Who needs coastline? Pittsburgh has its own sandy retreats
So, that beach vacation didn't pan out this year? Not to worry. Pittsburgh's got you covered. With summer winding down, here are some sandy staycation spots that don't require an expensive plane trip or hours in the car with screaming kids.
Kelly's Down by the Riverside Saloon
1458 Riverside Drive. Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Sundays. Kitchen closes at midnight during summer.
A gentle breeze ripples through the towering palm trees. Steel-band music plays as you wiggle your toes in the sand and sip a frozen tropical drink, watching the boats glide by.
It might not be the Bahamas, or even Myrtle Beach, but Kelly's Down by the Riverside Saloon in Beaver is a practical substitute when you need a few hours in a tropical paradise.
Every spring, owner Lisa Kelly plants a truckload of towering Florida-grown palm trees and replenishes the sand around the saloon's outdoor fantasy island retreat that overlooks a tranquil back channel of the Beaver River.
There's a full menu of sandwiches, salads and wraps, some with a Caribbean twist, and two popular weekly specials — Sunday brunch from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Monday-night special, all-you-can-eat crab legs, from 4 to 9 p.m.
Paradise Island Bowl & Beach
7601 Grand Ave. Hours: 5 p.m.-midnight Mondays-Thursdays, 5 p.m.-3 a.m. Fridays, 1 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m.-midnight Sundays.
The Ohio River isn't the Pacific Ocean, and Neville Island isn't Santa Barbara. But you can get Pittsburgh's version of a shore experience at Neville Island's Paradise Island Bowl & Beach.
Visitors can bowl indoors year-round here, but during warm weather, they can dine on a sandy beach and play sand volleyball in nearby courts.
At the small outdoor restaurant and bar, guests can order items served at the bowling alley and enjoy them in a beachy waterside setting, with the river lapping nearby. Lighted faux palm trees along the beach path add a nice touch.
The menu includes pizzas, chicken fingers, nachos, quesadillas, salads, wings and sandwiches.
1000 Sandcastle Drive. Through Sept. 1. Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. or 7 p.m., depending on the day.
Steps away from the oceanlike waves of the 20,000-square-foot Mon-Tsunami pool at Sandcastle, a large, sandy area completes the perfect beachlike setting at the water park.
The space was formerly a sand volleyball court but was modified with the addition of the Dragon's Den, the park's newest tube slide.
Guests can build sandcastles or just relax as though they were at the ocean.
New this year, Sandcastle has put up a second sandy area near the park entrance where guests can capture summer fun with a perfect photo op. The area was added as part of the park's 25th anniversary. It's set up like a surf shop on the beach, complete with a surf board. Guests are encouraged to share their photos on social media.
The Cabana Bar is like an oceanfront oasis tucked behind a suburban landscape.
At the site behind the Oxford Athletic Club in Wexford, the glowing lights and shorelike shrubbery make it hard to remember the treadmills are not too far away.
Three sand-filled seating areas create a beachlike setting in part of the outdoor area. Bistro-height tables are spread throughout the rest. One bar is in a big cabana, with smaller cabanas available for group rental. One holds about eight people and is $75 for an evening, while the other can hold 10 to 15 guests and is $125.
All told, the Cabana can seat about 500.
Besides the lights that wrap through the area, vertical heating tubes glow and provide just a touch of heat on cooler evenings. The Cabana is open from the beginning of May through the end of September.
Besides the array of mixed drinks, the Cabana has about eight beers on tap and a hefty selection in bottles and cans. The tunes are loud, but not enough to snag a conversation.
At Rumfish Beach in Rumfish Grille, the dance floor is made of sand. The Bridgeville spot features an outdoor bar, patio and stage area designed to provide a vacation-setting experience. The 15,000 square feet of outdoor space is adorned with tropical fixtures and decor.
A DJ spins tunes Fridays and Saturdays, and Thursday is Bike Night. There are daily drink specials for the beach bar only.
The bar offers 12 beers with a selection of local breweries and an array of wines and specialty cocktails.
The kitchen is an open-air setup serving grilled chicken and beef brisket sandwiches for lunch, salad to steak to lobster for dinner and happy-hour specials. Brunch is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.
939 Western Ave. Rates: $150 per night, plus tax, $200 plus tax on Saturdays.
Most minds don't go to the city's North Side when considering an island getaway, but Ed Menzer has created an oasis in the middle of the city's hustle and bustle.
The Parador Inn, named for the Spanish word “to stop,” is a bed and breakfast with a Caribbean flair in an 1870 mansion.
From the whimsical murals featured on the walls (complete with hidden birds and geckos) to the palm-shaped fans, tropical decor and sunroom, the space transports its temporary residents from Western Avenue to the Florida Keys.
For those seeking to feel the sand between their toes, a stroll through a lush garden leads to the inn's actual beach, complete with 17 tons of sand and island decor, such as an anchor, life preserver and boat paddles.
While the view to one side is the real world, facing the mansion offers a view of the sprawling home decked out in mint, buttercup and pastel pink paint, a sweeping porch featuring a bird-themed mural, wind chimes, a gecko-shaped swing and a running fountain.
Just close your eyes, and you can almost hear the waves. It might actually be North Side traffic, but who can be bothered with urban details in such a laid-back getaway?