Social Butterfly: Where to Hang Out with Monarchs, Swallowtails and More!

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Being swarmed by butterflies is nothing short of magical. Add a little “abracadabra” to your day at these exhibits and events, where you can walk among as many as millions (yes, millions!) of fluttering insects.

butterfly-face-kidPhoto: courtesy of Flickr

Wings of Fancy
Kids will be captivated by the array of color exhibited at this live butterfly and caterpillar exhibit which showcases species from North America, Costa Rica, Africa and Asia. Not only can you explore the lifecycle of a butterfly at these public gardens, you’ll also get tips on what to grow to create your own butterfly paradise. Housed inside a greenhouse, the exhibit can run ten degrees hotter than outdoor temps, making conditions near perfect in the early fall.

When: Open daily 10 am-4 pm through October 25
Cost: $8/ages 13 and up; $5/ages 3-12; Free/ages 2 and under
1800 Glenallan Ave. (Silver Spring, Md)
Online: montgomeryparks.org

The Great Migration
Even butterflies make rest stops; along the Monarch’s great 3,000 mile journey to Mexico the insects gather in the millions at the southern most point of the Delmarva Peninsula. The butterflies’ visit coincides with the songbirds’ and is celebrated with the annual Eastern Shore of Virginia Birding and Wildlife Festival.

When: Monarchs can be observed from early September thru late October;  The Birding and Wildlife Festival runs from October 8-11
Cape Charles, Va
Online: esbirdingfestival.com

Citified Butterflies
You don’t have to leave the city to immerse yourself in a fluttering rainbow: on the Smithsonian grounds there is both an indoor and outdoor attraction. On the Ninth Street side of the National Museum of Natural History is a butterfly garden featuring four distinct habitats. Inside the museum is the Butterfly Pavilion, an encapsulated oasis housing tropical butterflies. Visitors can walk through this miniature landscape for a fee; the exhibit is free on Tuesdays (but a timed-entry ticket is required).

When: Open daily from 10:15 am to 5 pm
Cost: $6/adults; $5/ages 2-12; Free/ages 2 and under
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
10th St. and Constitution Ave.
Online: butterflies.si.edu

—Meghan Meyers

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