This Under-the-Radar Florida Town Is Known as the “Butterfly Capital of the World”

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Updated: September 24, 2023
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With their vibrant colors, graceful movements, and tiny delicate wings, butterflies have the ability to captivate anyone who is lucky enough to cross their path. But can you imagine being surrounded by thousands of butterflies at once? Just think of it — innumerable exotic butterflies fluttering all around you as their colorful wings paint mesmerizing designs in the air. It sounds like something out of a dream — yet in this under-the-radar Florida town, this beautiful butterfly-colored dream is brought to life! So let’s dive in and look at the unique Florida city known as the “Butterfly Capital of the World”!

Butterfly World has the largest butterfly house in the world.

Where Is the “Butterfly Capital of the World”?

Situated between Miami and Palm Beach sits one of Florida’s hidden gems — a little city named Coconut Creek. Coconut Creek is a vibrant city with an area of 12 square miles and some of the best urban planning you will ever see. The city’s groundbreaking approach goes beyond simply accommodating its residents — it creates a unique lifestyle that blends seamlessly with the environment. Coconut Creek is a beautiful city with picturesque waterways, vibrant greenery, beautiful parks, and all kinds of butterfly gardens. In fact, the city is even certified as a “Community Wildlife Habitat.” 

With 61,000 residents and an unwavering commitment to the environment, Coconut Creek is its own little piece of heaven on earth. However, one of the city’s biggest claims to fame is its renowned title as the “Butterfly Capital of the World.” This is due to the phenomenal display of 20,000 butterflies living at Butterfly World. Located in the city’s Tradewinds Park, Butterfly World is an experience unlike any other. Formed out of the dreams of an electrical engineer, this incredible place will leave you with a renewed appreciation and awe for the natural world.

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Coconut Creek’s biggest claims to fame is its renowned title as the “Butterfly Capital of the World.”

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Butterfly World

Ronald Boender discovered his love of butterflies while growing up on his father’s farm in Illinois. Although he went on to become an electrical engineer as an adult, Boender rekindled his passion for butterflies when he retired and moved to Florida. There he began raising his own butterflies and cultivating food plants for them. He even started supplying butterflies to universities and zoos with his new company MetaScience in 1984. 

At the time, “butterfly houses” were popping up all over the United Kingdom. So, the next year Boender took a trip to London. He quickly found himself chatting with the owner and founder of the London Butterfly House, Clive Farrell. The two butterfly enthusiasts became fast friends, and before long, they joined together to create Butterfly World — the very first butterfly house in the United States!

When Butterfly World opened in Florida on March 28th, 1988, it was the largest butterfly house in the world. Its 3 acres had botanical gardens and butterfly aviaries, a research center, and a  working butterfly farm. In addition, Boender also established the “Bring Back the Butterflies” campaign in North America to educate the public and help them learn more about these incredible insects. You can download your own free butterfly guide from the program for specific regions of North America. 

Butterfly World was such a success that it allowed Boender to establish the Boender Endangered Species Laboratory at the University of Florida. This laboratory collaborates with renowned scientists to research and find new ways to help species that are threatened with extinction. In fact, Boender’s team at Butterfly World played a crucial role in saving the Schaus Swallowtail (Heraclides aristodemus ponceanus), an endangered butterfly species endemic to Florida. 

Butterfly World played a crucial role in saving the Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly.

©David Jeffrey Ringer/Shutterstock.com

Butterfly World Today

The original 3 acres of Butterfly World have expanded to an impressive 10 acres with birds, butterflies, bugs, plants, and more! In the Paradise Adventure Aviary, you can stand amid live butterflies from all over the world as they flutter around — and if you’re lucky, one might even land on you! At the Laboratory and the Hanging Garden & Butterfly Emerging Area, you can see butterfly eggs and larvae, and even witness butterflies emerging from their chrysalises! Head over to the Butterfly Museum and Bug Zoo to check out Butterfly World’s amazing collection of moths, butterflies, and other insects from all over the world. Then you can pick up butterfly food plants from the Butterfly Garden Center and learn all about caring for your own butterfly garden at home. 

In addition to the spectacular butterfly encounters and exhibits, Butterfly World also houses many beautiful and breathtaking bird species. There is even an interactive lorikeet encounter where guests can interact up close and personal with these colorful Australian birds!

The Tropical Rainforest — a stunning replica of a real rainforest with a cascading waterfall — is home to thousands of rare and exotic butterflies that flutter alongside all kinds of free-flying birds. Both the Tinalandia Bridge and the Macaw Landing & Jewels of the Sky Aviary provide more adventures as you cross a swinging rainforest brush and greet the many charming macaws, colorful Goudlian finches, and an endless array of stunning tropical flowers. 

If you love plants, be sure to take a stroll through the English Rose Garden, Grace Gardens, and along the banks of Butterfly World Lake for some truly magnificent blooms. Or get lost in the vine maze and marvel at one of the largest passion flower collections in the world. 

One of the beautiful encounters you can have at Butterfly World, Florida.

©Tomasz Szymanski/Shutterstock.com

Visiting Butterfly World

The best part is that you can experience the beauty and wonder of Butterfly World all year long! Located just 10 miles north of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, Butterfly World is open seven days a week. It is 100% wheelchair accessible, and tickets can be purchased in person at the entrance. Butterfly World is mostly outdoors, so certain activities are subject to weather. However, it’s important to note that Florida weather can differ from city to city and even from one street to another. So, if you’re ever unsure about the weather and which exhibits and activities are available, be sure to give Butterfly World a call

Where Is Coconut Creek Located on a Map?

Coconut Creek gets its name from the coconut trees planted by early developers. It is in a busy area full of well-known towns including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach, and it is not that far from the Everglades.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Microfile.org/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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