Hold still as a Cerulean blue butterfly lands on your shoulder (and someone else madly tries to take a picture) in the Butterfly Jungle, a special springtime exhibit and experience at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, roughly a 40-minute drive north of San Diego.
More than 10,000 butterflies flit and float inside a tropical greenhouse during this nearly two-month-long event which takes place from mid-March through early May. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled (insider tip: bring binoculars) for showstopper species, such as the yellow-and-black Grecian shoemaker, the aptly named giant owl, and the classic orange-and-black monarch. Not on a first-name basis with all these winged varieties? Not to worry—during the 20-minute ticketed experience, there are guides who will be happy to point out and name them all, and fill you in on the important role butterflies play in ecosystems around the world. If you want to get a really good look while the butterflies are sitting still, wear bright colors to increase the chances that they’ll land on you and stay put for a while.
To make your visit even more memorable, spend the night in one of the park’s “Roar & Snore” tents overlooking an enclosed savannah habitat, featuring giraffes, gazelles, rhinos, and zebras. You’ll enjoy guided walks, a campfire dinner, and breakfast on the habitat the next morning, after which you’ll get to spend some more time observing the animals before the park opens to the public.
Know before you go: All Butterfly Jungle visitors—including zoo members—must reserve and purchase a times ticket for Butterfly Jungle. You can purchase Butterfly Jungle tickets here.