Day 5: Tropical Paradise / WDW-40, 2016

Day 5 of WDW-40, the latest of my Disney Trip Reports, is here! Today we ventured off resort to spend a few hours at a local botanical garden, and do a spot of shopping, before heading back home for some pool time, and to watch the launch of OSIRIS-REx!

If you haven’t read my pre-trip planning report yet, why not have a quick read now to bring you up to speed about who we are, and why this trip report is called WDW-40! You might also want to start reading from the beginning of the report!

Vero Beach Sunrise

Day 5: McKee Botanical Garden

Dinner from Shutters
September 8th, 2016
My trip reports are generally photo heavy, images in tiled galleries can be clicked on to enlarge. All the photos from this day can be found here | Florida 2016 photo collection on Flickr here.
WDW-40, 2016: Trip Report Index | Pre-Trip Planning Report | About Us
Some days are split into several parts; please use the page numbers at the bottom of the post to continue reading.


After watching a stunning sunrise this morning, followed by some breakfast on the balcony, we decided we would venture off the resort today. I didn’t do much research before going to Vero Beach, but I did have a quick look on Google Maps to see what was around the area, and spied nature reserves and gardens. I love photographing nature, so we decided to visit McKee Botanical Gardens which was a 20 minute drive away, south.

Located on a tropical hammock at the southern gateway to Vero Beach, Florida, McKee Botanical Garden is where native plants and exotic botanicals combine with Old Florida charm. Follow the Garden’s pathways through a grove of majestic palms; past tranquil streams accented with colorful waterlilies. Explore 18 acres of natural landscape preserved and restored to the vision of its founders. Discover trees, waterfalls and historic structures each with their own unique story. The Garden is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been endorsed by The Garden Conservancy as a project of National Significance. – McKee Botanical Gardens

McKee Botanical Garden

We paid $10 admission fee each, and spent a good couple of hours wandering around the garden. There were several winding trails that interlinked with each other, so you could keep exploring in a continuous motion, rather than having to back track on yourself. As well as all of the plants, trees and flowers, there is a series of waterways, connecting streams and ponds covered with waterlilies and lily pads. And of course, because it is a natural space, there are birds, bugs, butterflies, and non-venomous snakes, living their lives among the flora. (Thankfully, we didn’t see any snakes!)

For me, it was a tropical paradise – filled with palm trees, plants with giant leaves, and colourful exotic flowers. (There are over 10,000 native and tropical plants in the garden!) It was so peaceful to explore the garden, with the sound of the wind rustling through the trees, and crickets chirruping. It’s somewhere we would definitely re-visit when we next go to Vero Beach. I would also like to spend time at some of the other reserves and parks.

Now onto some of the photos I took during our visit – I’ll inject some commentary from signs, and from their website too, to give some further information about the various features around the Garden.

The Cypress Stump was located in the car park – the sign says: Hidden in the undergrowth for 20 years, this historic cypress stump is still in the exact spot where Waldo Sexton placed it in the early 1930s. The tree, retrieved from a swamp and carried across the state on a flatbed truck, was said to have been 2000 years old and over 100 feet high when it was cut.

McKee Botanical Garden - Vero Beach - Florida
Rainbow Eucalyptus
McKee Botanical Garden - Vero Beach - Florida
The Greeting Area
McKee Botanical Garden - Vero Beach - Florida
Hall of Giants
McKee Botanical Garden - Vero Beach - Florida
Spanish Kitchen
McKee Botanical Garden - Vero Beach - Florida
The Dragon Tree