Established by local legend Waldo E. Sexton in 1929 with the guidance of landscape architect William Lyman Phillips, a carefully designed tropical garden emerged under a canopy of old and venerable native trees.
Dense tropical vegetation fills the understory beneath ancient trees. Water features such as ponds and fountains accent open spaces. The trails meander, making the space feel bigger than it is.
For a morning or afternoon of botanical beauty, McKee Botanical Garden is a worthy destination for visitors of all ages.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Vero Beach
Address: 350 US 1, Vero Beach
Fees: $15 adults, $13 seniors, $10 ages 2-12. Other discounts available
Open Tue-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5. Closed major holidays.
Just off US 1 in Vero Beach south of SR 60, immediately south of the traffic light for Indian River Drive.
About the Gardens
By the 1940s, McKee Jungle Gardens was one of Florida’s top tourist attractions. It closed in 1976, and most of the property was sold and developed.
Fortunately, the core of the gardens remained, and with them, outstanding pieces of tropical-themed architecture.
Thanks to the Indian River Land Trust, the core 18 acres reopened in 2001 after $9.1 million of restoration work.
Mazy pathways wind through the Royal Palm Grove and over stone bridges, into thickets of bamboo and past landmark trees. We racked up nearly a mile walking around the gardens without repeating any pathways.
Themed sections, like the bamboo pavilion, the lily ponds, and the meditation garden, provide serene niches for relaxation and reading.
Revisit the history of this famed garden through displays near the entrance, including the massive Hall of Giants. For gardeners and researchers, there is a botanical reference library on site.
With a new interactive childrens’ garden and regular special events and art installations, McKee Botanical Garden remains a fun destination for families today, just as it was when we were kids.
See our photos of McKee Botanical Garden
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
A scenic trek in Vero Beach to an observation deck on the Indian River Lagoon provides the option of longer immersion in the coastal mangrove forest
Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area
Lush tropical hammocks, great birding, and a dash of history along the Indian River Lagoon make Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area a diverse and interesting place to explore
Pelican Island NWR
The birthplace of the National Wildlife Refuge system, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge protects more than 5,400 acres along and in the Indian River Lagoon off Sebastian
Sebastian Inlet State Park
One of few places where the Indian River Lagoon mingles with the Atlantic Ocean, Sebastian Inlet is the central feature of Sebastian Inlet State Park, which protects the tips of both barrier islands