Welcome to Pittsburgh! What do you want to do first? Not sure yet? Well what about plans for tomorrow? …Well you still have time to decide… Where are you staying? You haven't booked a hotel yet?!?!
If you’ve got french fries on your deli sandwich and the folks around you can correctly pronounce Monongahela, you’re probably in Pittsburgh.
“The Burgh” loves its blue-collar roots. You’ll find plenty of hearty eating and neighborhood charm to go around. But in a city best known for sports, and now technology, visitors are sometimes surprised to find so many beautiful gardens to explore! If you want a stroll through manicured beds and Pennsylvania wildflowers, you’re in the right place. Here are our top picks for the essential gardens to visit in Pittsburgh.
The 60-acre Pittsburgh Botanic Garden opened to the public in 2015. It is home to thousands of plants, including many native shrubs and trees. The park sits on land that was once damaged by poor mining and forestry practices. Today, it's a beautiful testament to how an environment can be improved with the right kind of effort. The grounds include a pond surrounded by cherry trees. There’s also a restored log house and a rotating garden featuring seasonal plants and flowers.
No list of Pittsburgh gardens would be complete without Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Built in 1893 by Henry W. Phipps, it offers year-round exhibits and flower shows. The outdoor grounds and the Victorian glasshouse both provide unique displays. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is also home to one of the greenest buildings on Earth, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes. Phipps is a teaching conservatory, hosting a variety of tours and offering hundreds of classes.
Unlike many of our picks for essential gardens, the Highland Park Entry Garden is not on the Pittsburgh Garden Trail. Between the late 19th century and the early 2000s, this garden fell to disrepair. Thanks to the efforts of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, it is now a community favorite. While you’re in Highland Park, make sure to check out the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium!
The Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark is the quintessential Pittsburgh garden. You'll find it inside the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. The landmark combines pre-World War II blast furnaces with a gorgeous garden walk. A guided tour among the abandoned furnaces highlights the native plants returning to the site. Metal sculptures in the park emphasize the difference between industry and nature. The Carrie Blast Furnaces sits a bit outside the city, but the history and stunning Pennsylvania wildflowers make this one well worth the trip.
The Rodef Shalom Biblical Botanical Garden is Pittsburgh’s answer to the holy lands. Rodef Shalom was built to mimic some of the Middle East’s most iconic sights. It sports a mountainous northern region and a desert region, and also a “Jordan River.” Some of the garden’s plant species were chosen for their biblical monikers. You'll see plants including Joseph’s coat and Solomon’s seal. Its convenient location in the Oakland neighborhood and free admission make it an easy, carefree place to take a breather.
Created by Helen Clay Frick (daughter of 19th-century industrialist Henry Clay Frick), This garden is the pride of Pittsburgh’s East End. Boasting six full acres, there’s no shortage of things to explore. Sights include lawns and gardens, an art museum, and a restored 23-room mansion, Clayton. Admission for the grounds, the car and carriage museum, art museum, and gardens is free, but there is a fee for touring the historic Frick house.