I get asked frequently where the best venues to book amazing events in Pittsburgh are. So rather than keeping my favorite spots a secret here is my go-to list. From big to intimate, showy to understated, Pittsburgh has some really incredible event venues. This list isn't meant to be comprehensive. It's my list of the places that I think are worth checking out.
If you want to host an event that will really wow your attendees then check out my list of the best venues in Pittsburgh to book amazing events. I've broken my list down by size to make it a bit easier to find a venue that fits your needs.
The biggest venues are fairly obvious but they're out of reach and oversized for most events. Those are places like the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. If you're booking a convention then you're likely already in talks with the great folks at Visit Pittsburgh or one of the other groups marketing the city to folks looking to hold massive events.
If you're looking for something large but not quite that large then here are some of my favorites along with what makes these event venues so special. I'm considering large venues those which can easily handle over 200 guests.
Stage AE is a big venue that can accomidate a large crowd. It can be dressed up for nice galas and makes for a great location for presentations. That said it's not the most unique space as it just looks like a concert venue. However if you want a very large option outside of the Convention Center it's your best bets as they can accomidate large events. Too they really know how to put on a show so if you're looking to host something that features a lot of pomp and spectacle then Stage AE should be at the top of your list.
Keep reading to find out about some really amazing locations.
Soldiers & Sailors Hall
The historic Soldiers & Sailors Hall is a really ornate and unusual event venue. Close to a number of hotels in the Oakland area and featuring a large open lawn across the street from the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning which has offered some limited event rental space as well, or at least they did before Covid. Like Stage AE, Soldiers and Sailors can accomidate a few thousand event attendees. Unlike Stage AE S&S Hall offers you the ability to host your event in the same space that Hannibal Lecter escaped from in the film Silence of the Lambs.
One of the greatest things about the Carnegie Museums is that there are multiple venues they can offer you. Here is a partial list of their locations where you can host events. The Andy Warhol Museum, the Main Art and History Complex that includes the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland, and the Carnegie Science Center. Each of these event venues offers a different feel and most of them can accomidate sizable groups.
My favorites amongst these are the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Science Center. Both offer unique spaces, they both have theaters that can accomidate presentations, they both have ample parking available, and they can be dressed up or down as well as offering a variety of activities should you wish to include them in your event.
I know you're thinking that you don't need an entire football stadium but Heinz Field has areas including the Great Hall which they rent out for events. The Great Hall is a massive space that celebrates the Pittsburgh Steelers but the space has also played host to a number of big galas that take advantage of the large wall of windows and the views of the city and Mt. Washington.
In addition to Heinz Field and the other amazing museums on the Northside PNC Park offers event planners a number of options for small events during games to the large portions of the stadium if you're really looking to put on an impressive event. One thing I love about events at PNC Park is that they can project your logo and other event information on the giant screen and all around the park. It makes for an impressive display.
PPG Paints Arena
Another great sports venue that hosts incredible events is PPG Paints Arena. Similar to PNC Park, PPG Paints Arena offers a variety of spaces during the Pittsburgh Penguins season and when they're not playing. The space is wonderful and I've really enjoyed seeing sporting events as well as concerts there but I honestly have yet to photograph any corporate or nonprofit events at PPG Paints Arena so if you book the space let me know as I'd love to get in there and get some photos.
The Power Center at Duquesne University
The Power Center at Duquesne University has a top-floor ballroom that offers amazing views of the city. It can also seat 800 people and has a parking garage adjacent to it. It's in the heart of uptown. The giant windows overlooking the city really make me love photographing here. Plus there are great areas nearby to get formal photos if you're looking for a large wedding venue or have important attendees that you wish to have photos of.
Kelly Strayhorn Theater
The Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty is a great location for large and small events. Like Stage AE the theater is a great place to host presentations or other events that require a large stage and high AV and lighting production values. That said, the Kelly Strayhorn Theater is a historic venue that is very ornate and unique.
The Carnegie Museums are great but so are Pittsburgh's many other museums. On the larger venue side that include the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. There are a few smaller museums that I'll talk about later.
You might think that the Children's Museum is only for kids but when it comes to events they really are an excellent place for weddings, interactive events that require some group activities, and other fun events. I honestly can't think of any event that wouldn't be improved by hosting it at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is a very fun event venue. They offer a lush and inviting space on the lower floor of the Aquarium along with allowing your guests to stroll through the entire site to see all of the underwater creatures. Just as with the Children's Museum you might think that it's just for kids but I've photographed a number of weddings and other events at the Pittsburgh Zoo and I can tell you that they make the space look very elegant and have the room to accomidate a lot of people.
Heinz History Center
The Heinz History Center also has a variety of spaces both large and small that can be rented. Their larger spaces include their main hall which is located in a former Ice House. It's a beautiful historic venue that features a few really cool historic treasures. They also have a very large modern ballroom called the Mueller Center which can host large gatherings of 300 or more.
Energy Innovation Center
The Energy Innovation Center is a great location overlooking the city, the eastern North shore, and the Strip District. It's a really special venue that features a green roof with an incredible view of the city. Your event attendees will love this place. I promise.
Medium Sized Venues
Where Pittsburgh also shines is in the great variety of medium sized venues that can accomidate groups as small as 50 up to around 200 but that may be pushing it with a few of these.
The National Aviary
The National Aviary is a fun event venue for your attendees to flock to, get it, flock, like birds, never mind. Featuring some really impressive spaces like the fairly new Garden Room the National Aviary offers event planners a one-of-a-kind experience that I honestly think is better than the one you'll find at the Pittsburgh Zoo. It's also closer to downtown and the hotels that dot the Northside making it easier for out-of-town guests to get to.
The Mattress Factory is an equally unique and fun event space. If you're not familiar it's an installation art museum. The shows they host are always engaging and interesting to tour. I always love indoor/outdoor events hosted here. The garden and the first floor space make for a great event space that will really impress your guests. Trust me when I say that the Mattress Factory really is a hidden gem.
Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is outside of the city but it's proximity to the airport and it's amazing beauty means I have to include it. They feature a few different rental options including some really cool outdoor rental spaces if you're looking for a great place for a wedding. I really love this place, which is also why I teach a lot of photography classes there. They also offer a number of smaller spaces for classes, more intimate events, and conferences.
Phipps Conservatory & Botanic Gardens is incredible and I LOVE to photograph events here. Phipps offers a few options for everything from weddings to conferences. They have a demo kitchen classroom and a large auditorium as well as great outdoor and indoor locations that are lush and beautiful.
Phipps in the evening is really a magical place as they light up the plants and the glass sculptures making it a truly wonderful place to bring your event attendees. It's also walkable from several hotels in the Oakland area.
The Frick Museum
The Frick Museum is a lovely place that was once home to a man who was anything but lovely. Still the grounds of the Frick Mansion along with the Museum offer some really special spaces for events. There is ample onsite parking, the Car and Carriage Museum is always an interesting visit, and the grounds themselves are lovely in the way that only a gilded age millionaire who extracted his wealth from immigrants working their backs off in mills, mines, and on railroads could build.
The Pittsburgh Opera
The Pittsburgh Opera's Strip District offices and staging area are located in the former home of the Westinghouse Air-brake Company. It's an incredible historic location in my favorite neighborhood in all of Pittsburgh. I love photographing events here. The vibe is incredible. If you're planning your event ask them for a behind the scenes tour. Seeing all the clothes and shoes for the Opera's performances as well as George Westinghouse's fire safe is really special and not a lot of people get a chance to see those things.
The Priory's Grand Hall
The Priory's Grand Hall located on the Northside this hidden hotel and event space is really special. Talk about an impressive space. The Grand Hall at the Priory is housed in the former Saint Mary's Church which was built in the 1840s. It's a cavernous space full of old-world charm that reflects the craftsmanship of the German immigrants who build the church.
We've now reached the smaller venues section. As I said at the beginning, this isn't a comprehensive list. That's especially true when it comes to smaller venues. I've been photographing events in and around Pittsburgh for years so if I included every small event venue this article would turn into a book.
I don't want to write a book so here is a list of my favorite smaller venues that I think you really should know about and should consider for your smaller events. These are places that I really love.
Pittsburgh Winery in the Strip District is a real gem. It's a great almost hidden spot in the upper part of the Strip District that is just starting to come into its own. The venue is cool, moody, and a great place for a small event. I've photographed presentations, small concerts, and meetings there and have heard nothing but rave reviews from the people I'm taking photos of.
Wigle Whiskey has three event venues to choose from. Each of them offer a special experience that will make your event great. My personal favorite is the barrel house on the Northside. However, the original distillery in the Strip District is the easiest to find and has its own unique charm.
Square Cafe in East Liberty is a great big little venue that I had the pleasure to photograph in for the first time only a few weeks ago. While I've always loved their breakfasts I had not visited the new location due to the pandemic. Shame on me because it's a great spot and they do an incredible job putting on events.
Pittsburgh Center For The Arts
Pittsburgh Center For The Arts offers a great venue in the heart of Shadyside. Adjacent to Mellon Park and on the grounds of the Mellon Estate, PCA is a wonderful intimate venue for your smaller event. In the summer they can accomidate medium sized events thanks to their terrace which can be covered by a tent. There is public art and a small onsite gallery that always features great artwork as well.
The Smart House
The Smart House on Mt. Washington is a really cool place for smaller events. This is a large house, that is actually lived in, but that features a number of large rooms that are perfect for parties. The views are stunning, and the entire place can be rented out. I can't seem to find a website for them but I've photographed a few events here in the past and always got amazing photos.
Pittsburgh's Incredible Event Venues
Thank you for reading about my favorite of Pittsburgh's incredible event venues. If you have a favorite hit the contact form and let me know where and why. Feel free to share this list with anyone looking to book an amazing event in Pittsburgh.