Flutter About at a Monarch Butterfly Grove

IMG_0873I take my son to Santa Cruz, California to relax on the beach and, in winter, to make a stop at the Monarch Butterfly Preserve in Natural Bridges State Park. It’s a great way for my son to learn about migratory animals first-hand. Although I haven’t quizzed him on whether he know the word migratory, I’m guessing he gets the basic idea.

Here are a couple of tips on seeing the butterflies:

  1. The butterflies arrive sometime in late October and generally stay through February. But here’s the thing: if there are big storms in California during that time, they will leave earlier. We learned that one year when we went in late January, and the butterflies had gone bye-bye. So know we tend to go earlier in the season, just in case.
  2. Santa Cruz has great weather, but it does dip below 60 degrees. When it does, the butterflies won’t be very active. Be prepared to see the butterflies all clustered up in the trees, not as fun as seeing them flutter about.
  3. There is a small, but way cool Nature Center at the park, that has displays of nature and stuff. Specifically, it has a tank of tide pool animals, a gift store with all things Monarch, and a video on the Monarchs’ migratory journey.
  4. The trail to the grove is short, and very accessible. But beware, the grove is a quiet zone. Of course, it is no small feat keeping a toddler in a state of quiet observation. Trust me, you will get a lot of shushing. Take the toddler, and hope the butterflies put him in a Zen-like trance.
  5. Bring binoculars.

There are a lot of places to see the monarch butterflies in California. Geek out, and take the kids to learn more about these fluttery, migrating insects.

Family Travel Tips
Santa Cruz

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