Mellon Park
Mellon Park

Basketball is one of the most popular recreational activities in any city when the weather’s warm. Pittsburgh is no exception.

If you take your basketball seriously, you might have an allegiance to a particular court. But if you’re looking for a new spot to ball, here are our top five places to find a pickup game or shoot around. (Feel free to add yours in the comments below.)

Mellon Park, Shadyside

Situated on Fifth Avenue between Shadyside, East Liberty and Point Breeze, this East End gem features two full courts and plenty of bleacher seating. During peak times in the summer, these bleachers often fill up with friends of players, as well as people looking to jump in a game. Pickup can get quite competitive here —
which could be good or bad, depending on what you’re looking for.

The park also offers plenty of shade, a picnic shelter and a water fountain for players to use. And it’s only a short walk from Bakery Square, where you can cool off with a nice cold one when you’re done playing.

Armstrong Field, South Side

Even if you live in the South Side, you might not know exactly where to find Armstrong Field. Or maybe you know it as “that little park on 12th Street,” instead of by name. It’s quite modest, and the baseball diamond, playground equipment, tennis court and basketball court make up a square area that’s only about a block long on each side. Luckily, the games are pretty lively.

On almost any weekday evening in the summer, you can drop by the Armstrong basketball court and find some solid pickup. Saturday and Sunday afternoons are also a safe bet. And the location works: Set just a block off of East Carson Street, if you need a place to refuel afterward, you have your pick.

Armstrong Park basketball court and playground. Photo by Sam Bojarski.

Schenley Park, Four Mile Run

People often overlook “The Run” as one of the top spots to play hoops. But if you’re taking classes at Pitt or CMU this summer, you might want to head down there one weekend.

The roar of traffic directly overhead on the I-376 overpass will give you a nice adrenaline rush if basketball itself doesn’t do the trick. From South Oakland, you can walk down to the court via the Schenley Park trail. But if you’d rather drive, take a winding ride down Swinburne Street. Once you get down to “The Run,” make a left on Alexis Street right before you get to Big Jim’swhich is a good place to go after a game. 

Allegheny Commons Park basketball court. Photo by Sam Bojarski.

Allegheny Commons Park, Nova Place

Of course, you can’t forget about the North Side when it comes to basketball. Allegheny Commons Park always draws a crowd due to its location at the North Side’s busiest hub, Nova Place.

While some city courts have specific times where they usually get busy, there always seems to be a rotating cast of players filtering in and out of Allegheny Commons Park, from afternoon through evening. Since it’s so close to Downtown, it’s easy to reach from so many other Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

Bloomfield Park. Photo by Sam Bojarski.

Bloomfield Park, Bloomfield

Located in the same park where the Bloomfield Rams semi-pro football team (once led by Johnny Unitas) used to play, this basketball court sees its fair share of action during the warmer months. You won’t get the larger pickup game crowds you sometimes see at Mellon Park or Allegheny Commons. But if you want to get some friends together and shoot around, or have a more chill “hoop sesh,” this is the place to do it.

There’s a decent-sized (and free) public parking lot on-site, and Bloomfield Park has a lot of enjoyable amenities. If you go when the pool’s open, you’ll have a great opportunity to cool off after you’re done playing.

Got a favorite court we didn’t mention? Let us know by email or in the comments below!

Sam Bojarski

Sam Bojarski is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh's East End. When he's not on deadline, he can be found running through one of Pittsburgh's city parks, reading history or playing the mandolin.