A Little Time and a Keyboard: Best Butterfly Attractions in the Midwest

Best Butterfly Attractions in the Midwest

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Best Butterfly Attractions in the Midwest

A visit to a butterfly conservatory is a magical experience. Vibrant butterflies fluttering around. The occasional butterfly landing upon you. Magical! In the Midwest, we are fortunate to have a wonderful cache of butterfly conservatories affording families opportunities to relish this breathtaking experience. Conservatories dot the Midwest, so chances are you can find one near you or one of your travel destinations. Julie Henning from Road Trips for Families and I have curated a list of our favorite spots to enjoy butterflies--many you can even enjoy in the winter and early spring!

Christina Reiman Wing at Reiman Gardens appears to look like a butterfly.
The exterior of the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing resembles a butterfly. Image via Reiman Gardens.
Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing, Reiman Gardens, Ames, IA

Up to 800 butterflies call the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing home year-round. The Wing itself resembles a butterfly architecturally and includes a tranquil waterfall and pond. Once a year, guests have the chance to release their own butterfly during a December Butterfly Blizzard event.

Relax on a bench at Peck Farm as butterflies flutter around!
Butterfly House, Peck Farm, Geneva, IL

Peck Farm includes an idyllic prairie and serene lake. During the late spring and summer months, the preserve becomes home to a haven for hundreds of butterflies. The Butterfly House allows families to witness the life stages of butterflies while taking a moment to sit and enjoy the beauties flying around. The season launches with a butterfly release party where children can adopt a butterfly. If you visit, don't skip a walk in the prairie. The prairie teems with native butterfly species!

Butterflies emerging from chrysalis at Peggy Notbaert Museum.
 Butterflies emerging at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Image courtesy of  Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.
Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, IL

Serene pools, tropical flora, warm temperatures and over 1,000 butterflies provide guests with a slice of summer all year round. Butterfly releases are daily, so make sure that you plan your visit during scheduled releases. In addition to the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum uses interactive and engaging exhibits as well as a nature trail and bird walk to inspire nature investigation while within view of the Chicago skyline.

Water feature at Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens.
Water features add to the magic of butterflies at Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens!
Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, Rockford, IL

For two months in the spring, Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens' tropical conservatory is aflutter with butterflies! A special emergence area allows visitors to witness the butterfly life cycle as butterflies emerge from their chrysalises. Enjoy a peaceful stroll among the butterflies admiring the conservatories water features and sculptures.

Tropical conservatory at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Year-round tropical temperatures make Frederik Meijer Gardens' conservatory a natural haven for butterflies.
Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, MI

Each spring, the world’s largest temporary butterfly exhibit is housed in the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A popular place to visit year-round, temperatures ranging between 70 and 78 degrees are ideal for butterflies native to Asia and South and Central America. Like most butterfly houses and exhibits, Frederick Meijer Gardens offers special activities for families in conjunction with the exhibit, including a flashlight tour.

Julie and her family enjoying identifying butterflies at Wings of Mackinac. Image courtesy of Julie Henning.
Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory, Mackinac Island, MI

Wings of Mackinac is a beautiful butterfly conservatory is located on historic Mackinac Island, Michigan. Visitors tour an all-glass conservatory and ornate garden while surrounded by hundreds of butterflies. Before leaving, guests pass through a small educational area focused on entomology and the environment.  You can also learn how Mackinac Island is planting milkweed to help stimulate the declining Monarch butterfly population.

The Butterfly House and Garden in Chesterfield, Missouri.
The Butterfly House and accompanying garden create a gorgeous haven for butterfly lovers!
Image via Missouri Botanical Garden.
The Butterfly House, Missouri Botanical Garden, Chesterfield, MO

Over 60 species of butterflies glide throughout The Butterfly House's Tropical Conservatory with visitors enjoying their brilliant spectacle all year round. An exhibit hall explores the world of invertebrates and even provides up close and personal experiences through a living exhibit. A butterfly movie and details on the diversity of butterflies enhance the experience. In the summer, do not forget to explore the outdoor butterfly garden teeming with butterflies.

Butterflies at Krohn Conservatory.
Tropical landscape at Krohn Conservatory. Image via Krohn Conservatory.
Krohn Conservatory, Cincinnati, OH

Every spring the Krohn Conservatory welcomes thousands of butterflies to delight visitors. Each season is focused upon a different theme making each year unique. This year's show is Butterflies of the Caribbean. Previous shows have included the Butterflies of Morocco and the Butterflies of the Philippines. Shows introduce guests to butterflies of particular regions while also presenting elements of regional culture. Natural and artistic features will provide a beachside feel!Take note of the tropical waterfall during your visit.

Butterflies in the Glass House at Cleveland Botanic Garden.
A butterfly rests at the Cleveland Botanic Garden.
Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland, OH

Butterflies flutter year-round in the Glasshouse at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Imagine standing in tropical weather encircled by brilliant butterflies while it is snowing outside. What a way to get through winter! Daily butterfly releases inspire children and adults alike. During our visit, my daughter enjoyed using an identification card to see how many butterfly species she could spy.

Sertoma Butterfly House
New butterflies emerge daily at the Sertoma Butterfly House.
Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove, Sioux Falls, SD

Located within Sertoma Park in Sioux Falls, the Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove is a permanent and popular attraction for families visiting the area. Admission grants guest to both the marine and butterfly-focused exhibits, with an average of 800 butterflies permanently cycling through the 3,600 square-foot indoor tropical garden. Rows of chrysalises hang inside a glass-pane viewing area with butterflies emerging daily.

Butterflies enjoying nectar at the Puelicher Butterfly Wing.
Butterflies enjoying nectar at the Puelicher Butterfly Wing.

Puelicher Butterfly Wing at the Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, WI

The Puelicher Butterfly Wing is perhaps the most popular exhibit on a visit to the Milwaukee Public Museum. Begin with a stroll through the tropical butterfly conservatory, complete with waterfall and a constant cycle of butterflies in metamorphosis. Visitors also enjoy the insect learning laboratory and the super-sized habitat complete with colorful costumes and “hands on” learning activities. 

Outside of Bolz Conservatory. Image credit Sharon Cybart.

Bolz Conservatory at Olbrich Gardens, Madison, WI 

A highlight of any trip to Olbrich Gardens, the Bolz Conservatory is a glass pyramid filled with exotic plants, bright flowers, a rushing waterfall, fragrant orchids and free-flying birds. Each summer, museum staff use the Bolz Conservatory for the Blooming Butterfly exhibit; a popular event that draws visitors from near and far to bear witness to the life cycle of more than a dozen species of butterflies.

Experience the magic of butterflies this spring!

Hundreds of brilliant butterflies flying around you is one of those breathtaking experiences that you will not soon forget. When making your plans for this spring, be sure to add one of these magical adventures to your list!

1 comment

  1. What fantastic places to go! I love this list (and have only been to Meijer Gardens!)...