The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Located right on Duval Street in Key West's touristy parts, for me, The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory was a heart palpitation waiting to happen! Not that it's horridly scary there- on the contrary. Everything is so stunningly beautiful and serene that you're scared to move so that you don't ruin anything. As long as you don't fall into any pens or touch butterfly wings (just don't try to touch anything, really) you should be ok. I went with my husband and family, including my niece Penelope who was just shy of one year old and had already visited it more times than I. 

I remember being about town before going to the BNC and seeing people with shiny blue butterfly stickers. Like a true toddler, I wanted one. I'm a keepsake hoarder and I want all the physical memories of a trip that I can stash in my bags, pockets, cases and husband! My Brother (a local there) wasn't around yet so I sort of started staring at people's chests to see it better. It's probably only slightly less weird here than at home in Detroit but what can ya do?! Be prepared if you have kids with you or hoarders- they will see a shiny thing and want it immediately. It's a pretty good tactic for the BNC to use. So, heads up, if you visit the area and are eating at Banana Cafe or visiting the Southernmost bouy, this is what I'm talking about. Attractive, no?
It's 3D!!!

While waiting to get in you're surrounded with metal butterflies and frogs, local art and sculptures. Some would call it a gift shop, but it was really cool to see so many different styles, it felt like a museum of modern tropical art. But, not as lame as I made it sound just now. Inside is a magical menagerie.  Your eyes are trying to take it all in but your ears may immediately be assaulted by Scarlett and Rhett, the local flamingos. They're beautifully weird, not the same shaped birds as I'm used to seeing in our local Detroit conservation Zoo. These flamingos are more like fancy fat-butted question marks who like to get really REALLY close to you then scream in your face. It was really funny, actually but some kids did cry. I did not. They were either in heat (Rhett) or just arguing with one another because it seemed like a stay on your side type of situation from Scarlett's POV. I think they're definitely the stars here, and I really believe they know it to be true. 
Rhett being accusatory.

It's a self guided tour, so you're free to spent as much or as little time as you'd like. But it does get crowded, especially if there's something nice to see like Rhett following you or a butterfly being, well, a cute butterfly on a leaf. It's pretty zen-like. All of the butterflies are free-flying, so you're sure to get some really good and also some really blurred photographs. They swoop in and out, all around, it's like living in a Disney cartoon at it's most magical moments. Aside from the panic that a beautiful butterfly could possibly be near where you might put your foot down and die, it's really calming. There's no obtuse music playing to make the atmosphere seem more comfortable, no piped in floral scents to really get the mood. It's an honest to goodness natural calm that only something so beautiful can achieve. We took a rest in some butterfly shaped benches for our cliche tourist photographs, had some fun with Penny and all of the exotic wings of various insects and birds-and one teenage girl in a costume. I'm sure that's hella common. 

See? Look at that guy!

Secret Eyes

The flowers are amazing, colors like you won't believe and the birds are magnificent. There were some hatchlings scampering about during our time inside and I think I probably spent most of my time watching them roll around with Penny, who tried to catch one. Don't do that. They don't like it when you do that. (I'm trying to figure out how to re-download my video of the little bird puffs so if I finally nail that then I will repost.) Everyone who lives in these domed walls carries on like they can't be bothered by you. They have their banana slices and sugar water, their lettuce leaves and oranges. They live the life of luxury we all pretend to do whilst on vacation, only they're better at it. This is their world and they graciously let us in. 

I said he looked like a stabby guy and my brother called him a Power Ranger.

At only $12 admission BNC one of the more inexpensive spots on the island. The money is put to good use right back into the Conservation of the animals and artists, and the gallery work of Sam Trophia is a must see! You will not see anything else like it, plus you can buy some of it, too, and will not regret it. But, be advised, some of it is SO fragile, so plan accordingly because chances are if it breaks you will not find another one exactly. The staff here is incredible with humans and animals alike, knowledgeable and happy to help. The Gallery is really neat and provides some good gifting ideas should you be in the market. Also, the Learning Center is good for a quick educational stop which introduces you to the types of butterflies around the world, their care and even some caterpillars getting started in their new lives . There is even a live feed webcam on the site so you can spy on some scenes if you miss them while back home. Or, you know, people watch. But it's mostly kids shoving through and people taking photos of things that you're also looking at. Still cool. 
I got a butterfly that matches my Dec birthstone. It's in a clear 5x5 case with wall mounts.
Delicate AF. (This photo is from the website)

I know what you're thinking- Katie, you went a bit ago and since then a giant hurricane has hit! Is it still there? Is everyone ok? Yes and Yes. Word on the street is that people are smart and courageous heroes and the animals were taken to safety as best as possible. Rhett and Scarlett are well, last I saw a photo they were doing laundry ( The floors needed some work but other than that you are welcomed back to the Conservatory happily!

From what I see, it's a cool place for a wedding, birthday party, vacation hotspot or just a place with A/C if you're warm. Which you will be because it's like vacationing on the sun.  For more information, check out their site:

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  1. I used to live in Florida and have been to Key West a few times, but I have never heard of this place before! Definitely on my list now the next time I get out that way.


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