On the second full day in Key West, Florida, we visited the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. Located directly on the main drag (Duval Street), the facade of the Conservatory is deceptive. Appearing like many of the historic homes on the island, the front of the building features two story columns and a second-story porch. You walk directly into the lobby/gift shop area. At this point, it’s difficult to imagine a tropical paradise just beyond a few doors.
But paradise it is. The most zen moments spent in Key West occurred entirely within the lush and exotic oasis provided for the butterflies, birds, turtles and fish that call the Conservatory home. There are ponds, waterfalls, brilliantly colored flowers, and shiny green leaves everywhere you look. The air is cool and fresh and filled with birds chirping, running water and the rustle of the jade canopy overhead. Periodically there is a loud fuss just across from the gazebo, but that’s just Rhett and Scarlett getting a little heated.
First to greet me was this little fellow.
Regrettably, I did not catch his name. However, he welcomed me enthusiastically and encouraged me to mingle with his friends throughout the garden.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of butterflies flitting about. Some of them enjoy coming very close, implying that they might just land on your shoulder. But try not to get distracted by the friendly flyers dancing right in front of you, so many of the residents can nearly blend into their surroundings. For example, this vibrant Turaco can nearly disappear into the greens if he stays quite still.
And a Painted Turtle’s delicate markings can be camouflaged by the light dancing on rippling water.
Luckily, a group of gentlemen enjoying a little bath told me about that turtle, above. If it weren’t for their twittering, I might have missed him.
Don’t be deceived into thinking that because your hosts have wings that they will all be suspended in air. Some of the group prefer to spend their time walking the paths, just like you.
And yes, you’re here for the butterflies…
… but then you hear a ruckus. It’s that fuss mentioned earlier. Scarlett and Rhett, the Caribbean Flamingos stalking around the lagoon are somewhat dramatic and want to be certain you haven’t overlooked them.
Despite the busy lifestyles of the inhabitants, the Conservatory is most decidedly the most peaceful spot you’ll find on Duval Street in Key West. Benches throughout the garden invite you to, quite literally, stop and smell the flowers. The butterflies most certainly do.
*Any animal names provided herein are the results of online research. I make no guarantees about the accuracy of same. Should you see something that needs to be corrected please let me know!