Just like humans, butterflies have to seek shelter in order to protect themselves from freezing temperatures. Now with spring in full swing in NJ, these beautiful insects spread their wings and migrate to one open air space to the next—from backyards and parks to botanical gardens. Here in the Garden State, there are even specific butterfly-centric attractions where you can see these tiny creatures in action. Below, we’ve gathered nine different butterfly gardens in New Jersey located throughout different parts of the state for you to visit.
Tenafly Nature Center – Tenafly, NJ
If you’ve always wanted the chance to see butterflies up close, the Tenafly Nature Center will open their Butterfly House and Pollinator Garden for people to experience the beauty of these creatures. From mid June until Labor Day, butterflies will be seen flying up in the air while traveling between nectar plants. You will find native species of butterflies and chrysalis, which depend on the season and availability.
This up-close experience allows guests to learn more about these insects, their life cycle and way of living. Staff and volunteers can be found on site to answer any questions that guests have. The Butterfly House and Pollinator Garden will be open on Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you are a member of the Tenafly Nature Center, entry is free of charge. While non-members will have to pay a $3 fee per person.
Historic Smithville Park and Smith’s Woods – Eastampton, NJ
This 312-acre park has a range of activities for you to do from biking to fishing. To add to the list, visiting their butterfly garden is a must. It is located within the Smith’s Woods Area. You may find several kinds of plants like milkweed surrounding the area which are meant to attract the butterflies. If you plan on visiting this location, May to October is the perfect time to observe these insects. After a long day of exploring, pavilions and picnic areas with grills are available to take use of.
Turtle Back Zoo – West Orange, NJ
To kick off Memorial Day weekend, Turtle Back Zoo will open up their seasonally-held Butterfly Tent exhibition. Guests will get the chance to see over 700 live butterflies fly around a 100-foot-long tent with several kinds of flowering plants. There are six different species of North American butterflies that can be found. Other than butterflies, visitors will get the chance to see various sorts of caterpillars and chrysalis types. Admission will be $2 per person.
Cattus Island County Park – Toms River, NJ
Cattus Island County Park has a total of 530 acre along with seven miles of trails. They have a specialized butterfly garden that welcomes guests of all ages. With the park’s location being in Ocean County, they are open to have several kinds of butterfly species. These species range from the Spring Azure, Cabbage White, Eastern Black Swallowtail, Monarch and Painted Lady. Native plants are also found in Cattus Island which are meant to attract the insects.
The Watershed Institute – Pennington, NJ
The Kate Gorrie Butterfly House first opened in 2000 at The Watershed Institute. Behind this butterfly house, there is some history on how it came to be. It was named after Pennington residents Meg and Tom Gorrie’s daughter, Kate Gorrie. The Gorrie family are long-time board members and contributors to The Watershed Institute. Kate was known to have a huge love for nature, hence the creation of this butterfly house.
Starting in mid June until early October, visitors can explore the outdoor butterfly house from dawn to dusk at no charge. Native butterflies and plants are housed inside the structured garden. The Watershed Institute will also host a Butterfly Festival on Aug. 6 in dedication to the delicate insects.
Trailside Nature and Science Center – Mountainside, NJ
Union County is home to the Trailside Nature and Science Center located in the town of Mountainside, NJ. They have their very own butterfly garden where plants are scattered all over to fulfill the food source supply for the butterflies. These plants are crucial for the life development of these insects. Each serves a special purpose; a place for laying eggs, food for caterpillars, an area for chrysalis formation and nectar sources for adult butterflies.
Butterfly Park – East Brunswick, NJ
Did you know East Brunswick is home to the first-ever municipal park in NJ to be dedicated entirely to butterflies? The 11-acre preserve is filled with all kinds of plants known to attract butterflies.. There are also field guides and butterfly nets available for visitors to use. Butterfly Park is open year round from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Something to take note of is that butterflies may only be visible when they are at their season’s peak around the summer months.
Kay Center – Chester, NJ
The Kay Center in Chester, NJ wasn’t always the environmental hub it is today. It once was known as Hidden River Farm, which was owned by the Kay family, but they eventually donated the property. Later, this property was converted into what is now known as The Elizabeth D. Kay Environmental Center, or Kay Center, for short. We recommend you to visit this center in either the spring or summer. You can get in touch with nature by observing the beautiful butterflies and watch them soar along the air. Visitors can also enjoy an outdoor picnic while getting a view of the surrounding panorama near the center.
Essex County Environmental Center – Roseland, NJ
The Essex County Environmental Center will be hosting a Butterfly Tent Safari exhibition from July 16, 2022 to July 30. This event is ideal for all ages. There will be live butterflies to see and the center has also put together special butterfly-themed programs for guests. Before attending, you must book a time slot in which you will be going. Entry will be $8 per guest. Guests will also get the chance to enjoy a fun take-away item which is included in your ticket purchase.
Will you be visiting any of these butterfly gardens in New Jersey? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author/s
Bertha is currently a junior at Rutgers University-Newark. She is interested in writing about fashion, lifestyle, arts / culture and most importantly - food! When she's not writing, she loves spending time with her golden retriever dog, Gizmo.
How does one book a time for the Essex County Environmental Center butterfly exhibit?