Beautiful Butterfly Gardens to Visit in NJ
Spring is upon us and what better way to celebrate the change of seasons with a fun (and educational) visit to one of the many beautiful butterfly gardens around NJ? These scenic spots offer the best places in New Jersey to observe some of nature’s most majestic insects.
Keep in mind, it’s always best to check the forecast before you drive, because butterflies tend to be less active in rainy/overcast conditions, as well as when the temperature is below 70 F.
And if looking at these beautiful creatures has piqued your interest, there are more stunning gardens for you to visit to see the butterflies in their natural environment.
Aberdeen Township Butterfly Garden
Open dawn to dusk
The garden in front of Town Hall was dedicated in June 2017. Enjoy some peace and relaxation outside of the municipal building.
See aquarium’s hours
Adventure Aquarium is a proud program partner of AZA Safe: Monarch Butterflies. There is a native butterfly garden planted outside near the penguins and children’s playground to help feed the monarch migration. There are nectar flowers and milkweed, which are the monarch’s host plant, to feed the butterflies throughout their life stages since New Jersey plays an important role as a summer breeding area.
Butterfly Garden at West Essex Park
Open daily, dawn to dusk
Located next to the Essex County Environmental Center among a network of trails, this butterfly garden is one of many exciting attractions at West Essex Park. After coming face-to-face with butterflies in the garden itself, visitors can learn more about the winged insects in the Environmental Center. While exploring the rest of the park, take a breather in the sitting garden or under the gazebo, visit the bee hives or check out the Lenape Learning Area. Those looking to cool off can even venture down to the bank of the nearby Passaic River.
Butterfly House & Pollinator Garden
Tenafly Nature Center
Open mid-June to Labor Day, Thursday-Sunday 11 am – 4 pm, closed on July 4 and Labor Day
This 12-foot by 24-foot enclosure, which is home to native species of both chrysalis and live butterflies, is a perfect way to expose your kids to the secrets of metamorphoses. As you observe the butterflies sipping nectar, taking flight and even landing your own nectar stick, you’ll be immersed in the life cycle of the insect. Plus, staff will be on hand to answer any questions you might have. In addition to butterflies, the house also contains plants that naturally attract butterflies, as well as hummingbirds and bees.
Butterfly House at the Watershed Institute
Open mid-June to early October, dawn to dusk
The Katie Gorrie Butterfly House at the Watershed Institute is an outdoor structure showcasing native butterflies and the plants that sustain them. The house also contains gardens that simulate the fields, wetlands, wet meadows, fields and forests of Central New Jersey. The institute also raises monarch butterflies in partnership with Monarch Watch, an organization centered around monarch research and education.
Cattus Island County Park’s Butterfly Garden
Open dawn to dusk
About 20 plants known to attract butterflies are planted in the gardens. Learn how to grow your own butterfly-friendly garden.
East Brunswick Butterfly Park
Despite its small size, more than 50 species of butterflies have been spotted at this municipal park since it opened in 2002. Built in 2002, the park— which was the first of its kind to be created for butterfly education— features an informational kiosk built by members of a Boy Scout troop, as well as trails, benches, and a variety of butterfly-attracting flowers.
Open every day during daylight hours
Elmwood Cemetery’s Butterfly Garden is a certified Monarch waystation and a certified North American Butterfly Garden. The Victorian Garden Cemetery has more than 50 acres of beautiful, serene grounds. While visiting, take a look at the historical gravesites, which date back to the early days of American history. Details will be announced about the annual Butterfly Release, when dozens of monarch butterflies will be released to begin their yearly migration to Mexico. The event celebrates the natural world while also remembering deceased loved ones.
Four Seasons Butterfly House
Camden Children’s Garden, Camden
Open Friday and Saturday 10 am – 3 pm, Sunday 10 am – 4 pm
The Camden Children’s Garden, which is operated by the Camden City Garden Club, hopes to educate and inspire guests by allowing them to explore and discover the natural world. To achieve this end, the garden features a variety of horticultural attractions. Kids can visit several species of butterflies in their 1,200-square-foot “home” and observe them as they sip nectar and fly around within the scenic environment. Other areas great for little nature-lovers include the Red Oak Run— a maze meant to mimic an underground tunnel— and the Dinosaur and Storybook Gardens. Kids can also participate in a variety of seasonal activities, including games and crafts. While you’re at it, make sure to ride the Garden Carousel and take a trip on the Arrow River Train.
Heritage Park Butterfly Garden
This park features a paved walking path, wooded walking trails, pedestrian walking bridge, picnic tables, grilling area and benches. There is a pollinator garden within the park.
Jakes Branch Butterfly Garden
Open 7 am – 5:30 pm
Colorful native plants attract butterflies and other pollinators, such as hummingbirds and bees. The SHIP (Soil Health Improvement Project) Butterfly Garden at Jakes Branch is comprised of native perennial plants that thrive in moderately sunny areas and most soil types, including sandy, nutrient poor soil found in Ocean County.
Middlesex County EARTH Center
Open weekends in July and August from 10 am – 12 pm
Rutgers Master Gardeners have built and maintain a butterfly house through the growing season. Come marvel at the pollinators while learning how you can help support them in your backyard.
The Hummingbird Garden
This public garden, which is maintained by the Royal Garden Club by the Bay, is primarily known as a spot for hummingbird-watching (as you may have guessed from its name). However, the garden contains plants that attract both hummingbirds and butterflies, making it a good place to spot a butterfly as well. So relax under the gazebo and enjoy scenic views of the Raritan Bay while (hopefully) spotting some beautiful birds and insects! Because the Hummingbird Garden is part of a larger park, you and your family can also enjoy walking paths, a beach, a fishing pier, and a veterans’ memorial— history buffs might be interested in the Proprietary House (a former Royal Governor’s Mansion) and Kearny Cottage Museum, both of which are nearby.
Turtle Back Zoo Butterfly Tent
Open Memorial Day through Labor Day, 10 am – 4 pm
This 100-foot-long facility— located within the already-impressive Turtle Back Zoo— is overflowing with both flora and fauna. Immerse yourself in a magical world upon entrance, after which you will encounter over 700 live butterflies from over six North American species as they flutter about the tent and sip nectar from an assortment of flowering plants. Kids observe caterpillars and chrysali at various stages of development, thereby learning more about the life cycle of the butterfly.
Van Vleck House & Gardens
Open daily, dawn to dusk
This (formerly private) estate is now owned by the Montclair Foundation, so New Jersey residents are in luck— the Van Vleck House & Gardens are open to the public for free! The gardens themselves, which cover 5.8 acres and contain a diverse array of plants; though the Children’s Butterfly Garden may be the official reason for your visit, make sure to check out the rest of the grounds, which include a Formal Garden, an Edible Garden and a Wisteria Courtyard.
Wheelabrator Wildlife Refuge and Butterfly Garden
Open daily, 6 am – 9 pm
The Wheelaborator Wildlife Refuge contains 75 acres of undeveloped land and just about everything you could want in an afternoon in nature: wooded walks, grassy fields, wetlands and more. Best of all, though, is the butterfly garden. This enclosed space houses luscious plants that attract both native hummingbirds and butterflies, as well as a bench and a pond.
Woodbridge Township Butterfly Garden
Omar Avenue, Avenel section of Woodbridge
Open daily, dawn to dusk
This tranquil spot is a perfect place to relax and convene with nature (while enjoying the presence of native butterflies, of course). Families can lounge under the gazebo or on benches before exploring the grounds, which can be easily accessed via walkway and are maintained by the Woodbridge River Watch as part of the Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve.
The Bronx, NY
See the zoo’s hours; the seasonal exhibit is open from April through October, weather permitting
Encounter over a dozen species of butterflies fluttering through the greenhouse and meadow of this seasonal exhibit. It’s a place to witness the fascinating life cycle of these brilliantly colored insects, and learn about the birds and fish that share their exhibit.
Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary
Jim Thorpe, PA
Open every day from May 27 through August
Experience the wonder of live butterflies and exotic reptiles in Jim Thorpe’s unique hands-on education center, featuring an indoor “Flutterarium” live butterfly flight room, exotic reptile room, axolotls, turtles, fish, kids’ art space/activity room and a nature-based gift shop.
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