Fluttering Wonders: Our Captivating Butterfly World Field Trip in Southern Florida
Our Butterfly World field trip was nothing short of enchanting. Filled with numerous educational opportunities, gorgeous butterflies, bugs, and birds, my kids and I certainly enjoyed our time spent at this Southern Florida attraction. Not only did we all learn a ton, but we also made so many memories together!
In an effort to extend our educational travel adventure, the boys and I spent a few days exploring the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area before boarding Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas ship for a cruise to the Bahamas. Before the trip, I spent a ton of time researching places to go near Fort Lauderdale. It was important that picked places that fit the criteria of being:
- educational, but still fun
- reasonably priced
- within a reasonable driving distance (because we’d be relying on a car service)
- unique and not something we could experience near our home
Not only did Butterfly World meet all of those (self-imposed) requirements, but I felt the need to visit for an important personal reason: to remember my Gramma. I promise to get to the details of our Butterfly World field trip (and why you should visit!), but I need to do a quick story time first.
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The Yellow Butterfly
After my Gramma passed away in 2021, I was broken-hearted. She had lived a long, fulfilling life, but my family and I were still sad to see such a wonderful woman leave our lives in a physical manner.
Shortly after her passing, the boys and I were on a field trip with our homeschool co-op. While the kids were walking through a corn maze, I sat at a picnic table with the other homeschool parents. I vividly remember looking towards the corn maze and seeing a yellow butterfly fluttering by me. For some reason, I said “hi” to it.
Now, my family knows I’m no stranger to talking to my dog. But, a butterfly? I’d never spoken to a butterfly. It just felt like that butterfly was there for me, though. I’m a total believer in receiving signs of a loved one after they’ve passed so, for a number of reasons I’ve since felt like my Gramma visits me in the form of a yellow butterfly.
Believe me or not, but butterflies (of all varieties) have been special, and comforting, to me ever since. Having the opportunity to take a Butterfly World field trip was a no-brainer.
Visiting Butterfly World
Located in Coconut Creek, Florida, about a half hour from Fort Lauderdale, Ronald Boender opened Butterfly World in 1988 after a lifelong fascination with butterflies. At this time, the “Bring Back the Butterflies” campaign was established in an effort to educate the public and increase the butterfly population.
Today, Butterfly World is spread across three acres of land featuring butterfly aviaries, bird aviaries, botanical gardens, a research center, and even a lorikeet encounter section (quite possibly our favorite experience of the our visit!)
Butterfly World is open 7 days a week with the exception of being closed on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
If you live nearby, or are able to make multiple visits in a year, Butterfly World does offer an annual pass! For the experience that’s offered, I feel the annual pass is quite reasonably priced. If purchased at full price, the annual pass is nearly “paid for” after two visits, so it’s definitely worth it if you plan on visiting at least 2 times a year.
Our Butterfly World Field Trip
Since we were only staying in the Fort Lauderdale area for a few days, I
wanted needed to make sure we made the most of our time. We flew in on a Thursday and were scheduled to depart on our cruise the following Monday morning. This left us with about 3 full days of sightseeing opportunities. For a number of reasons, the boys and I ended up deciding on visiting Butterfly World on Friday:
- the weather forecast was sunny, but mild (for Fort Lauderdale) temps
- I had found a general admission coupon that was valid only on weekdays
- we assumed it would be less crowded on a weekday than Saturday or Sunday #avoidthecrowds
After eating breakfast at our hotel, we had an Uber take us from downtown Fort Lauderdale to Butterfly World. It was about a half hour drive and, having selected the Uber Comfort option, cost around $30 with tip included.
I don’t know what I expected to see when we arrived, but I was surprised that the entrance of the Butterfly World property was marked by a modest wooden sign on a main road. A quick drive through a winding road and we had arrived at the entrance of the Butterfly World building. After we walked inside, we were greeted at the front desk before purchasing our entry tickets.
(It’s important to note that, if you want to feed nectar to the lorikeets, you can purchase tickets with cash or charge at the front desk. If you’d like to purchase nectar at the lorikeet exhibit, it’s cash only.)
The Butterfly Laboratory
After getting our tickets, we walked into a small room, the “laboratory,” with a window view into a butterfly preparation area. There were numerous containers being used for housing larva during the process of metamorphosis. It really was very cool!
Just around the corner, we learned about Butterfly World’s hybrid butterflies: Piano Key Butterflies. They’re absolutely gorgeous and, after seeing a photo, I’m sure you’ll see why they’re called “piano key” butterflies!
Before heading out into the first (of many) aviaries, the boys and I made sure to stop at the restrooms located just across the hall from the laboratory.
(Funny story – my husband and I always joke that the restroom is a main attraction wherever we go. Someone always needs to use the restroom!)
Now, we got to walk through multiple aviaries during our Butterfly World field trip, so, instead of breaking them down into separate sections, we’ll just chat about all of them here, m’kay?
You guys. Stepping into a butterfly aviary was nothing short of magical. Living in Georgia, we’re now used to seeing stunning Monarch butterflies fluttering about in our backyard. The aviaries at Butterfly World, though? They literally took my breath away.
The boys and I were suddenly surrounded by tropical plants while butterflies…of all shapes, sizes, and colors…just flew around us. Thank goodness there weren’t an overabundance of people at Butterfly World that day because, while walking through the exhibits, we would just stop and marvel at the butterflies for multiple minutes at a time. It really was an otherworldly experience.
While seeing the butterflies, I (obviously) took plenty of photos. Since there were so many different butterfly species, we would use the Google “search by image” option to learn more about the butterflies surrounding us.
We each ended up with a favorite butterfly species:
- My youngest really loved the Cairns Birdwing Butterfly. The largest butterfly in Australia, it was super difficult to get a clear photo of this butterfly.
- My oldest adored the vibrant blue wings of the Blue Morpho Butterfly.
- I loved all the butterflies, but I still think my favorite were the Piano Key Butterfly. I grew up listening to my dad play the piano and seeing these butterflies reminded me of those memories.
In my family, I am the self-proclaimed “bird lady.” We have bird artwork hanging on the walls of our home, my favorite Beatles song is Blackbird, I’ve always loved watching birds (and would even embarrass my husband by squawking at the Sand Hill Cranes when we lived in Florida. Poor guy haha!). Being able to see many bird species in an open space was, for me, equally as magical as walking through the butterfly aviaries.
We saw varieties of finches, canaries, macaws, and so many more. Just as we had favorite butterflies, we also ended up with favorite birds:
- My youngest thought the Chinese Painted Quail looked so silly when they were walking/running about the enclosure (he’s not wrong!)
- My oldest loved the vibrant yellow feathers of the petite Yellow Canary.
- I, of course, admired all the birds #birdlady, but especially found myself in awe of the coloring on the Gouldian Finch. They were gorgeous!
Butterfly World Lorikeet Encounter
If I had an endless supply of cash and time, I feel like I could happily live a good portion of my life within the Lorikeet Encounter. You guys…you guys!! It really was that amazing.
The boys and I each entered the Lorikeet Encounter with 1 paid cup of nectar each.
Spoiler alert: we all loved this experience so much that I ended up buying us each 2 more cups of nectar. At $3 per cup, this added up to spending $18 on nectar alone, but it was so worth it.
The Lorikeet Encounter is located within an outdoor wire enclosure. Inside the enclosure are about 20 or so (hungry) Lorikeets perched on stands made of tree branches. As somewhat of an introvert, I appreciated that Butterfly World had a portion of the perimeter and center sectioned off so that the Lorikeets could, if they chose, have some time away from humans.
Inside the enclosure, a Butterfly World staff member keeps watch over the birds, the guests, and is the official “nectar pourer” (not an official title. I 100% made that up). After handing him the receipt for our paid cups of nectar, we were handed little sample cups (a la Costco samples) filled with a homemade nectar.
There is no doubt in my mind that those birds knew that nectar was for them. Not shy at all, the birds flew over to us as soon as the nectar was available for them to drink with their adorable little tongues.
Having birds just fly over to perch on our bodies was terrifying at first. I’m not going to lie. Those Lorikeets have some weight to them and, like I said, aren’t shy at all.
I was worried the boys would be too scared to participate in feeding the birds. After all, they’re not usually interested in petting animals at petting zoos, but they absolutely enjoyed the entire experience.
At one point, my oldest had like 5 birds on him! He loved every minute of it. There was even one bird that hung out on his shoulder, just chilling, long after the nectar had run out. He called him “his buddy.” How sweet is that?!
We also noticed that the birds associate the color orange with food! How did we figure this out? Well, my oldest was wearing a t-shirt that had bright orange lettering on it. At one point, one of the birds was trying to bite the letters off his shirt! He was such a good sport about this hungry bird and giggled nearly the entire time.
We legitimately would’ve spent all day feeding those birds. If you get the chance to feed Lorikeets, do it!
Butterfly Museum & Bug Zoo
Just next to the Lorikeet Experience was the indoor Butterfly Museum & Bug Zoo. In the first room, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of mounted butterfly & bug specimens. It was a literal feast for the eyes.
There were cases showing examples of species at various stages of life, the differences between male & female species, collections of species from specific areas of the world, and so much more.
I didn’t take many photos because, honestly, the photos wouldn’t appropriately capture the beauty and because the glass casing would result in glares. Instead of capturing the moments of this exhibit, we, instead, decided to live in the moment.
After walking through the mounted species collections, we walked into a room with live bugs! There were Scorpions, Tarantulas, Millipedes, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, and more. There were even spiders making webs on the ceiling!
If you get squeamish around bugs, you might want to skip that portion of the exhibit, but it really was very neat to see such creatures up close.
Since we were visiting while traveling, I wasn’t able to pack lunches as I typically would before going on a field trip. We took our chances and decided we’d just wait to see what was available at Butterfly World instead!
The food options were standard theme park-ish foods like burgers, hot dogs, and snacks. Pricing was fair (for an attraction). The boys and I ended up each getting a soft pretzel, a frozen treat, and a bottle of water for our “meal.” (We were planning on going to a restaurant for dinner that night, so we just wanted a light lunch). It ended up being around $30 total for everything.
Learning About Butterflies
Whether you and your family enjoy learning about butterflies, are residents of Florida and “just” looking for something fun to do, or if you incorporate homeschool travel into your lives as much as possible (just like we do!), you should totally look into visiting Butterfly World in the near future. Our visit to Butterfly World in southern Florida truly was a magical & educational experience and I’m willing to bet you and your kids would love to visit, too!
As you prepare for any educational lessons on butterflies, be sure to check out our butterfly life cycle resources and grab the free printables!
If you have any questions about our experience at Butterfly World, homeschool travel, or homeschooling in general, go ahead and email me. I’m happy to help! If I don’t respond right away, please remember that I’m a busy homeschooling parent like you are, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
Until next time, stay safe and enjoy quality time with your family,
Elizabeth Dukart is a proud Georgia-based born and raised Jersey Girl, wife, and mom of 2 human boys & 1 canine boy.
Created in 2021, Elizabeth owns and publishes That Homeschool Family: a free resource for homeschooling parents and beyond! A seasoned blogger, Elizabeth previously published a popular location-specific family resource blog, but decided to “Pivot!” her blogging focus after she started homeschooling her two boys in 2020. In addition to this blog, you can follow Elizabeth’s homeschooling and family adventures on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.
When she’s not busy taking over the world or homeschooling, Elizabeth can be found listening to music (especially The Beatles & Harry Styles!), being silly with her boys, watching movies with family, shopping, or traveling!
Have a question or want to work with Elizabeth? Send her an email!