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What To Do Over Thanksgiving Break: Pittsburgh Edition

It’s a joyous adventure when returning to the Steel City for Thanksgiving break. Going home creates time to relax and rest up before finals hysteria begins in December. We get the opportunity to visit old high school friends and family to discuss just how absolutely crazy life is in State College. Ultimately, it’s time to pick up the life you left behind for dear old State. So, if you’ve forgotten what that life was once like, check out what’s happening in Pittsburgh over break:


Pittsburgh will welcome home its dearly missed college students with a plethora of events and late night activities. You will literally be able to get your entire Pittsburgh fix in for a month in one single night.

Light Up Night will introduce the holiday season to Pittsburgh starting at noon. The city becomes packed with all ages to witness the unveiling of the Macy Windows, the lighting of PPG, and the Unity Christmas Tree. On top of all this holiday goodness, Jeff Jimerson, Donora, and Cobra Starship will all perform throughout various parts of downtown. Zambelli Internationale will conclude the day at 9:30 p.m. with an impressive firework display launched from the Andy Warhol Bridge. The full event list can be seen here.

Across the Allegheny River, the WPIAL Football Championships will take place at Heinz Field. Beginning at 11 a.m., the top high school football teams in the western part of the state will fight to earn a spot in the state playoffs and become WPIAL champions. Four games will be played throughout the day with the last one set to begin at 8 p.m.

Heading back into downtown, the Penguins have been absolutely phenomenal this season and are currently on a three-game win streak as they comfortably sit atop the Metropolitan Division. Not far behind in the standings are the New York Islanders. Believe it or not, the two teams will play each other amid all the downtown hysteria. But wait, it gets better: The Penguins are hosting their student rush ticket sale. Beginning at 10 a.m., students will be able to purchase up to three tickets for the game at $27 apiece. Not a bad price considering the two teams are fighting for the top spot in the conference. If you do wish to take advantage, it’s recommended that you act fast as there are only 200 tickets available.

To add the Pittsburgh pride into the mix, Wiz Khalifa will return to his hometown as part of his Big Secret Tour. Wiz will perform alongside Uzi at Mr. Small’s Fun House in Millvale both tonight and tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Tickets are all sold out, but you should be able to find some on the secondary market. If you remember Movin’ On last year, you may want to beg a friend who has a ticket, as Wiz always puts on a good show

If you are unable to make it back in time for the welcome home party, it’s still okay. We got you covered. Throughout the week you can always:

Enjoy the Nightlife

Everybody inside and outside of Pittsburgh has heard of the Southside, Pittsburgh’s famous bar strip. With bars like the Pittsburgh Hofbrauhaus, Fat Head’s Saloon, and even Hemingway’s Café across the river, one should always attempt to plan a night on Carson Street. Across town on the opposite riverbank lies the North Shore, a constant hot spot for late night activity. The Tilted Kilt, River’s Casino, and McFadden’s are reason enough to check out the North Shore. The Southside contains an energetic college crowd, but if you have a little extra cash in your pocket, head down to the North Shore with your friends and you won’t leave disappointed. Unless, of course, you lose it all at the casino.

Go to a Penguins Game

If you are unable to make it to the student rush game, that is not a problem. The Penguins will play two other home games over Thanksgiving break. On Wednesday, Nov. 26, the Pens will take on the Maple Leafs, and on Friday, Nov. 28, they’ll play the Hurricanes. Ticket prices are extreme given the Pens annual success, but then again, you can always ask the parents for an early Christmas gift.

Head to the Strip

If you didn’t eat a Primanti’s sandwich to get that authentic taste of Pittsburgh when on break, did you really go home? Yes, Primanti’s is a Pittsburgh tradition, but most forget about all the other eateries in the Strip District. Pamela’s P & G Diner, the prominent breakfast eatery, is located on 21st street and has the best crepes this side of the Mississippi. No kidding, President Obama ate there on a campaign stop and enjoyed the pancakes so much, he invited them to cook breakfast at the White House.

If you choose to skip breakfast, Andy’s Sushi at Wholey’s serves the best sushi in town. Most people think you can’t get a good sushi dish in landlocked Pittsburgh, but Andy’s is just as good as New York’s best. On Penn Ave., Andy’s has very reasonable prices with larger than normal portions. Give it a try; it’s better than the Panda Express you eat in State College once a week.

Enjoy Mt. Washington

It’s very cliché for a Pittsburgher to head up to Mt. Washington and snap a photo of the skyline, but it’s a view that never gets old no matter how many times you make the trip. After you snap a breathtaking photo, take a ride on the incline and head down to Station Square to grab a bite to eat at Bar Louie, Buckhead Saloon, or the Hard Rock Café. There’s no such thing as a bad food choice in Station Square.

Head to Heinz Field

If you aren’t heading back to Happy Valley to see Penn State take on Michigan State, you can still get your weekly dosage of football and tailgating at Heinz Field. The Steelers will host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Nov. 30. Although they have been playing shaky football lately, the atmosphere of the Steeler Nation is just as good as the student section. In fact, it will likely be better. Tickets for Steeler games are hard to come by with prices averaging around $80 a game. If you are able to get your hands on one, it’d be a sin not to take advantage of it.

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About the Author

Jon Deasy

is a senior majoring in criminology from the Steel City. You can find him at the Rathskeller on a Saturday or in the library at four in the morning. He plans to attend law school in the future and enjoys writing about college kids committing the most comical crimes in State College. When he’s not busy, he’s aimlessly staring at his Twitter, @jon_deasy. You can reach him via email at [email protected].

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