Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete)

Out & About Recommended

Sunken Gardens – St. Pete’s Tropical Oasis

Sunken Gardens is considered a hidden gem by locals and visitors alike, but it’s hardly hidden at all. Situated off of busy 4th Street N with a huge, retro sign on the sidewalk, it’s one of those attractions that’s nearby and driven past all the time, at least by me. Curiosity finally got this fast-paced millennial to slow down, pull over, and explore. I recently had a self-care day and decided to spend it with nature at the historical landmark.

Sunken Gardens – St. Pete’s Oldest Living Museum

Sunken Gardens is a botanical garden located in the heart of St. Pete. George Turner Sr., a plumber and gardening enthusiast, purchased the four-acre property in 1903 and drained a 15-feet deep lake (formerly a sinkhole). He planted exotic fruits and plants from around the world into the rich soil and nurtured the garden, which grew and became visible from the road and attracted paying visitors. Turner’s Sunken Gardens, as it was then known, officially opened in 1935.

Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete)

The Gardens quickly grew in popularity, becoming one of Florida’s top ten commercial attractions between the 1950s and 1970s. In the 1950s, the botanical garden added exotic wildlife to the Gardens. Turner purchased a former Coca-Cola bottling plant and turned it into The World’s Largest Giftshop in 1967; it has since been restored as the entrance to Sunken Gardens. In 1998, the City of St. Petersburg designated Sunken Gardens as a local historic landmark, purchasing it the following year.

Over one hundred years of growth and restoration and Sunken Gardens is still a must-see in the city of St. Petersburg. Many of the original plants are still in the garden and provide an incredible sense of tranquility just yards away from bustling 4th Street. The exotic wildlife, koi ponds, birds, and waterfalls are magnificent and bring you close to nature, being some of the best features of the attraction.

Koi pond at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete).

Exploring at The Gardens

I recently had the opportunity to spend a day at Sunken Gardens and got a pleasant surprise. Within minutes of entering, the 4th Street noise was pretty much gone. I had to constantly remind myself that there’s a major roadway just feet away. If you blindfolded me and dropped me in Sunken Gardens, I may have guessed that I’m in a South American rainforest. That’s what it feels like.

Bonnibelle of Belle In The Burg at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete)

The exotic wildlife are an exciting part of Sunken Gardens. I thoroughly enjoyed it as it’s been years since I’ve visited a zoo or an aquarium. It was cool discovering that birds like the Australian kookaburra and cockatoo as well as majestic flamingos and chatty parrots are part of this unique experience. The cockatoo seemed to be a playful one.

One of my favorite features of the attraction is the growing stone. The growing stone is a limestone rock from the original sinkhole lake. Legend has it that anyone who sits upon the stone “shall be granted tranquility, inner harmony, and the talent to make things grow.” Best believe I sat on that rock for a good minute and did some meditating. I can use more tranquility. And talent.

Growing stone at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete)
The growing stone
Bonnibelle of Belle In The Burg sitting on the growing stone at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete).
St. Pete sun keeping me bronze as I soak in some tranquility

Plan a Visit to Sunken Gardens

Spending a day at Sunken Gardens is relaxing fun and I recommend it for locals and tourists alike. As a local, it’s a good way to get away from the city, slow down, and do something new or different. As for tourists, it’s a unique way to take in some of the city’s history and culture without the crowds and noise that may come with other attractions. Whichever one you fall under, your Sunken Gardens experience will be a memorable one.

Chilean Flamingoes at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete).
Sunken Gardens’ famous Chilean Flamingoes

Sunken Gardens is open 10am4:30pm Monday through Saturday and Noon – 4:30pm Sunday throughout the year. Though you can visit any season, visiting when it’s not 95 degrees with maximum mugginess is ideal of course. Be sure to carry water and lather up with sunscreen and bug spray before entering just in case.

Adult admission to Sunken Gardens is $10 at the door, though you can get them on Groupon at 2 for $12.50. Senior admission is $8 and admission for children ages 2-11 is $4. Parking at Sunken Gardens is free.

Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL (St. Pete)

Sunken Gardens
1825 4th St. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33704

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Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg (St. Pete), FL | Things to do in St. Pete | St. Pete Attractions | Tampa Bay Attractions | Things to do in Tampa Bay

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Comments (15)

  1. That’s a well written article. Now I know when next I’m around, Sunken Gardens would be at the top of my bucket list.

  2. So excited to try these!! Ray and I have been taking about it as one of the places we want to hit. Your tip about the Groupon special is perfect timing for us 🙂 thanks for the tips!!

    1. Glad you found it helpful! Make sure to take loads of pictures! The nature shots are pretty marvelous!

  3. I love botanical gardens! They’re always such a great way to shelter yourself from the city and take some time away. Also, we forget too easily to pay attention to nature, especially when visiting a new city. This place looks delightful 🙂

    1. I agree with everything you wrote! Make sure to give it a visit whenever you’re in St. Pete if you haven’t already! 😉