Ultimate Tourist Spot

By Jay Cridlin
Published June 29, 2007

Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg

How much does a butterfly weigh? When a delicate monarch deigns to alight on your wrist, can you feel its presence, or does it rest there, silent and unobtrusive, until you twitch and flick it away? These are the questions that flutter through one's mind in the placid butterfly garden at St. Petersburg's Sunken Gardens, a lush tourist destination for more than 70 years. One wonders how the 4-acre park's fragrant gardenias, mighty palms and plants, and striking macaws and Chilean flamingoes have survived this long so close to Fourth Street - and indeed, the garden has struggled to make it to 2007. It was rescued from closure once, in 1999, when the city of St. Pete bought it for more than $2-million, but still, annual attendance has dropped from a peak of around 500,000 in the '50s to less than 55,000 in 2006. Like the butterflies that call it home, Sunken Gardens may not carry much weight in modern St. Petersburg. But if it ever flies away, you'll certainly miss its beauty. Sunken Gardens: 1825 Fourth St. N, (727) 551-3100.

How you voted

Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg: 36%

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Dinosaur World, Plant City: 9%

Cracker Country, Tampa: 6%

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