What: Take a stroll through a rain forest conservatory housing hundreds of beautiful butterflies.
Where: The Cockrell Butterfly Center is located at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston
Cost: Adults, $12; children 3-11, $10; children under 3, free.
For more information: www.hmns.org
Fun fact: 1) In Houston-born filmmaker Richard Linklater’s 2014 film Boyhood, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) takes protagonist Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) on a fun-filled day trip highlighting several Houston attractions. Their first stop? Yup, you guessed it -- the Cockrell Butterfly Center. 2) When the Cockrell Butterfly Center opened in July 1994, it was one of only a few such centers in the country.
Want to ogle at some butterflies? It may seem counterintuitive, but we suggest a trip indoors -- well, sort of. For butterflies galore, flit over to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and breeze through its massive collection of arthropods (members of the Arthropoda, the largest phylum in the animal kingdom, which includes butterflies, spiders, centipedes, scorpions, beetles, and cockroaches ).
See preserved and living specimens in the museum’s Entomology Hall before taking a trip through the walk-through butterfly habitat.
The spectacular, three-story structure has a 50-foot waterfall, several trees, tropical flowers, leafy bushes, a pool, some tortoises and even an iguana named Charro -- oh, and obviously, hundreds and hundreds of butterflies.
At any given time, about 1,500 to 2,000 winged beauties representing some fifty to sixty of the world’s largest butterfly species call the rain forest conservatory home. Here, they live out their brief lives among their favorite plants, unthreatened by predators. Butterfly enthusiasts can stroll through the glass greenhouse and observe them swooping, sunbathing, fluttering on fruit trays and feasting on soggy bananas. If you’re lucky (and you stand still long enough) a resident butterfly might even land on your shoulder -- Just remember to keep that swat reflex under control.
While undoubtedly its most lively attraction, the Cockrell Butterfly Center is by no means the museum’s only offering of note. While you’re there, say howdy to Wyrex, the 65-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex specimen in the Morian Hall of Paleontology, navigate an asteroid field in the Burke Baker Planetarium or hitch a ride on the Geovator in the Wiess Energy Hall -- The oh-so-Houston attraction takes guests on a simulated descent to the bottom of an oil well.
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