When visiting Vero Beach, pick a day to drive to the Mckee Botanical Garden located on an 18-acre tropical hammock, along the Indian River.
Whether you are a flower lover, or you just enjoy a nice walk in nature, this is the perfect spot to enjoy a quiet activity, just a quick drive from the coast.
A historic landmark
Mckee Botanical Garden was founded in 1932 by Waldo Sexton, a famous entrepreneur from Florida that dedicated his life to developing tourist attractions. Back then it used to be called Mckee Jungle Gardens and it occupied a larger 80-acre area. It was one of the most popular roadside attractions in the 1940s before Disney came into the picture – hosting 100,000 visitors a year.
During the 70s due to lack of guests, it closed but re-opened 20 years later in a smaller version. Since then it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places of the US.
What to expect
Inside the garden, you will get to marvel at the large collection of flora, including some beautiful fuchsia & blue Aechmea (Blue Tango) – a hybrid only found in South Florida – and Nelumbo, known as ‘Mrs. Perry Slocum' – a very aromatic lotus with a large double blossom that opens to a glorious pink.
Visitors are in for a feast of colors and sweet scents all year round surrounded by waterfalls and ponds. However, June is the month to admire the blossom of water lilies. The McKee Botanical Garden has one of the biggest outdoor collection of water lilies in the United States and it shouldn't be missed. It's like watching one of Monet's water lilies paintings but live.
Lastly, don't forget to check out the Hall of Giants, where you will find a 35 feet long mahogany table – the world's largest table made of a single piece of wood. The Hall of Giants, made of cypress and pine, was built specially to house the long wood table. Sexton saw it for the first time in 1903 but ended up buying it 20 years later in a basement in New York and had it shipped to Vero beach.
To fully enjoy your day in the garden, remember to bring a hat and wear comfortable shoes. Note that no food is allowed inside, but you can enjoy snacks and coffee at their shop. And check their website for special events and art exhibits that happen from time to time.
Did you know that botanical gardens tend to be especially beautiful shortly after the rain? So, don't let a little rain scare you and give it a try!