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Escape Keys: Pittsburgh

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

GETTING THERE: Weekend fares from Washington airports to Pittsburgh International start at about $200 round trip online; Southwest flies from BWI for about $170. Alternatively, the city is about a five-hour drive from the Beltway via Interstate 70 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

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STAYING THERE: Festival of Firsts packages including tickets, accommodations and a $10 gas card can be booked through Visit Pittsburgh ( http://www.visitpittsburgh.com). The best hotels within walking distance of downtown theaters include the Renaissance Pittsburgh (107 Sixth St., 412-562-1200, http://www.marriott.com), with a grand marble staircase and cozy bar, from $199 per night; Courtyard by Marriott (945 Penn Ave., 412-434-5551, http://www.marriott.com), from $169; the Omni William Penn (530 William Penn Pl., 412- 281-7100, http://www.omnihotels.com), from $169; and the Westin Convention Center (1000 Penn Ave., 412-281-3700, http://www.westin.com), from $205.

EATING THERE: The downtown theater district's restaurants include Six Penn Kitchen (146 Sixth St., 412-566-7366, http://www.sixpennkitchen.com), a friendly two-story bistro with a rooftop garden bar; Nine on Nine (900 Penn Ave., 412-338-6463, http://www.nineonnine.com), ambitious and upscale; and Eleven (1150 Smallman St., 412-201-5656, http://www.bigburrito.com), which offers the city's best all-American menu.

WHAT ELSE TO DO: Pittsburgh is 250 years old this year. Two downtown museums, the Fort Pitt Museum (101 Commonwealth Pl., 412-281-9284, http://www.fortpittmuseum.com) and the Sen. John Heinz History Center (1212 Smallman St., 412-454-6000, http://www.pghhistory.org), tell the town's story. For the kids there's the Pittsburgh Children's Museum (10 Children's Way, Allegheny Square, 412-322-5058, http://www.pittsburghkids.org), which offers kid-friendly attractions. So does the nearby Carnegie Science Center (One Allegheny Ave., 412-237-3400).

FESTIVAL INFORMATION: Visit http://www.pifof.org or call 412-456-6666; for other arts events, visit http://www.pgharts.org or call 412-471-6070. For individual tickets: Squonk Opera (412-372-4264, http://www.squonkopera.com); Black Sheep Puppet Festival (412-394-3353, http://www.blacksheeppuppet.com).


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