For those of you who haven’t yet visited Fort Wayne’s Botanical Conservatory, now is the perfect time! The indoor gardens are always lush and beautiful, housing over 500 unique species of plants. The showcase garden, tropical garden, and desert garden are three insulated worlds exploding with flora, and plenty of interactive children’s exhibits between them. All in all, it’s a fun family activity easily worth a two or three hour visit.
Two recent additions to the usual leafy marvels make it a must-go.
The Empyrean Café, tucked behind the conservatory’s gift shop, opened on June 7th, and serves breakfast from 8 am to 11 am, and lunch from 11 am to 5 pm on most days. The space is clean, fresh, and conscientious, as food trays are made of recyclable bamboo and utensils are also wooden—exactly what you’d expect from a café inside a botanical conservatory. The clean and green theme applies to the food as well.
You’ll find no greasy omelets here, as the breakfast menu is comprised of waffles, croissants, quiches of rotating flavors, and other healthy morning foods ranging from $3.50-7.50. The lunch menu offers soups, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and flatbreads ranging from $3.00-9.00.
On my last visit, I had a red pepper quiche with a straight house blend coffee. My friend also ordered the quiche, but opted for Earl Grey tea. We were both very pleased with our choices. You can find the rest of the menu here.
The other timely addition to the conservatory is the 14th annual live butterfly exhibit “Metamorphosis,” found in the showcase gardens. Some of the butterflies are native to Asia, some to Africa, and others to South America. They arrive in chrysalis form, and emerge in the Hatchery Lab on site. After they hatch, they head out to a large tent, the Nectar Garden, where visitors can roam around and admire the newly-hatched butterflies. Some butterflies last just a couple days, others last a week. Many more emerge from the hatchery from the exhibit's opening on April 16 to its closing on July 17, a breathtaking experience for anyone who can appreciate nature and its colorful splendor.
Missed it? Don't worry, it's an annual showcase and fan favorite. Next up, catch "Our Japanese Sister" July 23 - November 13th, an exhibit honoring Fort Wayne's sister city, Takaoka, Japan.
For a magical walk through exotic gardens and a healthy, light meal, head over to the Botanical Conservatory and Empyrean Café—you won't be disappointed.
Interested in downtown Fort Wayne?
(Photos by the author unless otherwise stated.)