Teaching Traveling: Teaching others about your city is a beautiful form of eduction!
Welcome to Jeremy Jones, who runs a popular Pittsburgh blog with his wife, Angie. Jeremy, tell us about your background.
Angie moved to Pittsburgh for graduate school in 2008, Jeremy followed in 2011, and we lived in the city until 2013 when we left to travel the world for a year-and-a-half.
We didn’t think we’d make it back to Pittsburgh after our trip ended, but through a series of rather fortunate events we found our way back to the city in 2015 and we decided to put down roots.
While we still bust out our passports quite frequently, we thought we could apply the concept of travel blogging locally to give us things to do while we’re at home.
So we gave ourselves the goal of doing “everything in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” be it visiting a museum, bar, brewery, restaurant, scenic lookout, park, etc., and share it on our blog for others looking to do the same.
To date we have featured about 500 spots within an hour of the city and have another 500 or so we still need to check out — and that is only the places we know about!
TT: So wonderful that you’re teaching locals and visitors about the joys of your city! Give us an example of one of the lesser-known things to do in Pittsburgh that you’ve researched.
J: One place we love to go to, especially in the spring, is Raccoon Creek State Park — located about 45 minutes west of the city.
The park is one of the largest state parks in southwestern Pennsylvania, and in each spring (typically towards the end of April) a wild flower reserve on the ground bursts to life with beautiful flowers.
If you want more flowers right in Pittsburgh, check out Phipps Botanical Gardens!
This is impressive in its own right, but the reserve is home to the most diverse collection of plants in the state of Pennsylvania, so if you are able to time a visit around peak you are really in for an explosion of beauty. Not bad for a morning trip out of the city!
I would also highly recommend Randyland: a rainbow-painted courtyard that is free to enter and will blow your mind!
TT: This sounds gorgeous. How do you find places in Pittsburgh to teach your readers about?
J: We use anything and everything to find fun places to go in Pittsburgh. In many cases a reader will email us telling somewhere to go or we’ll be driving on a road we’ve never been on before, see something cool, and do a u-turn to double back to check it out.
I’m also not ashamed to admit (okay, maybe a little) that I spend a fair bit of time looking at neighborhoods on Google maps with and without satellite view just to see if something jumps out at me.
TT: Brilliant! Tell us one moment from your Pittsburgh blog research that was particularly interesting.
J: We consider Discover the Burgh to be a review blog that is based on our experiences in and around the city, but we do not blog with a goal to become local personalities, per se.
Our reviews are all based on our personal explorations, yes, but at the same time we don’t go around plastering photos of us on our articles and social media channels left and right like other bloggers do.
Glamour shots and selfies just aren’t our thing, at least not in a city as beautiful as Pittsburgh.
So suffice it to say, the first time we were recognized by a stranger it really caught us off guard.
We were at a public event at the convention center and someone from a booth yelled something along the lines of “Hey you! You’re the ones with the blog. I love [post] you wrote!”
We ended up having a great conversation, but we found it rather funny that after 2 1/2 years of blogging, attending many industry events, being read over 2,000,000 times, and having our social media updates seen tens of millions of times, we’ve only been recognized in public once.
We’re oddly okay with that.
TT: Hah! So, how do you fund your Pittsburgh exploration?
J: One of the nice things about having a local blog is we don’t have to splurge on all the plane tickets, hotels, and transportation like we do when we travel out of state or abroad.
So if we want to have a weekend where we only go out to parks or other free places, we can do that. Or if we want to go all out and eat at three restaurants, go to four breweries, and hit up a paid museum, we can do that too without breaking the bank too much.
TT: Great point about the perks of going local. Now, how have your travels impacted you as in your current career, and how have your travels impacted you as a person?
J: We can safely say we know far more about Pittsburgh than we ever thought possible.
There is a running joke in Pittsburgh that the best way to explain where something is located is by describing where something “used to be” but now we are able to do that with spots that exist today!
But if you were to ask us where something is at, we can now give landmarks of things that currently are there, and that is a big deal to us as that means we’re really starting to master the ins and outs of Pittsburgh’s 90 neighborhoods.
Check out our Ultimate Pittsburgh Guide if you want a good place to start with all our tips!
TT: Nice. What advice do you have for readers about combining travel and learning?
J: Travel doesn’t have to be to a far away place, and odds are good you can many things to do in your own back yard to stay busy for years on end!
TT: Thanks so much, Jeremy! Readers, what comments or questions do you have for this expert and his Pittsburgh blog?
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English from Boston who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched TeachingTraveling.com in 2010 to share expert global education resources, and over 1.6 million readers have visited over the past decade. Lillie also runs AroundTheWorld L.com Travel and Life Blog, and DrawingsOf.com for educational art. Do stay in touch via subscribing to her monthly newsletter, and following @WorldLillie on social media!