My family loves to be outdoors – but not OUTDOORS outdoors – so the Huntsville Botanical Garden is perfect for us. We love the splash rocks, beautiful play areas, and flowers. We recently thought our three-year-old would like to go on the Firefly Hike they offered because she loves Ray from Princess & The Frog. It was lovely.
It was magical to be in the garden after hours and learn some crazy facts about lightning bugs. The good news is that these hikes are offered Tuesday nights through the end of July. You can pick 6:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. Because of social distancing, tickets are limited. Make sure you grab them now if you plan on going to one this summer. It lasts for about an hour and a half. Keep that in mind if you have little ones who head to bed earlier. I knew mine could last for the 6:30 p.m. one, but not the later one.
What You Need to Bring to a Firefly Hike
- Your advanced ticket – walk-in registration is not guaranteed
- Bug Spray: Mosquitoes are real and will “eat you up” as my Granny would say
- Flashlights if you go at the later 7:30 p.m. time slot
- Firefly catchers / containers / cups
- Snacks / Water
- Face Masks are not required, but if you would like your family to wear them, bring yours
What to Expect at the HBG Firefly Hikes
Plan to arrive about 5 minutes early and let the front desk know you are part of the Firefly Hike. They will check you in outside. You start your night at the amphitheater where you learn fireflies are beetles with bioluminescent lights. At this point, my child said, “Don’t make me light my butt!” She sounded just like her buddy, Ray, but I digress.
After learning some interesting facts, you head to three different locations to try to find the lightning bugs. The first one was a little bit of a bust around 7:00 p.m., but by the time we headed to the last two locations, the fireflies were all around.
We took the stroller in case someone decided to get cranky. The Huntsville Botanical Garden is very stroller friendly, but there were roots to trip over so if you go to the later event, make sure to bring a flashlight when you walk. I guess you could always use your phone too. We also took some snacks and water because it was still warm outside. There is plenty of room to spread out and catch and watch the bugs.
Halfway through, they have a restroom stop. So if you have a little one who DIDN’T have to go when you left and then DIDN’T have to go when you arrived at the main guest center, then you still have a chance to go potty.
After the third location, it’s back to the guest center with memories made of fireflies who light up just to hook up. We saw some kids who were totally into the Firefly Hikes, and then some were just excited to be out of the house in a beautiful outdoor space.
Our Favorite Part
My favorite part was watching my kiddo see a firefly up close and snapping photos. She was in a goofy mood so some of my photos were beautiful, and some are keepers for showing off her sassy looks. My husband laughed that he would do this in his backyard but loved trying to catch a bug to show her.
My toddler’s favorite part was singing “Evangeline” and seeing their “butt light up” at night. She loved pretending to get to explore the garden, and we framed it like an adventure.
My last thought: if you want to capture some memories, grab your phone and snap some photos. Don’t expect to get a million fireflies in the background if you are in the earlier group. If you have an iPhone, make sure you use Live Photo Mode so that you might capture a light up in the background. Also, lightning bugs are stupidly hard to get in focus, so if you bring a DSLR camera, spray and pray – it will pay off for at least one or two photos!
HBG Firefly Hike Details
Where: Huntsville Botanical Garden (map)
When: Tuesday nights in June & July 2021, at 6:30 PM and 7:30 PM
Cost: Garden Members: $15 per person, or – $50 for four people | $65 for five people
Non-Members: $20 per person, or – $65 for four people | $80 for five people
View Website | HBG on Facebook
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Beth Ridgeway lives in Madison with her husband, daughter, and toy poodle. She works as the Social Media Specialist at the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau. When she’s not volunteering or working, you can find her binge watching Netflix, reading, or rehearsing improv.