8 Butterfly Gardens in NJ To Visit This Spring


With spring blooms hitting their peak, your kids are probably eager to spread their wings. And a great way to (literally) do it? Check out one of the butterfly gardens in NJ, where littles can marvel at all the different colors and species of plants and butterflies, and you’ll be able to sneak in a few Insta-worthy photos. Plus, they’ll learn how a caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly and what plants to grow to attract butterflies to your 2024 garden. If you are in the mood for more nature trips, check out where to see flowers in NJ. (featured photo credit: istock/Tim Speer)

8 butterfly gardens in NJ to visit this spring

butterfly gardens in nj

Watch a metamorphosis at The Watershed Institute, one of our top butterfly gardens in NJ. Photo Credit: @theh2oshed / Seth Siditsky

The Watershed Institute

The Kate Gorrie Butterfly House—and The Watershed Reserve in general—is home to a wide range of native butterflies and plants that provide their nectar and shelter. Help your kiddos look for the well-known golden monarch butterflies (hint: they’re known to shelter on milkweed species plants). Inside the butterfly house, you can find a recreation of all the habitats in Central NJ, from the fields to the wet meadows to the forests. The Butterfly House is open seasonally from mid-June to early October.
Cost: Free
31 Titus Mill Road, Pennington, NJ 08534

Essex County Environmental Center

The Essex County Environmental Center is an education center that emphasizes creating awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the environment. The Butterfly Garden is located inside West Essex Park among trails and several child-friendly gardens, including a Learning Garden. After exploring the Butterfly Garden, stop by the pollinator garden, which focuses on native plants that attract pollinators (like butterflies).
Cost: Free
621 Eagle Rock Avenue, Roseland, NJ 07068

Wheelabrator Wildlife Refuge

Wheelabrator Gloucester is a waste management company committed to a clean environment and boasts an impressive wildlife refuge and nature trail on 150 acres of wetlands around the facility. Towards the front of the sanctuary is an enclosed butterfly garden. After you finish up there, take a break at the picnic pavilion and then follow their guide to explore the rest of the refuge.
Cost: Free
600 US-130 (before you get to the gate, turn into the parking lot), West Deptford, NJ 08093

Tenafly Nature Center

Tenafly Nature Center’s Butterfly House is one of the butterfly gardens in NJ that’s known for having multiple species of butterflies to admire. The plants, birds, and insects that inhabit the Pollinator Garden vary by season. This year, the Butterfly House will be open from June to September.
Cost: Tenafly Nature Center members — free. Non-members — $2 per person or $10 per family.
313 Hudson Avenue, Tenafly, NJ 07670

Van Vleck House & Gardens

The Mark Landrum Children’s Butterfly Garden is a beautiful backdrop for your photos of the kids, but the plants within it also provide food and shelter for the local butterflies (and birds). Look for the two milkweed plant species in the garden that attract monarch butterflies, and herbs like dill, parsley, and fennel are popular among swallowtail butterflies. You can also swing by the turtlehead, bee balm, and honeysuckle plants to try and get a glimpse of some hummingbirds.
Cost: Free
21 Van Vleck Street, Montclair, NJ 07042

butterfly garden in nj

Take in the colorful butterfly garden at Van Vleck House & Gardens. Photo Credit: @liora.chaya

Turtle Back Zoo

If you’re looking for a spot filled with butterflies, check out Turtle Back Zoo’s Butterfly Tent — this 100-foot-long space has over 700 butterflies from six different North American species. Your littles can see butterflies in their various stages in this one space, from eggs to caterpillars to chrysalises to butterflies. And after you finish marveling at the butterflies, make an afternoon of it — you’ve got the whole rest of the zoo to explore. Open Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Cost: $3 per person for the Butterfly Tent in addition to Zoo entry fees
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052

Woodbridge Township Butterfly Garden

Woodbridge Township’s Butterfly Garden, maintained by the Woodbridge River Watch, is simple but peaceful. Let your littles explore the garden walkways, sit on the nearby benches to enjoy the spring weather, and check out the charming gazebo.
Cost: Free
Omar Avenue, Avenel, NJ 07001

Historic Smithville Park and Smith’s Woods

Listed on the National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places, this is a must-see spot for a day trip with your littles. This 312-acre park is full of diverse habitats and terrain, freshwater streams, the 22-acre Smithville Lake, fishing, canoeing, and of course, seeing the butterflies. The butterfly garden is located in the Smith’s Woods section and is a beautiful place to spend the afternoon.
Cost: Free
803 Smithville Road, Eastampton, NJ 08060

Have you been to a butterfly garden in NJ? 

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About Author

Caroline is a writer from central Jersey who loves checking out new boardwalks and beach towns (current faves include Long Branch and Ocean Grove), admiring the foliage and walking around downtown Princeton, and singing along to music—often with her younger sister. One of her favorite jobs was being a camp counselor and helping out at local, family-friendly events. She can regularly be found ordering a pie to go from Romeo's in Plainsboro, her favorite pizzeria.