The 18 Best Botanical Gardens in Florida

Written by Mandy Trotti
Published: July 6, 2023
Share on:


One of the best places to unearth Florida’s history is by visiting one of the many botanical gardens that dot the map. Each documented collection offers a unique experience and a look into the natural beauty of the south. As a result, the mix of native and exotic species planted by collectors, scientists, and horticulturists has educated the public for decades. And because of their efforts, Florida has preserved thousands of threatened and endangered plants. Discover the 18 best botanical gardens in Florida and learn about the history of Floridian wildlife conservation.

Snowy Egret among the Water Lilies at the botanical gardens in Naples, Florida

Snowy egrets can be found near water lilies in Naples.


1. Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park – Tallahassee, FL

Lake at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park

Visitors can spend a day by the lake at Maclay Gardens State Park.

©Amy Jane Lee/

The Maclay Gardens State Park was originally their winter home, started by Alfred B. Maclay and Louise Maclay in 1923. Nevertheless, the 1,176-acre historic park features two short nature trails that overlook the lake. Visitors can swim, fish, canoe, kayak, and have a picnic.

Additionally, you can venture through the six miles of shared trails that wind through the woods. Explore a secret garden, walled garden, reflection pool, and a robust collection of camellias and azaleas

2. Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens – Jacksonville, FL

Cummer Museum Garden in Jacksonville, FL.

As a fine arts museum and a botanical garden, there is a lot to enjoy at Cummer Museum.

©Mooeena / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

One of the best botanical gardens in Florida, Cummer Museum doubles as the largest fine arts museum in Northeast Florida. The picturesque landscape was created in honor of Ninah Cummer after her death in 1958. It features her art collection and four beautiful historic gardens.

As a result, each garden is decorated with grand arches, pillars, and staircases to add to the 2.5 acres of plants and foliage. Two beautiful blooms found among the garden are amaryllis and camellias. And despite sustaining damage in 2017 in the wake of Hurricane Irma, restoration efforts have made it impossible to notice.  

3. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens – Gainesville, FL

Victoria lily pads in a garden

A Victoria water lily at Kanapaha set a world record.

©Jazmine Thomas/

Named after the lake just north of its 68-acre park, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is an expansive park. It contains 24 distinct collections with signature plants, including Chinese royal bamboo (Wong Chuk), Victoria cruziana, and Asian snake arums. Kanapaha is the best garden in Florida to see giant lily pads. In fact, the Victoria cruziana set a world record in 2019 with its 91 inches in length. The garden also contains the state’s largest display of bamboo and the most extensive herb garden in the Southeast U.S.

4. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park – Palm Coast, FL

Pond in the Washington Oaks Historic District of Washington Oaks Gardens State Park in Palm Coast Florida  USA

Gazebos in Washington Oaks provide a scenic view while exploring.

©Jim Schwabel/

Although Washington Oaks is best known for its selection of azaleas, camellias, and birds of paradise, it’s also a formal garden and beachfront state park famous for its unique shoreline and rock formations. The impressive 425 acres of land protect this part of the Atlantic coast. Visitors can enjoy a picnic, a stroll, or even go fishing. What’s more, you can spot a deer or an owl while hiking or biking on one of the paths.

5. McKee Botanical Garden – Vero Beach, FL

Cycas Siamensis (Cycas Panzhihuaensis) at Mckee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida USA

See the largest collection of water lilies in Florida at McKee Botanical Garden.

©Norm Lane/

McKee Botanical Garden is a historic garden that inspires and educates visitors. Arthur McKee and Waldo Sexton wanted to cultivate citrus on the 80-acre tropical land. However, they preserved the natural beauty of this spot instead. It’s now a Florida Landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The garden features 10,000 native and tropical plants, including the state’s largest collection of water lilies with over 80 varieties. Additionally, various cultural and educational programs make it one of the best botanical gardens for children in South Florida. Peak bloom is in June, which is when the annual water lily celebration takes place.

6. Hollis Garden – Lakeland, FL

Lakeland, Florida, USA gardens at dusk.

Hollis Garden features different themes of flowers throughout the year.

©Sean Pavone/

One of the best botanical gardens in Florida looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale with its neoclassical architecture, white pillars, and sculptures. The formal 1.2-acre Hollis Garden is nestled within Lake Mirror Park but cannot be missed with its beautifully manicured campus. It’s home to thousands of flowers and native trees that are rotated in the 16 themed sections throughout the year. Visitors can take a gander at orchids, tillandsias, and more. Additionally, it’s free to stop and stroll if you are on your way to or from Orlando.

7. Bok Tower Gardens – Lake Wales, FL

The Singing Tower in Bok Tower Gardens near Lake Wales, Florida. Bok Tower Gardens is a National Historic Landmark and a bird sanctuary located north of Lake Wales.

The Singing Tower can be seen all over the campus of Bok Tower Gardens.

©Nick Fox/

The Singing Tower, famously known as Bok Tower Gardens, is the creation of publisher and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward W. Bok. Additionally, it’s a 130-acre National Historic Landmark with grounds cultivated by landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. 

First opened in 1929 as a bird sanctuary, the property now features an eclectic combination of native and exotic plants, migratory songbirds, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The charming 205-foot bell tower houses 60 ringing bells that create a stunning musical experience in one of the most beautiful gardens in Florida, lasting 30 minutes each afternoon. Visitors can enjoy the peaceful melody while taking in a variety of more than 150 camellias and hundreds of azaleas, irises, and more.

8. Florida Botanical Gardens – Largo, FL

Cactus and succulent garden of Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo, FL.

The gardens at Florida Botanical Gardens are of specific themes.

©Aghosh31 / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

With over 182 acres, the Florida Botanical Gardens is one of the best botanical gardens in Florida. Visitors of all ages can enjoy themed formal gardens with butterflies, cacti, succulents, and roses. Moreover, the colorful tropical and subtropical flora and fauna, including native plants, tropical fruit, and butterflies, represent the local landscape. There are also numerous water and art features along miles of the protected wetlands of Florida leading up to the wildlife overlook. You might be lucky and spot one of the alligators.

9. Sunken Gardens – St. Petersburg, FL

Sunken Gardens, Florida's foremost botanical gardens, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Sunken Gardens is the last remaining roadside attraction in Florida.

©Joseph Sohm/

The Sunken Gardens is a not-so-hidden 4-acre gem, earning its name from the drained lake beneath it. As a result, the gardens are 10 feet below sea level. For over 100 years, the Sunken Gardens have taught visitors about local wildlife, making it one of the most famous gardens in Florida. As a result, it’s one of the oldest remaining roadside attractions in the state, with some of the oldest tropical plants, including the largest collection of native royal palm trees.

What’s more, adults and children can walk beside calming waterfalls, native plants, a koi pond, and Chilean flamingos. Fun fact, George and Lucy are the only two remaining flamingos from the original flamboyance brought to the property. However, 20 more joined them in 2016.

10. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – Sarasota, FL

Rest area with wooden benches and a fountain at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, FL.

Over 6,000 specimens of orchids make up just one of the reasons to visit Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

©Daderot / CC0 – License

Once the home of Marie and William Selby, this botanical bayfront sanctuary is home to a beautiful orchid collection of over 6,000 specimens alone. A stroll through the banyan trees or along the waterfall and koi pond makes this one of the best gardens to visit in Florida.

What’s more, there are two campuses – the 15-acre downtown campus and the 30-acre Historic Spanish Point campus. The downtown campus is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the natural wonders of bromeliads, epiphytic orchids, gesneriads, and ferns.

11. Harry P. Leu Gardens – Orlando, FL

Little yellow butterfly at Harry P Leu Gardens in Orlando, FL

Look closely to see the wildlife on the plants in Leu Gardens.


The 50-acre botanical refuge located right outside downtown Orlando is the Leu Gardens. Here, a Native Wetland Garden is home to native birds and other wildlife, as well as an aroid, azalea, bromeliad, banana collection, and more. It also features rotating exhibits in the Garden House Welcome Center. But what makes this one of the best gardens in Florida is Mary Jane’s Rose Garden, named after Mrs. Leu. In 1944, she planted her first roses on the property that used to be their home. However, the garden is now brimming with over 215 varieties of roses. 

12. Edison Ford and Winter Estates – Fort Myers, FL

Gardens of the Edison Winter Estate

The Winter Estates make a beautiful backdrop for the colorful flowers on the property.

©Michael Manzella/

The Edison Ford and Winter Estates began as a winter refuge in Southwest Florida for the Edison family in 1886. However, there are now over 1,500 plants from six continents located between the homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford and the Caloosahatchee River. Explore the 20 acres of land that was once used for research. Unique plants, such as the cycads and the Puerto Rican hat palm, are just a few of the many plant varieties to see. Importantly, The Estates are home to one of the largest banyan trees in the continental U.S. 

13. Flamingo Gardens – Davie, FL

A view of flamingos and White Ibis in a garden near Fort Lauderdale, Florida on bright sunny day

Some injuries leave birds unreleasable.

©Nicola Pulham/

The Flamingo Gardens of Davie is a 60-acre Botanical Garden and Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary. Here, visitors enjoy lush gardens with thousands of rare and exotic plants here. The sanctuary is also home to native alligators, bobcats, eagles, panthers, and flamingoes, of course. Flamingo Gardens was also the first to provide sanctuary to injured and non-releasable native wildlife in the state.    

14. Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens – Delray, FL

Morikami Museum Beginning Walkway Waterfall

Reconnect your mind and body on a therapeutic walk by the waterfalls.


Divided into six distinct gardens over 188.5 acres is the Palm Beach County Museum, Morikami. Each garden references select historical periods in Japan from the 9th to the 20th centuries. Because it’s designed by one of the most influential Japanese garden designers, Hoichi Kurisu, this museum focuses on a healthy connection between mind and body.

It’s the best botanical garden in Florida to see bonsai trees. However, plants on the premise are not labeled because it distracts from the natural experience. Visitors are encouraged to take a therapeutic stroll through the Well-Being Therapeutic Garden and then learn about the art and technique of sculpting bonsai trees in the bonsai exhibit.

15. Naples Botanical Garden – Naples, FL

Botanical garden in Naples. Flowers landscape. Lili Ponds.

Tropical and subtropical plants line the walking trails.

©Kate Mur/

Naples Botanical Garden features 170 acres of plants from the tropics and subtropics. And, close to 100 acres of restored natural habitats are explored along several walking trails each day. As a result, it’s one of the most charming gardens in Florida to visit.

Moreover, half the property houses plants native to Southwest Florida. Over 26 species are featured in only one garden collection, and 35 species don’t exist anywhere else. One such native and endangered plant is the scrub milkweed. It’s only found in one other collection worldwide!

16. Mounts Botanical Garden – West Palm Beach, FL

Beautiful vista of Mounts Botanical Gardens in Palm Beach, Florida, USA

Home gardeners can learn a few tricks from educational courses at Mounts.

©Jillian Cain Photography/

As the oldest and largest in the county, Mounts Botanical Garden is 14 acres of tropical fruit trees, bromeliads, palms, bamboo, and more. Visitors are greeted by a monstera, which can be found throughout the display gardens and in the Mounts logo. Moreover, its vegetable garden educates visitors on the technique of subtropical gardening, making it one of the best Florida botanical gardens for eager gardeners.

With 25 unique areas, Mounts is home to over 5,000 species of tropical and subtropical plants that each tell a story. In addition to the view, an island overlook provides a glimpse of koi, plecos, and turtles below.      

17. Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden – Coral Gables, FL

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden - Heliconia flowers. Neon-colored, sculptural inflorescences make heliconia a great favorite of Garden visitors.

Find the largest palm collection at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.

©Aleksandr Dyskin/

The Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden was first founded by Col. Robert H. Montgomery and named after his friend and famous plant conservationist, Dr. David Fairchild. The garden has the largest palm collection in the U.S. and is a keeper of the National Palm Collection. But there’s more that makes it so special.

Some of the original collections started by Fairchild remain, including a giant African baobab tree. However, the collection has grown to include tropical fruit and orchids, eight lakes, and eleven art installations. All 83 acres began as a historical collection for experts to study and save endangered plants and is now one of the best botanical gardens in Florida for children. 

18. Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden – Key West, FL

Macro closeup of clerodendrum quadriloculare blanco lamiaceae philippine glorybower flowers with green vivid vibrant foliage in Key West tropical garden park of Florida

Key West is home to the only frost-free garden in the U.S.

©Kristi Blokhin/

The Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden is unique because it’s the only frost-free garden in the Continental U.S. Open since 1939, all 15.2 acres of garden and forest provide a relaxing and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Catch a glimpse of rare butterflies or any resident or migrating birds passing through the beautiful gardens. Initially founded by the federal government as part of the Depression Era recovery efforts, the garden continues to preserve threatened and endangered species native to the Florida Keys, Cuba, and the Caribbean

The 18 Best Botanical Gardens in Florida: A Recap

Garden NameLocationSize (acres)Known For
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State ParkTallahassee, FL1,176 acresAzaleas
Cummer Museum of Art & GardensJacksonville, FL2.5 acresAmaryllis
Kanapaha Botanical GardensGainesville, FL68 acresAsian snake arums
Victoria water lilies
Wong Chuk
Washington Oaks Gardens State ParkPalm Coast, FL425 acresAzaleas
Bird of paradise
McKee Botanical GardenVero Beach, FL80 acresOrchids
Water lilies
Hollis GardenLakeland, FL1.2 acresOrchids
Bok Tower GardensLake Wales, FL130 acresAzaleas
Florida Botanical GardensLargo, FL182 acresRoses
Sunken GardensSt. Petersburg, FL4 acresChilean flamingos
Royal palms
Marie Selby Botanical GardensSarasota, FL15 acresBromeliads
Epiphytic orchids Gesneriads
Harry P. Leu GardensOrlando, FL50 acresAroids
Edison Ford and Winter EstatesFort Myers, FL20 acresCycads
Puerto Rican hat palm
Flamingo GardensDavie, FL60 acresFlamingos
Royal palms
Morikami Museum and Japanese GardensDelray, FL188.5 acresBamboo
Bonsai trees
Naples Botanical GardenNaples, FL170 acresScrew pine
Scrub milkweed
Mounts Botanical GardenWest Palm Beach, FL14 acresMonstera
Fairchild Tropical Botanical GardenCoral Gables, FL83 acresAfrican baobab tree
Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical GardenKey West, FL15.2 acresFlowering solanum
Cuban palm

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Hernando Sorzano/

Share on:
About the Author

Mandy Trotti is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on dogs and travel. Mandy has been writing professionally for over two years and holds a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from the University of South Florida, which she earned in 2022. A resident of Florida, Mandy enjoys going on walks with her beagle, visiting botanical gardens, and watching the sunset on the beach.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.