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Butterfly Farms: A Hidden Gem Experience in Encinitas

butterfly farms in Encinitas, CA

Imagine walking into a peaceful haven of blooming flowers, robust succulents and a variety of native butterflies dancing about. That’s the atmosphere at local hidden gem Butterfly Farms in Encinitas. Butterfly Farms is a non-profit that protects, nurtures, and propagates one of nature’s most necessary insects – the butterfly. This north county San Diego butterfly sanctuary made a splash at last year’s San Diego County Fair. It’s easy to see why. For a small donation, you can enter the free flight butterfly house and walk among the butterflies as they float above you, around you and sometimes even on you.

How It Started

Butterfly Farms began in 2013. Concern began to arise for the future of many native butterfly species and other important pollinators. So, they opened next to a local Vista nursery. From their inception to today, their focus is on conservation, education, and research. They use the Monarch butterfly as their model for studying the symbiotic relationship between plants and pollinators. They focus on a variety of species including the Monarch, Painted Ladies, Anise Swallowtails, Gulf Fritillary, Queens, and many more.

Queen Butterfly at Butterfly Farms

Moving to A New Space

Previously in Vista, Butterfly Farms is now making it’s home in Encinitas. Beginning in early April, you will be able to walk through the natural butterfly ecosystem again. The new butterfly house, also called a vivarium, is fifty percent larger than the previous location. It provides an up-close, personal view of butterflies in all their colorful stages. They have a separate educational center and classroom. A laboratory for butterfly research is not open to the public. This increased space means more people can experience the unique butterfly house at one time. Butterfly Farms is open to having groups in for guided hour-long tours. Reservations for groups are needed in advance.

Attracting Butterflies To Your Home Garden

Although you can’t bring the butterflies home with you, you can plant your garden around attracting one of nature’s most enjoyable insects. If you’d like to attract Monarch butterflies and other native pollinators to your home garden, you’ll want to purchase and plant greenery with a wide open or flat flower. Plants like milkweed are good starters. Some butterflies, like the Anise Swallowtail, are attracted to plants fennel and parsley. The nursery attached to vivarium actually funds the work they do and you can purchase native plants right next door for a very reasonable price. They’ll also be able to help you plant the right flowers in your garden to attract your favorite native butterfly. Funds you spend at the nursery go directly towards aiding in the conservation, research and education efforts.

butterfly education at butterfly farms

Know Before You Go

Because Butterfly Farms focuses so much on conservation and education, they ask you to not touch the butterflies directly while in the enclosure, but to allow the beautiful insects to come to you. This protects them and keeps the eggs, chrysalis and butterflies safe in their natural habitat. In respecting the vivarium and all the work that goes into preserving the butterfly sanctuary, they also ask that you do not pick any of the flowers and that even though children must stay with their parents, children of all ages are welcome to experience the butterfly enclosure. Have questions during your visit to Butterfly Farms? No problem! A docent, volunteer or staff member is always around to help answer any questions. Butterfly Farms reopens to the public April 1st.

Butterfly Farms

  • Address: 441 Saxony Rd. Encinitas, CA 92024
  • Phone: 760-613-5867
  • Donation: $5 per person donation, Children under 3 are free
  • Hours: 10am-4pm – Hours typical of adjacent nursery
  • Website:
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Michelle Sybert: Michelle also writes at her blog Be Brave, Keep Going and lives in the North San Diego area with her husband and two children. When she's not writing, Michelle loves to go hiking, discover new breakfast spots, and photography. Follow Michelle on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram