ballparks, and rumor has it that a Primanti sandwich can be obtained here, as well. Atria’s restaurant received high marks, too, in the event that you have ample time to stretch your stomach before your multi-sport vacation experience. As an unconventional plus, even getting to the park can be an adventure. If you choose to take a boat from Station Square to the game, you can enjoy some snacks and brews on the ride as a pre-tailgate or pre-game warm-up. Best part of taking the boat over? No post-game traffic to sit through!
Whether you’re looking for a quirky vacation with sites you won’t find anywhere else, or an outdoors vacation to feel the seasons, you’ll surely open that ice cold beer with a smile attending an away game in Baltimore or Pittsburgh, just make sure you pack some of those team-branded winter accessories.