Attraction of the Week: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of the best places in Pittsburgh to enjoy nature. Located in the busy Oakland neighborhood, this conservatory is definitely an oasis in a congested urban area. The 15 acre space includes 23 diverse gardens, as well as a 14 room glasshouse. This conservatory is well known for its’ sustainable practices, seasonal events, flower shows, and beautiful bonsai and orchid collections. If you are visiting Pittsburgh and need a break from the hustle and bustle, plan an hour or 2 to explore this beautiful space. Conveniently, Phipps is located in beautiful Schenley park, just 10 minutes from downtown.
History of Phipps
Phipps Conservatory opened back in 1893, and has continued on serving as the green space of Pittsburgh for the past 125+ years. The space was a gift to the City of Pittsburgh from philanthropist Henry W. Phipps. At the time, the lush grounds were a great natural escape for steel workers exposed to heavy pollution. When it first opened, the conservatory housed 6000 plants. Over the years, the conservatory has expanded to include many new gardens. Most notably, the garden has carried on a tradition of year-round seasonal flower shows.
One of the highlights at the Phipps is the beautiful collection of Chihuly artwork. Artist Dale Chihuly is renowned for his amazing glass blown art pieces. If you ever find yourself in the Tampa metro, do visit the wonderful Chihuly Collection in St. Petersburg. Since premiering: Chihuly at Phipps: Gardens and Glass in 2017, the conservatory decided to keep a few glass sculptures as a permanent display. You can find them amongst the various gardens. As they are very colorful and eye catching, you can’t miss them! A few of the stunning pieces:
Phipps has received much praise regarding the wonderful orchid and bonsai collections. In 2018, two of Phipps’s slipper orchids received honorary awards by the National Capital Orchid Society. The bonsai collection is also quite impressive. Take a look below.
Other impressive plant collections include: palms, ferns, fruits and spices, desert plants, and plants native to Pittsburgh. Unlike other conservatories, the collection is easy to explore and well organized as there is only one way to go. You will follow a one way pathway around the grounds. It can get busy, and thus, it’s best to visit on a weekday morning if you would like to explore in peace. Plan on about an hour to take it all in. As the majority of the conservatory gardens are indoors, this is a great rainy day/winter activity.
Phipps puts on a number of interesting events throughout the year including seasonal flower shows and a popular Holiday Magic festival. This festive event features colorful poinsettias, holiday lights, and Christmas trees. A few photos from the summer 2022 flower show: Monet in Bloom featuring summer displays based on artist Claude Monet’s impressionist paintings.
Location, Pricing, and Parking
Phipps is located in Schenely Park at: 1 Schenley Drive.
Parking is free in the center aisle. Also, metered parking (free on Sundays) is available if spots are full.
Tickets are timed and must be booked online. Pricing is $20 per adult, $18 per senior and student, $12 per child.
Dining: Cafe Phipps, rated one of the best museum restaurants by Forbes, is located on-site. Additionally, there are lots of local restaurants in the Oakland area. The Porch at Schenley is a popular brunch destination.