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Key West butterfly garden: Zen-like Key West attraction


Key West butterfly conservatory: Vivid blue butterfly
Vivid colors abound at Key West butterfly garden. (Photo Bonnie Gross)

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. 

Key West butterfly garden: Hitchhiking butterfly
Hitchhiking butterfly takes a rest on Florida Rambler’s hat in the Key West butterfly garden. (Photo: David Blasco)

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.)

Key West butterfly garden gazebo in the garden
Benches and a gazebo invite visitors to the Key West butterfly garden to pause and relax. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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.

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy
The color-saturated world of the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy. (Photo Bonnie Gross)

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.

The attraction opened in Key West in 2003, and it wins high praise on traveler’s websites. Read the comments on TripAdvisor and Yelp: People rave.

Key West butterfly garden finch
Flashy finches were selected for the Key West butterfly garden not only for their color but because they don’t eat butterflies. (Photo Bonnie Gross)

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 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 garden and child
Children visiting the Key West butterfly garden are awed into quiet admiration. (Photo Bonnie Gross)

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
1316 Duval Street
Key West
(800) 839-4647
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

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