Butterfly World is the largest butterfly park in the world, with more than 20,000 winged creatures in aviaries and gardens covering 10 acres (four hectares). Walk among over 50 species as they fly freely and feed on exotic plants and flowers. There are other animals on display, including lorikeets and hummingbirds. As well as being a visitor attraction, this is an important center for butterfly research and education.
This haven for man and butterflies alike is located within Tradewinds Park at Coconut Creek, just over 20 minutes’ drive north of Fort Lauderdale. It was started in 1988 by electrical engineer Robert Boender, who grew up on a farm in Illinois and developed a passion for butterflies and silk moths.
Soft classical music is played throughout the park, creating a relaxing atmosphere. Wander along winding paths through themed aviaries and exhibits. At the Butterfly Farm and Lab Encounter, watch caterpillars grow and hatch. One of the most popular areas is the 30-foot (nine-meter) high Tropical Rainforest Aviary, with waterfalls and observation decks. At the Lorikeet Encounter, purchase a cup of juice and wait for the bright green birds to perch on your arm to sip their favorite food. Admire hummingbirds in the Jewels of the Sky enclosure, and live bugs in a Bug Zoo exhibit.
Stop to take a rest on one of many benches throughout the enclosures, or purchase refreshments at the Lakeside Cafe.
There’s a butterfly-themed gift shop, which sells seeds and caterpillar cocoons to take home. Pick up books and brochures on how to grow butterfly-friendly gardens.
Butterfly World is open every day of the year except Christmas Day. Note that there is a small fee to enter Tradewinds Park on weekends and holidays. Avoid coming in wet weather – many of the aviaries are outdoors, and will close if it’s raining. If it starts raining after you’ve entered, the park will give you a rain check to come back on another day. Also, butterflies are most active when there’s plenty of sunlight.