The word “trolley” has become a staple in the Pittsburgh language. Thinking about it, you might conjure up an image of Mister Rogers’ little red trolley scuttling around the Neighborhood of Make Believe. If you’re a little more practical, you’ll probably picture commuting to work in town or hopping on a car to catch the Steelers game. But there’s a whole world to explore off the T lines that doesn’t require business attire or a Steelers jersey (though still optional).
Port Authority of Allegheny County currently boasts three trolley lines that span from the North Shore through downtown, and ultimately into the South Hills, although currently only the Red Line runs through Mt. Lebanon. You can find the map and various stops at www.portauthority.org.
A quick transfer from the Red Line to the Silver Line at the Ice Castle stop will take you to South Park Road in less than 15 minutes. You’ll be able to walk to any of these destinations from the T stop.
So ditch the car keys, load up the ConnectCard and hitch a ride!
5200 Brightwood Road
This could be the most well-known stop on our tour today. It’s likely you know someone who celebrated their wedding by savoring a delicately made wedding cake from here. Their wedding business is so large that a separate wedding shop sits adjacent to the bakery. Bethel Bakery has become so famous that a regular trolley rider used to insist on a trolley stop during his commute to work so he could run in and grab something from the store.
As an added bonus, if you find yourself in the area on June 3, make sure you stop by to celebrate National Doughnut Day.
5305 Brightwood Road
After you’ve filled up on some baked goodies, you can head down Brightwood Road and stop at Paint Me Pretty Furniture. Originally a grocery store, the building has seen many lives and recently took up its newest identity as a unique store featuring repurposed furniture discovered at flea markets, estate sales, and thrift stores. Pieces of art evolve from the used finds. History is mixed with artistic skill to create a beautiful piece a customer would want to boast in their home.
Art Institute grad and owner Gaylenne Walker allows other artists to rent areas in the store to create their own setup offering various distinctive pieces from different artists for sale.
Customers can bring in their flea market finds to Walker and she’ll work her magic to design functional artwork with the furniture. If you’re not looking to commit to a piece of furniture, Paint Me Pretty Furniture offers various housewares for sale.
3. JMJ Catholic Bookstore
5318 Park Avenue
Once you’ve tapped into your artistic side down the street, you can head over to JMJ Catholic Bookstore just up the hill. Locally known and established in 1994, this bookstore overflows with everything from children’s books and greeting cards to statuary and sparkling cross pendants.
In addition to serving walk-in customers, JMJ Catholic Bookstore also provides products to churches.
St. Joseph statues fly off the shelves as they’re the most popular item. You can also find church supplies. Need a chalice? You’ve come to the right place.
2600 South Park Road
Time for a break. There’s no better place to grab a snack and a cup of coffee than at a place that displays an old trolley car outside. Reginald’s Coffee shares space with the Bethel Park Historical Society. This building also offers rooms for rent so you can book your little one’s next party in one of the spaces.
Upon entry, you’ll see the coffee roaster on display and you can enjoy a cup of their coffee roasted on-site. Hints of the Bethel Park Historical Society can be seen behind the tables. Make sure to peek around to catch glimpses of the area’s history.
2704 South Park Road
Let’s add a little excitement to this day trip. Now that you’re caffeinated, stroll down to Human Production Tattoo Studio. You only live once, right? Book a session for some ink. Take a look at the artists’ portfolios or come with a design in mind. You may have to wait a few months for the appointment but it’ll give you an excuse to jump on the T again.
2822 South Park Road
Saturated with culture? Ready to eat? Head up the hill from the tattoo studio and you’ll find Pho Saigon Café. This Vietnamese/fusion café is well worth the walk. Pho Saigon opened during the pandemic and thrived despite the unprecedented times. Owners Kim and John Ngo will greet you and insist you find a spot to relax.
Grab a seat, sip some boba tea and order one of their specially created dishes. The café keeps a fresh and small menu to ensure the best quality. Though 60 percent of their business is online, the dining room fills up with anyone from kids after school to families and business professionals who use the free Wi-Fi and lounge in the beautifully decorated dining room. Make sure to visit the large fish during your stay.