Located right in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens welcomes visitors year-round to its more than 15 acres of exhibits, gardens and botanical collections. A hidden gem only a couple miles from downtown Pittsburgh, visiting Phipps Conservatory should be a must on your itinerary!
A big thank you to Visit Pittsburgh for hosting me on my first visit to Phipps Conservatory!
The Phipps Conservatory first opened its doors in 1893 and has continued to welcome guests ever since. With a 14-room glasshouse and 23 distinct gardens, you will want to take your time and savor all the plant life and artwork it includes!
Chihuly at Phipps Conservatory
When you first enter the new welcome center, the striking Chihuly chandelier nearly takes your breath away! Phipps first introduced Chihuly in 2007, and since then glass art has become a staple of many of the gardens and displays at the conservatory.
My favorite piece of Dale Chihuly’s at the Phipps Conservatory, though, was the Desert Gold Star. Created specifically for the Desert Room, I love how it mimics that plant life.
Artwork Exhibits at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
While Chihuly might be the most well-known artist with pieces at Phipps, there are plenty of other masterpieces on display as well.
You can also see some of artist Jason Gamrath’s blue pitcher plants when you visit the Fern Room. The color is just striking against all the greenery!
My favorite of the glass pieces, though, are these Longfellows from Frabel. They can be found in the Orchid Room and are so fun and whimsical that I couldn’t stop staring at them! I loved how as you walked around the room, even more seemed to pop out that were hidden away in little nooks or behind plants.
Because I’m such a fan of whimsy, I also loved the heads peeking above the water in the fountain room. So fun and unexpected!
Phipps Conservatory Plant Collections
But don’t worry all you nature lovers, the quirkiness spills over into some of the plant exhibits as well! Look how much fun this guy is! Perfect for adults and kids to both get a chuckle!
And the colors! Man, the colors that are in nature are just stunning and Phipps has some gorgeous examples of that!
I love that nearly everything is in greenhouses so that you can enjoy visiting year-round! It also makes it a great rainy day activity! You’ll feel like you’re walking through an enchanted garden, but you’re completely enclosed and safe from any weather elements there might be that day!
Special Exhibits at Phipps Conservatory
Phipps also has special exhibits that rotate sometimes seasonally and other times yearly. When I visited (Sept. 2018), they were currently in the middle of their Tropical Forest Cuba exhibit and it was spectacular!
As you enter the 12,000 sq. ft., 60′ high conservatory you’re greeted by a 1949 Chevy Fleetline. Not only is a great spot to stop for a photo opp, but it’s right in line with some of the classic cars you’ll see driving around Cuba!
But then you enter the conservatory, and it feels like you’ve stepped into an authentic Cuban garden. Complete with gorgeous greenery, waterfalls and experience stations, this curated collection is worth making a trip to Phipps in Pittsburgh.
Is Phipps Conservatory Suitable for Kids
The answer is a resounding YES!!! From the quirky artwork and plant life to the interactive stations, kids would love a visit to Phipps! They even host camps and discovery programs for kids as well as provide hands-on learning for scouts and homeschool children.
And for those of you with toddlers, there are even interactive exhibits for them too!
Tips for Visiting Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh
- Plan to spend about 2 hours minimum in order to see everything.
- The gardens are handicap accessible with the exception of the Stove Room. In fact, they even have wheelchairs on site that guests can use free of charge on a first come, first serve basis.
- Plan your visit so you’re there over a meal time and can take advantage of the award-winning Cafe Phipps! Located right off the welcome center, it uses organic, locally-sourced ingredients as part of it’s commitment to serving food that is good for both people and the planet.
- Be sure to dress in layers if you are visiting on a cold day. While it is all enclosed, it is still a greenhouse and can get chilly during the winter.
- While there is some free parking available, Phipps encourages visitors to arrive by bike or public transportation. You can read more about the parking options HERE.
Be sure to follow along with Phipps Conservatory to plan your visit!