Cool Picks Sunday December 2, 2012

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1) Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, affiliated with the Pittsburgh Symphony, is giving a free (download and print paper tickets from their website) performance tonight at Heinz Hall. The SYMPHONIC DANCES program includes: Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances, and Mozart Violin Concerto with Noah Bendix-Balgley, Faure Pelleas, and Melisande Suite. 7:30 p.m. Heinz Hall. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown Cultural District.

2) Today at 4:25 p.m., the Steelers engage the Ravens in another epic battle. It’s also supposed to be a nice day with temperatures reaching 60 degrees. How do you make the most out of these two things? Get out for a little road trip/hike in the country, then watch the game with our country cousins. Take a little drive East to the Laurel Highlands, for a hike on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. One trailhead is on Route 30 East,  past Laughlintown, just over the crest of Laurel Mountain, on the right. After a little hike, head over to  PJ’s Pub at the Ligonier Country Inn (Laughlintown) or the historic Ligonier Tavern (Ligonier), or discover one of the assorted bars and roadhouses along the way.

3) If southerly breezes blow you up into Butler County, for a trip to Moraine State Park or McConnells Mill State Park, there are several good places to watch the Steelers game. One is North Country Brewing in Slippery Rock. They brew their own beer, and it goes down smoother than a mountain stream. North Country also offer a wide variety of tasty food options. Another northerly spot to try is Walnut Grill in Wexford, where you’ll find all the basic Steelers game fun foods, plus some reasonably priced upscale options, including walnut-crusted salmon, braised pork osso bucco, shrimp Fra Diavolo. Pare with a refreshing glass of wine from vintners around the globe (includes good U.S wines).

4) Down south, Morgantown, West Virginia way, The Caperton Trail is a great paved trail which runs for 6 miles along the Monongahela River. The trail offers walking, running, rollerblading, and bicycling along the river through parks, past restaurants, hotels and offices down to the lock and dam. Mountain State Brewing Company sits right along the trail and offers its own freshly brewed beers, wood-fired pizzas, with plenty of TV’s to watch the Steelers game.

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Rick Handler

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