Do you want to watch alligators, turtles and flamingos, feed colorful parrots or simply take a stroll amidst Florida’s lush, tropical surroundings? Then, Everglades Wonder Gardens is THE place to go. For almost a century, this small zoo has been showcasing the biodiversity of the Sunshine State – while also providing a new home for endangered species.
What makes Everglades Wonder Gardens so special despite its modest size? Which animals can you encounter here, and how do you get the most out of your visit? We will show you in this article.
Everglades Wonder Gardens in a Nutshell
From the history of the zoo to directions, opening hours and entrance fees – in the following section, you will find the most important information about Everglades Wonder Gardens:
The story of Everglades Wonder Gardens started more than 80 years ago with very modest beginnings: In 1936, the pioneers Bill and Lester Pipe opened a small roadside attraction where visitors could see rescued animals up-close. Originally known as “Bonita Springs Reptile Gardens,” the zoo was renamed in 1950, but closed in 2013 due to low popularity.
Luckily, this hiatus did not last long: Just one year later, Everglades Wonder Gardens reopened with the support of the city. This helped to preserve not only a refuge for endangered species, but also a valuable remnant of “Old Florida” architecture.
Location and Directions
Everglades Wonder Gardens is located in the heart of Bonita Springs, just off the banks of the Imperial River. Free parking is available.
Getting here with public transport is slightly more complicated. Guests departing from Cape Coral, Fort Myers or Naples will need to take the LeeTran and change buses several times. The nearest stop to the zoo is Old 41 Road, just a 5-minute walk away.
Everglades Wonder Gardens is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm. Exceptions are Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and the first day of Christmas.
Tickets and Prices
At Everglades Wonder Gardens, the following prices apply:
- Adults: 12 USD
- Children (3–12 years): 7 USD
- Children under 3 years: free of charge
- Seniors (65+): 10 USD.
You can buy your tickets on-site and online.
By the way: If you want to save a few dollars, you should look for coupons on websites like groupon or 8coupons.com.
Everglades Wonder Gardens – Attractions – Attractions
300 animals, numerous exotic plants, interesting exhibits and activities for the whole family – Everglades Wonder Gardens boasts a wide variety of attractions:
Let’s start with the kings of Everglades Wonder Gardens: alligators. Florida’s iconic reptiles populate the “́Gator Hole”, where they can swim to their heart’s content and sunbathe on the shore. A real highlight: Visitors are allowed to feed the alligators – from a safe distance, of course. Far less threatening than their parents are baby alligators that you can see up-close at the breeding center.
Turtles and Tortoises
Everglades Wonder Gardens is home to multiple turtle and tortoise species. In addition to aquatic specimen such as the snapping turtle, it also houses spurred tortoises: These land-dwelling herbivores rank among the largest turtle species and can weigh up to 225 lbs.
White, red, green or rainbow-colored – Everglades Wonder Gardens has them all. Five parrot species are at home in the zoo: including cockatoos, eclectus parrots and large hybrid macaws. The most talkative of them all is Kiwi, the yellow-naped amazon. Just say “Hi” to him, and chances are he will greet you back.
Little visitors who have always wanted to feed and pet cute parrots can do so in the “Lorikeet Pavilion” – home to colorful rainbow lorikeets that love to climb on the shoulders of guests.
What is pink and stands on one leg? Flamingos, of course. However, Florida´s national birds are not the only inhabitants of the Flamingo Lagoon. This elaborately designed waterscape in the heart of the zoo also features peacocks, ibises and ducks that you can feed.
In 2021, the otter enclosure at Everglades Wonder Gardens underwent an extensive redesign – good news for visitors who can now observe the playful animals better than ever before. The habitat consists of rocks, slides and a waterfall. In addition, it offers enough space to accommodate more rescued otters in the future.
In additional to animals, plant species are another highlight of Everglades Wonder Gardens: The selection ranges from ferns, gnarled banyan and canistel trees to Japanese bonsais. Bromeliads and orchids make the landscape bloom, water lilies adorn the ponds, and colorful butterflies feed on passion flowers in the northwest of the park. With all this natural splendor, it should come as no surprise that Everglades Wonder Gardens is a popular place for weddings.
Natural History Museum
At the Museum of Everglades Wonder Gardens, visitors can learn more about Florida´s natural diversity. And not only that: In addition to beautiful landscape shots, bones and shells, you will also see the largest inhabitant of the zoo: “Big Joe”, a 15 ft crocodile that still commands respect, although the giant is now taxidermied.
Before it is time to head home, you should visit the Wonder Shoppe – especially if you are traveling with children: Here, you can buy stuffed animals, teddy bears, T-shirts, bags, postcards and candy. A true highlight in springtime are the richly decorated Easter and Valentine’s trees in front of the shop.
Yoga and Relaxation
With its idyllic surroundings, Everglades Wonder Gardens is a perfect place to relax and meditate – so what could be better than a yoga session at the zoo? All you need to bring is your yoga mat. Then, you are ready work on your inner balance with expert yoga teachers – under the curious eyes of peacocks and ibises. The yoga classes are suitable for guests aged 6 or older.
Everglades Wonder Gardens – Map
Do you want to get a quick overview of the zoo´s attractions? Then, the Everglades Wonder Gardens Map will help you.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
What are the opening hours of Everglades Wonder Gardens?
The zoo opens every day at 10 am and closes at 4 pm. On Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Everglades Wonder Gardens is closed.
How much is admission to Everglades Wonder Gardens?
Tickets cost 12 USD for adults, 7 USD for children from 3–12 years and 10 USD for seniors (65+).
What animals can I see at Everglades Wonder Gardens?
The zoo mainly features native species such as alligators, turtles, flamingos, ibises and turkeys, but also otters and parrots from the Old and New World, as well as snakes and lizards.
Can I book Everglades Wonder Gardens for private events?
Yes, Everglades Wonder Gardens is available for private celebrations such as birthdays and weddings. Its lawns and the Victorian-themed “Tea Room” can accommodate up to 200 guests.