There’s something magical about butterflies. Even when you see them in the wild, they make me think of little girls and fairies. The sweet fluttering of their wings in flight, the gentle way they seem to land on flowers, and their fascinating colors all contribute to the spell. It was for these reasons I was curious about spending time at The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory butterfly conservatory, but concerned it might be too much like a little girl’s birthday party.
We gave in on our recent vacation “Down Island.” A rare two-week-long adventure, we had plenty of time to stroll to the south end of Duval Street where the conservatory sits amid parking lots and tourists. If you didn’t know to look for it, you could easily miss it. We’ve been past it a dozen or more times and never realized it was there. This time we were looking for it.
Greg and I opened the door and squeezed into the gift shop entrance – jam packed with every butterfly item you can imagine along with flowers and other colorful, butterfly-related gifts, and walked over to the ticket booth to pay the admission fee.
The ticket comes with rules … if they land on you, that’s okay, but no touching! Be respectful of others, take as many photos as you would like, check yourself in the full length, wall-sized mirror at the end for “hitchhikers”, but most of all, have fun. We put our admission ticket/stickers on our shirts and headed into the exhibit.
As you walk through the doors something magical really does happen. Hundreds of butterflies fill the air around you, gently chasing each other among the tropical leaves that fill the conservatory. The sounds of birds chirping filled the air.
Dozens of species of butterflies flash orange and blue and red and yellow and … well, you get it. It takes a few minutes to realize that few humans are making noise. The peaceful sound of the butterflies and birds inside are the only sounds you hear.
I looked around and noticed couples, families with children … LOTS of people just marveling at the winged occupants of the glass-domed wonderland.
I spotted butterflies landing on leaves and plates of fruit put out for their dining pleasure.
A bright flash of blue caught my eye and I saw beautiful, colorful birds nibbling on seeds.
We lingered much longer than others, marveling at how many different wings we could find, and watching the people in awe of the spectacle.
We spent a few minutes smiling at Rhett and Scarlet, the resident flamingo couple, as Rhett did his best to attract Scarlet’s eye. A sign pointed out it was mating season, after all.
We stopped and sat on a bench for a few minutes. I looked over at Greg and he was as gob-smacked as I was by the scene. He had a hitchhiker taking a break on his hat, which then flitted away in the steamy, tropical heat. He spotted one on my head, too.
When we finally decided we’d seen all we could, I remarked how much my granddaughters would love this place. Greg said the grandsons would love it, too. It didn’t change my opinion that butterflies are magical. In fact, it reinforced it.
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Go find something magical!
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