It hasn’t been a great news week (or news year, for that matter). Amidst all the sadness and struggle, it’s helpful to try and find a bit of a bright spot or palate cleanser to try and reset your mind for whatever’s next.
For me, getting outside is often the answer. A nice hike or a visit to a local park helps me take some deep breaths and enjoy life a little bit more. If you’re up for some next level “magic of nature” though, I’d highly suggest checking out the Chicago Botanic Garden for your next recharge. Their “Butterflies and Blooms” exhibit opened in late May and will be there through Labor Day, and it’s worth a walk through.
Butterflies and Blooms has been a part of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s summer schedule for five seasons now, and I’ve made it to a few in the past, which I also enjoyed, but this year the bar has been raised. In the past, the exhibit was further out from the main entrance, but construction has forced a move, and the move was good. The new location for the exhibit is much closer to the garden at large, and features 2800 square feet of space with a lovely view of the water. Another nice upgrade is the structure itself, which is much airier and lighter than the tent used in previous years. It allows for more lingering and less heat, and means you can stay just a bit longer to catch a shot of that elusive Blue Morphos butterfly if you wish.
What you’ll see walking in is a wonderland of butterflies in a beautifully curated garden. Visitors can see up to 500 butterflies in the display, and even serve as a temporary perch for some of the bolder ones. Visitors can also see the new arrivals, with a window into the area where pupae are currently waiting to stretch out their wings. Visit in the morning and you may be treated to a release of the latest species. But even if you aren’t there for the release, you won’t be left to wonder. One of my other favorite upgrades is the number of volunteers available to each visitor, young and old. More than 100 volunteers help staff the exhibit, and at any one time there are six to eight of them available to help visitors identify species, and even to help you get a great photograph, if that’s what you’re after. They can answer questions on the butterflies and the blooms, and seemed eager to help with whatever they could.
If you’ve never been surrounded by butterflies on a perfect, sunny day, you’re missing out on a unique pleasure. Check out our gallery below for some of the beauties we saw, and then head out for an excursion of your own this summer! Admission to Butterflies and Blooms is only $6 for non-member adults, and though the tickets are timed, we never felt rushed out. Admission to the Botanic Garden itself is free, as always, with parking fees at $25.