Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens: Visiting Details 2023

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a gorgeous Victorian-style building.

Nestled in the Oakland neighborhood, this renowned destination has been providing a world-class garden experience since 1893. Spanning 15 acres, it features a 14-room glasshouse and 23 distinct gardens.

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From sustainable architecture to seasonal flower shows, exclusive exhibits, and renowned orchid and bonsai collections, there’s something for everyone to explore and enjoy.

What to Expect

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a fantastic destination for families looking to enjoy nature in an affordable and engaging way.

Whether you’re a plant enthusiast or simply looking for a beautiful place to explore, Phipps offers an unforgettable experience for everyone.

With its expansive indoor space and occasional outdoor exhibits, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a sight to behold.

While visiting on a pleasant day is recommended to fully appreciate the outdoor section, don’t worry if the weather isn’t ideal. There’s still plenty to see and do indoors.

For plant lovers, this place is a paradise. The conservatory boasts a remarkable selection of plants and trees, showcasing the diversity and beauty of nature.

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Keep an eye out for the informative signs scattered throughout the gardens.

These signs provide interesting facts and details about the plants and trees you encounter, adding an educational element to your visit.

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It’s an excellent opportunity to learn something new while enjoying the stunning surroundings.

What truly sets Phipps apart is the evident dedication put into every room and exhibit. The attention to detail and thoughtful design create a breathtaking atmosphere that will leave you in awe.

What’s to See and Do

Get ready for an adventure filled with awe-inspiring beauty and educational experiences.

You’ll be surrounded by a vibrant tapestry of colors, fragrances, and textures that will transport you to different corners of the world.

They have thoughtfully curated displays that cater to every interest and age group.

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Tropical Forest Conservatory

Immerse yourself in the largest indoor display area of Phipps Conservatory, where you’ll discover a multi-level exhibit brimming with lush tropical forest flora.

This fascinating space features: 

  • Cascading waterfalls
  • Winding pathways
  • A fish pond
  • And interactive learning stations
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During our visit, we were delighted to find the Tropical Forest Conservatory showcasing African produce. It was a fascinating experience to witness the rich diversity of plant life from Africa right here in Pittsburgh.

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The Japanese Courtyard Garden

This beautiful space is a harmonious blend of two artistic traditions: the Japanese garden and bonsai.

Divided into two main areas, the garden offers a delightful balance between the dry and wet elements.

The dry garden welcomes you with gravel paths, stone lanterns, and meticulously positioned trees and shrubs. As you stroll along the tracks, take in the calming atmosphere and let the tranquility wash over you.

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The wet garden boasts a picturesque koi pond, where colorful koi fish gracefully swim, a mesmerizing waterfall, and a meandering stream.

One of the highlights of the Japanese Courtyard Garden is the captivating display of bonsai trees. These miniature wonders of nature are carefully cultivated and pruned to resemble their full-sized counterparts.

As you admire these meticulously shaped trees, you’ll appreciate the artistry and dedication to creating these living masterpieces.

It’s a popular destination for visitors of all ages, providing a place to unwind, contemplate, and marvel at the beauty of the natural world.

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The Palm Court

The Palm Court is a true gem within Phipps Conservatory, built in 1893 as part of the original 9-room conservatory. 

As you step into this historical space, you’ll be greeted by a magnificent display of palm trees, swaying gracefully above you. 

These palms are a diverse bunch, featuring species like date palms, Mexican fan palms, and royal palms.

But the Palm Court doesn’t stop at palms alone! It’s a haven for various tropical plants, each more captivating than the last. 

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In the heart of the Palm Court, you’ll find a majestic focal point. This large fountain creates a soothing ambiance amidst the verdant greenery. 

Prepare to be dazzled even further, as The Palm Court is also home to several permanent Chihuly glass installations. 

These mesmerizing artworks, such as Fiesta of Light, Filigree, and Venetians, add a touch of whimsy and vibrant colors to this already beautiful space.

Your little ones will be captivated by the interplay of glass and light, sparking their imagination.

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The Fern Room

As you step into the Fern Room, you’ll immediately feel a sense of calm wash over you.

The air is filled with a refreshing, earthy scent, and the soft, dappled light creates a serene ambiance.

But the Fern Room is not just a peaceful retreat—it’s also a treasure trove of botanical knowledge. Here, you’ll discover an incredible array of ferns and cycads, some of the oldest plants on our planet.

One of the highlights of the Fern Room is an awe-inspiring sight: an enormous cocoa tree that stands proudly, reaching over 30 feet tall. Its majestic crown of leaves spans an impressive 20 feet wide, casting a gentle shade over the surrounding flora.

This remarkable tree was planted in the conservatory back in 1902 and stands as one of the oldest cocoa trees in the United States.

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Play Farmers’ Market

Located in the dedicated Gallery Room, the Play Farmers’ Market has a delightful array of toy food, shopping carts, and cash registers.

Kids can let their imaginations soar as they take on the roles of farmers, shoppers, and cashiers. It’s like stepping into a miniature world of grocery shopping!

But this is no ordinary playtime experience. As children engage in pretend play, they also discover valuable lessons about where their food comes from and how to make healthy choices.

They can explore the process of growing and harvesting food and even head over to the play kitchen to whip up delicious meals using the “purchased” ingredients.

The Play Farmers’ Market is not only educational but also an incredible way for families to bond and spend quality time together.

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Children’s Discovery Garden

This outdoor oasis is a dynamic space designed for discovery, learning, and play for visitors of all ages.

Every corner holds a new opportunity to learn and engage with nature.

One highlight of our visit was the chance for kids to pot their own tomato plants in the Discovery Garden.

This hands-on experience taught them about planting and nurturing a plant. Plus, they got to take their tomato plant home!

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The Butterfly Forest

The Butterfly Forest is home to a variety of butterflies, including: 

  • Monarchs 
  • Swallowtails
  • And blue morphos

At Phipps, the butterflies are raised in a special nursery and released into the exhibit when they’re ready to fly.

The exhibit is kept at a warm, humid temperature, ideal for the butterflies’ comfort and survival.

The Butterfly Forest offers a captivating opportunity for both young and old to learn about the wonders of nature in a truly interactive and awe-inspiring way.


Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens offers a variety of tours, including:

  • Self-guided tours: These are free and available to all visitors. You can pick up a guide at the Welcome Center or download one from the Phipps website.
  • Guided tours: Led by knowledgeable guides covering specific topics or areas. $15 per adult, $12 per child (2-18).
  • Production Greenhouse Tours: Behind-the-scenes glimpse at plant cultivation. $15 per adult, $12 per child (2-18).

Phipps also offers workshops, lectures, and classes to enhance your visit.

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The Cafe Phipps

The Cafe Phipps is a certified green restaurant and serves no sweets at all.

Note: The two cafes, one at the entrance and one in the Tropical Room, do not open until 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively, so do not skip breakfast on your Phipps visit.


At Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, there’s always something exciting happening!

Here are some upcoming events that you won’t want to miss:

  • Tropical Forest Hawai’i: With over 2,000 plants representing the diverse ecosystems of Hawaii, including rainforests, mountains, and beaches, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to paradise. Take a leisurely stroll through the exhibit and marvel at the incredible plant life that thrives in these unique environments.
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  • Flowers Meet Fashion: Inspired by Billy Porter: Prepare to be dazzled by a collaboration between Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and the multi-talented Billy Porter. This exhibit, open until June 25, 2023, showcases exquisite floral arrangements inspired by Porter’s iconic fashion designs.

  • Summer Short Course: Growing and Using Herbs: On July 26, 2023 from 9am to 3:30pm, learn valuable tips and techniques from expert gardeners and discover the many ways you can incorporate herbs into your daily life, from cooking to crafting.

  • Jazz in the Garden: On Wednesday, July 19, 2023, from 6 pm to 8 pm, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens presents Jazz in the Garden, a captivating event that combines the magic of music with the tranquility of nature.

Tickets & Admission

Admission is $21.95 for adults, $19.95 for seniors (62+) and students over 18, $13.95 for children 2–18, and free for members and children under 2.

Pitt students can present their Pittsburgh campus student ID and gain free admission

Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.

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Hours & When to Go

The least crowded time to visit the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is during the week, early in the morning, or in the evening.

If you are visiting on a weekend, try to go during the off-season (late fall or early spring).

The average self-guided tour of the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens takes approximately 90 minutes. However, you can easily spend an entire day enjoying the beauty and serenity of both the indoor and outdoor gardens.

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Good to Know Before You Go

  • Tickets are timed, so you will need to choose a specific time slot for your visit.
  • The tour is going to include a lot of walking so make sure you have water and a good pair of shoes.
  • If you are visiting during the Christmas Lights season, make sure to visit at dusk or later to see the full effect.

Getting There & Parking

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is located at 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Free parking is located in the center island on Schenley Drive, making it easy for you to find a spot without any additional cost.

Alternatively, if you prefer street parking, metered parking is available on both sides of Schenley Drive.

The best part is that after 6 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, and all day on Sundays, metered parking is free!

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