As visitors enter the South Conservatory, they are surrounded by hundreds of brilliant live butterflies from North America, Costa Rica, Africa and Asia soaring among colorful flowers and going about their business of drinking nectar and looking for others of their kind. Visitors learn about their amazing metamorphosis, the important role butterflies play in healthy ecosystems, and how to ensure these beautiful insects thrive in our own gardens.
Please see below for important visitor information, group information, opportunities to learn more about butterflies, and ways to become involved in the Exhibit. Please note our new exhibit hours.
Purchasing Tickets: Tickets may be purchased at the Visitors Center or at the Conservatory gift shops. Tickets are good for re-entry to the Exhibit throughout the day of purchase. Frequent Visitor Passes also available for use throughout the duration of the Exhibit.
Parking: Parking is available at the Conservatory and Visitors Center parking lots. Buses should drop off guests at the Visitors Center. Buses can park at Visitor Center, if space is available, or off-site. Guests can be picked up at either the Visitors Center or the Conservatory but no bus parking or waiting is permitted at the Conservatory lot, due to limited space. Arrival and drop off at the Conservatory is only for those guests needing special accommodations.
Accessibility: The Exhibit is wheelchair accessible. Strollers are not permitted in the Exhibit.
Peak Times: Many school groups visit the Exhibit in May, early June, September and October, on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Individuals may prefer to visit the exhibit after 1 p.m. to avoid crowds and for easier access to parking in the Conservatory parking lot.
Physical Conditions: The Exhibit is located inside a greenhouse, which is usually ten degrees warmer than the outside temperature and more humid. Visiting in the early morning hours is a way to enjoy the butterflies when the temperatures are more comfortable. We encourage all visitors to bring water with them during hot weather and to drink water regularly.
Extreme Heat Closures: Brookside Gardens follows the advisory from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If there is extreme weather or heat, Brookside Gardens will close the Exhibit for the safety of our visitors, volunteers, and staff. Announcements will be posted here, on BrooksideGardens.org, and on our Facebook page.
Butterflies on a Budget! Purchase a Frequent Visitor Pass and enjoy unlimited return visits to the Exhibit this season. Individual, Dual, and Family Passes are on sale in the Gift Shop. $50 for the Individual pass, $65 for the Dual pass, and $125 for the Family Pass (6 person maxium).
Brookside Gardens is happy to welcome school and private groups to visit and learn about these amazing pollinators. Group discounts are not available. The tours are self-guided with interpretive signage, as well as suggestions for pre- and post-lesson activities to visiting organizations. Groups of 15 or more must pre-register by calling 301-962-1467. Please bring at least one chaperone for every children.
Buses should drop off passengers at the Visitors Center. Buses can park at Visitor Center, if space is available, or off-site. Guests can be picked up at either the Visitors Center or the Conservatory but no bus parking or waiting is permitted at the Conservatory lot, due to limited space. The leaders should check-in and confirm entry times with Brookside Gardens staff. Look for staff members adjacent to the Conservatory underneath the “Wings of Fancy Butterfly” sign. Large groups must divide into groups of 30 children with a designated leader for each, plus at least one chaperone for every 5 children. Groups of ten at a time enter the Exhibit in ten-minute intervals. Groups with spare time may explore the outside garden areas until their designated tour time.
Wings of Fancy Butterfly Birthday Party
May – September
Be your own butterfly for the day, emerge from a chrysalis, craft your own butterflies to take home with you, and get up close and personal with butterflies at Brookside Gardens’ “Wings of Fancy’ Exhibit.
Garden after Dark: Wings and Wine
Wednesday, May 9 | 6:30-8:30 p.m.
What do butterflies do when the sun sets? Find out with exclusive evening access to our Wings of Fancy exhibit where you’ll learn more about the fascinating family of butterflies – Lepidoptera. Sample several wine varieties and enjoy light refreshments as butterflies and music swirl around you in our tropical conservatory. Finish off the evening with a decadent dessert. Must be 21.
Pollinator Party and Garden Camp
Monday, June 18 – Friday, June 22 | 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
What better fun than to have a party and celebration every day during National Pollinator Week? Each day we will explore and learn about plants and pollinators, plus go behind the scenes and tour our Wings of Fancy Live Butterfly and Caterpillar Exhibit! Plant a pollinator garden, explore garden areas, go on a scavenger hunt, play fun games, make garden crafts, and meet new friends! Extended care is also available.
Focus on Butterflies
Saturdays and Sundays | 7-9 a.m.
Bring your tripod and enjoy two quiet hours of photography in our Wings of Fancy Live Butterfly and Caterpillar Exhibit before it opens to the public. Please note the new start time of 7:00 a.m. as the exhibit now opens to the public at 9:00 a.m. Register for as many sessions as you like. Reservations required and classes fill up quickly.
Volunteer ticket takers and flight attendants are needed to help support our staff with running the exhibit. Ticket Takers are stationed just outside the exhibit and are responsible for greeting visitors, explaining the exhibit rules, and coordinating exhibit entry. Flight Attendants are stationed inside the exhibit to show off Exhibit highlights and educate visitors about requirements to keep butterflies inside the building.