Butterflies in the Garden Starts March 16 in the MSU Butterfly House

The MSU Butterfly House opening day on MSU campus is one of our area’s first signs of spring, and my kids are thrilled that it’s less than a month away!

I remember the first time I watched a butterfly land on my daughter’s finger at the MSU Butterfly House. It was amazing seeing the pure joy in her face as dozens of butterflies flew around her, and her eyes widen as one actually landed on her finger. Every year since I’ve taken my kids to the MSU Butterfly House to relive that moment. If you haven’t been yet, the chance to experience this magic is coming soon. 

The MSU Butterfly House, part of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens, will be open March 16 – April 30. You can visit Monday- Friday from 2 – 4 PM, or on weekends from 10 AM-4 PM. Admission is always FREE.

5 Ways to Experience The Magic of the MSU Butterfly House

The MSU Butterfly House is an indoor heated greenhouse created for a kid-centered exploration of beautiful plants, fish, and butterflies.

Butterfly House MSU Childrens Gardens

1 – Little Ones Can Explore the MSU Butterfly House Freely

As soon as you step in, it’s time to explore. I love that room isn’t too big, so it’s easy for my little explorers to wander independently while still staying in easy view.

2 – See the Entire Life Cycle of a Butterfly

A visit to the MSU butterfly house is an amazing educational experience to learn about the life cycle of a butterfly. This is one of the reasons why it’s a favorite local school field trip spot! But you don’t have to wait for a school field trip to show it to your kids. They can learn about the entire life cycle of a butterfly when they: 

  • Look under the leaves to find eggs hidden on plants. 
  • See larva munching away on leaves. 
  • Catch an adult butterfly coming out of its chrysalis – an amazing sight!
  • Look up and all around to watch lots of different kinds of butterflies in flight.

3 – Feel a Butterfly Land on Your Finger

Want a butterfly to land on your finger? There are several little “nectar boxes” stationed around the garden. Dip in your finger in, then hold it up to a butterfly. The nectar will draw them right to you! 

If your kids aren’t having much luck, find someone who can “share” a butterfly. Once a butterfly lands on anyone, they can be “shared” from one finger to another.

4 – Discover More with Butterfly Smart Signs

Have a smartphone or an iPad? Don’t forget to bring it! Other than whipping it out for all those great pictures, of course, you can use it for scanning QR codes to find out more about the butterflies. 

There are Butterfly Smart Signs (QR codes) through the garden that can be used with a QR Code reader on your phone or iPad. When you point the camera on your phone or iPad at the QR Code, it will go to a website with more information about exactly what you’re looking at!

5- Take in the Beauty of the Warm Greenhouse

The MSU butterfly house is one of the teaching greenhouses where MSU students learn about gardening and beautiful plants. I feel so lucky that my kids and I have such easy access to these spaces where people from all over the world come to learn

These greenhouses have annuals, perennials, roses, herbs, vegetables, trees and shrubs to teach horticulture. Since the MSU greenhouses are open year-round we get to walk through and point these out to our kids any day we want!

Know Before You Go

The Butterfly Gardens are in a greenhouse inside the Plant and Soil Sciences building on the campus of MSU. Some of the signs for the building can be tricky to spot, so be sure to check out the tips below to make sure you find it first try!

Indoor Play Lansing MSU Butterfly House (1)

How to Get to the MSU Butterfly House

To get here, you’ll navigate to 1066 Bogue St, East Lansing, MI 48823. This will lead you to the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden parking lot. You can check out this map for a handy reference.

How to Park

Parking is free on weekends or $1.80/hr on weekdays (enforced 6 am-10 pm) at the meters. The parking meters take debit or credit cards, so you can keep that quarter in your cup holder for your next Aldi stop!

How to Find It

Once you’ve parked, your kids can start the adventure of finding the gardens! Head to the back of the parking lot, opposite the entrance. You’ll see the outdoor Children’s Garden on your left, and a sidewalk on your right. Follow the sidewalk to your right until you reach a green awning over double doors to the Plant & Soil Sciences Building.

Once you walk in, have the kids look down to the green and blue lines on the floor that will lead them through the building! The blue line winds you through the building to the restrooms, and the green vine leads you to the butterfly house.

Helpful Tips

Admission is always FREE. Bring the entire family – and go back lots of times! 

Before stepping in, you can leave your coats on the hook outside the door to avoid overheating. Even if it’s still 30 degrees outside, once you go in, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to a tropical locale!

Also, strollers aren’t allowed inside. If you have one, there’s a place to leave it right outside. If you have an infant or baby, a baby wrap or carrier works well for walking around.

On weekdays, the bulk of the day is reserved for field trips, with a couple of hours each day open for the public. Weekends have longer hours

MSU Butterfly House Hours open to the public:

Monday – Friday: 2 – 4 PM

Saturday & Sunday: 10 AM – 4 PM (Closed Easter Sunday)

Continue the Adventure By Making it A Full Day Trip!

The MSU butterfly house tour doesn’t take long, but you can make it a full day on campus when you venture out from here!

The Children’s Garden is straight out back from the building, on the other side of the parking lot. This is where outdoor exploration begins! Even in winter, this is a fun area for kids to run around, but once spring hits and the flowers begin to bloom, it’s a must-see. In late spring and summer, they have some great events for kids, so be sure to follow them on Facebook or visit their website to see what’s coming up.

Once you’re done exploring the gardens, there’s still so much MORE to do!  Read on for some of our favorite campus adventures after a visit with the butterflies:

  • Walk through the Landscape Arboretum just south of the Children’s Gardens over the railroad tracks.

  • Picnic in the beautiful Perennial Gardens, just past the entrance pavilion in between the Children’s Gardens and the Plant and Soil Sciences Building. Be sure to stop and smell the roses!

  • Geocache. There are some fun kid-friendly finds in the Children’s Gardens, Perennial Gardens, and Landscape Arboretum. Don’t forget to bring a small trinket to trade!

  • Visit the MSU Broad Art Museum. It’s especially fun for families if you happen to be on campus on the First Saturday of the month. Any other day of the week, head down to the lower level for a kid-friendly art area. Free admission.

  • Go to the MSU Bug House for more hands-on insect adventures! Free.
  • Explore the MSU Museum. It has 3 floors and 15 galleries to discover – kids love the dinosaur skeletons, giant stuffed grizzly bear, and elephant bones. Free.
  • Enjoy Abrams Planetarium, and if you’re there on a Sunday afternoon, there are special shows for families. 

Every time I visit MSU campus, I am reminded of how amazing it is to live next to a fun and educational place that offers so much for our kids.

Do you have any favorite campus stops? Please share in the comments below!

Enjoy the beautiful butterflies Lansing, and the sweet smell of soon-to-be-here spring!