We meticulously test and assess everything we review. Learn more about why you can trust us.

A Local’s Guide to Visiting the Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston

A Local’s Guide to Visiting the Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston

If you’re looking for an enchanting place to take the kids or a romantic location for your next date with a special someone, the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences has a perfect spot hidden within its walls. 

The Cockrell Butterfly Center is a beautiful combination of lush greenery that’s reminiscent of a tropical rainforest complete with a waterfall and dainty butterflies fluttering around. 

So, pack up your cameras and let’s take flight into the Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston!

 Background and History 

The idea behind building the butterfly center started after the Houston Museum of Natural Science bought cases of butterflies, moths, and beetles from the collection of Michael Whitley, a self-taught taxidermist. 

Today, the Cockrell Butterfly Center, nestled within the Houston Museum of Natural Science, is a testament to the intricate balance between nature’s beauty and structural innovation. 

With its walk-through habitat, visitors are welcomed into a rainforest where thousands of live butterflies bounce from tropical plants and fly across a gentle waterfall. But behind this feat, is a pretty interesting story of struggle on its construction.

In 1992, the Houston Museum of Natural Science unveiled its ambitious $19 million expansion plan, centered around the creation of a live butterfly exhibit. While designing the projects, challenges around dealing with live animals started to come about. 

Butterflies need specific environmental requirements to survive. The habitat needed to mirror a tropical location, with flowering plants, temperatures of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity levels reaching 70 percent. 

Balancing these factors with the need for natural light while ensuring structural integrity against hurricanes that frequent the area was a big problem. 

The use of exposed tension bracing with layers of epoxy and paint meticulously applied after abrasive blasting offered both the necessary support for the structure and the freedom for butterflies to fly around an open area. 

The result of all this brainstorming was a 70-foot glass cone with a sloping roof made of 588 individual custom-cut glass panels, all under the original budget. 

Address: 5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-639-4629



  • Tuesdays to Sundays – 10 am to 6 pm 
  • Mondays – 12 pm to 6 pm

Summer Hours

  • Fridays to Wednesdays – 10 am to 6 pm 
  • Thursday: 10 am to 8 pm 


There are two convenient options to getting your tickets to the Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston, purchasing them at the attraction itself or securing them online in advance.

We highly recommend booking your tickets in advance. By doing so, you can save valuable time, secure your ticket and enjoy cheaper rates compared to tickets purchased at the venue.

Regular Tickets Prices:

  • Adult Ticket (anyone above 11 years old): $12
  • Kids Tickets for children ages 3 to 11: $10
  • Children under 2 years old: Free

Discounted Ticket Prices: 

  • Seniors Citizens (62+): $10
  • College Students: $10
  • Military Personnel: $8
  • Members: $6 

Group Ticket Prices: 

  • Groups (10+): $8
  • School Groups (Pre-K–12th Grade): $4.50 with special booking online

Best Time to Go 

The best time to go to the Cockrell Butterfly Center is on weekday mornings. Coming before the throng of visitors by midday increases your chance of seeing the butterflies because they tend to shy away when there’s a lot of people. 

General admission to the entire Houston Museum of Natural Science is free on Thursdays, so if you want to enter without paying, try to schedule your visit then! (Just be aware that there are more people on Thursdays too!)

The center is open longer during summers, so if you’d rather enjoy it at night, you can opt to go during that season. 

How to Get to the Cockrell Butterfly Center

The Cockrell Butterfly Center is located inside the Houston Museum of Natural Science and you have many options on how to get there. 

  • By Bus: Take Bus 56 to the Main Street at Remington Lane stop and the museum will be a 2 minute walk away. 
  • By Light Rail: To get to the museum, take the red line light rail to the Museum District Station and walk for 3 to 4 minutes.  
  • By Car: The Houston Museum of Natural Science is along Hermann Drive with parking inside the building for a flat rate of $10 for members and $30 for non-members. 

Things to See and Do at the Cockrell Butterfly Center

This Rainforest Conservatory was designed to look like a tropical rainforest. With plants  from different parts of the city and some imported from other countries, you can witness over 1,500 live butterflies!

The butterflies you’ll see were also sourced from farms worldwide. The center has info guides near the entrance to help you spot and identify as many of them as you can!

Another highlight here is the giant waterfall at the center, which is a great place to take photos especially with the morning sunlight streaming from the glass dome above.

Led by expert butterfly flight attendants, the Cockrell Butterfly Center’s Flight School unveils the secrets of butterfly aviation, taking you behind the scenes of their graceful flight patterns. 

As part of the experience, you’ll even have the chance to release your very own butterfly into the Center’s rainforest, witnessing its integration into the vibrant ecosystem. 

Releases can be purchased on-site, and availability is on a first-come, first-served basis during weekday afternoons and throughout weekends. The best part? Proceeds from your participation supports the museum’s ongoing educational programs.

The Brown Hall of Entomology, invites you to the enthralling world of bugs! Here in this immersive space, a diverse array of arthropods awaits your discovery! You can interact with both living and preserved samples. 

At the Canopy Level, which is called the Amazing World of Arthropods, you get to explore captivating displays of preserved and mounted insects. You also get the chance to join in on interactive games. 

If you venture further, the Subterranean Level features an exhibit that offers an exploration of our relationship with insects. You can gain insights into beekeeping, pest management strategies, and consider the significance of insects in our lives. 

And if you’re feeling adventurous, they have an insect vending machine with quirky treats with main ingredients like crickets and cockroaches. 

The Community Science Garden explores an educational approach to appreciating insects and other pollinators that play an important role in our ecosystems. Here, there are plants that attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. 

In this garden, you can also learn how to create a thriving environment for pollinators by incorporating shelter, water sources, and native plants into your own gardens at home. 

You can also visit the 9 Natives Showcase Garden which is located outside the museum. It was created to show visitors the benefits of growing local native plants which can sometimes be taken for granted especially with home gardening. 

As an added bonus, the Cockrell Butterfly Center occasionally offers pollinator plants for sale in the Museum Store in the form of seedlings that you can repot at home or seeds that you can nurture! 

The Cockrell Butterfly Center’s Land of Beeyond is a great experience for children of all ages! The exhibit champions playful exploration for learning with a huge beehive on the main level, which serves as an interactive play space for children. 

For something more relaxing, there’s also a sitting nook with an array of books dedicated to insects, offering a fun and informative reading corner. 

Not to be missed are the larger-than-life wooden flower displays that feature unique shape cutouts, where kids can match wooden blocks to the cutouts.

Things to Know 

Wear comfortable and cool clothes that you can walk around in. The butterfly center is temperature controlled to mimic tropical weather.

To attract butterflies, stay still, be patient, and wait for them to come to you! It helps if you smell nice and wear bright colors.
You can stand near the feeding stations where the butterflies will occasionally land for a snack if you want a closer look at them while they’re perched.

You can explore the butterfly center on your own or request a guided tour for an additional fee. The whole tour can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, starting with a 5-minute introductory video.

Flash photography and professional photography gear are strictly prohibited.

The walkways are wheelchair accessible with ramps and there are no steps. 

No eating or drinking is allowed inside the center. 

Where to Eat Near the Cockrell Butterfly Center

food on plates
Image Source: Reggae Hut Website

Address: 4814 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77004, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-520-7171


Pricing: $

The Reggae Hut is a Caribbean gem that’s just a stone’s throw away from the Cockrell Butterfly Center.

From meat-filled patties to the authentic taste of jerk chicken, every bite carries the flavors of the islands. The chef who grew up in the Caribbean is very friendly and chatty – and he’ll give you order suggestions if you ask!

Their oxtail stew which comes with dirty rice, corn, and buttered vegetables has always been our go to order here, but their garlic shrimp also packs a punch!

food on a food tray
Image Source: Candente Website 

Address: 4306 Yoakum Blvd, Houston, TX 77006, United States

Phone Number: +1 346-867-1156


Pricing: $$

Candente is an industrial-style Tex-Mex restaurant where bold flavors take the center stage. 

We like to start our meals with either their chile con queso or their 7 layer bean dip to set the mood for the rest of the meal. For the main course, their pork carnitas and the portabella mushroom and peppers never disappoint!

Appreciating the lively decor of the interior is a great way to end your meal alongside a helping of their ceviche for a refreshing finale! 

Address:  1423 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX 77006, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-520-6635


Pricing: $$

El Pueblito Patio is a laid-back Mexican restaurant that has an outdoor patio and refreshing tropical drinks like their Lime Margaritas. If you drop by on Mondays and Wednesdays you can enjoy their special promos for margaritas and whiskey drinks! 

The Piña Fiesta, a dish with 4 skewers of chicken, beef, or shrimp, is the best starter on the menu. Our other favorite dish is their Pollo Maya, which is served with their secret sauce and pico de gallo. 

Address: 1916 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005, United States

Phone Number:  +1 713-521-2027


Pricing: $$

At Raven Grill, eclectic comfort food and mesquite-grilled meats meet to satisfy your cravings. 

Nestled in a cozy neighborhood, this eatery attracts both locals and visitors alike with its warm ambiance and a diverse menu full of familiar and inventive flavors. They grill up classics like New York Strip steaks and our personal favorite, honey-glazed pork chops. 

They also have an extensive wine list with selections from across the world and signature cocktails. Try The Outlaw made with bourbon and elderflower liqueur! 

sandwhich cut in half
Image Source: Hobbit Cafe Website

Address:  2243 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX 77098, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-526-5460


Pricing: $$

Under the shade of a giant oak tree, you’ll find Hobbit Cafe, a beloved eatery that’s been a local treasure since 1972. This spot boasts a whimsical charm that’s literally straight out of a book!

The cafe was inspired by the Lord of the Rings movies and although the decor is impressive, the menu items that pay homage to the film is the real showstopper!

From mouthwatering sandwiches to hearty burgers and even vegetarian options, the menu caters to every craving. Their Gandalf is a crowd favorite which is a jack cheese sandwich topped with avocado and mushrooms. 

Where to Stay Near the Cockrell Butterfly Center

Hotel ZaZa Museum District
Image Source: Hotel ZaZa Website

Address: 5701 Main St, Houston, TX 77005, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-526-1991

Pricing: $$$

Book Now

The Hotel ZaZa, located in the Museum District, is just a short stroll from the Cockrell Butterfly Center. The hotel features opulent accommodations that fuse modern aesthetics with comfort. 

Their rooms are all uniquely designed and they have pool villas if you want to wake up and have quick access to the outdoor area. They also have on-site gourmet dining at the Monarch Bistro which serves the only brussels sprouts dish we’ll ever eat! 

Address: 6840 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77030, United States

Phone Number: +1 346-433-8200

Pricing: $$

Book Now

The Hilton Garden Inn Houston Medical Center has free shuttle services on weekdays from 7 am to 7 pm if you want to explore other spots in the area. However, it’s on a first-come-first-serve basis, so make sure you sign up at the concierge early.

This hotel embraces the concept of modern simplicity, providing all the amenities you need for a seamless stay like spacious rooms, a 24/7 fitness center, and an overall welcoming atmosphere. 

Address: 6580 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-796-0080

Pricing: $$$

Book Now

The Houston Marriott Hotel near the Medical Center has well-designed spaces that make it a great place to stay in the city. Whether it’s the well-equipped fitness center or the lobby, each space was designed with their guests’ needs in mind.

Not only is this hotel near the Cockrell Butterfly Center, but it’s also just a short ways away from the Galleria, the Museum District, and Rice University. 

Address: 1709 Dryden Rd, Houston, TX 77030, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-730-2404

Pricing: $$

Book Now

For an all-around convenient stay, The Westin Houston Medical Center offers an array of amenities that cater to wellness and rejuvenation. The hotel has an outdoor pool that’s heated year round, plus it has an exercise studio just across it for your workouts. 

After relaxing or squeezing some gym time into your schedule, you can rest some more in their comfy but very stylish rooms with soft beddings and complete amenities like high speed Wi-Fi and LCD TVs to extend your relaxation.

Address:  6633 Travis St, Houston, TX 77030, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-313-4000

Pricing: $$

Book Now

The Hilton Houston Plaza, a short distance from the Cockrell Butterfly Center blends modern convenience with classic design. 

You can have a night of fun at their rooftop area which has great views of the city lights at night. Their rooftop infinity pool has a poolside bar that’s a great place for a night cap! 

In the morning, you can grab a Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwich from the Herb N Kitchen to go for breakfast to get your day started. 

Related topics