Ok, you have settled into Key West, previewed the town on a trolley tour, snapped your obligatory photos at the southernmost point, experienced the Sunset Celebration, and have enjoyed the nightlife on Duval Street. Now what to do?
Take a short walk down to the southern end of Duval Street (about one mile from Mallory Square) to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. For the general admission price of $12 you will experience a tropical habitat and more varieties of butterflies than most ever will encounter in a lifetime.
Step through the first doorway into the Learning Center where you can watch a 15-minute introductory video about the life cycle of the butterfly and other basic facts, and then identify butterflies from around the world on large murals. Spend as much time as you like learning about the life cycle, anatomy, global habitats, and conditions preferred by butterflies of many types.
When you are ready, open the doors to the expansive glass-enclosed conservatory filled with hundreds of butterflies of at least 50 species from around the world. As you sense the warmth and humidity of the butterfly environment (quite comfortable), you will immediately encounter more butterflies than you ever had imagined. The walk way lined with tropical plans, trees, pools and waterfalls is teeming with multi-colored butterflies, many of which seem to fit naturally with protective camouflage into their exotic environments. Yet many others will stand out with ornate patterns including a spectrum of blues, oranges, reds, and yellows.
If you are too sensitive to insects and feel the urge to swat away, this is not the place for you. The reason is that you will be surrounded by butterflies flying all around you and even on your body at times. This is a truly inclusive experience as the butterflies consider you part of their environment. While butterflies will surround you and land on tropical plants just inches away from you, they also will land right on your shoulders, head, or sleeves. Butterflies also congregate on plates with fruit slices just a couple of feet off the paths, giving you additional opportunities for close encounters and photographs.
In the conservatory you also will encounter tropical birds, fishes and turtles along the paths and in the waterways. Whether you spend twenty minutes or two hours in the conservatory, this will be an experience with nature that you will not forget.
As you exit the conservatory through the gift shop, you will find many fellow visitors adorning stickers, specialty pins, and other decorations worn proudly on their apparel. Very clearly, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory has left a mark on many local visitors.
Tours: Groups of 10 or more can schedule a tour in advance at a discounted group rate for a memorable educational experience.