Houston’s Cockrell Butterfly Center
Houston has no shortage of fun and educational places to go and things to do. The museum district is second to none and hosts a multitude of great things to see.
We recommend parking in Herman Park, a vast, beautiful park that spans several acres in downtown Houston to get to the museum. The park is home to the Miller outdoor theater, miles of walking/running trails, and beautiful, old oak trees.
Walking through the park reminds me of my childhood in southern California and the Live Oak Park that we would frequent on school field trips. The branches of the old oaks stretch out and towards the ground as if they are reaching down to hold themselves up.
Make sure you look up when you walk through the part, or you’ll miss the “oak ornaments”.
Hanging from the branches of the mighty oaks are hundreds of what look like bromeliad plants but are, in actuality, Spanish moss clusters. They look like green holiday ornaments hanging all through the park. I have always wanted to grab some and take them home to hang outside on my porch, but I know they would never survive without a sturdy oak to latch on to.
There are multiple venues inside the Houston Museum of Science that range from the butterfly center to an IMAX movie theater that shows amazing educational films; there is something for everyone.
The museum is perfect for families or even a homeschool field trip day. Filled with science-based exhibits, it’s great for those kiddos who love nature, science, or geology.
Each venue inside the museum has its own entrance fee, so it’s best to check for package discounts or even a membership if you’re a local and want to see more than one.
The fee for entrance into the Butterfly Center is super affordable, $12 each for adults and $10 for children, students, and Seniors. So, for $24, you can walk among thousands of beautiful butterflies in a stunning setting.
Remember when you were a kid and went on school field trips to the science museum? That’s how it feels going into the Butterfly Center. There are interactive educational stations set all through the center that intrigue and inspire the young and young at heart. Many are very hands-on and allow you, or your kiddos, to touch and feel to get a truly first-hand experience.
Beyond the butterflies, the center also has displays of insects, arachnids (spiders), and my personal NON-favorite beetles. I must admit that I find some fascinating and unique, but I’m still not going to invite them into my home. I am just fine viewing them through plexiglass, thank you.
I am NOT a bug person at all! I cannot handle them, nor do I want to. When we have one in our house, it’s Charlie’s sole responsibility to kill it and dispose of it. So the Roach Dome is a definite no on my list of things I want to experience.
Inside are food items left intentionally to lure the critters out so you can see them through a sort of “fisheye” viewing globe. Definitely not for those, like me, that do not care for the little darlings!
Really? Cockroaches? Why in the world would anyone want to display the one creature we all work so hard to destroy in our homes? Time to move on, let’s get to the butterflies, FAST!
I think butterflies are magical. What other creatures symbolize the resurrection of life? To see the evolution of a butterfly firsthand is one of the coolest things.
The center has multiple displays showing the various stages of development for butterflies. From the creation of the cocoon to the emergence of the butterfly, I love to watch butterflies emerge for their first day of new life.
Once inside the 50′ tall atrium, the sights, scents, and sounds are mesmerizing. All around you, butterflies are flitting about, looking for a place to land and rest or perhaps have a quick meal. Surrounded by the sights, sounds, and scents of the atrium is like stepping into a rain forest in South America but right in downtown Houston.
There are only two rules to the center. 1) Do not touch the butterflies. 2) Stay on the path, and don’t touch the foliage. That is easier said than done once you’re inside, as these magnificent creatures were everywhere, and the temptation to reach out in hopes one will land is hard to resist.
With every step in the atrium, there are different sizes and colors of butterflies. Some take a rest, and others get nectar from one of the many stations set up for feeding.
This is not somewhere that you want to rush through. Taking the path slowly and stopping to look around is the best way to see the butterflies. Sometimes they are right in front of you, and other times, they blend in with the surroundings and can be more challenging to see. Either way, it’s well worth slowing down and going at a leisurely pace.
The variety of species of butterflies and insects varies as the staff is constantly letting new species into the habitat, so each trip, you may see something completely different. One of the great events is when the staff releases new butterflies that have just emerged from their cocoons into the habitat.
Watching them take their first flights into the atrium and search around, discovering new plants and flowers, is so fun to watch.
Some days, the center will bring out one of the more “exotic” critters for people to see and touch. During our visit, we came across a gentleman sitting on a bench with his hand out. At first glance, I didn’t realize he was even holding anything, then I noticed it. Holy cow! It looked like a scorpion. Was this man crazy?
We stepped closer, and the gentleman told us he was holding an Australian Dead Leaf Mantis. Looking at this unusual creature, it was clear where it got its name. It looked just like a dead leaf.
Once I knew it wasn’t dangerous and wouldn’t kill me, I stepped a bit closer. He tried to get me to hold it; NOPE, that wasn’t happening. He did, however, convince me to touch it, assuring me it wasn’t going to sting me.
As I reached out to touch this creature that looked like it was from a foreign planet, I realized that it was soft, not prickly like it appeared. I was so proud of myself; I touched a bug and survived. I can conquer anything now!
I could spend every day in the Atrium just listing to the sounds and watching the butterflies! The calm, quietness of the waterfall and the beauty of thousands of butterflies all around me is so incredibly relaxing. It’s easy to get lost in the experience and not even realize that other people are around or that you are in a big city like Houston.
The Butterfly Center is a magical place and one that I know I’ll be returning to again and again to see what beautiful new butterflies have been added to the family.