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 roughly 3-week-long event in March and April. 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—there are guides who will be happy to point out and name them all. 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.
Guests can also embark on the exclusive Butterflies and Friends Behind-the-Scenes tour to commune with bats, sugar gliders (tiny, nocturnal gliding possums), and of course, plenty of butterflies.
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.