An old steel-making city, with a huge passion for sport, Pittsburgh is often the epitome of blue collar America. But nobody expects Pittsburgh to be beautiful, and that's the first major surprise it springs. There are others to come too, in the form of some world class museums and unforgettable architectural pipedreams. The most underrated city in the US? Quite possibly.
The Cathedral of Learning is both utterly ludicrous and instantly adorable. A chunky 42-storey Gothic behemoth that towers over everything and looks totally out of place, it's the University of Pittsburgh's main building. Inside are 29 "Nationality Rooms", which are styled on different countries, meaning lectures can be inside a Ghanaian village courtyard one day, and an Indian monastery the next. See nationalityrooms.pitt.edu
The Strip District is full of long-standing old favourites, and 'Burgh Bits and Bites visits the best specialists on its $43 Strip District Market Tour. Local history is thrown in between Polish delicacies, imported European meats, more-ish Italian pastries and gorgeous cinnamon bread. See burghfoodtour.com
Pittsburgh gets its good looks from the river confluence it is built around. Dozens of yellow painted bridges connect things up, and the heart of the city is a triangle jutting into the water. The best views are from the top of the Duquesne Incline, a cable railway that heads part of the way up Mount Washington to a truly splendid perch.
Andy Warhol is arguably Pittsburgh's most famous son, and the Warhol Museum is about as good as a museum devoted to a single artist is possible to be. More than 8000 Warhol works are inside, including classics such as the Campbell's soup cans and Jackie Kennedy screen prints, spread over six floors. But it gets truly fascinating when exploring Warhol's life, a whirlwind of modelling, magazines, TV shows and Studio 54 strutting. There are also his private collection of suicide photographs, and a section exploring his pre-fame life as a skilled painter and illustrator. See warhol.org
The Fairmont is Pittsburgh's top upscale option – it's fresh, centrally located, right next to the theatres in the Cultural District and comes with a super-sized spa complex. It also nods to the location with a heavy steel presence and plenty of local artwork on show. Room rates start at $291 a night. See Fairmont.com/pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is somewhat out on its own, but is a great road trip stop between the east coast and the mid-west. For example, it falls perfectly on the most logical route between Washington DC and Chicago.
More information: visitpittsburgh.com
Disclosure: David Whitley was a guest of Visit Pittsburgh.