Phipps Conservatory – Pittsburgh’s Best Botanical Gardens

Posted By Jeremy in Explore

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Phipps Conservatory in Oakland is one of the shining gems of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is true not only for the gorgeous plants and foliage that they show off in their massive botanical gardens, but also for their efforts in sustainability- Phipps Conservatory is one of the most energy efficient buildings in the world.

With dozens of themed rooms, an assortment of flowers and artwork that cycles quarterly in their seasonal flower shows, and improvements made every year, Phipps is an attraction that will keep you returning time and time again.

When we decided to write a review of this stellar attraction, we were debating on whether or not to feature one flower show, or go broad and share images from several. In the end we decided for the latter, purely because we don't want to give it all away. We want you to see it for yourself.

So come inside and let us give you a brief glimpse at why we love this attraction!

Phipps Conservatory is Absolutely Striking

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

The first thing visitors to Phipps will notice is that the building is quite striking.  With glass window panes covering nearly 100% of the facade, and the public exterior only being a small fraction of the entire property, you enter with a sense of wonder and excitement over what is to come.

My first impression when entering is actually never even about the flowers at all.  Phipps likes to hide their main attraction such that you hardly even see a single flower until you purchase your ticket and enter. But you know what? That's okay. 

The main lobby of Phipps is home to a beautiful piece of art by the world famous artist, Dale Chihuly, and often a few hints at the artwork that is on display in the current flower show.

Many Incredible Themed Rooms

Palm Court at Phipps

When it comes to viewing flowers and foliage at Phipps, you can expect to see a huge variety. From delicate orchids, unusual spices and fruits, to a full desert environment, Phipps Conservatory is home to many unique themed rooms that are designed and maintained meticulously.

Desert Room at Phipps

Although all of the rooms at Phipps are incredible (be sure to have an empty memory card for your camera when you go), we do have a few favorites that we end up spending the most time in during our visits.  They include the following:

  • Orchid Room
  • Desert Room
  • Japanese Courtyard
  • Tropical Fruit and Spice Room
  • Tropical Forest Conservatory
  • …and over a dozen other themed rooms with beautiful features.

Phipps Flower Shows

But as we said at the beginning of this article, we don't want to give it all away, so we're keeping the descriptions of the rooms brief here. Instead, we recommend you look at Phipps Conservatory's online tour to see just how many amazing rooms there are!

Seasonal Flower Shows Keep You Coming Back

Artwork at Phipps

To be honest, I've lost count of the number of times that I've visited Phipps in the last six years.  Where I'd probably visit any other city's botanical gardens only once every few years, Phipps has us going back every quarter thanks in part to their seasonal flower shows.

During each season, the conservatory changes themes with not only a significant overhaul of the flowers on display, but also of the art pieces that are hosted.  A good example of this is in the South Conservatory, one of the central rooms that I often consider to be one of my favorites.  This room often contains some of the focal points of the seasonal designs, and the two photos in this section illustrate the displays in recent years.

Christmas at Phipps Conservatory

The one note we have in regard to the seasonal flower shows is that Phipps tends to get quite busy at the opening week of one season, and may have more visible work going on before the launch of the next.  Be sure to check the schedule on their site to ensure you visit on a great day!

Visitors to Phipps Conservatory should plan for a visit of 90 minutes to two hours.  For current prices, hours of admission, and information on the current seasonal flower show, please check Phipps Conservatory's website.

For more from Phipps Conservatory, check out our reviews of their recent seasonal shows:

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