Spring is still over a month away, as promised by Phil the groundhog earlier this month. But at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida, you can celebrate spring all year long.
As most things tend to do over time, Fairchild has changed a lot throughout the years. Just ask my mother, who used to go when she was just a teenager and was visiting again recently for the first time in over 40 years.
One thing that is the different is their new butterfly exhibit, which ended up being the highlight for me. Wings of the Tropics Conservatory, which opened in December 2013, is home to 3,000 butterflies and seven hummingbirds (talk about feeling like an outcast).
I’d have to say that this was my favorite part of the entire garden. It was a lovely area with butterflies of all sizes and with so many vibrant colors. The butterfly keeper (not sure if that’s an official occupation name), said that they are usually more active on sunny days–it was slightly chilly and gloomy out during our visit. Even so, there were butterflies everywhere and they were eager to land on your shoulder or your hand. (Tip: Wearing perfume will attract them.)
Aside from the butterfly observatory, the garden is quite large. There weren’t nearly as many flowers as I expected, but if you love discovering different species of trees (there’s even one that produces tequila), you’ll enjoy Fairchild.
They offer tram tours throughout the garden, which is also a great way to get from one side of the garden to the other, but you’ll learn a lot, too. The tour operator seemed very knowledgeable and passionate about all of the different trees at the garden. The garden also offers walking tours with knowledgable guides, if you’d prefer to explore the garden by foot and learn more about the various species of trees and flowers.
Essential Travel Information
Flights to Miami: You’ll fly into Miami International Airport if you’re looking for the closest airport, but you could also fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport; it’s about an hour drive.
You can book flights to Miami from just about anywhere, with tons of direct flight options available. OneTravel is a good website that compares your different airfare choices.
Hotels in Miami: In addition to flights being plentiful, so are hotels. There are so many options that you usually won’t have to worry about booking last minute, and you’ll almost always find something. Some top hotel options include Fisher Island Club and Resort, The Setai, and Acqualina Resort and Spa.
Car rental: The easiest way to get around Miami is to just rent a car. If you’re flying into Miami International Airport, Fox Rent A Car usually has some good specials that can allow you to pick up/drop off your car directly at the airport.
Big Bus Tours: Don’t feel like driving? Big Bus Tours in Miami are also another cool way to explore the area.