The sounds of guitars, bodhrans, fiddles, tin whistles surrounds visitors. The aromas of traditional Irish cuisine waft through the air, and around every turn is some new piece of Irish culture. No, this isn't some daydream fueled by too much shepherd's pie. Each year, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival transforms a small part of the city into the Emerald Isle. In total, the festival schedules more than 28 hours of entertainment over the course of three days. Four stages play host to Irish rock and other traditional music. Visitors might also see Irish step dancing and storytellers, who breathe new life into traditional legends and folktales.
Hands-on activities also dot the festival grounds, including the chance to pet native Irish dogs or even search your family tree for Irish ancestors. And in addition to traditional cuisine, the festival hosts a tasting tent with Irish whiskey, Irish cider, and Irish experts who explain how these spirits are made.
More than a 24-hour gym, Fitness 247 is as a full-service health club that's open at all hours. The facility has plenty of exercise gear, from its strength-training equipment to its more than 50 cardio machines, which feature personal viewing screens and iPod docking stations. In addition, the aerobics room provides guests with everything from jump ropes and kettlebells to medicine balls and neoprene dumbbells. The gym's trainers are also on-hand to offer one-on-one guidance, although they also lead yoga lessons, Zumba workouts, and other group fitness classes.
Fitness 247 also offers various health-club amenities. Locker rooms feature relaxing saunas and individual showers. Five tanning beds and a UV-free Mystic Tan system help skin maintain its summer glow year-round. At select times, Fitness 247 even offers complimentary daycare.
Despite its name, Fonzi’s Synergy Fitness isn’t a place where members learn to ride motorcycles while keeping their slicked-back coiffures in place. It’s a locally owned gym helmed by Jim Fonzi and Denice Normandy-Fonzi, who cultivate a welcoming feel inside the fitness haven. High-quality workout equipment, such as the BodyMasters System—a 30-minute circuit workout similar to Curves, as well as free weights fill the space, and a fitness room hosts an array of heart-pumping, calorie-burning classes.
The YMCA Adventure Warrior Race gives kids and adults a chance to prove themselves against ropes courses, mud, water obstacles, and other unexpected mental and physical challenges—all while supporting a good cause. Amid the breathtaking views and tranquil waters of Lake Tris, runners maneuver around trees and carry heavy objects up the sometimes snow-covered Laurel Highlands mountains, climbing up to 1,000 feet as they go. Warriors aged 16 and older make a 4-mile circuit, whereas younger participants run age-appropriate distances of a half mile or a full mile. Trophies and the respect of all the woodland creatures are awarded to the top male and female runners, top male and female teams, and top co-ed team. According to the Daily American, funds raised from the race provide camp scholarships that allow kids to attend residential and day programs at the 263-acre YMCA Camp T. Frank Soles.
Set on the rolling wooded banks of the Youghiogheny River, Butler's Golf Course has been challenging golfers for more than 80 years with two 18-hole courses. The 6,314-yard Woodside course cushions golf shoes in a gently rolling terrain, and the 6,689-yard Lakeside course grants sweeping views of the adjacent valley and a few blind shots. Both par 72 courses can be enjoyed from the seat of a conveniently motorized golf cart, which transports golfers and their gear between holes, around scattered hillocks, and across the line in tense photo finishes.
Now in its 51st year, the McKeesport Little Theater puts on a rollicking adaptation of Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel, a comedy-drama that follows the roguish Randle Patrick McMurphy as he combats the draconian culture of a mental institution with a charming streak of rebellion. After successfully faking insanity to serve out his prison sentence in the hospital, Randle squares off with the sociopathic Nurse Ratched and enlists the support of an Indian whose presumed deafness and dumbness have enabled him to learn the benefits of deep introspection and the access codes for the ward’s chocolate-pudding fridge. The McKeesport Little Theater’s mission to bring quality theater to Western Pennsylvania benefits not only its audiences but also the play’s community-based actors, many of whom whittle their thespian teeth on the stage of the 207-seat theater, formerly a synagogue.