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🗣️ Locals to know: Meet Valentina Scholar, the woman challenging you to walk (or bike!) the ‘Burgh

Meet Val from Walk the Burgh

We’re back with another edition of The Incline’s Locals to Know series. It’s when we cede the spotlight to a local person or organization who’s made their mark on the larger Pittsburgh community. Keep an eye out over the weeks to come for more of these interviews, and if you know of someone or some org that we ought to feature, don’t hesitate to send them our way.

Without further ado, let’s get to steppin’.

Name: Valentina Scholar

Age: 39

Pronouns: she/her

Social: @biketheburgh, @walktheburgh

Tell us about your work — your job and/or any volunteer work. 

I own and operate a walking as well as a biking tour company with a shop Downtown (Bike the Burgh Tours + Walk the Burgh Tours). We offer architectural and historical walking and bike tours through various neighborhoods in the city, often paired with a variety of themes. Locals, as well as visitors from all over the world, seem to enjoy our daily Beauty of the Burgh Bike Tour along the Downtown river trails that offers scenic views of Pittsburgh’s outstanding skyline. The Whiskey Walk on weekends, a history walk with a final whiskey tasting, is also very popular. Besides that, the Black & Ghost Tour which we run all year round is getting a lot of attention, too. It is a history tour with a spooky twist.

I founded these touring companies about seven years ago, and would never go back to any other job. I love my team of guides who are phenomenal ambassadors of the city and are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the Burgh. I also very much enjoy meeting people from all over the world who come to Pittsburgh for a lot of different reasons!   

Pick a favorite local outdoor experience. What is it? What’re we doing? Who’s going with ya?

When I have a free moment, I hop on a bike and ride the North Shore trail out to the Western Penitentiary and back up to the Heinz Lofts. I love this section because it opens up wonderful angles of the city skyline. Usually, I try to do this with my husband, who is also an avid cyclist, and my 3-year-old daughter. She loves biking along the river trails, too! For now, our newborn cannot come with us so we’ll have to wait a bit until she is ready for the trailer.

Exploring Pittsburgh on two wheels

What’s your favorite Pittsburgh memory? 

One of my absolute favorite Pittsburgh moments was when I was standing out in the cold for at least two hours, in the parking lot of the Lemieux Sports Complex, to get a jersey signed by Sidney Crosby. It was for my nephew who lives in Italy and whose heart beats for hockey, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and more specifically, for Sidney. This was the best Christmas gift for my then 9-year-old nephew ever!

What’s your favorite local Instagram or TikTok account and why?

That is definitely @housesofpittsburgh. It is fascinating what you can discover on their feed, and especially satisfying when I know the house that is featured. I love houses, especially all the historic ones in Pittsburgh. My husband owns real estate, so we are both passionate about all types of different homes. Years ago, on Sundays, we used to go on random drives around random neighborhoods (and as we know, there are plenty in Pittsburgh!) just to check out the local architecture. Sometimes we still do it when we need to go on nap drives!

If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be? I am a huge fan of Apteka in Bloomfield, I could eat any of their meals every day. Everything about this place is outstanding: very fine cuisine, fantastic value, and excellent customer service. Besides that, there is just always a good vibe. One can tell that this restaurant is run with passion, great attention to detail, and high standards. From what I hear, the owners treat their employees very well. I try to do the same, so I always seek to support those businesses — big or small.

Walk the Burgh

What’s a project you’re working on (big or small) and how can our readers help you with it?

As with the beginning of every new season, I have more ideas on how to sustainably grow my business. This year, due to our new little family addition, I am looking for someone who can take over a lot of my responsibilities. It would have to be someone who enjoys daily interactions with travelers who are looking to have a great time in Pittsburgh. Being willing to work when most people are not will be part of this job too. Organizational, communication, and managing skills come in very handy for this position as well. So dear readers, please send your resume if you think you would find pleasure in working for a local touring company.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Continuing to renovate our new Victorian home we recently moved into and spending more time with my husband and two daughters. This year, we will hopefully be able to take more time off to go on longer trips also during the warmer months. Until now, we’ve mostly traveled during the wintertime due to the seasonality of the business. This summer, I would like to explore several national parks out west!

Interested in being featured and want to share your own cool project in the ‘Burgh? Send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “TI Locals to Know 2022” and you might just see yourself in a future newsletter.