Best Tourist Trap (2006)

Butterfly World

A giant billboard on Sample Road claims that this sprawling butterfly sanctuary in Coconut Creek has been "voted South Florida's #1 Attraction." That, coupled with the whopping $18.95 it costs for an adult's entry into its netted inner sanctum, puts Butterfly World squarely in the tourist-trap category. Happily, the three acres of aviaries deliver on the hype with hordes of iridescent moths waiting to swipe a hopeful proboscis at any passing Hawaiian shirt. There's a core of solid science to the place: Founder Ronald Boender dreamed of combining his butterfly hatchery business with a tourist-friendly interface, and as a result, the complex has a laboratory, hatchery, museum, and research facility on the premises. But like any tourist trap worth its snuff, Butterfly World has thoroughly mixed spectacle with scholarship: There's a gift shop (which sells live butterfly pupae along with the expected stuffed animals and kitsch), a simulated rain forest complete with waterfall, exotic birds ranging in size from hummingbirds to macaws, and one of the largest collections of hanging passion vines in the world. Which means that Butterfly World is well-equipped to make both armchair lepidopterists and their bored hangers-on happier than Monarchs on milkweed.


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