Saturday, July 10, 2010

Butterfly Pavilion at Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens

Each month I sit down with the monthly Westways magazine and go through the calendar section. For those of you in the east, Westways is a monthly AAA publication touching on all things travel. In our quest to get the most out of life and teach our kids about everything we sit down with this magazine and figure out what adventure to go on next. That's what the Monster Van is for: Adventure!

This weekend was the Annual Butterfly Pavilion at Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens in Claremont, CA. We enjoyed the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center in Callaway Gardens when we were in Georgia a few years ago, so this seemed like a great idea.

Admission for adults is $8 and children 3 and up is $4 BUT its an extra $2 per person to see the Butterfly Pavilion. Well, that's the only reason we were there. It cost us $38 just for admission, but the parking was free. For that price I decided we needed to make good use of the gardens. But these gardens feature native California foliage. Maybe I am the wrong person to ask, but to me those are weeds.

The trails are nicely maintained and yes it was nice to walk through the gardens, but it certainly wasn't $38-nice. I could have gone for the same walk in my free mountains and seen the same things. All I could do is hope that the butterfly pavillion was worth the money.

It wasn't. The Butterfly Pavilion was a screened in tent the size of my living room erected in a clearing. While the docent was knowledgeable and the butterflies were plentiful we were done hunting for monarchs and caterpillars within 30 minutes. There were about 5 varieties of butterflies in the enclosure and a nice explanation at the beginning about the life cycle of the butterfly. The kids had fun watching the butterflies land on us.

Our entire excursion lasted less than two hours. There just wasn't anything else to do. There were no grassy expanses where the kids could run and do cartwheels. There was no picnicking allowed. For $38 we could have visited the Kidspace Museum, which is 30 miles closer, for the entire day. They also have special events including a butterfly release.

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