Imagine walking through a tropical forest full of butterflies. They dart and drift all around you. Almost dancing in the air. You are mesmerized and feel as if you have stepped into an enchanted land. You have, its the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. This magical place is located at the southern end of Duval (1316 Duval) and no matter how many times I visit, it is always peaceful and happy.
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Open every day from 9am to 5pm, you have plenty of time to wander through the Conservatory. The last ticket is sold at 4:30, but I don’t think a half hour is enough time to enjoy walking with the butterflies. The gift shop and Gallery are open until 5:30, which gives you plenty of time to find that perfect keepsake to take home. If you have a group of 10 or more, discounts are available. You can buy tickets online and save. Best of all, the tickets are good for 6 months. Click here to buy your tickets. (affiliate link)
I have always been fascinated by butterflies. Our youngest child raised Monarch butterflies for a science project one year. We collected the caterpillars eating on the milkweed plants and then watched them slowly turn into beautiful Monarch butterflies. We then released them so they could migrate to warmer lands. I was amazed at the whole process of a caterpillar turning into a beautiful winged creature. Visiting Key West, we found this place and it was a true inspiration.
What will you see
The Conservatory has 50 to 60 different butterfly species from all around the world. Some of the species are seen only seasonally. Over a year, you can expect to see about 75 different butterfly species. This is not a place you only see once. This place is different every time you visit.
The Conservatory is a climate controlled, glass enclosed habitat. It is kept at 85 degrees with about 80% humidity year round. That said, in the middle of summer, it will feel much hotter and more humid than in winter or spring. Trust me on that one. There are tubes that blow cool air and in the middle of summer, you can see people stopping for a longer period in front of these to cool off. I too am guilty of this.
Where do all of the butterflies come from? The Conservatory receives them from butterfly farms in the tropics. Imagine that… butterfly farms. Pretty cool job.
Before you enter the Conservatory, take time to stroll through the Learning Center. Sit and watch a 15 minute video that shows the lifecycle of butterflies. There are exhibits all about butterflies, their anatomy, migration patterns, and other stuff. Pretty interesting; especially if you have younger kids in tow that like science.
The Conservatory is filled with tropical plants. Beautiful green palms, orchids, and other flowering tropical plants. If you love to photograph flowers, this is a perfect place to capture the colors of the tropics.
Yep, I said flamingos. Rhett and Scarlett will certainly provide entertainment as you wander through the Conservatory. They talk and chat with each other. Plus they will play peek-a-boo with you through the palms. I love to stand on the bridge and just watch them interact with each other and the guests.
The Conservatory has over 20 exotic bird species. See how many different ones you can find. Some are noisy, while others sit quietly in the treetops. Watch your feet, as some of the birds wander through the paths and under the plants. We have seen little ones following their mom and a duck taking a bath in the pond. Again, on each visit you see and find something new.
Gift Shop and Gallery
After spending time in the Conservatory wander through the gift shop. There is a lot of butterfly and nature inspired gifts. I love the butterfly benches. I imagine them tucked into a corner of an English garden.
The Gallery offers original artwork by Sam Trophia. He creates breathtaking acrylic shadow boxes filled with butterflies. There are boxes filled with butterflies creating colorful rainbows of color. They are indeed works of art.
If you love the magic of the Conservatory and are planning a small gathering for a wedding… this may be the place for you. After the Conservatory closes to the public, it can be rented for private events. The space is ideal for parties of 10-20 people. They offer a butterfly release as part of the ceremony. Imagine standing among the tropical plants and birds while you pledge your love. Just magical …. romantic … and special.
If you visit Key West often and stop at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory consider a membership. There are three different levels. Each level offers discounts at the Gift Shop and Gallery. In addition, you receive free admission to the Conservatory. The higher the level the more free admissions and the higher the gift shop discount.
Can’t make it to Key West but want to check in on the butterflies? Check out the webcam!
Overall, I am always excited to visit the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. Every time I enter the Conservatory I feel transported back to an enchanted land filled with butterflies and beautiful birds. Take time to sit on one of the benches and maybe, just maybe, if you are lucky a butterfly will land on you and spend time watching you.