If you’re spending a day or two around Niagara Falls, Ontario, the Butterfly Conservatory is a great way to take a break from the crowds and noise near the falls and enjoy a completely different but just as unique experience.
What is the Butterfly Conservatory?
The Butterfly Conservatory is an indoor glass enclosure filled with tropical plants and over 40 species (over 2,000 individuals) of butterflies fluttering freely about. Guests are welcome to walk amongst the lush greenery, follow an inviting, winding rock trail, and interact with the butterflies.
Butterfly feeding stations are located throughout the conservatory, where you can watch butterflies drinking juice or nectar. The flowering plants are also popular locations for the butterflies to eat and rest. In fact, everywhere you look, butterflies are flitting, floating and gracefully posing.
One special location to stop along the path is the emergence window. Here you can see newly emerging butterflies leaving their cacoons and drying their wings in preparation for their first flight.
What is the Best Time of Year to Go to The Butterfly Conservatory?
Since the Butterfly Conservatory is an indoor space, it is a great place to visit any time of the year. However, it feels especially luxurious to step into this warm tropical space in the dead of winter.
During the hot summer months, the conservatory is probably about the same temperature and humidity as the outdoors, so it’s not much of a change nor a respite from the hot weather to walk into the indoor tropical garden.
It’s still a beautiful space filled with lush, gorgeous plants and flowers, and of course thousands of beautiful butterflies, so that’s not to say it isn’t a fun place to visit in the summer. It just feels more special to bask in the warm tropics for an hour or two while it’s frigid or pouring down rain outside.
Is The Butterfly Conservatory a Good Place to Take Kids?
The Butterfly Conservatory is a fantastic place to take kids of all ages. From toddler to teen, the swarms of stunning butterflies are sure to make a big impression.
On our last visit there, our five kids spanned the ages of almost 2 up to 9. Each one of them, both the boy and the four girls, couldn’t get enough of seeing the variety and fascinating color and just the vast number of butterflies in the conservatory.
We spent about an hour in the conservatory, and when we left (mostly because the youngest had missed her nap and was being more gnarly than usual), the older ones couldn’t believe an hour had already gone by. It felt like just a few minutes – that’s how enthralled everyone was with the butterflies.
Everyone’s favorite aspect was the free-flying butterflies and the chance to have one land on a shoulder, a head, a finger, etc. By the time we left, each of the kids had managed to have at least one butterfly land on a finger or head. One in particular seemed to be quite the butterfly magnet!
The winding, curving, stroller-friendly path that twists through the beautiful plantings is almost as fun to explore as the butterflies are enthralling. It makes the indoor space feel about twice as big as it really is, and is almost enough of an attraction in itself.
The kids, and even toddlers, could walk about on their own and explore the space with very little cause for worry.
We had the stroller along, which in hindsight, we could have left behind, as the two youngest preferred to explore on their own two feet, and didn’t want to ride. With a smaller baby, the stroller would have been just right.
The best part about the conservatory for kids is that you can spend as long or as short as you want there. You could zip through the whole thing in 10 minutes if you have little ones that have short attention spans, or you could linger and study every corner of the space for much longer.
How Long Does It Take to Go Through The Butterfly Conservatory?
With our crew of seven, including one over-tired almost two-year-old, we spent about an hour going through the Butterfly Conservatory. The hour went by in a flash, and the older kids wanted to stay longer.
The ideal amount of time to spend at the Butterfly Conservatory is 1 – 1.5 hours. With toddler-aged kids, it will probably be on the shorter end, while older kids can easily stay engaged for longer.
What to Wear to the Butterfly Conservatory
If you’re hoping to have butterflies land on you, the best way to do this is to wear bright colors on your trip to the Butterfly Conservatory. At least that’s the conventional wisdom. Butterflies drink nectar from brightly colored flowers, so it makes sense that bright colors would attract them to land on you.
However, my oldest daughter wore a dark gray hair bandana on our trip to the butterfly conservatory, and she was constantly having butterflies land on her head. So, although it was not a bright color, something about the color or the material made it a butterfly magnet!
The younger sisters were a bit bummed that they didn’t get the same amount of butterfly attention, so next time, they’ll all be wearing hair bandanas, I’m sure.
How Much Does the Butterfly Conservatory Cost? Is it worth it?
The Butterfly Conservatory is located in the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden, which is free to enter. However, the Butterfly Conservatory is not free to visit.
In Canadian dollars, the cost for tickets is $17.50 per adult (13 and up) and $11.50 per child (3-12). Children 2 and under visit free.
With our large family, prices add up quickly, and this one felt like a bit of a splurge. Perhaps it’s the fact that I generally count on not having to pay for all the little ones (which is often the case at American attractions). Here, we only had one small enough not to have an entrance fee.
That, and the fact that we also had to pay for parking and then bought everybody ice cream at the cafe in the Botanical Gardens after the Butterfly Conservatory, this felt like it added up to a pricier outing than we usually go for.
However, given how much the kids enjoyed the butterflies and the beauty of the conservatory itself, I’d say it was worth the price.
We added on a quick traipse around the Botanical Garden as well, and I immensely enjoyed the gardens’ stillness and beauty in contrast to the noise and the hustle and bustle surrounding Niagara Falls.
If you have room in your itinerary and in your budget, a stop at the Butterfly Conservatory is something both you and the kids will remember for a long time.
Where to Park for the Butterfly Conservatory?
There are two paid parking lots at the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens that also serve the Butterfly Conservatory. Both of these lots charge per hour, which you pay for ahead of time at self-serve kiosks.
One parking lot, the easiest to access, is located right along Niagara Parkway. This is the first parking lot you’ll come to at the Botanical Gardens if you’re coming from the Niagara Falls direction.
Another parking lot is located around behind the Conservatory, which you can access by taking the park road to the left, at the far northern end of the Botanical Garden.
The second parking lot is slightly closer to the Butterfly Conservatory if mobility is a concern. However, neither parking lot is very far from the building, and both are wheelchair or stroller accessible.
If you don’t want to pay for parking and have already paid for access to the WEGO bus lines, another good option is taking the bus up to the Butterfly Conservatory.
Alternatively, you could park at the Whirlpool Aerocar location (which has free parking) and hike up along the recreational trail to the Butterfly Conservatory, although this will add a considerably long walk to your day.