Designed first as a European-style garden showcasing plants in all four seasons, Airlie has suffered its share of hurricane damage since it was built in the early 1900s, but has come back each time and is now owned by New Hanover County. There are 67 acres in this lush Southern garden—azaleas, magnolias, and camellias abound—as well as two freshwater lakes that attract waterfowl. The greatest specimen of them all is the gargantuan 468-year-old Airlie oak. May through
October you can flutter among 300–400 butterflies in the huge butterfly house. The last tickets for the day are sold one hour before closing.