It’s 107 miles from Orlando to the Sunken Gardens of St. Petersburg. Yes, it’s a bit of a trip, about 2 1/2 hours according to google maps. There are many attractions that can be enjoyed while making the trip to and from St. Petersburg, though. An overnight stay in or around St. Petersburg will make heading west out of Orlando on I-4 worthwhile if you consider that the Sunken Gardens is just one of the destinations to visit in St. Petersburg. Another venue in St. Petersburg and a wonderful lunch spot is Mazzaro’s Italian Market.
There are many beautiful garden spots around and in Orlando. Here is another major one just a couple of hours away; the Sunken Gardens. A few hours of enjoying the tranquility of this sub-tropical location in St. Petersburg will make the trip there worth it. Plant lovers will love the variety of plants, native and imported, that thrive at the Sunken Gardens.
We visited because a FB friend Valerie Ping-Shafer suggested that a visit to the Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg was worthwhile. It sure was.
Sunken Gardens St. Petersburg – more than a 100 years and counting!
It seems that the site of the world famous Sunken Gardens was originally a sinkhole. Hence the “sunken” part of the name. A lake in that sinkhole was drained by the first “developer”, an avid gardener names George Turner Sr. and the first planting of fruit bearing plants and trees and exotics from the world over began.
The City of St. Petersburg acquired the property in 1999, just a year after it was declared a local historic landmark.
When you arrive at the Sunken Gardens
The Sunken Gardens are not far off the 275 highway in St. Petersburg. Visitors will find a large, no charge parking lot. The lot is huge, and there is often parking at the far back. During our mid-week visit, parking was not an issue. I suspect on weekends it may behoove a visitor to arrive early to be sure to get a convenient parking spot.
Once parked, visitors will follow the signs to the ticket center. It’s indoors, and while lining up for tickets if that should be necessary, folks in need of a comfort station will find large, clean and readily available ones handy while waiting. These comfort stations are the only ones available at Sunken Gardens, so visitors that have concerns need to heed this.
Walking around the Sunken Gardens
While there are few areas in the Gardens that have much of an incline in the pathways, there are a couple so more care walking needs to be exercised there.
Of more import may be that the walkways themselves have been changed, upgraded, and modified over the century this park has been here. Not all were changed at the same time. Therefore, the paths are often different materials, some with patterns, some without, and some are not paved in any way at all.
For those unsteady on their feet, a walking aid is recommended. I saw no evidence that they were available at the ticket area. I did see one patron on a two wheeled walking aid, but wasn’t able to determine if that had been brought in, or was acquired there. More info may be available on their site, posted later on in this article.
Enough about getting around, though getting around is what you want to do. The gardens are gorgeous, with an astonishing array of plants from around the world. On top of that, they have an assortment of exotic wildlife to augment the visit.
Flamingos are just one of the birds on display at Sunken Gardens
Here’s 12 seconds of the flamingos in action when we visited Sunken Gardens.
There are cockatoos, parrots and dozens of local birds flitting around the gardens, with bird calls happening almost continuously at certain areas.
Walking through the Sunken Garden makes you hungry!
There are no food or water stations in the gardens. Water can be acquired at the gift shop. You do want to bring your own if possible, as walking through the gardens for a couple of hours can be dehydrating. Though much of the pathways are covered by trees and shrubs, there are some areas open to the sun. Perhaps wearing a hat would be in order.
You can bring food and drink into the sunken gardens, in fact, it’s encouraged. There are many places to sit throughout the gardens to relax and to eat if desired. Some of these sitting areas are so pleasant, nestled back in the foliage, with plants and birds all around.
Some really beautiful and unusual foliage / trees at Sunken Gardens.
There have to be thousands. The following is just one. It’s a Rainbow Eucalyptus!
Get hitched at Sunken Gardens!
For folks looking for a neat venue for taking their vows, or for wedding photos, this place is ideal. Not only are there beautiful gardens with amazing colors, but also, a grassed-pavilion for the service with a cover to keep the sun out, and the surrounding view accessible.
Their Garden Room is suggested to be ideal for a banquet or indoor reception. Details about catering etc. will need to be discussed with the staff at Sunken Gardens.
You must be “koiful” around the many koi ponds.
As menioned earlier, lots of water features; ponds, waterfalls, small streams abound throughout the gardens. Some of these contain quite an array of koi. Here’s just one photo we snapped.
Sunken Gardens is for kids too!
For more info: www.sunkengardens.org
There was one more stop in St. Petersburg this trip and thanks the tip about this place. It’s Mazzaro’s. This link will take you to the Mazzaro’s page.
Hope you find this page and other pages useful. Your comments are welcome. Cheers.