The Wings of Fancy live butterfly exhibit is a favorite annual activity for many kids. Enter a dedicated pavilion and watch as scores of butterflies from North America, Costa Rica, Africa and Asia, fly, dine on fruit, and pollinate. Before entering the pavilion, check out a sign with pictures and the names of all of the butterflies that may be found inside.
The butterfly experience starts with a visit to a room with pupa and chrysalis to see how butterflies begin life. Then, move into the large, main butterfly pavilion.
One of my family’s favorite thing about the exhibit is the opportunity to just sit and observe butterflies. While we see plenty of butterflies pass through our backyard, at Wings of Fancy it’s possible to see butterflies linger in one place for a very long time giving us the chance to really observe them and appreciate their beauty. We also love seeing so many kinds of butterflies in one place and trying to identify which is which.
There is also plenty of staff throughout the exhibit who are very knowledgeable about butterflies and able to answer any questions or just talk about butterflies with anyone who is interested. Inside the main pavilion there is a learning area where you might catch a butterfly emerging from a cocoon and can touch some “sample” butterflies.
Be aware that a butterfly may flutter very close to you or even land on you. My son reports that this tickles. While the butterflies are allowed to touch you, you cannot touch the butterflies. Also, some butterflies may try to escape by hanging onto your clothes or hiding in your bag so you will need to check yourself carefully before leaving.
While at Wings of Fancy, consider walking around the rest of Brookside Gardens, which can be visited free of charge. There is a lot of ground to explore including a conservancy, a nice pond, fountains, and more. We’d recommend bringing a picnic lunch and enjoying it in the beautiful gardens after your visit.
The popular Wheaton Regional Park with a large playground, carousel, and train abuts Brookside Gardens, although we recommend driving there.
If you go, you can try to park in the small lot just outside of the pavilion or in one of the other lots. The walk from the main lot/visitor’s center is only about eight minutes on a shaded trail and there are signs pointing the way.
- Wings of Fancy runs through September 17, 2017 and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily but will close on days where there is extreme heat or other extreme weather.
- Admission is $8 ages 13 and up; $5 ages 3 to 12; Free ages 0 to 2. Tickets are purchased just outside of the Wings of Fancy exhibit. A ticket allows re-entry within the same day so if you happen to visit at a time when the butterflies are not very active you can walk around the gardens and come back at a later time.
- During September and October there are frequently school groups in the exhibit on weekdays before 1:00 p.m. so if you plan to visit in the fall you may wish to schedule your visit after 1:00 p.m. on weekdays or on a weekend.
- If you’re local to Montgomery County, Brookside Gardens offers a summer camp, Butterfly Flutterby Fun for ages 8 to 12.
Photos by Jamie Davis Smith Photography.