Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of America's most historic public gardens, full of exotic plant species since 1893. Its elaborate 15-acre (six-hectare) layout features mostly floral exhibits, as well as steel and glasswork Victorian greenhouse architecture. The conservatory was founded in the late 19th century by local steel magnate Henry Phipps and later given to the city of Pittsburgh. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark, as well as one of the greenest buildings in the country with a LEED-certified visitor center and production greenhouse.
Phipps Conservatory comprises some two dozen themed gardens and indoor areas, including a 14-room glasshouse, a tropical forest, sunken garden, orchid room, palm court, discovery garden, and desert room. Most visitors to the conservatory opt for a self-guided tour of the grounds, and depending on pace, this could take anywhere from 90 minutes to a full day. Phipps also offers guided tours of the conservatory and the production greenhouse, as well as special Center for Sustainable Landscapes tours focusing on the eco-friendly aspects of the buildings and landscapes.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Choose between a self-guided tour or hour-long guided group tour.
- Dress in layers for warm outdoor temperatures in summer and cool indoor temperatures in winter.
- Wear comfortable, slip-resistant shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
- All gardens are wheelchair accessible, with the exception of the Stove Room.
- Free Wi-Fi is available inside the garden cafe.
How to Get There
Phipps Conservatory is situated in the middle of Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood within Schenley Park. The easiest way to arrive is by car, and the gardens offers free visitor parking along Schenley Drive.
When to Get There
The conservatory is open daily from 9:30am to 5pm and remains open until 10pm on Friday evenings, allowing visitors to experience Phipps at night. Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be the quietest days, particularly during the late afternoon hours.
Seasonal Flower Shows at Phipps
Phipps Conservatory hosts special events throughout the year, including the popular Winter Flower Show and Light Garden in December and January, when hours are extended to 11pm. Other annual events include a seed and plant swap, orchid and bonsai show, and spring, summer, and fall seasonal flower shows.