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Niche Tours in the ‘Burgh

The Burgh Bus
The Burgh Bus

Pittsburgh is a unique town with the iconic bridges, the three rivers, rolling hills and amazing skyline views. It is only fitting that it should be experienced with a tour as unique as the Steel City itself.

Sylvia McCoy, Burgh Bits and Bites
Sylvia McCoy

Burgh Bits and Bites specializes in food tours, according to founder and owner Sylvia McCoy. McCoy founded her company in 2008. “I was inspired by a Greenwich Village food tour my husband and I took while in New York City. The tour made me feel connected to a community that was new to me,” she said. McCoy began with her signature Strip District tour, and it was so popular, McCoy expanded to offer tours of Brookline, Lawrenceville, South Side, and two in Butler County in Harmony and Saxonburg. She also offers custom tours for private parties and corporate events. “Our mission is connecting people to communities through food—a food tasting adventure and historic walking tour of Pittsburgh communities,” she said.

McCoy prides herself on her tour guides, “I have the best team,” and notes that she has teachers and former tour attendees on her team. The guides lead the walking tours on several stops, sharing history and folklore while guests receive full-size portions of various foods from local shops. “We introduce guests to small businesses to learn the history and stories behind the food. Over 75% of guests return post tour to support the businesses we’ve visited,” she said. For more information, visit or call 412-901-7150.

Riding through the streets of Pittsburgh in The Burgh Bus is definitely a different touring experience. “My wife and I came up with the idea several years ago. We always thought a black ’n gold tour bus would be so iconic and become a recognizable part of the city,” said Nick Walker, co-owner with his wife, Kat, “We love Pittsburgh so much and wanted to showcase that in a unique business.”  

The Burgh Bus is exactly what it sounds like, a black and gold bus where guests can take part in a variety of interactive comedy shows, movie location tours, drag shows, bingo events, karaoke nights and other unique and unusual activities all year long. They offer tours open to the public or they will customize tours for private parties and corporate events. According to Walker, local comedians, drag queens and other performers come onboard the 90-minute tours. “We offer several different types of tours and experiences you can’t find anywhere else in Pittsburgh on wheels,” he said.

A second bus is being added just in time for a new service. “One exciting new addition for this year is we have public, ticketed shuttle services out to Star Lake for every concert,” he said.

And what would a black and gold bus be without Steeler events? During football season, The Burgh Bus offers themed rides on the Saturdays before home games. “They are the best time because we get fans from all over the world. They love to see the city, get pumped for the game and have an unforgettable time on the bus... those tours are amazing,” Walker explained. “People often describe driving through the Strip District on those tours like being a celebrity or in your own personal parade. We blast ‘Renegade’ and everyone on Penn Avenue stops, cheers, takes pictures, waves their towels... it’s an incredible experience.” Visit or call 412-324-4134 for more information.

When Valentina Scholar moved from Germany to Pittsburgh to be with her Pittsburgh-native husband, she fell in love with the city’s architecture and took it upon herself to learn the rich history of the area. Soon, Scholar began sharing her love and knowledge with others and thus, her two companies, Walk the Burgh and Bike the Burgh were founded.

Annie Bontempo, marketing manager, said the tours combine sharing history and other aspects of Pittsburgh to both locals and visiting guests. Walking tours include Best of the Burgh, Bites & Brews, Art & Artists, Simply Steps, Discover Oakland, and the Black & Ghost tours, plus others. Bontempo, who also leads ghost tours, explained that particular tour, “This is a historical tour with a spooky twist—we have ghost stories right in front of where the ‘haunting’ happened. And these are real stories that have been told directly to us by folks who have experienced them or are very well documented.”

Bike the Burgh offers the same types of tours but allows guests to cover more ground. Tours include Beauty of the Burgh, Gems of the North Side, Bikes & Brews, and others. For both companies, guests can join a tour, or they can make a customized tour for groups. “Because we’re a small company, we’re able to be flexible and creative in catering to the needs of our guests. We’ll work with you to make sure you have the absolute best tour based on what you’re looking for,” said Bontempo.

Visit or or call 412-246-9494 for more information.

The Pittsburgh Party Pedaler. Photo by Molly’s Trolleys
The Pittsburgh Party Pedaler. Photo by Molly’s Trolleys

Pittsburgh Party Pedaler bills itself as “a party on wheels.” Up to 16 guests ride on environmentally-friendly, Dutch-made bikes to visit different neighborhoods for two-hour tours. Owned by mother-son team, Sue and Bryan Joseph, Sue created the tours after seeing them in Minneapolis in 2013.

The custom tours are powered by ten of the guests and become a party in their own right as spectators wave and cheer them on, according to Bryan Joseph. “You can become your own parade,” Joseph said. Guests bring their own music, drinks, and food and make two stops along the route. Tours currently run in The Strip District, Lawrenceville, and the North Shore, rain or shine, March through October. Visit: www. or 412-228-7476 for more information.

Molly’s Trolleys offers tours and custom transportation on vintage 1920 style trollies. The company was established in 1995 and is now also owned by Sue and Bryan Joseph.

Guests can book individual seats on the All About the Burgh, The Culture to Ketchup Tour. “The tour starts at the Strip District and travels to various areas including Downtown, the North Shore, and Mt. Washington,” Bryan Joseph said, “And what really makes our tours unique is that they include a behind-the-scenes tour and ride on the Duquesne Incline.”

Molly’s Trolleys also offers custom tours and shuttling services, popular for rehearsal dinners and weddings, corporate events, birthdays, and other special occasions. New this summer is the CLO Show Shuttle offering transportation from specific suburban locations to CLO productions. “It is a great way to avoid traffic and parking,” said Joseph.

A favorite personalized tour is the “This is Your Life” route that focuses on spots such as childhood homes, schools, and special locations in Pittsburgh, tailored for a key person such as a parent or grandparent, Joseph said. They also offer specialized tours for local colleges to show new students the sites of their new hometown. Seasonal tours are offered including the Holiday Lights, Nights and Sights, and Santa tours. For more information visit: or call 412-281-2085.

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