Phipps Conservatory

1059 Shady Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15232

local ambassador favorite

A beautiful botanic garden that the whole family will love.

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh is a true oasis in the midst of a bustling metropolis.  The Conservatory strives to connect people to plants, trees and flowers that they may never experience up close otherwise.  Throughout the expansive grounds you’ll find every type of environment, from the arid cacti found in the Desert Room to the prehistoric species found in the Fern Room. 

It’s fun to imagine as you walk the grounds that you’re visiting a faraway and exotic locale while not even leaving the city’s center.  Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses while you’re there... literally.  The smells are just as much a part of the experience as the beauty of the plants, especially in an area like the Tropical Fruit and Spice Room.  I must admit, I was more impressed with this attraction than I ever could have anticipated...

Many of the areas are not only home to lush greenery and vibrant blooms.  Throughout the exhibits, you can find fountains, sculptures and fishponds that help to create a peaceful space to stop and appreciate what’s around you. The immersive sensory experience at the Phipps made our trip there an absolute hit with the kids.

Little ones will surely enjoy educational opportunities like the Discovery Garden where hands-on learning and play are encouraged.  There’s also the Nature Lab, a sustainable classroom space that offers a learning space for young and old. The Gallery Room houses a play farmers’ market and kitchen, the perfect place for mom, dad, grandparents, or whomever to rest while the kids release some energy.

While it seems like a conservatory might not be a great spot for kids, our 6- and 8-year-old travel companions thoroughly enjoyed our entire visit. The gardens are truly a marvel to behold and the ability to move from one biome to another with just a few steps was beyond fun. (While The Phipps is fun for any family, you may find that toddlers are less engaged, as most of the attraction is a “no touch” zone!). We recommend allotting for around 3 hours for your visit if you want to take your time and view the grounds fully.

The grounds and gardens, except for the Stove Room, are wheelchair and stroller accessible.  Be sure to remind little ones that they cannot pick flowers or enter the flower beds.  Outside food is not permitted but there is a café available. It features wholesome foods such as salads and sandwiches. The kid’s menu includes an almond butter and jelly sandwich and turkey sandwich, but you won’t find any hot dogs, pizza, or nachos. If you’ve got a very picky eater, be sure to review the menu before you go!  (If you’d rather pack a lunch from home, a large park with plenty of space for a picnic is available across the street!)

Backpacks and large bags are also not permitted so be sure to fit the essentials into pockets or purses. Lockers are also available for use if needed. Parking is plentiful in front of the gardens in both free and metered spaces! 

When dressing for your trip, keep in mind that there are many temperature fluctuations throughout the Phipps. Dressing in layers would be advisable as some rooms are kept very warms, while others can be chillier.

See the website for information about their flexible memberships as well as special events taking place on the premises, many of which are free to attend with the price of admission.

If you’re making your way to Pittsburgh, I encourage you to make Phipps one of your stops. I promise that you won’t regret it!

Katie Raspa
Baltimore, MD
Our work in Baltimore is truly a family affair. Husband and wife, Matt and Katie, work together to head up our ambassador team in Charm City. Katie is a Maryland native and has lived in the state her whole life. She moved to Baltimore in 2007 after graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park with a bachelor's degree in early childhood education. She has been working in the field of early childhood education as a teacher and family coach for the past 12 years. Katie also holds a Masters of Education in Literacy from Loyola University. She is passionate about giving kids and families the knowledge and tools that they need to thrive. Matt grew up in the Highlandtown neighborhood of Baltimore. As a city native, Matt is a great resource on all that the city has to offer. After months of helping Katie explore the city for her role at a Happy Active Family, he decided to put his love of writing to use and officially come on board as an ambassador. Matt and Katie have two girls, ages 5 and 7. They spend their weekends camping, hiking, or exploring other hidden gems in their area. Tap into their insider knowledge by downloading the app today!
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