If I was to describe the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory in one word, it would be “magical.” From the moment I opened the door to the conservatory, I felt like I was in an actual fairyland. Tropical flowers, birds of every color, and of course, butterflies, surround every guest, and the whole place is full of surprises. I can’t wait to go back next time I’m in Key West, and I can’t believe I skipped it on my first trip there! Here’s everything you need to know so you can plan to visit, too.
- Daily 9:00am-5:00pm
- Last admission 4:30pm daily
- Gift shop stays open until 5:30pm daily
- Closes early on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day
Read on: What to Know Before You Visit the Florida Keys
- 1316 Duval Street, Key West
- Near the Southernmost Point, several accommodations, shops, and restaurants
Helpful info: What to Pack for a Week in Key West
- General Admission: $15.00
- Local (Monroe County): $13.00
- Seniors 65+ and Military: $12.00
- Children 4-12 years: $11.00
- 3 years and under: Free
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- Don’t touch the birds.
- Don’t touch the butterflies.
- Check yourself in the mirrors on your way out of the conservatory to make sure no butterflies are following you out!
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What to Expect
The Learning Center
After purchasing your tickets, you’ll go into the Learning Center, where you’ll learn a little about butterflies and see several types mounted on the wall. My personal favorite was the map showing where many of the unique butterflies are found. Some of the most beautiful come from Asia and South America!
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There are 15,000-18,000 individual butterflies, of 50-60 varieties, in the conservatory at any given time! If you’ll find a place to sit or stand that’s out of the way, you’ll be amazed at how many butterflies you start to see. The ones you’ll likely notice the most are the vibrant blue and black ones.
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The flowers inside the conservatory are as much a part of the show as the butterflies. Tropical plants and flowers thrive here, giving the butterflies a beautiful place to fly. The winding path through the conservatory will take you past all of them!
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Something I wasn’t 100% expecting were all the beautiful birds, both large and small! Some of the colors were so vibrant, they looked unnatural, but they’re all real! There are more than 30 species of birds living here, and all of them are worth noticing. When you go, don’t miss the flamingoes. Their names are Rhett and Scarlett!
More here: The Best Things to Do in Key West
Tips for Taking Photos
The Best Shot is the One You Get
In other words, if you spend your time setting up the perfect shot, your butterly or bird subject may fly away before you’re ready! My best advice from 15 years of blogging and photography is to take the shot you have, then adjust yourself and your camera as you like. That way, at least you have one shot to work with. The rest are just icing on the cake!
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Stay in One Place
This is the hardest thing for me, but also one of the most rewarding. With any wildlife photography, try picking one spot and staying there for a few minutes. You’ll be amazed at the things you didn’t notice at first, and you’ll inevitably see more wildlife than you would if you were actively searching! Let them come to you!
More here: What to Know Before You Visit Key West
Take More Photos than You Think You Want
You can always delete duplicates and extras later. It’s not unusual for me to take hundreds of photos in a single museum, on a single tour, or inside a single conservatory. You’re bound to come up with something really nice, and it probably happened when you least expected it! Take your time, take more photos, and don’t forget to cull them down later!
Want more? Check out my United States Page for all things Florida and Key West!
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