TRAVEL — 09 June 2015
Florida botanical gardens and attractions

By Patti Roth

Destinations magazine

Southeast Florida

Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden

Touted for its distinctive frost-free tropical nature, the emphasis is on plants native to the Keys, Cuba and the Caribbean. There are self-guided tours (guided tours on request), two wetland habitats, butterfly gardens, tropical plants and turtles. June and July sculptures made of recycled and natural materials are showcased among the foliage for the Art Garden event. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. most days; entry fee. 5210 College Road, Key West, 305-296-1504, 

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables

Water lilies floating on lakes are among the summer highlights. Stroll or hop on a tram tour to savor the themed exhibits, butterflies and waterfalls. Guided walking tours are offered on weekends in summer. Two cafes and picnic tables are on-site. 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. most days; entry fee. 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, 305-667-1651,

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami

Hedges positioned in a geometric formation, fountains and architectural structures are among the sights of a grand European-inspired landscape design. Audio tours and guided tours offered. 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday to Monday; entry fee. 3251 S. Miami Ave., Miami, 305-250-9133,

Four Arts Gardens, Palm Beach

Walkable gardens showcase native drought-tolerant species suitable for a tropical environment. A visual draw is a towering sausage tree with fruit that looks like sausages. Themes include Asian-inspired garden and formal garden. A sculpture garden is featured among palms, succulents and other foliage. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days. 2 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach, 561-655-7227, 

Flamingo Gardens, Davie 

Flamingo Gardens is a not-for-profit wildlife sanctuary and lush botanical gardens featuring thousands of exotics and native plants. About 20 trees earned titles as Florida Champion Trees, including a towering cluster fig that stands 102 feet tall. Narrated tram tours feature live oaks, a wetland area and a tropical rainforest. The café is next to a flamingo pond. 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days; entry fee. 3750 S. Flamingo Road, Davie, 954-473-2955,

Miami Beach Botanical Garden

A walking path showcases native Florida plants, flowering trees, a variety of palms, bromeliads, ponds, ylang ylang tree and Japanese garden. Other features are self-guided phone-access tours, events and occasional speakers on horticulture topics. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday; free entry. 2000 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, 305-673-7256,

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach 

You can stroll several Japanese gardens showcasing different landscape styles. Audio tours and smartphone tours are offered. Group tours may be scheduled. Attractions include museum exhibits, bonsai display and store. An open-air restaurant with terrace seating features Pan-Asian fare. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday; entry fee. 4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach, 561-495-0233,

Orlando and Central Florida

Heathcote Botanical Gardens, Fort Pierce

Tropical bonsai trees are a prime attraction. Theme displays include a butterfly garden, palms and Florida natives along winding paths with ponds and other water features. Guided tours on request. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays to Saturdays; entry fee. 210 Savannah Road, Fort Pierce, 772-464-4672,

Arboretum of the University of Central Florida

Hike and bike among an assortment of natural Florida habitats, including flatwoods and oak hammock. Sunrise to sunset most days. 4312 Scorpius St., Orlando, 407-823-3583,

Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales 

This is a lush, green woodland setting with towering oak trees, native Florida foliage and ponds with Victoria water lilies. A focal point is the Singing Tower housing musical bells. Blue Palmetto Café, gift shop and plant shop are on-site. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; entry fee. 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales, 863-676-1408,

McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach

Streams with water lilies are a highlight of the garden, which features 18 acres of palm trees and other native and exotic plants. Kids may borrow backpacks stocked with gear for hands-on activities. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; entry fee. 350 U.S. Highway 1, Vero Beach, 772-794-0601,

West Florida and North Florida

Naples Botanical Garden, Naples

Themed settings include Asian garden, water garden, Brazilian garden and others. Dinosaurs in the Garden exhibit, on display to July 5, features animatronic replicas that roar and move. Occasional Dogs in the Garden events permit pets to accompany people for an extra fee. Amenities include a restaurant with outdoor seating, short nature films, playful area with squirting water jets. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days to July 5; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to Sept. 13; closed Sept. 14 to Sept. 30; entry fee. 4820 Bayshore Drive Naples, 239-643-7275,

Palma Sola Botanical Park, Bradenton

Ten acres with walking path include rare fruit section, kids playground, hibiscus garden, ponds, bromeliads, banana trees, plumeria and water plants. 8 a.m. to dusk most days; free entry. 9800 17th Ave. NW, Bradenton, 941-761-2866,

University of South Florida Botanical Gardens, Tampa

Stroll through a variety of garden and habitats featuring fruit trees, palms, tropical and subtropical trees, orchids, begonias and bromeliads. Wildlife includes gopher tortoises and birds. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday; entry fee. 12210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa, 813-974-2329,

The Florida Botanical Gardens

This is a showcase of various garden themes and habitats, including tropical fruit garden, butterfly garden and native plants. Stroll on walkways, a boardwalk and bridges over a creek. A welcome center and gift shop are accessible most weekdays. 7 a.m. to sunset most days; free entry. 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo, 727-582-2100,

Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg

Here you’ll find a lush tropical ambience with stately historic royal palms, Southern live oaks, waterfalls, koi ponds and flamingos. Picnic tables are on-site, and guided tours are offered. 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, noon to 4:30 p.m. Sunday; entry fee. 1825 Fourth St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-551-3102,

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Gainesville

These 62 acres are filled with 24 gardens with a paved walkway, native and exotics, including bamboo, palm hammock, Asian humming bird garden. Offers occasional guided tours, ponds, bamboo, woodland, flowering plants. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in summer; entry fee. 4700 SW 58th Drive, Gainesville, 352-372-4981,


Destinations is an annual travel supplement of the Sun Sentinel, produced by City & Shore Magazine

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