Have a butterfly encounter this summer! You can get up close to hundreds of flying butterflies at local nature centers and gardens. If you’re lucky, you may have a butterfly land on your hand or arm. It’s a magical experience for kids and grownups alike.
We’re focusing on venues where you can enter a butterfly house, also known as a butterfly conservatory or lepidopterarium. (These are different from outdoor butterfly gardens.) They are special facilities designed for breeding and displaying butterflies, often with an emphasis on education.
Some of our local nature centers have special butterfly events each summer, when the butterflies have emerged from cocoons and are in the adult state. If you visit, bring a camera!
Best places to see butterflies in Atlanta
Callaway Gardens’ Butterfly House & Festival
17800 US Hwy 27
Pine Mountain, GA 31822
Butterfly House is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The outdoor gardens and trails are open daily 9 a.m. to dusk
2020 Butterfly Festival:
Saturday, September 26, 2020
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Advance purchase prices:
Adults — $19.95
Seniors — $19.95
Kids 6-12 — $14.95 (see FREE offer below)
Kids 5 and under — FREE
Military — $14.95 adult and $11.95 dependent child
About the Butterfly Festival
Children 12 and under who dress as a butterfly, caterpillar, or other insect receive FREE admission to Callaway gardens on Butterfly Festival weekend only.
This is family-friendly annual event that takes place each year in late September. Venture out on a scavenger hunt, create a butterfly mask, and participate in other activities and crafts.
The Butterfly Festival is included in the price of admission, and is FREE for resort guests.
About the Butterfly Center
The Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens is one of the largest tropical butterfly conservatories in the country. It’s a glass-enclosed facility that provides a complete ecosystem, complete with tropical plants that provide food for the butterflies.
The complete butterfly life cycle takes place inside the climate-controlled conservatory, which replicates the environment of a tropical rain forest — complete with a waterfall and pool. There are over 50 butterfly species in residence.
Purchase tickets in advance online to save $5 over on-site purchase of an adult ticket.
More details on the butterfly house
Dunwoody Nature Center’s annual Butterfly Experience
5343 Roberts Drive
Dunwoody, GA 30338
August 15 to 22, 2020
$10 for adults and kids over 3
The Center’s annual Butterfly Festival is a bit different this year. It is normally a one-day event that attracts thousands of people. But, 2020 will be a more intimate experience, spread out a week, with limited capacity timed slots.
Want to go to the Butterfly Festival?
You’ll need to buy your ticket online, and be sure to show up on time. Note that masks are required for anyone over the age of ten.
Tickets are $10 for adults and kids over the age of three. Kids three and under are FREE.
During the festival, you can enter mesh tents filled with colorful fluttering butterflies. The festival also showcases the nature center’s birds of prey, reptiles, and other wildlife. Activities include craft stations, live music, nature scavenger hunt, face painting, and more.
Dunwoody Nature Center is always FREE to visit, although some special programs have a fee.
On Saturday, September 5, 2020 from 10 a.m. to noon, you can participate in the nature center’s First Saturday program for FREE. This monthly event will focus on butterflies in September. Pre-registration is required.
More info on the First Saturdays program
Smith-Gilbert Gardens’ Butterfly House
2382 Pine Mountain Road
Kennesaw, Georgia 30152
Open July 1 – August 1 in 2020
Tuesday thru Saturday
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Adults — $10
Seniors (65+) — $8
Kids 3-17 — $5
Under 3 — FREE
A Garden with Wings Butterfly House opens to the public each summer. The newly expanded facility features butterflies that are native to Georgia, as well as their native host plants and plants that provide nectar for food. You can expect to see the entire butterfly life cycle here — from eggs to caterpillar to cocoon to adult.
This special exhibit is included with the price of garden admission (see prices above).
You an also visit an outdoor pollinator garden that hosts a collection of annuals, perennials, and flowering shrubs that attract and support native pollinators like bumblebees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.
Chattahoochee Nature Center’s Butterfly Encounter
9135 Willeo Rd.
Open June 6 – August 2 in 2020
Monday thru Saturday — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday — noon to 5 p.m.
Note that the Butterfly Encounter closes at 4:30 p.m.
Adults — $10
Seniors (65+) — $7
Students 13-18 — $7
Kids 3-12 — $6
Under 3 — FREE
The Butterfly Encounter takes place in a mesh tent on the nature center grounds each summer. This walk-through exhibit lets you get up close to hundreds of native butterflies surrounded by their nectar plants. You can even hold a special “nectar stick” to entice butterflies to come to you.
If the exhibit inspires you to start your own butterfly garden at home, you can purchase nectar and host plants on site.
You must purchase your ticket online in advance. The nature center is operating on a timed-ticket system to limit capacity. No walk-ups are allowed. The time on your ticket is the time you may enter the Butterfly Encounter. You’re free to visit the rest of nature center after that.
The Chattahoochee Nature Center’s annual one-day Butterfly Festival will NOT take place in 2020.
Freedom Park Bird & Butterfly Garden
The garden is located near the corner of North Ave. and Candler Park Dr.
FREE to visit
This is a bonus item, since it’s an outdoor butterfly garden and not an enclosed exhibit. Since Freedom Park is over 200 acres, the garden is unknown to many people.
The Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden is a certified wildlife sanctuary. It is a joint venture between the Atlanta Audubon Society and the Dekalb Master Gardener Association. The garden includes more than 40 species of native plants.
More fall fun around metro Atlanta:
Sunday, April 18, 2021