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What To Do In Philly And Pittsburgh Over Spring Break

By: Gabi Stevenson and Drew Klingenberg

Spring break is upon us again, but instead of relaxing by the pool or partying at the beach, you’re packing up your winter coat and heading home. This may seem like a total bummer, but there’s no shame in going back to your hometown for a little fun. It might not be the beach, but there is still a long list of things to do and see before you return to State College. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled some the best sights and sounds to enjoy in the big city near you. Follow our guide for an unforgettable (and cheap) spring break.


If you’re headed to the City of Brotherly Love for your break, you’re in for a fun and surprisingly warm week. Temperatures are supposed to reach the low 70s over Spring Break, which means you can travel around the city by foot and have some fun in the sun. In addition to the weather, you can also enjoy some of the hottest restaurants and best tourist spots that the East Coast has to offer.

Things to Do:

After spending a rowdy weekend in a sea of green, there’s no better way to experience real Saint Patrick’s Day traditions than watching the 246th Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Center City, Philadelphia on March 13. The parade features a line up of dance groups, floats, marching bands, and Irish groups to honor the patron saint.

Another Philly tradition is the Philadelphia Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, now in its 188th year. This year’s show runs from March 5-13, and is seeing some new changes this year. All of the floral arrangements and gardens will fall under a theme this year — “Explore America: 100 Years of the National Park Service.” The show is also allowing pets this year for Fido Friday, which begins with a 6 p.m. “Yappy Hour” and the pop-up beer garden.

Another fun activity for those of you 21 and up might be a classic Philadelphia beer festival. Fortunately, there are two festivals taking place over spring break. The Philly Craft Beer Festival on March 5 will set up shop at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Brewer’s Plate, a beer and food pairing festival, takes place on March 13 outside of the Kimmel Center.

If you’re looking for some family fun, you can always check out the Franklin Institute. The institute is hosting a Pixar exhibition starting on May 12. “The Science Behind Pixar” runs until the fall and take a look at the process and technology behind your favorite Pixar films.

You may know this last site as one of Pennsylvania’s scariest haunted houses, but it’s an extraordinary sight to see anytime of the year. The Eastern State Penitentiary hosts its fourth annual “pop-up museum” from March 3 to March 13, this time featuring sports paraphernalia of former inmates. The museum will include rare artifacts and photographs that illustrate the pastimes of prisoners past.

Places to Eat:

Philadelphia is a great place to chow down on not only some of the most amazing, but also most diverse food in the country. You can head to the Reading Terminal Market if you want to buy food from vendors around the world.

If you can’t be laying on a beach in Spain, you might as well be enjoying its food. Tinto is a small, upscale tapas bar and lounge in Philly’s famous Rittenhouse Square. The restaurant has received rave reviews online and features menu items like foie gras, short rib, and duck confit.

Another great spot is Osteria, an Italian restaurant on North Broad Street. The restaurant boasts a lunch menu of incredible pizza and antipasti, served every Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Osteria’s dessert menu may be small, but the authentic Italian classics like polenta “budino” with gianduia mousse and olive oil panna cotta really make the experience.

Concerts to Enjoy:

State College already saw some amazing acts roll through town this semester, but if you couldn’t get your hands on some tickets, you can see these artists live in Philly:

Ra Ra Riot with Sun Club and PWR BTTM — March 5 at Union Transfer, 8:30 p.m.
Katt Williams: Conspiracy Theory Tour — March 5 at The Liacouras Center, 8:00 p.m.
Vanic, Drezo, and SAINT WKND — March 5 at Soundgarden Hall, 8:30 p.m.
WXPN Welcomes Leon Bridges with Son Little — March 6 at The Fillmore Philadelphia at 8:00 p.m.
Lucinda Williams with Buick 6 — March 9 and 10 at World Cafe Live, 8:00 p.m.
Sander Van Doorn — March 12 at Soundgarden Hall, 8:30 p.m.
Chris Young with Cassadee Pope — March 12 at the Electric Factory, 8:30 p.m.
Dropkick Murphys with Tiger Army and Darkbuster — March 13 at the Electric Factory, 8:00 p.m.


Heading home to the ‘Burgh will always have its perks. Sure, you could be going somewhere tropical with friends and sipping out of a coconut, but recuperating at home after a long and stressful beginning to the semester should be just as relaxing. And luckily for you (if you are from the Pittsburgh area), then you go to one of the best cities in America. So don’t miss out on the revitalization and explore the city with some suggestions below.

Things to Do:

What better way to get over the depression of no more Penn State men’s hockey home games than to attend a professional hockey game? Starting the break off on the right foot, the Penguins play the Calgary Flames at Consol Energy Center on Saturday, March 5. As the Penguins continue to battle for a playoff spot, any Pittsburgher can attest to the fact that there is no better sporting event to attend than one in the city of black and gold.

In an exactly a week on the latter side of spring break, Pittsburgh will host its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Influenced by the city’s strong Irish community, the parade is regarded as one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in not only the United States, but the world. With the parade starting at 10 a.m. sharp on Saturday, March 12th, the city will be flooded in green and orange as parade participants make their way through the Golden Triangle. If you aren’t over State Patty’s Day yet, the festivities and parties later that night will be nothing short of rowdy, and who knows — maybe you’ll get lucky?

If you are still missing THON, then put your philanthropic passions toward Pittsburgh’s Autism Speaks Walk Kickoff. The event takes place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and will start at 11 a.m. on March 11. Join in the fun and donate to a good cause to help fund advocacy, awareness, family services and critical research surrounding autism.

You would be kidding yourself if you said that you didn’t watch and enjoy the Disney movie, Frozen. Guys, you definitely felt like you could Let It Go toward the end of the movie too, and so why not experience that awesomeness that was Frozen but just in a different capacity? Disney on Ice: Frozen is coming to Consol Energy Center on March 10-13 and it’s definitely something to keep in mind especially if you are looking to do something with young ones and family.

Lastly, if you have peeped the weather forecast for next week, then you should prepare to see sun and bask in the heat that is 60 degree weather. With temperatures rising like Punxsutawney Phil had predicted, it’s time to finally trade in your winter books for hiking boots. Pittsburgh offers so many outdoor and recreation parks such as North Park, South Park, Highland Park, Schenley Park, and Frick Park and that’s just to name a few. Take a hike or go for a walk and start spring off on the right foot.

Places to Eat:

If you are from Pittsburgh, then you have undoubtedly been to the Strip District many times and fallen in love with it all over again with every visit. With that in mind, the Strip offers some awesome food vendors on the weekends with some of the most authentic cuisine you could ask for. Try to catch a food truck if you can too.

While East Liberty continues to see an incredible resurgence of investment, it also boasts some of the best restaurants. The Livermore is one that sticks out to me for it is one of the hippest and coolest tapas bar in the area. The meatballs, covered in a red sauce, are not only delectable but a little slice of homemade as well.

After a long day of partying from St. Patrick’s Day on North Shore, why not try something new and local at Monterey Pub? Located in a cozy corner of Central North Side, the restaurant features an Irish fare of Shepherds Pie as well as ribs slow cooked in a Guinness marinade.

Concerts to Enjoy:

Every year, Pittsburgh attracts some of the hottest artists and upcoming bands from around the nation and features them in one of the many cool locations around town. Here are some that we found happening over spring break:

The Rockers (Rumours: A Fleetwood Mac Tribute) — March 5 at the Altar Bar, 8:30 p.m.
Sorority Noise/Milk Teeth — March 9 at the Altar Bar, 7:00 p.m.
Martyr Kenin/Adrian Niles Band (Bruce in the USA: A Tribute) — March 11 at the Altar Bar, 9:00 p.m.
Dropkick Murphys — March 8 at Stage AE, 6:30.
Daya — March 9 at Stage AE, 7:00 p.m.
Chris Young — March 11 at Stage AE, 6:30 p.m.

So whether you’re headed home to the eastern end or the western end of Pennsylvania, there are bound to be some fun and interesting things to do as you count down the days heading back to Penn State.

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