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“Explore the serene beauty of McKee Botanical Garden: a lush oasis of exotic flora and tranquility. Discover the wonders of nature in Vero Beach, Florida.”
Are you curious to explore a fascinating garden where you can connect with nature?
Do you ever wonder where time seems to slow down, and every turn of the path reveals something new?
If these questions ignite your curiosity, you are at the right place!
As someone who has often sought refuge in nature, I’m thrilled to take you on a magical journey. I invite you to join me as we explore the McKee Botanical Garden.
This article will teach you about the History of the Mckee Botanical Garden. In addition, I will take you on a virtual tour through its lush and colorful plants. We will also explore fun things you can enjoy there.
Without any further ado, I’d like to go into the alluring world of the McKee Gardens in Vero Beach and see what it offers!
The History of the McKee Botanical Garden
The McKee Gardens in Vero Beach, FL, have a rich history that spans nearly a century. In the early 1930s, Waldo E. Sexton and Arthur McKee bought this land. Their initial plan was to use it for citrus groves, a common practice in the region back then.
However, fate had a different plan. The duo quickly learned that this place’s innate beauty was too enchanting to be sacrificed to plowing.
Thus, Sexton, the creator of the whimsical Driftwood Inn in Vero Beach, teamed up with a famous landscape architect, William Lyman Phillips. Together, they planned to turn the land into a sanctuary of botanical wonder.
With his creative touch, Phillips initiated a project that forever altered the landscape. He created a series of ponds, waterfalls, and breathtaking vistas to show the area’s natural beauty.
The creative alliance between Sexton and Phillips breathed life into the Garden as it soon became an oasis of serenity. In addition, they further enriched their vision by adding exotic plants. As a result, this once-hidden gem along U.S. 1 became a must-stop destination.
However, like many mid-century roadside attractions, McKee Garden also found it hard to beat titans like Disney.
The coming of freeways meant fewer people visited. So, in 1976, McKee Garden sadly closed its doors, and the land turned into condos and golf courses.
Yet a tiny part, 18 acres with the historic McKee Garden Hall of Giants, lay dormant until the 1990s. That was when a few citizens started a campaign to raise money to bring the Garden back to life. Since then, the McKee Garden has been on the National Register of Historic Places.
Overview of the Mckee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach, FL
Despite its modest size of 18 acres, McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach, Florida, is a magical place. It sits on an 18-acre tropical hammock, offering something for all ages.
The Garden is a horticultural wonderland. Its native plants and exotic botanicals let you enjoy the charm of Old Florida.
You will see a stunning collection of plants and blooms as you wander. The Botanical Garden takes you into an enchanting world of colors and fragrances.
It has a splendid array of plant life, with a staggering 10,000 native and tropical specimens. What makes it unique is that the Garden has one of the largest waterlily collections in Florida. It showcases over 80 varieties, including both day and night-blooming blooms. In addition, you will also see more than 300 potted and 100 free-range waterlilies. Each year, the Garden attracts thousands of visitors.
Moreover, the calm ponds and falling water make a relaxing sound as you walk around. It is a place where you can enjoy a quiet walk or sit, unwind, and relax. The majestic structures like the Hall of Giants and the Spanish Kitchen are worth the visit.
Furthermore, the McKee Gardens in Vero Beach also has a Children’s Garden. It is designed to ignite curiosity and creativity in your little ones. Here, your children can explore, discover, and be kids.
The new Children’s Garden features many engaging elements. Your kids would love to explore the Scorpion Shipwreck in the Grand Discovery Tree and the Nautilus Shell Amphitheatre.
The Garden also has the Fairy Circle & Forest Trail, Karst Splash Garden, Waterlily Fountain, Music Maze, Bamboo Village, and Blue Crab Reading Circle & Stumpery, which will keep your kids engaged for hours.
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Location, Hours, and Admission: McKee Garden Vero Beach, FL
If you are coming from I-95 North, take Exit 147 onto S.R. 60 East, then head south on U.S. 1 until you reach 4th St./ Indian River Blvd.
For those driving from I-95 South, use Exit 138 to access Indrio Rd East. Continue north on U.S. 1 until you reach 4th St./Indian River Blvd.
- Tuesday to Saturday: 10 AM – 5 PM
- Sunday: 12 PM – 5 PM
- Last ticket: Sold at 4 PM.
- Children’s Garden closes at 4:30 PM.
- Members: FREE
- Adults: $15
- Seniors (65+) / Youth (13-17): $13
- Children: $10
- Military Personnel: $10
- Children Under 2: FREE
For Tours, School Groups, and Other Non-School Groups, General Admission applies.
What to See at the McKee Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida
The Hall of Giants at McKee Gardens, Vero Beach, FL
Imagine stepping into a world where nature’s beauty mingles with artistic brilliance. That is what the Hall of Giants at McKee Botanical Garden is about!
It tells you the story of the creative vision and sheer dedication of Waldo E. Sexton. As you explore, you find yourself surrounded by the serene allure of cypress and heartwood pine.
However, the centerpiece is a massive mahogany table measuring 35 feet in length and 10 feet in width. This architectural marvel resembling a Polynesian ceremonial palace is a sight to behold.
Sexton’s enchantment with this table dates back to 1903, when he first saw it at the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition. About two decades later, he set on a mission to locate and get this magnificent piece of furniture.
Eventually, he found it in the basement of a New York City warehouse. With unwavering determination, he brought that table back to Vero Beach. It shows his steadfast commitment to turning his dream into a reality.
The Stone Bridge at McKee Gardens, Vero Beach, Florida
Video Credit: Tropical Gardening
The Stone Bridge at McKee Gardens in Vero Beach is another stunning spot. It looks out over the water lily ponds and has been the backdrop for countless group photos.
However, here is the exciting part!
When the Garden first reopened in 2002, the bridge was nearly hidden under a tangle of vines and Brazilian peppers. It was a secret until a worker cleared the overgrowth with a machete and uncovered the stone bridge.
Moreover, this lovely stone bridge welcomes visitors as they explore the Garden. It is a picturesque spot where you can stop and admire nature.
You will see the stunning cichlid fish swimming in the water and the lovely lilies blooming. The bridge is a hidden gem, now uncovered, adding to the Garden’s allure.
Let’s move to the cascading waterfalls at the McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach, FL!
Along the water maze and ponds, you will find several waterfalls made with water from wells. These waterfalls are designed with sand, rubber, metal mesh, and concrete.
Every day, about 800,000 gallons of water flow through the waterways. During your visit, look for some small fish swimming around. They are all native species introduced to take the place of an exotic kind that was once inhabited here.
The Stickwork Creation or Gand Central
Explore the stunning artwork of Patrick Dougherty at the McKee Garden in Vero Beach, FL. The Grand Central, with its twisting arches, is a beautiful place. It is a fascinating structure woven from flexible willow reeds.
The Garden also had another stickwork creation at McKee, which a hurricane knocked down. It’s important to note that these organic sculptures are created using natural materials. It means they are meant to disappear over time.
The Children’s Garden
The McKee Botanical Garden is as enjoyable for kids as for adults. So bring your kids with you, as the Children’s Garden has plenty to explore for your little ones.
The Children’s Garden at the McKee is designed to delight and engage young explorers. It is where your little ones can unleash their imagination and reconnect with nature.
One of the notable attractions is the Scorpion Shipwreck. In addition, it also has a beautiful play area perched high on the Grand Discovery Tree. Here, your kids can let their creativity run wild and climb through ropes, tunnels, and slides.
Moreover, the Fairy Circle and Fairy Forest Trail is an exciting place. It creates an exquisite atmosphere, perfect for inspiring the magic of storytelling. Kids can also enjoy the Nautilus Shell Amphitheatre, where they put on performances.
Furthermore, the Karst Splash Garden is a fantastic spot for cooling off on a warm day. And if you love music, the Garden’s Music Maze offers a playful experience.
Activities to Do Near the McKee Gardens in Vero Beach, FL
Are you done exploring the McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach, Florida, and still looking for more to explore? Here are some beautiful nearby places:
Vero Beach Museum of Art
Address: 3001 Riverside Park Dr, Vero Beach, FL 32963 (4.5 mi via Indian River)
Art lovers would love to explore the Vero Beach Museum of Art. It is a cultural gem that delights visitors with a stunning art collection. This intimate museum takes you on a visual journey through various artistic movements.
Moreover, it also boasts an array of exhibits featuring established and emerging artists. In addition, the museum offers an excellent learning experience. Its commitment to education is evident through its programs, workshops, and lectures.
Furthermore, the museum’s tranquil surroundings and picturesque Garden enhance the experience. It creates a serene environment to appreciate and contemplate the art on display.
South Beach Park
Address: 1702 Ocean Dr, Vero Beach, FL 32963 (3.7 mi via Indian River Blvd & 17th St)
South Beach Park in Vero Beach, Florida, is a mesmerizing place. It is a pristine coastal haven for sun-seekers, nature enthusiasts, and families.
It is a must-visit with its sugar-white sands and the gentle lull of the Atlantic Ocean. The park offers a tranquil escape for relaxation and recreation. Its spacious picnic areas and walking trails are perfect for reconnecting with nature.
The park even has a delightful boardwalk for visitors that overlooks the dunes. It is a perfect spot for beachcombing, swimming, and unwinding to the soothing sounds of the waves.
Vero Beach, FL 32962 (2.9 mi via Indian River Blvd and 17th St)
As you plan your visit to this vast 187-acre area, you’re in for a treat, especially if you are into nature. Lagoon Greenway, maintained by the Indian River Land Trust, is a true gem that offers many outdoor activities.
You will see a beautiful three-mile trail there, perfect for hiking, jogging, or biking. Along the way are giant oak trees draped with that classic Spanish moss. The trail leads you through the oak trees and a dense forest of cabbage palm trees.
Moreover, it even has a boardwalk with some welcome shade. You can soak in the stunning mangrove forest and lagoon views. Visitors who prefer a shorter trek can cover one mile one way and then head back. However, a longer loop trail spans about 2.5 to 3 miles if you want a more extensive workout.
Furthermore, more adventurous souls can take on a shorter Mini-Adventure trail for a more untamed experience.
Indian River Citrus Museum
2140 14th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960 (3.4 mi via 17th St)
Uncover the history of the citrus industry in the region at the Indian River Citrus Museum. The museum is located 10 minutes from McKee Botanical Garden. It shows the role of citrus farming in shaping the local culture and economy.
Visitors to the museum can explore a collection of exhibits. These include vintage photographs, tools, and relics that tell the history of the citrus industry. It is fascinating how this area became known as the “Citrus Capital of the World.”
Moreover, you will learn about the challenges of citrus growers and their techniques to cultivate the best fruit. In addition, the museum boasts educational programs and events to engage travelers. This allows them to delve deeper into the citrus heritage that still thrives in Vero Beach.
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Wrapping Up: McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach, FL
A visit to McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach, FL, is a journey through a natural paradise. It showcases the power of restoration, preservation, and the enduring allure of nature.
As you explore, you will see ornamental plants, calm ponds, and impressive waterfalls. It is a peaceful escape from the hectic everyday life.
Moreover, the beautiful landscapes and winding paths make it an excellent place for people of all ages. A trip to the McKee Botanical Garden is more than a day out. It is an experience that you will remember forever. You will learn how to love, protect, and care for nature.
- How large is McKee Jungle Gardens?
- What is the National significance of McKee Gardens in Vero Beach, FL?
- What are the regular closing days for McKee Garden, and which significant holidays is it closed on?
- Which tropical plants can be found at McKee Botanical Garden?
- Is McKee Garden a suitable place for kids to visit?
- Who designed Mckee Garden?
How large is McKee Jungle Gardens?
McKee Jungle Gardens span 18 acres. The Garden boasts a stunning display of over 10,000 native and tropical plants. It is also home to one of Florida’s most celebrated collections of water lilies.
What is the National significance of McKee Gardens in Vero Beach, FL?
McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach, Florida, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It shows the national significance of the Garden. In addition, it is also recognized by the Garden Conservancy. These honors tell how special it is and how it helps preserve the area’s history and nature.
What are the regular closing days for McKee Garden, and which significant holidays is it closed on?
McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach, FL, is usually closed on Mondays and major holidays. These include Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Easter, and other special events.
Which tropical plants can be found at McKee Botanical Garden?
At McKee Botanical Garden, visitors can see lots of tropical plant species. It boasts a stunning collection of colorful orchids, bromeliads, and pretty water lilies.
Moreover, you will also see tall bamboo, giant palm trees, and many beautiful blooms from faraway places. These plants love the warm Florida weather, making the garden a colorful and fun place to visit.
Is McKee Garden a suitable place for kids to visit?
Yes! McKee Botanical Garden is a beautiful place for kids to explore. It is more than a usual playground as your kids go on a whimsical adventure in a magical garden. Children can wander through the gardens, filled with colorful and interesting plants. It’s a chance for them to learn about nature and enjoy its beauty.
The tall trees, funny-looking plants, and vibrant flowers create a unique and enchanting experience. Even though there are no slides or swings, the garden’s tranquil setting offers a special kind of fun. So, yes, McKee Garden is an excellent place for kids to have a whimsical adventure and discover the wonders of nature.
Who designed Mckee Garden?
Created by local legend Waldo E. Sexton in 1929, McKee Garden was designed by the famous architect William Lyman Phillips. He wanted to create a beautiful oasis filled with tropical plants and flowers and did a fantastic job! When you visit, you can see all sorts of lovely plants and pathways he made. It’s like a colorful paradise that captures the magic of Florida’s nature.
People still love it because of the beautiful job Mr. Phillips did, and it’s a peaceful and pretty place for everyone to enjoy. So, he’s the one behind the garden’s fantastic design!
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