Headed to Steelers training camp? Find out what to do at and around St. Vincent
The Steelers Nation is about to arise from its summer slumber and descend on Westmoreland County as the annual training camp runs from July 27 to Aug. 4 at St. Vincent College in Unity.
While we know there's plenty to see on the practice fields and autographs to seek, there's also a variety of on- and off-campus activities if you're going to make a day of it in the Latrobe area.
Football is life
The Steelers organization is bringing much more than football players to St. Vincent. Most of the extras are available from noon to 6 p.m. on open practice days.
• The FedEx Traveling Great Hall, a 53-foot trailer, will house some of what you'd see at Heinz Field's memorabilia hall.
• A photo tent will allow fans to take pictures against the backdrop of some of favorite Steelers scenes.
• At the Steelers Experience, fans can see a replica locker and giant Steelers gloves, compare themselves with actual size players on the "How Do You Stack Up?" display and practice football skills with the quarterback toss and field goal-kicking elements.
• Fans can stop by the Steelers Nation Unite Tent at the entrance of camp to spin the prize wheel for a chance to win prizes as well as pick up a team roster for the day's practice. Visit steelersnationunite.com to become members and RSVP for training camp for a chance to win VIP on-field experiences and watch a special viewing of the 2016 Steelers highlight film.
Stay in the play
Who doesn't want the inside scoop on our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers as they take over St. Vincent College for camp?
A simple download can get you a little bit closer to the action.
Fans planning to visit camp are encouraged to download the official app of the Pittsburgh Steelers (for free) to receive exclusive training camp content and register for a chance to win a VIP training camp experience.
The display will include one-touch access to a special welcome video, VIP training camp experience registration page, parking and traffic information and daily training camp information.
Tired of football? (Gasp)
We know you came to St. Vincent for the football, but there's plenty more to do without even leaving the campus.
St. Vincenet Basilica
St. Vincent Basilica : Formed in 1790, St. Vincent Parish was the first Catholic parish in Pennsylvania, west of the Allegheny Mountains. With the arrival of Boniface Wimmer in 1846, construction began in the late 19th-century on St. Vincent Basilica. The basilica offers a gift shop located on the ground floor of the parish center and is open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays.
Fred Rogers Exhibit : The multimedia, interactive display is located on the upper level of the Fred M. Rogers Center. The exhibit traces the life, work and influence of Fred Rogers, beginning with his hometown roots in Latrobe. Hours: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays.
Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve : This 50-acre nature reserve offers a 12-station discovery trail, various gardens, nature explore areas, 10 crushed gravel trails, and Environmental Learning Barn. The trails are open dawn to dusk daily. The Barn Owl Gift Corner, near the front desk of the barn, offers an array of handmade gifts including jewelry, pottery, puppets and more. Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays
Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery : Located on the lower level of the Fred Rogers Center, the coverlet collection is comprised of more than 400 antique American bed weavings. The gallery is free and open to the public. Hours: Noon-3 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays.
Take in a show: St. Vincent Summer Theatre runs throughout the warmer months at the Robert S. Carey Student Center. "My Way: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra" will be playing Aug. 3-20. Tickets are $12-$22.
St. Vincent Gristmill : Built by Benedictine monks, the Gristmill has been in continuous operation since 1854. At the Gristmill, you will find a small museum with exhibits as well as a store where you can purchase breads, flours, jams and more. Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays. 724-537-0304
Melvin Platz Garden and Sauerkraut Tower: Grab a cool drink and enjoy the shade of the Melvin Platz Garden located across from the Robert S. Carey Student Center. Just a short walk from the garden is Sauerkraut Tower. Built in 1893 the tower moved more than 80,000 gallons of water through campus. In the early 20th-century, Brother Innocent used the tower to store crocks and barrels of pickled cabbage, giving the tower its new name.
Explore the area
1. Eat a banana split: In 2004, the National Ice Cream Retailers Association certified Latrobe as the home of the banana split, 100 years after it was invented in a local drug store. Tassel Pharmacy is long gone, but here are a couple of local joints still serving the gooey summer favorite treat: Mr. B's Ice Cream and Food, 614 Unity St., Unity; and Peaches 'n Cream, 5032 Route 30, Hempfield.
2. Enjoy music and beer: Jambrewzle from noon to 11 p.m. at Four Seasons Brewing in Latrobe is an outdoor music festival with live bands, food trucks, vendors, workshops, fire show and more. 724-520-4111
3. Work against the clock: Solve clues, puzzles and brainteasers to escape from one of two locked rooms at Escape Reality , 3862 Route 30, Latrobe. 724-708-1096
4. Take a trip to the country: Breathe the fresh air and buy some fresh-made organic bakery products, grass-fed beef and native plants at Friendship Farms , a working family farm at 147 Friendship Farm Lane (off Route 130), Mt. Pleasant Township. 724-423-1545
5. Amuse yourself: See why industry publications have dubbed Idlewild & Soak Zone, along Route 30 East in Ligonier Township, as the world's best children's amusement park. Indulge in rides, games, food, entertainment and a water park. 724-238-3666
6. Get arty: View works by area artists, browse the gift shop and eat at Ricolita's Café in the Latrobe Art Center , 819 Ligonier St. 724-537-7011
7. Roll with the times: Latrobe Skating Center is the place to be on Friday and Saturday evenings for a wild time on traditional four-wheeled skates or the inline version. 724-537-8541
8. Get your kicks on Route 30: Relive the history of America's first transcontinental highway at the Lincoln Highway Experience , 3435 Route 30 East, Unity. The gift shop offers both kitschy memorabilia and artisan crafts. 724-879-4241
9. Make a splash: Cool off in the Rogers-McFeely Pool in Legion-Keener Park, on Memorial Drive in Latrobe. There's a Turbo Twister tube slide for adventurous water bugs. 724-537-4331
10. Game on: Forget football and try the mini-golf, go kart track, batting cages, arcade and snack shop at Statler's Fun Center, 386 Frye Farm Road, Unity. 724-539-7655
Yinz gotta eat
To sate the appetite one is sure to work up watching all of that football practice, choose from a number of nearby dining options, including:
Gray Goose , 2377 Route 30, Ligonier Township: the upscale restaurant with rustic-but-elegant country charm, is gaining a reputation for signature drinks made with Grey Goose vodka as well as specialty drinks alluding to local history and landmarks, such as the Adult Arnold Palmer (sweet tea vodka and limoncello). The menu includes Chicken Marsala, crab cakes, steaks, duck breast, lamb and pasta dishes. 724-441-4947
DiSalvo's Station , 325 McKinley Ave, Latrobe: The eatery in a nationally registered historic landmark train station (with a speakeasy cigar bar) is recognized for its authentic Italian cuisine. 724-539-0500
Chef Dato's Table , 645 Route 217, Derry Township: Casual fine dining and specialty salads can be found here, along with appetizers including buffalo pierogies and Dato's mussels. Hearty entrees include lobster mac and cheese, and Chambersburg chicken, made with sliced peaches and a peach schnapps cream sauce. 724-739-0228
Darlington Inn , 1473 Darlington Road, Ligonier Township: "Everything is homemade from scratch," according to its website, and focuses on Hungarian cuisine. Aficionados of platters of Eastern European dishes like pork scallopini, chicken crepes, goulash and stuffed cabbage, will be happy diners. 724-238-7831
DeNunzio's Italian Chophouse, 148 Aviation Lane, Unity: Dine with a view of takeoffs and landings at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. Its dinner menu includes chophouse specialties like seared diver scallops and filet mignon, pasta choices like eggplant ravioli and linguine with clam sauce, chicken picata and veal Romano. 724-539-3980
Grill cheese of the day Chicken, hummus,spinach, tomato,and feta pic.twitter.com/uLKgdFyXkX— THE LIGONIER TAVERN (@LigTavern) May 25, 2017
Ligonier Tavern , 139 W. Main St., Ligonier: Located in the heart of downtown Ligonier in a former Victorian home, appetizers here go beyond the expected, with crab and salmon puffs and cheese stuffed risotto fritters or hummus. Entrees include tuna steak, shepherd's pie and beef stew. 724-238-7788
Touchdown Club II, 3850 Route 30, Unity: The latest incarnation of a restaurant established to "increase public interest in sports and athletic games and to assist students, with proven scholarship ability at St. Vincent College and in need of financial aid, in continuing their education," now prides itself in the tradition of a friendly gathering spot. Early bird specials Tuesdays through Fridays from 4-6 p.m. include seafood, steak and chicken dishes, along with a portabella parmesan. 724-539-3310
Sharky's Café, 3960 Lincoln Highway, Unity: Billed as a sports restaurant, Sharky's goes all out to promote Steelers training camp. Its website notes the restaurant will bring back the Rothlies-burger for a limited time only, and the site will host several live radio broadcasts during training weeks. This is hearty, tailgate (without having to grill) food. 724-532-1620.
Dino's Sports Lounge, 3883 Route 30 East, Unity: Here's another place to celebrate all things sports. Memorabilia adorns the walls, much of it dedicated to the Steelers. From "warm-ups" like freshly cut chips and fried pickles to "shareables" like jalapeno poppers and buffalo shrimp, the expansive menu offers gourmet hot dogs and gourmet burgers (including a Steeler burger), pizza, pasta dishes and super sandwiches. 724-539-2566
French Express , 1020 Latrobe 30 Plaza, Unity: Opened in December, this mostly carry-out business offer a continental flair — hot entrees to go, along with sides, soups and salads and sandwiches on fresh-baked baguettes. Behind the counter are deli cheeses and meats that might include duck breast; salmon, chicken and ribs smoked on site; or sausages like pheasant/chicken/cognac, venison/blueberry and wild boar/cranberry. 724-739-3663
— Mary Pickels