Kayaking & Piano Bars in Pittsburgh


I’m actually embarrassed for how long it took me to write this post.  My excuse is that it’s the start of the school year and that always brings about a lot of extra work. I forget every year how time consuming grading papers is.  I’m also going to shamelessly self promote myself here. I’ve gotten the opportunity to be an “everyday blogger” for The Good Men Project Magazine and have been writing three-five posts a week for that which has also compromised my PAWeekendFun writing time.  Here’s the link to my work if you’re interested.  Hopefully now that I’ve settled into things I won’t have a delay of this magnitude.

Pittsburgh from the river.
Pittsburgh from the river.

I visited Pittsburgh the weekend before Labor Day to see my brother. I got there Friday night and we basically just hung out at a bar in Shadyside. I’ve written about my trips to Pittsburgh extensively before so am not going to bore you with the details of that.  What I will bore you with (or hopefully, not bore you with), is my Saturday activities, which were new to me.

I woke up that Saturday with a raging hangover, so even though we were planning on going to brunch at Meat & Potatoes (which I’ve written about before…get the chicken & waffles) I had my brother take my to McDonalds.  Did you know that you can’t get a McChicken before ten? It almost ruined my day.

Our main goal of the day was to go kayaking where the two rivers meet at Point Park. I’ve been wanting to do this since coming to Pittsburgh and pictures of my sister and brother doing it on Facebook the weekend before only exacerbated this.  We had to drive to the “North Shore”, where Venture Outdoors, a Pittsburgh based non-profit encouraging city residents to get outside more, runs Kayak Pittsburgh.  Kayak PIttsburgh, located underneath the 6th Street Bridge allows anyone to rent a kayak (they also have a lake location with Stand Up Paddleboards) for an hourly rate. You simply enter your information into a computer, give them your credit card (or license), pick up a kayak and then pay when you return.

The Incline from the water.
The Incline from the water.

I’ll say this now. If I lived in Pittsburgh I would somehow own a boat or weasel my way into the life of someone who had a boat.  I was floored by not only the number of kayakers going out to get some exercise, but also the number of people who were just hanging out on their boats with rafts and coolers of beer.  It was like being at the beach, but without the fear of Jaws (I’ve always had a healthy respect for sharks but never shared my brother’s phobia of them, until this summer when I spent way too much time viewing Shark Week). I’m all up for kayaking and getting a good workout but if I could have traded places with one of those people on the party boats, I would have in a heartbeat.

Paddling under one of Pittsburgh's many bridges.
Paddling under one of Pittsburgh’s many bridges.

We paddled down to the point and a little ways up the Allegheny before fatigue from the night before/having dinner plans forced us to return.  We were out for about an hour and a half and I like that Kayak Pittsburgh didn’t charge us for that full second hour like they easily could’ve.   I want to say that if I lived in Pittsburgh I’d be a frequent customer but I think if I lived in Pittsburgh I’d just pony up and get a kayak of my own.

Point Park from the water.
Point Park from the water.

That night we headed over to The Waterfront, an entertainment complex actually located in the city of Homestead but about ten minutes drive from Shadyside.  Our destination was Sing Sing, a piano bar that one of my brother’s friends had been raving about.  I’ve heard about dueling piano bars before and I’ve been told by friends that it’d probably be something I’d be into.  They were right.

Sing Sing is connected to Rock Bottom Brewery, a microbrewery chain that I’ve never heard from which is where we ordered food from (I got an excellent Turkey Club with Chipotle Mayo) and whose beer we had to drink. I’m not saying that as a bad thing, I’m just saying that whenever I drink too many high-test beers over an elongated sitting, things get weird.

It was a blast.  This particular piano bar (and this might be true of all of them, I really have no clue) was almost like a show.  The audience sat facing the two pianists and they performed songs and a comedy routine.  I liked it because their song choices were spot on (they did “Your Love” and “You May Be Right” in the first 20 minutes) and that they did not treat anyone with kid gloves.  These guys were vicious and it was hilarious.

You could pay money for requests to be played (but vice versa you could pay extra to have them stop playing a song) and the more popular purchased was paying for a friend to be taken up on stage and humiliated. Because of this there were a ton of bachelorette parties and birthday parties and the bachelorette or birthday boy/girl was usually the center of attention. Later on in the night we paid for them to bring my brother up. I even made up a really great story about how he just got dumped and was alone and sad in his second year of law school and would some girls bid on having a drink with him, but by that time the show was dying down, plus he was super uncooperative so they pretty much got him up, sang him a quick tune and got him out of there.  I did get to see him stew angrily on the cover of a piano though for 2 or 3 minutes so altogether it was a 20 dollars well spent.

I could’ve stayed at the piano bar all night but we’d drive so headed back to Shadyside around 11:00 to cap off the night. Nothing super remarkable happened but true to form, the high test beers I think played a part in me ending the night slow dancing in public to “My Heart Will Go On.”  It’s probably a good thing I won’t be back to Pittsburgh for a couple of months.


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