In one of the most miraculous transformations in the natural world, an ugly caterpillar wraps itself in a cocoon and emerges six to eight weeks later as either a beautiful butterfly or a much-uglier caterpillar. Experience this astounding metamorphosis and its eye-popping results with today's Groupon: for $6, you'll receive either an adult or children's ticket (an up to $12 value) to the Butterfly Magic exhibit and access to all of the gardens at Tucson Botanical Gardens. This Groupon expires when the Butterfly Magic exhibit concludes on April 30, 2010.
Like a lepidopteral glam-rock supergroup, Butterfly Magic brings together vibrantly colored butterflies in otherworldly costumes from all around the world in a single tropically temperatured greenhouse. As you wander among the fecund foliage and humid heat, a phantasmagoria of blue glassy tigers, paper kites, Chinese windmills, Atlas moths, and scarlet Mormons will flutter past you like dreams, land on your hands, and even moon you. The very air will be filled with these and many more specimens as they perform mating dances, taste nectar with their feet before drinking it, and fill out census forms. If you're lucky, you might even get to watch the latest models emerge from their cocoon to get flappy-happy with their new wings on the beautiful chaos of their first flight. And if you're really lucky, the butterflies will amass into a human shape, take your hand, and proceed to waltz you through the air.
When you are done dancing with the butterflies, you'll be free to wander the rest of the gardens found at Tucson Botanical Gardens, which has served as the city's herbaceous haven for nearly 50 years. The gardens are budding with plants both native (cacti, desert marigolds, Parry's agave) and non-native (triffids, Truffula trees, piranha plants) and are arranged into a backyard bird garden, shade garden, Aloe Alley, cactus and succulent garden, Zen garden, Native American crops garden, and many more. Sensory patios give you a cool, shady spot to take in all the gardens at once, and the sensory-overload patios let you play Call of Duty 2 amid pounding techno music and while spinning in a gyroscope.
Though butterflies are famously immortal, Butterfly Magic is not. Buy enough Groupons for family, friends, and postal workers so that everyone has a chance to be wowed before April 30.
- This is a smaller garden than most, but does a good job educating visitors on local foliage. A few exhibits on the traditional use of various plants by local Indian tribes. I visited when the garden was hosting a butterfly exhibit, which was held in a mobile home sized building. The smaller space made you feel completely surrounded by the African butterflies. – pt_traveler_7, TripAdvisor
- This is one of our favorite places we have visited. We went to the Butterfly exhibit and the children were facinated [sic]. They loved it. They each had a butterfly land on them and it was more than we expected. – Amy S., Insider Pages
- It's absolutely breathtaking. If you're looking to impress someone on a date, this is the place to take her…They have a lot of special exhibits at different times of the year--like a butterfly garden where you can walk amongst hundreds of species of butterflies. They have more types of exotic flowers than I've ever seen in one place. A very romantic setting. – Celena J., Insider Pages
Tucson Botanical Gardens
Nearly a half century ago, horticulturist Harrison G. Yocum opened his backyard to the public, displaying a bounteous collection of cacti and palms. After a few relocations, expansions, and the establishment of a nonprofit charter, Tucson Botanical Gardens now spreads 17 distinct plots across more than 5 acres. A delicate rumble hearkens the arrival of the Garden Railway miniature train, which winds through gardens uniquely dedicated to birds, butterflies, wildflowers, and traditional Native American crops. Admission—which is free for garden members and children younger than 3—grants passage to five different tours, and groups of 10 or more can arrange self-guided or docent-led tours at a discounted rate. If visitors awaken their appetites by savoring aromas from the onsite herb garden or by staring at clouds shaped like canned goods, they can dig in at the Gardens' Café, where sun spills through a slatted gazebo onto iron tables loaded with roast-beef baguettes and mexican tortilla soup.