Find everything from palms and ferns, to orchids and desert flowers in one of America’s largest glass houses.
Phipps Conservatory makes for a stunning day out any time of the year, with thousands of plants and flowers from all over the world arranged in more than a dozen gardens. Located in Schenley Park, the 2.5 acre (1 hectare) glass-domed conservatory has been delighting visitors ever since it opened in 1893. After an expansion in 2003, it’s now one of the most eco-friendly attractions in the U.S. Pause to watch as a newly formed butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, or focus your camera lens on a brilliant tropical bloom. Keen botanists will be in their element, with 14 indoor gardens displaying a variety of plant life. Make your way around the impressive South Conservatory and its railway garden display, before taking in the contrasting Orchid and Desert rooms. Regularly changing displays in areas such as the Sunken Garden reward repeat visits. Outside, you’ll find another six gardens, which are part of the conservatory’s Botanical Gardens complex. Highlights include the twisted shapes of the bonsai trees in the Japanese Courtyard, and the water lilies in the Aquatic Garden display.In keeping with the conservatory’s green theme, Café Phipps specializes in healthy, organic meals. You’ll find salads and sandwiches, and coffee served in compostable cups.Check out the event calendar on the website, as there are many special exhibits and shows at Phipps throughout the year. One of the most popular annual shows is the Butterfly Forest, which runs from April until September. During this time, dozens of species emerge from their cocoons and flutter about a specially decorated area. You’ll find concerts, lectures and educational events taking place here as well. Phipps Conservatory is in the neighborhood of Oakland where you’ll also find other attractions, including the Carnegie museums. Free parking is available along Schenley Drive in the evenings and all day Sunday. The conservatory is open daily, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, and there’s a small entry fee. You should allow at least a few hours to explore the gardens.