Take this 12-stop Downtown fountain walking tour before summer ends

Despite stores peddling fall decor and breweries pouring pumpkin beer, it’s still summer for a few more weeks, and it’s worth soaking up every last drop. In that spirit, we created an 12-stop walking tour of Downtown’s fountains and water features to enjoy before summer ends. 

Even though pools are closing for the season, these wondrous water features are still pumping, spraying, and bubbling, so take this stroll through the city for a little adventure and a lot of relaxation. 

Before we get started, it’s worth noting that two iconic water features — the Convention Center water tunnel and the Allegheny County Courthouse fountain — are currently closed for construction, so save those ones for next year. Know of a Downtown fountain we missed? Tell us, so we can add it to the map.

The logistics

  1. Wear comfortable shoes.
  2. If you simply walk from stop to stop, pausing just to take photos, budget an hour. If you want to stop for drinks, shopping, or sitting, allocate extra time.
  3. The walking tour is *free* (with the exception of food and drink stops, of course).
  4. Daylight hours will be best to enjoy the sparkling water.
A map for your journey. // The Incline illustration

The route

The route begins at the Point. We’ll walk you through each step, and you can load the interactive map here.

The iconic view. // Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Stop 1: Point State Park fountain

Let’s start with the big one — the really big one. At the confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers, Point State Park’s fountain shoots water 100 feet into the air. It uses 795 gallons of water that it recycles and pumps out at a rate of 20,000 gallons a minute, TribLive reported.

If you’re short on time, take a lap around the fountain and feel the spray of its mist. If you’ve got a while, hang out near the fountain and watch the boats glide by on the rivers.

Look at that turquoise tone. // Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Stop 2: Gateway Center fountain

If you’ve gone to the Three Rivers Arts Festival, you’ve probably seen this one. Otherwise, it’s a bit off the beaten path. Tucked away next to KDKA-TV and in the shadow of Gateway Center, this fountain is known for its petal-shaped central stem and turquoise hue. But it’s not always blue. It’s been dyed pink in October to support Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Jazz in the summer at the fountain. // Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Stop 3: Agnes R. Katz Plaza fountain (a.k.a. The Eyeball Park)

Surrounded by eyeball-shaped sculptures/seats, this bronze fountain soars 25-feet into the air. It’s the setting for JazzLive, First Night, and Gallery Crawl events. 

While the fountain is spectacular in the summer, it may be even more stunning in the winter. This is one of the few fountains that runs year-round, except when frigid temperatures stop the water in its tracks.

Two water features for the price of one. // Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Stop 4: Heinz Hall Plaza’s Kamin Waterfall and Arpeggio

You’ll get two water features in one on this stop.

First, there’s Arpeggio, a kinetic water feature, meaning the sculpture moves based on the shifting weight of water. Then, there’s the Kamin Waterfall, a large wall of crashing waves.

They’re best enjoyed over lunch. The Garden Cafe offers salads and sandwiches in Heinz Hall’s tree-lined courtyard in late spring and summer. Plus, there’s a happy hour on Wednesday evenings.

Go ahead and dip your toes in. // Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Stop 5: PPG Plaza fountain

More than 100 columns of water shoot from the ground to a height of over 15 feet in the center of PPG Plaza, Pittsburgh’s glass castle. At night, they’re illuminated with colorful lights adding to the ambiance.

This is the only one on the list where interacting with the water feature is encouraged. Maybe even pretend you’re a kid and run through (unless you’re doing this tour on your lunch break because nobody wants to dry their button-down shirt with the office bathroom’s hand dryer).

In the winter, the fountain is replaced with an ice skating rink, so before that happens, find operating hours here.

Chasing waterfalls. // Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Stop 6: Point Park University Waterfall at Village Park

As you’re strolling along Boulevard of the Allies, stop for a moment at the Point Park University fountain for a breather. Pause and listen as water gently flows along this natural stone wall.

It’s one of the most Instagrammable places on campus, and these students can give you some photo inspiration.

This one wins for longest fountain. // Courtesy of Shane Culgan

Stop 7: PNC Firstside Center fountain

Dubbed Water Cycle, this water feature is known for its efficient fixtures. This long fountain, set up like steps, runs along PNC’s Firstside Center stretching for nearly a block. It’s tucked a bit off the beaten path next to Firstside Park full of sculptures and shade trees.

This one might not be quite as grand, but it’s still worth a visit. // Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Stop 8: BNY Mellon fountain

Eight plumes of water surge into the air and then cascade down a set of steps at this small but notable fountain. Located in a busy part of Downtown for government and banking, it’s easy to breeze by this one, but stop to take a good look at its understated elegance.

An urban oasis. // Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Stop 9: Mellon Green fountain

Of all the fountains on the list, this one offers the best chance for relaxation. Though it’s not far from a highway overpass, this fountain tucked within a greenspace feels like a retreat from the city. 

Water crashes around a circle of tall stone pillars, and it’s loud enough to drown out the honking horns and traffic noise on Grant Street.

In the shadow of US Steel. // Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Stop 10: US Steel Fountain

Surrounded by an expansive patio, this large circular fountain in the shadow of the Steel Tower is a stunner. Stop by around lunch hour to order something from the vendors who set up shop in the plaza and grab a seat by the water.

Peek inside the HYP club. // Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Stop 11: HYP Club fountain

The smallest fountain on our list is also the most obscure. You’ll need to keep a very careful watch to find this one while you’re strolling along William Penn Place. 

Located inside the courtyard of the Allegheny Harvard Yale Princeton Club, a small lion sculpture spits water into a shell-shaped bowl and then into a larger basin. It’s a private club, but you can spot the fountain from the street. 

P.S. This fountain isn’t always running, so don’t be disappointed if it’s turned off.

At the Omni William Penn’s front door. // Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Stop 12: Mellon Square fountain

We end this tour at Mellon Square, described as Downtown’s “emerald oasis.” Opened in 1955, Mellon Square is the first modern garden plaza to be built atop a parking garage. With a massive water feature on multiple levels, this fountain is like no other in Pittsburgh.

This park is a great place to spend a summer afternoon, especially if you visit for a free concert or the weekly farmers market.

Bonus points

These ones aren’t located Downtown, but they’re worth the visit. Seriously, get outside and make the most of these last vestiges of summer before it becomes time for this kind of walking tour