The Key West butterfly garden is the most peaceful place in crazy, clamorous Key West.
Located on Duval Street within a block of the Southernmost Point in the United States, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory immerses you in a tropical garden where butterflies float overhead and flashy finches dart past waterfalls and koi-filled ponds. At times, two resident flamingoes are also present.
Visitors are asked to turn off their cell phones and few sounds except chirping birds are heard over the soft chime-like background music.
You’d call the atmosphere “chill” if it weren’t a constant humid 85 degrees! (Butterflies like it that way.)
The butterfly garden is quite compact – it’s a 5,000-square-foot Plexiglas structure designed to look like a Victorian greenhouse.
It is furnished with butterfly-designed benches where visitors sit and contemplate the beauty while an occasional butterfly lands on them.
There are fountains, ponds and beautiful vegetation filling every space. The air almost vibrates with fluttering wings that are everywhere you look. Fruit platters mixed with the vegetation attract multiple butterflies.
The conservatory is home to 50 to 60 butterfly species from around the world, which are acquired from farms not collected from the wild, and 20 exotic bird species. Little quail march underfoot and small turtles rest along the water’s edge.
A few tips about visiting Key West butterfly garden:
- Admission for adults is $15, but don’t pay full price. There are $2 coupons on brochures, maps and other promotional materials around town or you can use a AAA discount.
- The butterfly conservatory is not big and if you walk through it without lingering, you’ll be out in 20 minutes (and complaining about the admission price.) Take your time. Sit down. Bring your camera and try to capture the beauty. Soak up the atmosphere.
- The Butterfly Conservatory can get crowded, and that detracts from the atmosphere. If you’re in Key West on a busy weekend, go early in the day. When you visit, you can get your hand stamped so you can return at any point during the day.
- The gift shop has a wide range of interesting, unusual nature-themed items and, of course, you can visit the gift shop without paying admission.
- Flamingle: A special experience is offered to six paying guests at 4:45 p.m. daily: An hour of personal time with the flamingoes Rhett and Scarlett. Tickets are $53.75 and do not include visits to the butterfly garden at other times. For details, contact the gardens at (305) 296-2988 ext. #11 or [email protected]. Be aware: With this experience limited to six people, these tickets generally sell out weeks in advance (and months ahead on weekends), so plan ahead.
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
1316 Duval Street
Admission: Adults $15, children 4 to 12 years $11, under 4 years free. Look for maps and brochures widely available with $2 off coupons.
More things to do in the Florida Keys
- Print out this mile marker guide to enhance your road trip to the Florida Keys.
- Eight Key West restaurants for authentic local flavor
- Hogfish Grill: Where Key West residents go for fresh fish
- Best beaches in the Florida Keys
- All about those Key West chickens
- Audubon House, a lovely refuge in Key West
- Historic Key West Cemetery is full of stories
- Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park: Hidden gem in Key West
- Florida Keys wildlife: Places to see animals
- Florida Rambler guide to the Lower Keys
- Feed the tarpon at Robbie’s Marina
- Tiki bars: Soak up the Keys atmosphere
- Biking or walking the Old Seven Mile Bridge
- Visit historic Pigeon Key in Marathon
- Kayak or canoe to historic Indian Key
- No Name Pub worth finding on Big Pine Key
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.