The Missouri Botanical Garden is not only one of St. Louis‘ best cultural and family attractions, it is one of the finest botanical gardens in the world. Although the gardens get well-deserved fame & recognition, did you know they also have a sister property? Actually two, Shaw Nature Reserve in Grey Summit and located in West St. Louis County is the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, one of my picks for the best family “hidden gems” in St. Louis!
|Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House|
My family can easily make an afternoon out of visiting the Butterfly House, which is ideally located in Chesterfield’s Faust Park, placing it directly next to the St. Louis Carousel and a huge (and brand-new) playground. Admission is free for members of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Butterfly House is open year-round which is especially nice in the cold winter months.
As with everything operated by the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Butterfly House is not only an amazing place to visit, it has a deep focus on education & research (it is in fact the only butterfly house in the nation accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums). They recently reopened a new educational area for kids featuring puzzles, books, and other hands-on learning activities; and keeping in-line with the Garden’s 2013 theme of Foodology, the Butterfly House also has several exhibits where kids can play and learn about sustainable food.
|Learning all about food|
|The new reading area is really nice!|
The main hall features permanent collections of insects such as roaches, snakes, lizards, and other “small wonders.” Our son has always liked the huge cockroach display that kids can climb under and be surrounded by the bugs.
|The main gallery|
|Admiring all the bugs|
The highlight of the Butterfly House though is of course the butterflies! The large Conservatory Garden is home to hundreds of butterflies that are swarming around you immediately upon entering the tropical climate glass greenhouse. Unlike other butterfly houses where it seems we have to really look hard for the butterflies, at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House the are everywhere!
|An old photo…ironically the only one I have with a butterfly in it, despite the fact that there are
As expected from a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden the Butterfly House has many exquisite landscapes & botanical environments for the butterflies to enjoy. Bother inside and out the Butterfly House truly is an extension of a botanical garden!
As its directly next door (actually shares a parking lot) to the Butterfly House, no visit is complete without also taking the kids on a ride at the indoor historic St. Louis Carousel. At $4 a ride it is a bit pricey, but the rides literally last about 10 minutes – the longest carousel ride I’ve ever been on!
|St. Louis Carousel|
|Actually the longest carousel ride I’ve been on|
And we usually wrap-up our visit playing on the large Faust Park playground, also located on the same grounds as the carousel & Butterfly House.
|Faust Park playground|
The Butterfly House is an often overlooked “hidden gem” family attraction in St. Louis that I highly recommend!