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Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Located in the heart of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of the true gems of the city.
The conservatory was donated to the city of Pittsburgh in 1893 by Henry Phipps and has been expanded and updated many times over the years.
With beautiful seasonal exhibits, educational programs and classes for all ages, Phipps offers year-round fun for everyone, and it is a definite must-see attraction when visiting the city.
Plan your visit
Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting Phipps:
- Plan on spending at least 2 hours.
- For a bite to eat, there is the Cafe Phipps.
- The Shop at Phipps sells all sorts of gift items.
- The facility is handicapped accessible and strollers are permitted.
- Restrooms are available throughout the facility.
- Lockers can be rented to store extra items.
- It can get warm in the conservatory, so dress accordingly.
- There is a fair amount of walking, so wear comfortable shoes.
- Don't forget your camera because there is always a good photo opportunity.
- Some free parking is available, but it can fill up quickly. There is also limited street parking for a fee. For special events, plan on arriving early to secure a parking spot.
For the most current information on Phipps, make sure to visit their website at www.phipps.conservatory.org.
Flowers at Phipps throughout the seasonsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Hours of Operation
- Daily: 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
- Fridays until 10 p.m.
- Extended hours during holiday programs, check website for exact times.
- The gift shop is open during hours of operation
These prices are effective as of December 2012, and are subject to change.
- Members: Free
- Adults: $12
- Seniors (62 and older): $11
- Students (with valid ID): $11
- Children 2 to 18: $9
- Children under 2: Free
Tip: If you live in or near Pittsburgh, I highly recommend purchasing an annual membership. We go at least 8 times a year and our family membership pays for itself in about 3 visits. Members also receive discounts on classes as well as invitations to various special events. Consult the website for information on becoming a member.
One Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412/622 - 6914
What you'll see at Phipps Conservatory
The conservatory has an easy to follow floor plan that is wheelchair accessible. Here is a tour of what you can expect to see during your visit to Phipps.
Plaza Entrance - Stop 1
Your visit to Phipps begins at the ground floor entrance. Upon entry, you'll find the cafe on your right and the gift shop on your left. Straight ahead will be the admissions and information area, as well as restrooms and elevators. Look up and you will see the first of many Dale Chihuly glass masterpieces that are located throughout the conservatory.
Palm Court - Stop 2
Tip: Once in the Palm Court, an important thing to remember is that visitors always head to the right. Everyone goes in the same direction, which makes visiting easier.
After climbing the grand staircase, or taking the elevators, to the main floor, you will enter the Palm Court. Filled with lush towering tropical plants, as well as beautiful seasonal displays, this is where the real fun begins.
Head down the path on your right that is lined with dense plants and glass sculptures, and you end up in the Serpentine Room.
Serpentine Room - Stop 3
The Serpentine Room exhibit changes seasonally, and the brick paved winding path leads visitors past gorgeous floral displays and water features to the lush Fern Room.
With a number of pieces on exhibit at Phipps, Dale Chihuly is a name you will see throughout the conservatory. Originally from Tacoma, Washington and known for his exquisite glass pieces, Dale Chihuly's artwork appears in museums and botanical gardens throughout the world. He is the recipient of numerous awards and has produced hundreds of works.
Fern Room - Stop 4
The temperature and humidity immediately go up when entering the Fern Room at Phipps. Look around and you will see every fern imaginable, including some that look like deer antlers and are as large as palm fronds, and some that are as small as a pinky finger.
Keep heading to your right and you come to one of the real jewels of the conservatory, the Orchid Room.
Orchid Room - Stop 5
At its peak in January and February, when the conservatory hosts its annual Orchid and Tropical Bonsai show, the Orchid Room offers incredible floral displays throughout the year. From purples to yellows, to every variety known, the Orchid Room never disappoints, and is a favorite among visitors.
Continue along the path and back through the far side of the Fern Room to the next stop on the tour, the Stove Room.
Stove Room - Stop 6
With some steep slopes, the Stove Room is not accessible to wheelchairs, but it is home to some lovely flowering tropical plants. In the summer, this area plays host to butterflies of all kinds in the annual butterfly exhibit. If you are lucky, one may just land on your shirt!
South Conservatory - Stop 7
Head back out of the Stove Room, back through the Serpentine Room, veer to the right, and you end up in the South Conservatory. This is a grand room that offers dazzling displays of blooms in the spring, summer and fall, and an incredible train layout in the winter months. It is another favorite of visitors.
Once you are done admiring this room, go through the doors on the right and you come to the Tropical Spice & Fruit Room.
Tropical Fruit & Spice Room - Stop 8
With some of the more interesting plants in the collection, the Tropical Fruit & Spice Room never disappoints. You'll find coffee bean bushes, banana, lemon, orange, and kumquat trees along with many other exotic fruit and spice plants.
Don't pass by the double doors at the end of the room. They lead to the Children's Discovery Garden, your next stop.
Children's Discovery Garden - Stop 9
Fun for all ages, the Children's Discovery Garden offers interactive fountains, places for kids to hide, a sensory garden and all sorts of interesting plantings. It has a new garden area where children can play among bushes shaped like caterpillars and pretend to plant their own gardens. The dahlia display in the late summer is stunning.
If you are ever able to get the family to leave this area, head back through the Tropical Spice & Fruit Room and go to the next stop on your right.
Center for Sustainable Landscapes
Recently opened in February 2013, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes is "one of the world's first certified living buildings" according to Phipps' website. It is used for education, research and administration.
This facility, "captures and treats all of its own water" ,"generates its own electricity" , and serves as a model for anyone wishing to design and live "greener".
Tropical Forest Conservatory - Stop 10
Completed in the last few years, the Tropical Forest Conservatory is a huge area where visitors can follow the winding path through a tropical forest, while water flows alongside the path and into a koi pond. There are treats for the senses in this area, along with various educational displays.
This is also home to the special events center and leads to the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes.
Head back out and follow the path on the right to the Gallery.
Gallery - Stop 11
The Gallery is home to various exhibits, along with an amazing plant called the "Swiss Cheese Plant" that seems to draw you into its tangle of roots. It also houses a play area for the younger visitors. On weekends there are potting stations where children can pot and take their own plant home.
Go through the double doors at the end of the room and you arrive at the Japanese Courtyard Garden.
Japanese Courtyard Garden - Stop 12
One of the most peaceful areas at Phipps, the Japanese Courtyard Garden is full of blooming azaleas in the springtime and bonsai displays in the summer. A bench by the babbling brook is the perfect viewing spot to watch the nesting birds. In the summer, take a walk through the organic vegetable gardens to see what is growing.
Make your way back in the building ,via the Gallery, and to the Sunken Garden.
Sunken Garden - Stop 13
The Sunken Garden is always stunning, with seasonal flower displays and fountains. For the Queen of England's Diamond Jubilee, geraniums and other flowers made up the pattern of the Union Jack. This room is always a favorite for photographers.
Keep an eye out for the Desert Room on the right. That is the next stop on the tour.
Desert Room - Stop 14
A brief tour of the Desert Room
Take your jackets off when you come to the Desert Room. The temperature is warm and it is home to all sorts of cacti and succulents. Among the highlights in this room is the Dale Chihuly sculpture hanging from the ceiling. This area is also home to the Agave americana which only blooms once in its lifetime.
It's just a short turn around the corner to the Victoria Room.
Victoria Room - Stop 15
Nearing the end of the tour, the Victoria Room is dominated by a central water feature which changes with the seasons.
Surrounding the water is a pathway of plants and flowers that leads to the Broderie Room.
Broderie Room - Stop 16
The Broderie Room is a favorite for weddings. Along with the seasonal flower displays, there is a wishing well where many wishes have been made. Visitors are not permitted to walk through the sculpted garden area, but it is lovely to look at.
Continue along the pathway, back through the Victoria Room and you end up at the last stop inside the conservatory, the East Room.
East Room - Stop 17
The final indoor stop at Phipps, the East Room is highlighted by a stream that runs through the center. The displays change with every season and the room provides a dazzling finish to a Phipps visit.
Once you are done admiring this room, follow the pathway, always keeping to the right, and you end up back at the plaza entrance.
Before you leave, take time to visit the outdoor garden spaces.
Outdoor Areas - Final Stop
There are some lovely outdoor areas to visit at Phipps. The main garden is to the right of the conservatory, and offers pathways through established trees and various seasonal plantings. It also offers a great view of the city.
To the left of the building are the aquatic gardens, which offer displays of water lilies and other flowers.
Would you like to visit Phipps?
Visit Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Whether you live nearby or far away, no stop to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is complete without a visit to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. It can brighten up a dreary winter day or cool down a hot summer one. During the holidays, the conservatory comes alive with poinsettias and candlelit pathways. The promise that warmer weather is around the corner comes during the spring flower show.
Locals should take advantage of the many classes and programs available.
Whatever time of year you plan on visiting, you will not be disappointed!
© 2012 Glimmer Twin Fan