The Road Diaries


Hi everyone – hope you had a nice weekend! :)

After spending Thursday at my sweet Grandma’s house, we got up bright and early Friday morning, piled back in the car, and headed off to the next destination on our whirlwind trip visiting relatives in and around Ohio.


Pittsburgh, PA! (Ben and Grandma bonded during our stay over their mutual love for staying up late. ;) )

My Dad’s side of the family is from Steubenville, OH, which is where we spent Friday and Saturday, but since Pittsburgh is only 45 minutes away, and one of my Dad’s favorite cities, we took a side trip to The Steel City to see what we could see.


I have never been before, and had no idea what to expect, but WOW, Pittsburgh is extremely gorgeous, and packed with young professionals, shopping, restaurants and nightlife. I was so impressed!


We arrived around lunchtime so we headed to this super cute “town square” type area right in downtown to grab some grub and a beer from a restaurant near and dear to my Dad’s heart.

DSC_0942 DSC_0944

The Oyster House. He started going to Pittsburgh when he was 13 (cough, hitchhiking to Pirates games, cough) and always stopped here for a fish sandwich and coke before walking to the baseball park nearby.


Fish sandwich? Eh, when in Rome! ;)


We settled into a table on their outdoor patio in the sunshine, and ordered up breaded fish sandwiches, battered fries and The Oyster House’s famous spiral taters to share.




I am not a fish sandwich kind of girl, but this was outstanding. Crunchy, tender, and light. Washed down with a cold IC Light – this was the perfect way to spend our Friday afternoon.


My Dad could not have been happier to visit his old hangout either, and was giggling like a school boy the entire time. HIGH-larious.


After lunch we stopped by the Primanti Brothers Bar & Grill which was right across the square from us – I couldn’t believe it! Primanti Brothers is famous for their sandwiches piled high with fries, and I’ve seen them featured on The Food Network a million times, but never realized it was right in downtown Pittsburgh. Cool!


I’d love to come back here someday to explore!


Alas, we had other plans for the afternoon, including a pit stop at Pittsburgh’s own Beer World on our way out of town. :)


Right. A warehouse of beer. The men were thrilled. ;)


After loading our already packed trunk with a million cases of brewed delicacies not found in the Midwest – Yuengling, anyone? – we got back on the road.


There was one more stop to make before heading to see my Aunt, Uncle and cousins in Steubenville.


Oglebay in nearby Wheeling, WV!


I told you a bit about Oglebay in Friday’s post – it’s a family resort type place (resort sounds stuffy – this place is not stuffy!) in Wheeling, WV, centered around a massive wooden lodge and a quaint lake, where we’d spend a week each summer growing up with our extended family. We used to fish for bluegill here for hours!


The family hasn’t gone in 15 years or so, and it was such a treat to wander around again. Everything seemed a little bit smaller seeing it through the eyes of a 28 year old vs 8 year old, but really, nothing’s changed much!


My Mom and I rented a paddle boat to cruise around the lake.


While the boys took it easy in the shade, my Dad, no doubt, filling Ben in on the countless summers spent here in the past. ;)


After playing at the lake we drove through the 30+ wooden and log cabins you can rent for the week.


Each cabin has a special name – Willow, Ivy, Azalea and the like – and it was fun driving past them all, remembering which ones we’ve stayed at.


We’re hoping to rent a couple of the cabins and get a big family reunion scheduled sometime in the next couple of years. As you know, the older you get, the harder it is to wrangle everybody up!


On the way out we spent some time overlooking Oglebay’s big outdoor swimming pool – the diving boards where my brother nearly knocked himself out one summer, long since removed.


Then wrapped up the blast from the past by visiting the driving range, which overlooks Oglebay’s grounds. This part of the country is beautiful, people! :)


Our final stop of the trip was Steubenville, OH, my Dad’s hometown (sheesh – I feel like we packed 10 days worth of stuff into 3!)


Friday and Saturday were spent catching up with my Aunt, Uncle, cousin Kelly, and her 2 year old daughter Shya, whom I just met for the first time this trip.

Shya is thesweetest little girl, and took an immediate liking to Ben (as most children do – he is seriously the baby whisperer!) They were semi inseparable the entire time we were there. ;)


In between tea parties and playing dress up, we dined on DiCarlo’s Pizza – a Steubenville STAPLE!


This place has looked the same since my Dad started coming when he was a kid and, honest to God, has the best pizza in the country. We look forward to stuffing our faces with it every time we come to town.


The crust is thin and crispy, and the cheese and pepperoni on top are added after it’s been cooked so it’s warm and just barely melted.


Ugh – that sauce too. Just, freaking ridiculously delicious.


Worth the 12 hour drive alone!


On our last night in town we all attended the town’s Dean Martin festival together.


Dean was born & raised in Steubenville, so 14 years ago they started this 2-day festival with Dean Martin and other members of the rat pack impersonators. It is a HOOT!

Literally I think the entire town of Steubenville crams themselves into the Spot Bar, where it’s held.


We ate, drank, and became very merry, while listening to the costumed impersonators sing song after song from the era, into the wee hours of the morning.

Saturday was my parent’s 33rd wedding anniversary, and I really don’t think they would have wanted to spend it anywhere else.

Us either! We all had a ball and, more than anything, were just happy to be with family. :)

The warm fuzzies came to a screeching halt when the alarm went off at 5:45 this morning, but, you know, this is the price you pay to hear “Neil Diamond” sing Sweet Caroline until 2am. HA! ;)


After 5 days on the road, we are nearly home (currently blogging from my mobile office!) and I can’t wait to not spend an extended amount of time in a car for a the next few days. :) Thanks for “coming along” on my Ohio vacation, and I’ll be back with regularly scheduled programming starting tomorrow! Have a great night!

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  1. Wow! You guys did pack in a lot in such a short amount of time. Looks like a ton of fun!

  2. LOVE your top in the first pic! What a fun lil road trip!

  3. Ktlovespie 06.17.2012

    Looks like you guys had a lot of fun! I squee-d a bit when I saw you were in Pittsburgh since I’m from PA (though not so close to Pittsburgh)

    I’ve been to that exact Primanti Bros you pictured and sadly, it didn’t live up to the hype.
    Terrible service- there were only 2 servers for the entire place
    Dirty tables- one table had garbage and trays on it for almost our whole meal there plus the place just felt grimy and sticky
    Dirty bathrooms- my mother didn’t want to touch anything in there
    and the food was meh- fries were greasy and it was just kind of bland. I actually saw one of the cooks go over to the register, handle money (you know how dirty that stuff is?!) and then go back to cooking, without changing his gloves.
    Maybe the other locations are better but this one was a dissappointment. I will definitely have to try the Oyster House though!

  4. Suz 06.17.2012

    LOVE that white top you’re wearing in the first few pics! Where do they get it from? They’d better ship to New Zealand!

  5. Caitlin 06.17.2012

    I can’t believe you were in Pittsburgh this weekend! I live there (here?) and think it’s one of the best cities around :) Next time you come, you should definitely check out the Strip District, right next to Downtown/Market Square, where you were this time. Foodie and specialty shop heaven!

  6. Mindy 06.17.2012

    Looks like a FUN (and fast!) trip. Thanks for sharing! I’d love to know 2 things when you get home and things settle down. How did you set up your phone to make your “mobile office”? That sounds like an awesome trick. We just drove back 12+ hours to DM from Colorado the other day. I spent many of those hours staring at my iphone (which is wonderful, but tiny) so being able to be on my laptop would have been AMAZING! Secondly, what kind of camera do you have? You always take beautiful pictures that are so clear and full of color. It’s about time for a new camera for me, so I’m taking all of the recommendations that I can get.
    Love your blog – it’s the first one I look at. Thanks for sharing your time and talent.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 06.18.2012

      I use an app called Tether on my iPhone. I’m not sure it’s being sold anymore, but it’s definitely worth a try! The pictures in the post were a mix of my Mom’s Canon Digital Elph, my iPhone, and my Nikon D3000, which is what I primarily use for the blog! :)

  7. Jen A 06.17.2012

    Pittsburgh is awesome! And if you go back, you should definitely check out the Primanti’s location in the Strip District!

  8. Jessie 06.17.2012

    I can’t believe you were in Steubenville! I go to Franciscan University and follow your blog religiously! :)

  9. Lisa 06.17.2012

    Loved this! My old stomping grounds… I went to school at Bethany College, about 15 minutes from Oglebay if you continue to wind down Route 88 a little further into the boonies. It’s so beautiful and simple – always great to see positive notes about WV out there!

  10. Lori 06.17.2012

    It looks like you struck some good chords with your post today! It’s exciting to see you post about PIttsburgh since I will be going there for the first time this Wednesday to watch the Twins play the PIrates! I’ve heard Pittsburgh is a cool city and I am so excited to see PNC Park. It sounds like we will need to check out the Strip District given the advice of your readers :)

  11. Megan 06.17.2012

    Looks like you had a great time! Your family is so cute! I love the orange top you have on in the last picture. Adorable! Where did you get it?

  12. J'nee Reade 06.17.2012

    Kristen…I just noticed on your husband’s wrist in the last photo of him sleeping is a bracelet that I believe says, “Just Try and Ruin My Day.” Is this what it reads? If so, I am curious as to how you know the man behind the bracelet, Brian Pritchard? Brian and I grew up together and graduated high school together in 2003. Small world!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 06.18.2012

      It does! :) Brian and my husband Ben worked together before Brian passed away. He hasn’t taken the bracelet off since.

  13. Amy 06.17.2012

    What a fun trip……………thanks for sharing!!!

  14. Jen 06.17.2012

    Thanks for sharing, what great memories to cherish!

  15. Kate Bentley 06.17.2012

    Thanks so much for sharing! I love getting my Iowa girl post everyday! I’ve made lots of your recipes and they are delicious! Your blog really does a great job of showing the fun things you do without sounding corny like other blogs! Thanks for sharing!

  16. brooke 06.17.2012

    Yay for Yuengling! Oh- and the rest of the trip looked great too! ;)

  17. omg… i remember going to THAT pool!! and those cabins!?!?!? except when we went to band camp there our cabins were the more rustic (aka old) ones. no curtains. just concrete floors with bathroom stalls and shower stalls. and a mess hall. ahhhh the good ole days!

    glad to see you had fun in MY old stomping grounds!!


  18. Afton 06.17.2012

    Long post, loved all the pics, almost felt like we were vacationing with you! That picture in Pittsburgh of the building with the black windows reminds me of Princpal’s Corporate 2 building downtown. Can you see it? And Yuengling! I was introduced to Yuengling during my semester in Maryland. Love it! Why can’t it come here to Iowa???

  19. Pat 06.17.2012

    We live in Iowa now but used to live in Philly and Yuengling beer is the best. Enjoy it.

  20. Jess S 06.17.2012

    I was in Pittsburgh last summer for a conference and we were pleasantly surprised at what a wonderful city it is! (probably what lots of people say about Des Moines!) :-) Unlike the previous commenter we luckily had a great meal at Primanti Bros but an even better one at Fat Head’s Saloon, a must-stop if you go back.

  21. Maria W 06.17.2012

    Thanks for taking all of us on vacation! It’s great to get to meet your family along the way, too! Thanks! Love your blog!

  22. Sounds like you guys had a wonderful time! You were a lot of places in a very short amount of time! I’d be snoozing in the car at the end of the trip for sure!

  23. Niecyrn 06.17.2012

    Glad you had such a good time!! That’s too funny about the Beer Warehouse. Love Love Love Yeungling Beer made in good ‘ol Pottsville, Pennsylvania!! It’s the oldest active brewery in the US. They give a kick a#% tour if you’re ever in the area =)

  24. Kate 06.17.2012

    …and you’ve now succeeded in making my husband (who claims he never looks over my shoulder while I’m on the computer and just got seriously busted) homesick and me hungry (I always snag the corner pieces; they’re by far the best.). :)

  25. Erica 06.17.2012

    Hi there! It was so nice to meet you in Pittsburgh! Sorry for the lunch time ambush!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 06.18.2012

      Hey Erica! Oh my gosh, no worries – it was great to meet you! My Dad was talking about it for days… ;)

  26. Lisa S 06.17.2012

    The pictures and description of Oglebay reminded me a bit of the resort from Dirty Dancing, minus, you know, Patrick Swayze. :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 06.18.2012

      YES! I have always struggled to try and explain Oglebay to people, and this is a great example! Using it from now on :)

  27. Rachel 06.17.2012

    Aaahh!!! I’ve been to so many places you took pictures of & I’m so horribly homesick now! :( Glad you had a great time, though…And the previous commenters are right–The next time you visit Pittsburgh, you’ve got to check out the Strip District.

  28. Anne 06.17.2012

    Your pictures show some of my favorite places and old haunts (Oglebay Park was basically my backyard growing up and I lived in Pittsburgh for several years). Love seeing them on your blog!

  29. Sarah Gilmore 06.18.2012


  30. Trisha 06.18.2012

    Love Yeungling! Also love that you can only get it in certain states, makes it so much more of a treat! Did you know that out there, they just call it “lager” so if you walk into a bar and order a Yeungling, they automatically know you’re a tourist. ;)

  31. Sarah E. 06.18.2012

    That is so crazy! My husband’s stepdad (and his family) are from there. My husband actually lived in Steubenville for a few years and I’ve been there twice for 4th of July. I NEVER hear of anyone even knowing where it is :P

  32. Nicole S 06.18.2012

    Ahhh I can’t believe you were in Pittsburgh! I walk through Market Square every day during lunch! I moved here 5 years ago, and STILL stop to take pics of the bridges and skylines at least once a week. It really is beautiful.
    Glad you had a nice trip!

  33. Jenn 06.18.2012

    So glad you got to take a glimpse into the city that I love! Pittsburgh is my favorite place on Earth.

    The Strip District is a muuuuuust. We’re just under an hour away now, but once every couple of months we make a trip to stock up on all the good stuff!

  34. Raechelle 06.18.2012

    Primanti Brothers is so good! Next time you’re in the Burgh you have to go :) We also used to stock up on Yuengling when we were in PA, luckily they sell it in Ohio now! The release day was practically a state holiday lol

  35. Robyn 06.18.2012

    What a fun road trip! I am 1 1/2 hours east of the ‘Burgh! It is a fun city and you will have a lot to do on your next trip! Beer World=Good Times!!

  36. ange r. 06.18.2012

    Ah!!!!!!!!!! This was awesome and is getting me excited for this weekend… I’m flying into Pittsburgh on Thursday to spend the day with my friend, and then I’m headed to Wheeling (WJU) for my college reunion (hopefully a trip to Oglebay!! And my parents will be driving through Stubenville to come and visit for a day too. Also… Di Carlos pizza – MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmm. Except I’ve only had the one from Elm Grove in WV. I think I stood in line for 1.5 hours one night to get a tray…. Mmmmmm…. I can’t wait for this weekend!!!

  37. ellen 06.18.2012

    I was in Pittsburgh fir the first time two years ago, and yes, it’s a great city! Primanti Bros is so good, you have to go there next time. Another neat place my friend took me to was the Church Brewery, which is in, what do you know, an old church from 1902. Best pierigies I’ve ever had!
    Oh yeah, and I also drove home with a trunk full of Yuengling for my hubby!

    • ellen 06.18.2012

      *pierogies, i am a terrible ipad typer.

  38. Denise 06.18.2012

    I’m a born and bred Pittsburgher now living in Western Iowa and this post made me a little homesick and thrilled that you enjoyed my hometown!

    I agree with everyone else here that as a foodie you need to visit the Strip District and try the fish at Wholey’s. And love Fiori’s Pizza in Brookline. Best pizza hands down!

    Go Steelers!

  39. heather 06.18.2012

    yeahhhh yuengling! remind me to fly you and ben out here to new york one of these days to try Lombardi’s pizza though–none of this “west virginia has the best pizza” nonsense! just playing…sorta ;)

    • heather 06.18.2012

      oops…i mean none of this “steubenville* has the best pizza” nonsense. still extending my offer though!

  40. Kelsie 06.18.2012

    I grew up in Wheeling!!

  41. Ashley 06.19.2012

    I have always wanted to go to Pittsburgh to try that sandwich!! I saw it on FN as well and ever since I think about that city I connect it to that fry stacked deliciousness!

    Also, I work with the Budweiser distributors in Iowa and Missouri and I was there last week! I went out to eat one night in Ft. Madison and thought I could order a yeungling. NOpE ! Denied! I will talk to the big guys there and try to get it in your state :)

  42. Shayna 06.19.2012

    I live in Texas, the land of Shiner — which is great — but I miss Yuengling SO MUCH! Also, I love your gray shorts. Wherever did you find them?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 06.19.2012

      Thanks! They’re from Old Navy. I like their shorts because they come in longer lengths vs just selling booty shorts!

  43. Ashley 06.19.2012

    It literally made my day that you were in Pittsburgh! I work in Market Square! Too bad you weren’t there on Thursday the Farmer’s Market is there :-)! I’m studying for the bar exam right now so my husband’s been on dinner duty. I’ve been emailing him your recipes so there’s been a lot of “Iowa Girl Eats” at our house for dinner ;-)! I was so excited to see this post and my husband actually understood what i was talking about when I yelled at him that you were here! Hopefully I’ll run into you next time you’re here!!

  44. Alicia 06.19.2012

    I live in Eldora, IA now but I graduated HS from Weirton, WV which you might have gone by to get from Stuebenville to Pittsburgh! That’s so cool! Love your blog!

  45. It looks like you had a fun trip! I’m so glad you enjoyed your time in Pittsburgh – it’s always fun and interesting to see my hometown through the eyes of a first-time visitor!

  46. Brittany 06.21.2012

    Pittsburgher here – best Primanti’s is the one in the Strip District (not as dirty as it sounds, I promise!). It’s open 24-7 and the waiters are absolutely hilarious!

  47. […] split up and while I fixed Finn spaghetti for dinner and played with him at bath time, Ben the baby whisperer jiggled, swayed, and shushed poor Evie til there were no more tears and sleep finally came, then […]

  48. Kara 07.31.2012

    Used to go to Oglebay all the time as a kid – such a great place! I hope they’re still putting on the fountain light show. Looks like y’all had a great time!!

  49. Sarah 01.21.2014

    This post made me so excited! I’m from Ohio, but both of my parents (and therefore, all of my relatives) are from Wheeling, WV! Family in Pittsburgh, too. We would go down to Wheeling nearly every other weekend to see family all my life. And every holiday was spent there. I even got married there last June (June 2013) in Wheeling since most of my family is there! We had to fly in to Pittsburgh to go to the wedding. Your pictures made me so happy because I grew up paddleboating at that lake. My in-laws stayed in the Oglebay cabins for our wedding! My parents spent their wedding night at Wilson Lodge there! And my grandfather lives behind the golf course. How fun! If you ever go back, check out Sandscrest Conference and Retreat Center there. That’s where our wedding was and it’s beautiful!

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