The Sunken Gardens of St. Petersburg Florida

by sockii

One of the most unique attractions to visit in St. Petersburg is the enchanting Sunken Gardens. Learn more about the gardens and their history here.

If you're planning a vacation trip to St. Petersburg - or just driving through while on your way down the Western Florida coast - then one place you should be sure to visit is the city's beautiful Sunken Gardens. Tucked away on four acres of land in the middle of the city, the Sunken Gardens are a historic roadside attraction now operated and maintained by the city itself.

Visiting these gardens make for a peaceful, delightful break from the beach or touring the many shops, restaurants and other attractions of downtown St. Petersburg. Over a hundred years old, the Sunken Gardens are home to many beautiful, stately and old tropical plants, trees and flowers that will delight the visitor. It's also a wonderful place to get out your camera and spend some time photographing nature's beauty.

All photographs on this page were taken by the author, sockii, in March 2013. View my full photo album on Flickr.

The Sunken Gardens of St. Petersburg Florida
The Sunken Gardens of St. Petersburg Florida

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The Story of the Sunken Gardens

How this unique attraction came to be

The Sunken Gardens of St. Petersburg FloridaWe have the Sunken Gardens to enjoy today thanks to a plumber named George Turner Sr. – who also happened to be a dedicated gardener. He purchased the land in the year 1903. At the time the lot contained a small lake that dropped to 10 feet below sea level. Turner chose to drain the lake and turn it into a “sunken garden” for his own pleasure and enjoyment near his home, planting tropical flowers, fruit trees, palms and other flora.

By the 1920s his garden was doing so well in the rich Florida soil that Turner opened a nursery on the site. He also began charging visitors five cents to take a walk through his lush private retreat. The admission fee increased to 25 cents in 1935 when he fenced in the gardens, and by the 1950s Turner’s Sunken Gardens had become one of Florida’s top commercial roadside attractions.

The Sunken Gardens provide a unique lush getaway from the tropical heat year-round
The Sunken Gardens of St. Petersburg Florida
The Sunken Gardens of St. Petersburg Florida

From commercial attraction to historic landmark

The Sunken Gardens today are a St. Petersburg treasure

The Sunken Gardens of St. Petersburg FloridaToday, the Sunken Gardens are maintained for visitors by the City of St. Petersburg itself and a group of volunteers. There are 4-acres of gardens to stroll through, featuring many mature and stately trees, waterfalls, and over 50,000 plants. One can see tropical fauna in the gardens as well including macaws, flamingos, turtles and koi. It's a relaxing place to spend an hour or two strolling about, taking in tropical beauty - and getting lots of photos!

The Sunken Gardens also offer various classes and workshops on a regular basis, from gardening tips to yoga and hoop dancing. You can even rent out the gardens for private functions and weddings!

The Sunken Gardens are open daily: Monday through Saturday from 10:30am - 4:30pm and on Sundays from noon - 4:30pm. For more information, please visit the Sunken Gardens Official Website.

The Sunken Gardens in bloom

Tropical flowers on view in March in the gardens...
The Sunken Gardens of St. Petersburg FloridaThe Sunken Gardens of St. Petersburg Florida
The Sunken Gardens of St. Petersburg FloridaThe Sunken Gardens of St. Petersburg Florida

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Updated: 01/29/2017, sockii
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CruiseReady on 05/27/2015

As a Floridian, I am a bit embarrassed to admit I've never been there. But can bet it's on my list now! Thanks for reminding me of this little spotl

AbbyFitz on 05/26/2015

I've seen billboards on 75 my whole life for Sunken Gardens. I've always wanted to go, but never made it there yet

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