We’ve got butterflies on the brain. And it all started about an hour’s drive west of Toronto at the Cambridge Butterfly Sanctuary.

We rolled into the (free) parking lot next just after opening and spent a Sunday morning circling the 10,800 square-foot indoor tropical garden, watching the 2,000-plus free-flying butterflies and moths, hanging out among the plants, waterfalls and streams, and searching for turtles. The staff was engaging and knew their stuff and we were blown away by the “emergence window” where you can witness butterflies emerge, dry their wings and prepare for their first flight.

We took one break to cool off – the tropical garden is humid with temps ranging from 24°C to 28 ºC – and it wasn’t until round two when my kids realized that if they stood still, a butterfly could (and did!) land on them. Oh did I savour this motionless moment.


Getting there: 100 km west of Toronto, 20 km east of Waterloo. Directions. Strollers permitted. Umbrella strollers are available to borrow on a first come first serve basis.

Low-down: The Conservatory was the perfect size to keep two kids (and a mom in TOw) thoroughly engaged yet not overwhelmed. In addition to the tropical garden, there are two exhibit rooms – one with live insect terrariums (cockroaches, millipedes, tarantula and bees) and the other for travelling exhibitions (when we were there it was “Our Feathered Friends” from the ROM.) Admission. Save 10% by buying online.

Eat: No outside food into the facility but when weather is nice bring a snack and eat at the picnic tables outside. We had a delicious lunch at the on site Paradise Garden Café. Yes to a kids menu and they use fresh local ingredients, some grown in a garden behind the Conservatory.

For next year: We’re bringing home a Monarch Butterfly Rearing Kit. It has everything you need to care for and feed your caterpillars and then tag and release your butterflies and track their migration to Mexico.

Next on our chase: In Toronto, we’re planning on checking out the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat and end of August, the Butterfly Festival at Tommy Thompson Park. This is prime time to get a glimpse of the Monarch Butterfly before they start their annual 3,500-km migration to Mexico where they spend the winter. You can also watch them flutter at The Toronto Zoo. Road trip #2 – Niagara Butterfly Sanctuary.


2500 Kossuth Road
Cambridge, Ontario