This weekend I traveled to Ohiopyle State Park to unplug and unwind. I love taking time to connect with nature and explore new surroundings, so I was quite excited to hit the trails.
Just a simple shot of my family's campsite! It is super cozy to fall asleep to the welcoming scent of a campfire. On a completely unrelated note, does anyone know why staring into a fire is so mesmerizing? Maybe it is some deeply ingrained primal instinct gifted to us from our neanderthal ancestors.
Cucumber Falls is a great hike that is a bit short, but super fun. Scaling rocks and splashing through the water at the base of the fall is quite entertaining. I loved meandering around the rocks and climbing over fall tree limbs- it was like a jungle gym!
The base of Cucumber Falls makes for a great photo-op.
My boyfriend, Chris, donned his Stetson hat and decided to use a fallen tree as a tightrope line. Quite precarious!
After the trail, my family and I headed over to the visitors' center, which housed some pretty interesting artifacts and interactive exhibits. The visitor's center is also right across the street from the town and all of the shops. We were able to take some time to shop, eat, and enjoy the charm of the town.
Overall, it was nice to get away and unplug from social media. I loved venturing out onto the trails and into the shops. Ohiopyle has a wonderful balance between outdoor activity and small-town charm. I look forward to coming back.
The Strip District is definitely not a secret in the Pittsburgh community, but it is an iconic and wonderful part of the city that deserves a blog post nevertheless. This long "strip" of road is the cultural mecca of Pittsburgh and offers an endless variety of grocery stores, street vendors, and artisan shops that represent cultures and regions from around the world.
Pennsylvania Macaroni Company
Affectionately called "Penn Mac" by many locals, Pennsylvania Macaroni Company is the spot to find authentic and delicious Italian food and groceries. I am a huge fan of their Salt Sticks, which are pretty much leftover dough that is magically transformed into heavenly bread sticks (no offense to Olive Garden). This is a great spot to grab all the necessary ingredients for any Italian dish. And if you are not into cooking- pick up some of their delicious prepared food!
Labad's Grocery (Middle Eastern Foods)
I recently went to Israel on a Birthright trip, and although there is nothing I would love more than to jet to the Machane Yehuda Market on a whim to pick up tahini, kanaffe, and ALL the Middle Eastern foods, my bank account cannot support that kind of abuse. However, Labad's Grocery is an awesome substitute. This shop is filled with every Middle Eastern delicacy and the ingredients to make your own. I was lured into the shop by the heavenly smell of baklava and spinach pie, but I ended up finding my fresh tahini, Arabic Coffee, and so much more! Also, the owner of the shop, William, is incredibly kind and helpful. He welcomed me with a smile and even gave me the recipe for his grape leaves (which are SUPER delicious btw)! I look forward to filling up on all of my Israeli food soon!
Roxanne's Dried Flowers
Roxanne's is a magical place. As soon as shoppers open the door, they are enveloped in an intoxicatingly floral scent. There is an endless supply of seasonal flowers, dried and displayed to perfection. I felt like I was in a wonderland of blossoms- I wanted to buy everything. They also do custom arrangements for weddings and special events.
The "Original" Primantis
Tucked on a side street in the Strip District is the original location of the iconic Pittsburgh sandwich shop, Primantis. What first started as a location for late-night truckers to score a cheap, but delicious meal, Primantis has become the epitome of Pittsburgh food culture. Rumour has it that visitors haven't truly "been to Pittsburgh" unless they chow down on a classic Primanti Bro's sandwich.
More Snapshots of the Strip
All in all, the day was filled with great local food, shops, and kind faces. And even though the Strip is the tried and true epi-center of Pittsburgh's diverse and welcoming population, there is always something new to discover.
This past week I stopped by the Niche Handcrafted Boutique located on Dorseyville Road in Fox Chapel. This adorably cozy space is filled to the brim with curated jewelry, art, and beauty products. And while all of the items are wonderfully charming on the surface, what makes this shop truly special is the dedication to sourcing products from regional artists and sharing their creations with the community.
Walking into the shop, shoppers are greeted by the kind embrace and infectious smile of owner and artist, Alison Saville. Alison uses her keen eye to create a shopping space that is both warm and welcoming, with a touch of vintage flare. The crown jewel of the entrance is the retro pharmaceutical shelf labeled "health and beauty aids" that captures the whimsical and nostalgic spirit of Niche and is filled with beautifully scented soaps and bath products.
In terms of the variety of items for sale, shoppers can find sterling silver and gold plated jewelry featuring semi-precious stones and detailed chain work. Handmade soaps, purses, quilts, and macrame (made by yours truly) also adorn every corner of Niche- making it a wonderland for curious shoppers on the hunt for a piece of art that is one of a kind.
Niche Handcrafted Boutique's doors are open Wednesday through Sunday and Alison is always there to lend a helping hand in finding the perfect item for any customer. Stop in the soon and support local artists while finding unique gifts that are sure to wow.