The Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center resides in the Callaway Gardens, 80-100 minutes southwest of Atlanta’s center. True, it’s quite a drive from Atlanta—especially if you have young children—but it can really be worth it, or a great place to stop by if you’re coming from that direction. In addition, there are a couple other things for you to do in the area, like visiting the Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, or Wild Animal Safari.
The Butterfly Center has been in operation since 1988, and was named in honor of Christian philanthropist and founder of Days Inn, Cecil B. Day. More than a thousand butterflies are housed within the center, coming from fifty species. The center is filled with a variety of tropical plants to provide the butterflies with a wonderful living environment, and is in fact one of the largest tropical butterfly conservatories in all of North America.
A visit at any time of year is special, but September tops them all, with Blue Morpho Month. The Blue Morpho is one of the largest butterflies, with a wingspan of five to eight inches, and an incredibly beautiful iridescent blue wing. The Blue Morphos come out of the chrysalises during September, and fill the conservatory with their incredible, beautiful, active color. The wings are blue on the top, and a dull brown on bottom, giving them the impression of appearing and disappearing while flying (watch these videos from ‘Smarter Every Day’ for a fascinating look at the science of butterfly wings: part 1, part 2). The butterflies’ large size and vivid colors make it an excellent candidate for photographs, but as one of the more active of the butterfly species, they can be harder to capture an image of. In the morning and afternoon—the bookends of the day—the Blue Morphos rest more, giving you a better shot at getting a good shot.
If your children are fascinated by either butterflies or plants, they may very well be captivated by making a butterfly garden once you go back home. In June & July, at 11 am each Thursday, you can join the Gardening For Butterflies presentation, and learn about the plants that butterflies like and need, and what you can do to attract them. Afterward you can pick up seeds for these plants in the gift shop.
Admission is for the entirety of the Callaway Gardens, and costs $18 for 13 and up, and $9 for 6–12. The gardens are open 9 am–6 pm. More info here.
Image taken from callawaygardens.com