The building itself looks like something  out of a daydream, and the exotic creatures and wares inside confirm that BUTTERFLY WONDERLAND in Scottsdale, Ariz., is, indeed, otherworldly.

Opened this past May, the complex houses a 196-seat, 3-D IMAX theater; freshwater aquariums; a saltwater touch tank featuring friendly stingrays; a live ant colony; and a honeybee extravaganza. But the main attraction drawing visitors from around the globe is the 10,000-square-foot, glass-enclosed butterfly conservatory that lets you get up close and personal with different tropical species of butterflies from all over the world.

Butterfly Wonderland is located on the land of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and benefits from a close working relationship with the Native Americans. To honor their legacy, the center is housed in a specially designed building that symbolizes reverence for the natural world. “Butterfly Wonderland has brought to the desert of the Southwest the rain-forest environment, which residents and visitors to the region have rarely — if ever — experienced,” says executive director Mike Fox. “It is the largest butterfly pavilion in America, where, at any given time, more than 2,000 butterflies fly, representing up to 50 different international species from the rain forests of the world. We are humbled to be considered one of the best butterfly centers in the world.”