Park Place Pub has all the pub—and none of the smoke—you might want in a casual bar atmosphere. The food is fresher than some taverns and includes the standard burgers and wings, but also meat-free alternatives like veggie burgers and tofu crostini. In the warmer weather, seating opens up to a large back deck.

Park Bruges is Point Brugge’s sister restaurant with a focus on the French bistro. Prince Edward Island mussels are their specialty—and just about every table seems to have a bowl of mussels floating with white wine, creole, tomato saffron or green curry sauce. Don’t miss out on their frites, which have won acclaim across the city. Take the fries up a notch and order the poutine, which is their frites topped with white cheddar curds and gravy. You won’t be sorry.

Bryant Street Market is a great mix between an old-school, neighborhood grocery that stocks staples and a natural foods co-op that offers a full line of Bob’s Red Mill grains, organic snacks and a fine array of teas. They also supply locally made goods, like Enrico Biscotti, Lux chocolates, bread from Allegro Hearth, and Axel organic soft pretzels. And they have sandwiches to-go for your picnic at the park.

Last spring, Jeffrey Smith moved his salon, Jeffrey Smith Salon, from Lawrenceville to Highland Park. “It was the best business decision I’ve ever made,” he says. He loves the supportive community, his large, airy and bright space and the beautiful neighborhood. And he lives just two blocks from the salon, which draws in clients from across the city—and some as far as New York. “People will follow Jeffrey to the end of the earth,” says the salon manager.

Newer to the block are La Vida Yoga, a yoga studio that offers power vinyasa flow classes, which opened earlier this month, and Bryant St. Limited, the street’s only retail store. Its collection focuses on women’s clothing, accessories, shoes and jewelry.

Sitting grandly on a corner lot, the Nuin Center brings together a group of holistic practitioners who offer acupuncture, psychotherapy, classic homeopathy, Reiki and Rolfing.

Nearby is the Union Project in the former East End Baptist Church which focuses on building and strengthening community. Volunteers from the neighborhood worked together to restore the enormous stained glass windows in the chapel, which now houses a staggering amount of community events, from a monthly and free holistic health clinic to hooping; there are speakers, musicians and community conversations, a crochet club, and pay-as-you-can yoga. Plus, there’s a full ceramic studio that offers classes and open studio time.

Highland Park is a magnet for fitness buffs. Photo by Maranie Rae.

It’s all about the park

The well-loved namesake park came into being after the city opened a reservoir to supply its citizens with drinking water—and people flocked to the open space to picnic. At the heart of the park is the reservoir and the ¾-mile path lined with benches that forms its rim.

Highland Park. Photo by Maranie Rae.

“There’s such a connection to the water here,” says Enrico. “Baby ducks come later in the spring—they actually slide down the wall of the reservoir to get into the water. Then they climb back up and slide back down,” says Hardin.

Highland Park’s entrance is a showstopper with its tall columns topped with bronze Italian-made statues, an expansive Victorian garden, a fountain with reflecting pool, benches upon benches, and a welcome expanse of wide open sky.

The park features a swimming pool with beach volleyball courts, and, of course, the 77-acre Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, which recently welcomed a new addition: an Amur leopard cub.

The 1.1-mile Reservoir Drive winds through the park past picnic pavilions, great views of the river, and the volunteer-built, can’t-miss-if-you-have-kids Super Playground.

Aside from the famous park and the walkability of the neighborhood, Highland Park is also known for its architecture with its old and grand homes that line many of the streets. On May 7, there’s a house tour, a great time to visit “East End’s best-kept secret.”

Lauri Gravina

Woods wanderer who was an an editor at New England’s regional magazine, the research director of a Colorado newspaper and a farm hand in Vermont before returning to Pittsburgh to write about and explore...