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Summer is upon us and hat better way to celebrate the rising temperatures and lifted COVID restrictions than 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. If you are looking for more stunning gardens to visit, here are some great ones.

Butterfly Garden at West Essex Park
Address: 621-B Eagle Rock Avenue, Roseland, NJ
Open: Daily, dawn to dusk
Phone Number: 973-228-8776
Cost: Free to visit

Located next to the Essex County Environmental Center among a network of trails, this butterfly garden is one of many exciting attraction 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.

Looking for even more butterfly-themed programming? Make sure to book a time slot at the Butterfly Tent Safari, which will be open from 12 pm- 3 pm on weekdays between July 17 and July 31, as well as from 10:30 am- 1:30 pm on July 17, July 24, and July 31. Prices vary based on the program (guests must pay $8 to visit the tent), and walk-ins will not be accommodated, but you can call the number above for more information or to reserve a spot.

Butterfly House & Pollinator Garden at the Tenafly Nature Center
Address: 313 Hudson Ave, Tenafly, NJ
Open: Mid June- Labor Day
Wednesday- Sunday, 11 am- 3 pm
Phone Number: 201-568-6093
Cost: for non-members, $2/person or $10/ family

This 12’ by 24’ 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.

Just be sure to check the forecast before you drive, because the center’s butterflies tend to be less active in rainy/overcast conditions, as well as when the temperature is below 70 F.

Butterfly House at the Watershed Institute
Address: 31 Titus Mill Road Pennington, NJ
Open: mid-June to early October, dawn to dusk
Phone Number: 609-737-3735
Cost: Free

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. They also provide shelter and nectar for caterpillars and butterflies. The Institute also raises Monarch Butterflies in partnership with Monarch Watch, an organization centered around Monarch research and education.

Van Vleck House & Gardens
Address: 21 Van Vleck Street, Montclair, NJ
Open: Daily, dawn to dusk
Phone Number: 973-744-4752
Cost: Free

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.

Woodbridge Township Butterfly Garden
Address: Omar Avenue, Avenel, NJ 07001
Open: Daily, dawn to dusk
Phone Number: 732- 738-1311
Cost: Free

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. 

Four Seasons Butterfly House at the Camden Children’s Garden
Address: 3 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ
Open: Fri. & Sat 10 am- 3 pm, Sun. 10 am- 4 pm
Phone Number: 856-365-8733
Cost: General Admission— $6, Guests 1 & Under— Free

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. While most attractions are included with the price of admission, guests must pay an extra fee for ride tickets. 

Wheelabrator Wildlife Refuge and Butterfly Garden
Address: 600 Crown Point Rd, Westville, NJ
Open: Daily, 6 am – 9 pm
Phone Number: 856-742-1484
Cost: Free

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. 

Turtle Back Zoo Butterfly Tent
Address: 560 Northfield Ave, West Orange, NJ
Open: Memorial Day through Labor Day, 10 am – 4 pm
Phone Number: 973-731-5800
Cost: $2, in addition to general zoo admission fees

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.

The Hummingbird Garden
Address: 40 High St., Perth Amboy, NJ
Cost: Free

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 Veteran’s 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. 

East Brunswick Butterfly Park
Address: 262 Rues Ln, East Brunswick, NJ
Cost: Free

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.

Before heading over, make sure to take a look at this Online Field Guide, which was developed by the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission and contains helpful reference photographs and information about butterflies that you might see in the park.