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text & photography by  SHANI SILVER

Every now and then I find a city I know I’ll come back to forever. They’re not your typical destination cities, but maybe that’s what I like about them–a sense of underground awesome. Pittsburgh is without a doubt my new favorite don’t-tell-anyone-how-cool-it-is city, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it go the way of Austin and Nashville soon–really soon. Before it does, My list of must-see moments in Pittsburgh follows here, along with images I snapped along the way, and I really had to narrow it down.

Ace Hotel Ace Hotel recently opened its newest property in Pittsburgh, PA. If the first thought in your head is “why Pittsburgh?” keep reading. Built in a former YMCA building, the Ace does what it’s good at–it pays homage to the building’s original purpose, and the community it serves.

The work of local artists and makers, including Glenn Greene and Bones & All, fills the space with a thoughtful, cool sense of style and welcome. With classic Ace attention to detail and enough Instagrammable moments to drain your battery, Pittsburgh has a new must-book room.

Whitfield Located inside the Ace Hotel, Whitfield is the best restaurant I visited while in Pittsburgh. Like I’m flat out saying that. I was lucky enough to visit for both dinner and brunch and was nothing short of delighted each time.

I’d order the burger only about 10,000 more times. Bring a friend (or five), because you’ll want to share the entire menu. (Do NOT skip the parsnip bread)

Teenie Harris Teenie Harris is a local legend, and a vital part of Pittsburgh history, because he documented so much of it, so beautifully. Capturing all aspects of Pittsburgh life, from weddings, to nights on the town, or simply family gatherings, the quality and authentic nature of his images make his archive a true time capsule for one very lucky city. His work is currently being exhibited inside the Ace Hotel, and it’s the best possible reason to take the stairs. (Prints are available via his website, too)!

Bones & All If you find yourself admiring the furniture at the Ace Hotel, Bones & All is probably why. Creating furniture, home goods, and decorative objects, the brand is finding itself so busy these days that they’re currently expanding to a larger workspace.

Explore their website for a taste of what Bones & All can bring to your space.

The Mattress Factory If there’s one sight you truly must see in Pittsburgh, it’s The Mattress Factory. A three-building museum housing visiting and permanent installations that mesmerize, captivate, and provoke thought, there’s really not a museum that can compare to it.

Standout exhibits include Yayoi Kusama’s “Repetitive Vision,” and Chiharu Shiota’s “Trace Of Memory,” which leaves the museum at the end of May, so hurry! And yes, it really is a former mattress factory.

Smallman Galley You’ve heard of tech incubators offering opportunity and training to the next big thing in tech, but why shouldn’t stellar concepts in dining have that same opportunity?

That’s what inspired Smallman Galley, a four-restaurant incubator program that provides an opportunity for aspiring restaurateurs to cook, learn, and interact with the community for an 18-month period, before creating their own stand alone restaurant in Pittsburgh. Their restaurant concepts might be new to the business, but their culinary skills aren’t. Everything I tried on every menu was inspired, innovative, and nothing short of scrumptious.

Phipps Conservatory I can’t resist a glasshouse. The Phipps Conservatory, located near Carnegie Mellon University, is a must-see in my book.

It’s big (seriously, allow some time), and offers up foliage and flora to keep your mind and camera occupied for hours. Do not skip the orchid room.

Mid-Atlantic Mercantile Of course you’ll want to dabble in a little shopping on your Pittsburgh tour.

My advice? Hit up Mid-Atlantic Mercantile for cool crowd clothing (think Ace & Jig, Just Female) and home goods you’ll totally have room for in your suitcase. If that bookshelf looks familiar, it should. Bones & All made it!