The Sunken Gardens are one of the oldest tourist attractions on the Florida West Coast, dating back to the 1920s when a plumber named George Turner charged visitors a nickel to stroll through his 6-acre garden. The gardens are now owned by the city of St. Petersburg and admission is $8, but Turner’s botanical wonderland is still among the most beautiful places to explore in the area.
The garden features winding brick pathways that snake through the foliage, running alongside and bridging across streams, fountains and waterfalls, The name seems increasingly applicable as you near the middle of the garden, where the path dips below sea-level to a large koi pond. Though you’re in the heart of the bustling city, the Sunken Gardens are incredibly peaceful and quiet. 50,000 plants from 50 different species are found here—palms, fruit trees, bougainvillea and waterlilies. Portions of the garden are dedicated to butterflies, cacti, and Japanese formal arrangements. Chilean flamingos wander the grounds while parrots of various species are found in cages along the path.
And while enjoying nature on your own is always great, there’s more to the gardens than just the greenery. You can take yoga classes Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 and Sundays at 12:30, practicing your poses while surrounded by tropical plants. Various horticultural workshops also regularly occur, with one every week or so. Depending on when you’re in St. Petersburg, you can learn basic gardening techniques, beekeeping, how to grow bamboo, or even how to start your own koi pond. If you like guided group tours you can even arrange one of your own, complete with bus transportation and lunch at one of several nearby restaurants.
The gardens can be found at 1825 4th Street North, St. Petersburg, FL 33704.