When we think of Florida we think home, beach, LaSpada’s and more beach. But when it comes to finding new things to do and places to see, our minds generally blank here, SO we decided to do some digging and uncover South Florida’s hidden gems. (Can you spot our lizard friend sliding down one of the curly-Q’s below?)
Being that we are simultaneously looking at SoFla wedding venues, our research brought us upon this beauty, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens. Added bonus: Chihuly, the incredibly talented, world renowned glass sculptor, was having his largest and most comprehensive exhibition to date, here! Nestled amongst Fairchild’s 83 acres, we were free to discover Chihuly’s spectacular glass sculptures as we walked their lush, tropical grounds (map here).
During our visit we were lucky enough to be accompanied by Brooke, our kind and extremely knowledgeable docent, you can learn more about private tours here. She filled us in on all the scoop behind “Chihuly at Fairchild,“ like how Sol del Citron, above, was strategically placed to mimic the sun rising over Biscayne Bay. She explained how Chihuly is very mindful in placing his works, always making sure to highlight nature, rather than over power and take away from it.
These totally look like flamingos:
These colorful garlic cloves had the best name, the Walla Wallas:
More than 5,000 pieces of glass were carefully transported in eight 53-foot containers from Chihuly’s hometown of Seattle, to Coral Gables for this 24-installation exhibition. It took 15 days for Chihuly’s team to reconstruct the works, following photos for the precise placement of each and every delicate masterpiece.
Individually tethered to the bottom of the lake, Chihuly designed these vibrant 45-pound glass balls, known as the Niijima Floats, to represent the Japanese fishing floats he fell in love with while overseas.
A similar installation, and one of our very favorites, the Float Boat:
Another breathtaking feature was The Wings of the Tropics Exhibit, the moment we walked in we had hundreds of spectacular butterflies from all across the globe fluttering around us!
Some were munching on starfruit:
While some were bronzing their wings:
Others were trying to make baby caterpillars:
While most were enjoying the beautiful flowers in the garden:
And then there was one who landed right on mom’s head!
As we continued to walk through we saw colors and variations of butterflies we had never seen before, we even had a chance to watch as they emerged from their cocoons for the first time!
Even their empty cocoon shells were stunning:
We continued to explore the native butterfly garden located just outside the exhibit where we were greeted by hundreds of happy Monarchs:
In addition to the butterflies, there was a ton of other wildlife around. We saw snapping turtles:
And several different types of lizards, some who seemed very fond of Chihuly’s work as well:
And the flowers!
The stunning Victoria Lily below:
Fairchild hosts multiple festivals through out the year including the Chocolate Festival in January, the Mango Festival in July and the Orchid Festival in March. Dedicated to increasing the population of native orchids in South Florida with The Million Orchid Project, Fairchild has an incredible variety of this beautiful flower:
Sharry Baby Orchids: they smell like chocolate… like something straight out of Willy Wonka! We’ll take a dozen please, one for every room in the house 🙂
And for the grand finale we found ourselves strolling along the jaw dropping Bailey Palm Glade:
There was not a moment of the day when we weren’t staring at something in awe. From the nature, to the art, to the tiniest of critters, everywhere we looked there was something beautiful to see.
The moment you see Chihuly’s work, you’ll be hooked. Proof? Here’s Drew and I at our first Chihuly exhibit in Seattle back in 2012, we’ve been following his work ever since:
Another awesome option is Tropical Chihuly Nights, held on Thursday and Sunday evenings in the garden or, if you’re looking to experience Chihuly’s work by the light of the sun AND moon, you have the option of purchasing the all day Glass Pass. No matter when you decide to go one thing is for sure, you will LOVE IT. We were lucky enough to see Chihuly’s work at night while we were in Seattle, it brought us a whole new level of appreciation and depth to Chihuly’s work:
Chihuly at Fairchild will be taking place now until May 31st and whether you’re a Florida native looking to explore a new corner of town or you’re visiting Florida for the very first time, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is something you do not want to miss!