Budget Travel Guide // Pittsburgh 2018
This past weekend I got to go home to Wheeling, WV and make a short trip to Pittsburgh, PA with my Mom. We went up for about 6 hours on Sunday morning into Sunday evening and had a great time - but there were a few misses as well.
Unfortunately, misses happen every once in a while while traveling and although they can be kind of a bummer, hopefully they don't affect your trip TOO much.
Below is everywhere we went including the highs & the lows.
My mom and I came to Phipps Conservatory YEARS ago with my Aunt and cousin so it was nice to revisit. You would think that when you've seen flowers - you've seen them all right?
Maybe. But I LOVE visiting Conservatories, Botanical Gardens & all things flower related - I also take a TON of photos! This time I only took 226 - haha. I'll spare you all of them at once, but now I've got plenty of pictures for future social media posts!
My favorite room was the orchid room. Growing up, orchids were my FAVORITE flower, now it's definitely a Daisy, but I still LOVE orchids!
There were also a bunch of chipmunks running around throughout the rooms - they were too quick for my camera, but they sure were cute!
Oh yes, and who could forget the desert room?! Another one of my favorites!
Phipps Conservatory Cost = $17.95
Parking = $0 // They have a lot for free parking, but if you go on Sunday, like we did, street parking is also free!
Ticket = $17.95 // Totally worth it! They have senior, student, and child discounts as well.
Gift shop = $0 // I always like to poke around in gift shops to museums and other similar places because they always have some really cool things! If we weren't on a budget, I probably would have purchased the homemade bars of soap that smelled AMAZING and a puzzle of illustrated flowers and animals, but I didn't get anything, just looked.
Cafe = $0 // Now, there's always an exception, but in general I'm never blown away by cafes in places like these. Everything is pretty standard but with an additional $2-$4 attached to the price, so we skipped the cafe as well.
[In writing this post, I found out that the Phipps Cafe is the exception and that it's ranked one of the best museum cafes in the country, that they compost, that they make healthy foods AND have plenty of vegan & vegetarian options - insert smacking face with hand emoji here - I let my museum cafe prejudice keep us from probably a really good meal. Better research next time!]
Adda Coffee House
While researching this Pittsburgh trip, I found an AMAZING website that listed out all of the vegan restaurants in Pittsburgh by neighborhood [can Charlotte get one of these?]. I went through and looked at several of them and picked two out.
One was Lili Cafe - their menu looked INCREDIBLE, but with only one location opened on Sunday and only until 3PM, I wasn't sure if we'd make it there. We left Phipps a little after 1PM, much to my surprise, and made our way to Lili's.
Unfortunately they were closed for renovations, so we made our way to choice number two.
Adda was very cute, with tables, bar seating and a window bench, but just about every spot was taken up with people working on their computers. I can now understand why some businesses wouldn't like this - because we contemplated leaving.
Fortunately, a spot opened up right after we ordered so we got a table.
I ordered a matcha latte with coconut milk and toast with pea puree. My mom also ordered a matcha latte with coconut milk - her very first matcha latte - so I was really excited for her to try one!
Unfortunately, the matcha lattes were horrible and my pea puree was meh. I was so bummed.
I still needed to charge my phone so I went back up and ordered an iced Tumeric & Ginger Tea while I waited. The guy at the counter swore by it and also swore by their mocha [note he didn't mention the Matcha Latte or the toast.]
He brought the tea over and it was delicious, but my Mom still wasn't a fan.
The atmosphere was great, the service was great and my iced tea was great but don't go for the matcha latte - it really was the worst one I've ever had. I think a lot of coffee shops are trying to offer them because they are very popular but they're also very particular. Matcha lattes take an extra layer of finesse and unfortunately this place didn't cut it.
Stick to the mocha and the muffin if you decide to go.
Adda Cost = $13.77
This was for my unfortunate matcha latte, pea puree toast [stick with avocado], my delicious iced tea and tip. Even though the first round was a let down, I still always tip. I've worked in the food industry before [on and off for 8 years] so I always tip - ALWAYS.
Since the food at Adda wasn't up to snuff and nothing there looked good to my Mom, we walked up and down South Highland Street for a bit looking for somewhere to eat.
Oh Lili Cafe, why did you have to be closed?!
We went in a couple of places to look at the menus, but with my Mom's pickiness [sorry Mom, it's true] and my veganism, it was proving difficult to find a spot.
I ordered the Santa Fe Hippie burger sans cheese, my Mom built her own burger, ordered a shake and we split an order of onion rings. SO GOOD.
You can't really go wrong with BRGR. I still say their onion rings are in the top 3 I've ever had and my mom said her burger was the best she's ever had!
BRGR Cost = $0
My mom really likes biscotti and wanted to get some to take home so I did a quick google search to find some.
One of the things I love about Pittsburgh is how it's split into neighborhoods. Sure, there are places that are more densely populated with businesses, but I love it when you're just around a bunch of houses and then suddenly there's a cute little place interspersed in the houses.
Tazza D'oro was like that.
There wasn't anything fancy about this place. Just your average spot - no fluff. I was surprised to see matcha latte on their menu because this place didn't seem like they cared about trends whatsoever. I was nervous that it would be bad like the last one, but I really wanted a tasty matcha latte so I took the risk and ordered one.
I also ordered a GIGANTIC chocolate chip cookie and picked up the tab for my Mom's cookie and biscotti as well.
The matcha latte was EXCELLENT - so creamy and delicious AND they made it in my To-Go coffee thermos for me so that was a win! My mom tried it and thought it was really good as well - so we were able to have her try a good matcha latte after all.
Tazza D'oro Cost = $11.39
This was for my matcha latte, two cookies, biscotti and tip. Not bad!
If you live in Charlotte, this might seem like an odd place to visit because it's readily accessible, but since Pittsburgh is 45 minutes to an hour away from my Mom's place, we made a special trip to pick up a couple of things she needed.
I looked for some candle holders while we were there but they didn't have the ones I was looking for. I bought two there a few years ago and would like to have two more so that my candlesticks match when I burn my Advent candles, but of course they weren't there - it had been a few years - so I didn't buy anything.
IKEA Cost = $0
I can usually be persuaded to purchase sparkling fruit juice here, but I just wasn't in the mood and I've been consuming A LOT of sugar these last few weeks, so I passed.
So, that's it! We didn't do a ton, it was a short trip, but it was nice all the same. I highly recommend Phipps Conservatory and Tazza D'oro if you make it to Pittsburgh - which brings us to the total...
Pittsburgh Trip Cost = $59.61
This includes my ticket to Phipps, two matcha lattes & snacks for myself and my Mom, a free lunch from my Mom and an estimated $16.50 for gas. If the first latte and snack had been delicious then I would have spent less, but still, under $60 isn't too bad.
I also spent more than this for the entire weekend if we want to talk about the whole trip, but most of my food was free and my accommodations were free as well, so I didn't find it necessary to write an entire post on the Wheeling part of my trip.
I did follow my advice and packed myself lunch, snacks and water for the trip up to Wheeling and I brought food from my fridge to eat while I was there. My mom also cooked and I ate for free at my friend's baby shower [the reason for the trip.]
- An oil change & car check-up before the trip // $60.60
- Gas for a roundtrip from Charlotte to Wheeling // Roughly $77.64
- Snacks & lunch twice at Tamarack while traveling // $22.74
- A baby book at Tamarack for my new baby cousin [This was an illustrated book of John Denver's song Country Roads with a CD and sheet music in the back - it was so cute!] // $21.15
- Baby gifts for my friend's shower // $33.12
- A solo lunch date to Later Gator's [my favorite restaurant ever!] // $13.78
Other Expenses Cost = $229.03 [Some not in 'Travel']
[This includes some car maintenance and gifts not necessarily related to travel.]
So with everything, that brings the entire trip experience to $288.64 which is A LOT more than our Budget trip to Asheville, but that includes a lot more gas, since it's much farther away, some car maintenance that I wouldn't classify under 'Travel' and some gifts that I wouldn't classify under travel either, so that brings it down to $173.77 for the trip - much better!
Grand Total Travel Costs = $173.77
I hope to keep our Travel Expenses under $1000 this year. We've still got one more baby shower, one wedding, one boy's trip for Carl, a trip to Asheville to see my bestie's new baby boy and Holiday travel at the end of the year so far and we're $327.96 into that already.
That's 8 trips for the year that we know of - 2 down, 6 to go with $672.04 left, think we can do it?!
I hope so!
Love & Blessings,