My husband Bill and I celebrated Labor Day in Key West, Florida. It was our first time visiting the Keys… In fact, it was really our first time vacationing in Florida. I was determined to have a good time. Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain on our first morning in Key West!
Luckily, the concierge at the guesthouse where we were staying recommended a visit to the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory is a great place to go when it rains in Key West because the entire activity is inside.
Bill and I walked to 1316 Duval Street, which is where the conservatory is located. A friendly staffer was already explaining the rules to a family ahead of us. She said photography is welcome inside the conservatory, but not in the gift shop or gallery. She asked us to be careful as we entered and left the conservatory, since birds and butterflies sometimes “hitchhike” on patrons and escape. And she said we were welcome to come back to the conservatory at any time during the day, as long as we showed our hand stamp or receipt.
The regular adult entrance fee is $12.00, while children between the ages of four and twelve get in for $8.50. Children under four get free admission. Seniors and military get a discounted entrance fee of $9.00. The lady working the entrance took one look at Bill’s haircut and asked if he was in the military. He said he was and showed her his ID, so we both got a discounted ticket!
The exhibit is open from 9am to 5pm daily. The last ticket is sold 30 minutes before closing time. The gallery and gift shop stay open until 5:30pm. Group rates and tours are also available upon request.
First, we entered the learning center, which had some interesting exhibits related to butterflies. A 15 minute video played on a television that showed the butterfly’s lifespan. There were also a few exhibits that explained some basic facts about butterflies. In the learning center, patrons can watch caterpillars feeding and developing their host plants.
Next, we entered the conservatory, which is a beautiful manmade tropical environment built for birds and butterflies. When we walked into the conservatory, we could see hundreds of beautiful butterflies fluttering around the trees, flowering plants, and waterfalls. Soft music plays over the soundsystem and there are several places where one can sit and just watch the butterflies as they frolic. The butterflies at the Key West Conservatory all come from butterfly farming operations. The conservatory releases excess butterflies into the wild.
At the left front side of the conservatory, there’s a window where patrons can see the different stages of chrysalis. It was fun to watch as caterpillars turned into butterflies right before our eyes.
Bill and I enjoyed this activity a lot more than we thought we would. The butterflies were so beautiful and some of them were very good about posing for pictures! Most of all, we just found the conservatory very peaceful and pleasant. It’s a nice place to be on a rainy day.
This activity might be a good choice for kids, as long as they are able to follow the rules. The conservatory’s management asks that patrons do not touch or try to catch the butterflies. They also ask that patrons speak in a normal conversational tone and walk in the exhibit. Strollers are also not allowed, though there is a place to store them while you walk around. Eating and drinking in the conservatory is also prohibited.
The gallery and gift shop are both beautiful and stocked with some really neat things. Again, I would caution those with children to keep a close eye on them. The gallery is full of beautiful and fragile artwork that may be irresistible to children.
If you’re in Key West and it’s raining, I think the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory is a good place to visit!