One of my favorite places to visit in the spring and summer is Pittsburgh Botanic Garden (PBG). It is a wonderful way to get outside the city limits, spend some time in nature, and rejuvenate your body and soul.
PBG has an amazing orgin story. They are working hard to inspire people to value the natural world by cultivating plant collections, creating display gardens, conducting educational programs and conserving the environment.
In fact, they are actively reclaiming land from Pittsburgh's gritty, industrial past and transforming it into an outdoor experience unlike any in the region. Acres of forest that were farmed, logged and mined are now coming back to life with healthy trees, inviting trails, forested slopes and open meadows.
There are currently 60 acres of woodlands including three miles of peaceful wooded trails, a stunning dogwood meadow, an award winning Lotus Pond, and fun exploration stations for families. PBG showcases the greater Pittsburgh region in an historic homestead featuring a log cabin, heritage apple orchard and chickens. There is a beautifully restored 1870s barn that also serves as the Garden's Welcome Center, where you can pick up a map and self guided tour book.
Visitors should plan at least two hours for a leisurely stroll through the entire Garden. You'll want to take your time beccause there is so much to explore! Pet lovers can feel free to bring their well-behaved and leashed dogs (make sure to clean up after them - don't be THAT person). Also, the Garden has one mile of ADA-accessible trails currently, with more to be developed. These can be easily located on the trail signs and the map.
Kids are especially encouraged to visit PBG! While the entire Garden has been created to encourage curiosity and exploration in children of all ages, there are many specially designed, Play-and-Discover areas called "Exploration Stations" along the trails. The photo above is one of the many "fairy houses" that are ripe for exploration.
Have you ever wanted to pretend to be a bird in a nest? I know I have. You wish is granted at the "Giant Bird's Nest", another fun discovery station.
Unique carvings, a hermit hut, a stone dragon, and the Storybook House are some of the wonderful stops you can make along your walk through the Garden. Find all of these landmarks and more in a fun way with the PBG Scavenger Hunt! An additional cool activity to do while visiting PBG is to take on the Geocaching Challenge. Find the five hidden cache sites around the Garden by using GPS coordinates found here.
There are also activities for adults age 18 and up. You can relax and center yourself in outdoor Tai Chi and Yoga classes by the Lotus Pond, perfect for every fitness level. If exercising your mind is more your style, you can participate in adult workshops all summer long. By far, my favorite part of the Garden is the Lotus Pond and the scenic bridge spanning the water. Once full of acid mine drainage from mines on the property that flowed into the waterways, this pond was a place where plants and animals could not survive. An underground filter was installed which helped to solve this problem. Now the pond is home to many plants and animals, and is a beautiful place to relax.
The Garden is open Wed - Sun and Allegheny County residents recieve a discount on the admission price. Membership to Pittsburgh Botanic Garden starts as low as $35 a year, so if you go more than four times it's worth being a member. Plus, you'll recieve discounts on classes and workshops, as well as supporting an amazing organization. If money is tight but you're passionate about the mission of PBG to reclaim the environment, they are also always looking for volunteers! Make sure to visit the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden soon. You'll be glad you did.