The Bok Tower Gardens are located in Lake Wales, which is about 50 miles southwest of Orlando. With the gardens to wander through, the Singing Tower to listen to, and nature to enjoy, this is a wonderful outing when the weather is nice.
The Bok Tower Gardens is home to the Bok Tower, or Singing Tower, which is a unique treasure in the area. The tower, which is a major part of the gardens, is 205 feet tall with carillon bells that play concerts daily at 1 and 3 in the afternoon, with smaller performances in between. Up in the top, there are 60 bells ranging in weight from 16 pounds to almost 12 ton. You don’t have to pay extra to listen to the bells chime and they can actually be heard throughout the gardens. So no matter where you are, you can enjoy the ringing chimes of the bells. It’s situated on the south side of a reflection pool, so at a certain angle, the entire tower can be seen in the reflection of the water.
The gardens themselves are beautiful. There are 250 acres of gardens that were designed just after the tower was built. While walking the pathways, there are little signs that tell visitors what kinds of flowers line the paths. Both the Latin name and the general name are on these little plaques.
Nestled among the gardens is also the Pinewood Estate, which is a 20-room Mediterranean style mansion that was originally named El Retiro, which means “retreat” in Spanish. The 12,900 square foot home was built in the early 1930s and is now open for tours throughout the year for guests of the Bok Tower Gardens. Admission to see the inside of the house is only allowed to those who bought the special Pinewood Estate combo ticket.
Hammock Children’s Hollow Garden is situated just above the Visitor’s Center. The children’s garden allows kids to experience nature in a fun and interactive way. There’s a sandpit surrounded by a friendly snake sculpture, complete with pails and shovels to use. Next is the River Walk, where kids can play in the sprinklers and learn about the different types of moss. There’s also a fairy house trail, Edward Bok Word Garden, Fox Den, Doodle Bug art Place, and the Songbird Music Tree where kids can make their own music.
Next to Hammock Children’s Hollow Garden is a small garden that is well taken care of. This little area is called the Outdoor Kitchen and Edible Garden. Throughout the year, there are classes that take place here for people who want to learn how to eat healthy and the ingredients used are from the garden. There’s tomatoes, garlic, onions, broccoli, kale, carrots, beets, and more planted here for the Outdoor Kitchen events.
Driving with my windows down, I could smell the flowers and citrus fruits that line both sides of the roadway on my way up Tower Boulevard. It was such a sweet smell that made me excited that I had chosen to visit the Bok Tower Gardens on a perfect day. Guests will come to a ticket booth where they can choose two options: general admission or the Pinewood Estate Combo Admission. Most of the grounds are available with the general admission option. The Pinewood Estate Combo Admission ticket allows guests to actually go into and tour the Pinewood Estate home that sits on the grounds. I chose just general admission but I’m tempted go back and walk through the beautiful home.
There was plenty of parking available including special parking for tour buses. It must have been a good day for tours because there was a few large groups including a group of school age children being led on a tour.
It wasn’t busy the day I went, and many people were just taking their time, meandering through the beautiful pathways that led up to the tower and around the grounds. The gardens encourage visitors to take in all their natural surroundings. Not only are the gardens beautiful, the flowers themselves attract quite a few different birds, which makes the gardens a great place to birdwatch.
The café is a part of the Visitor’s Center, with light foods like salads and small sandwiches to choose from. People had been sitting inside but there were more people outside, enjoying the nice weather and their afternoon meals. Also in the Visitor’s Center is the gift shop for those who love trinkets when they go somewhere. Some of the smaller plants situated around the grounds are available for purchase in the Plant Shop, which is an addition to the gift shop.
There is plenty of opportunity for photography practice here, so be sure to bring your best camera. With the blooming of the flowers, the peaceful chirping of the birds, and the architecture of the Singing Tower, it’s really no wonder people choose this beautiful setting for their wedding.
I wandered through the grounds, walking past the tower, the mansion, and the children’s gardens. Taking my time and really enjoying the afternoon, I easily spent over three hours here. The Bok Tower Gardens is a beautiful way to spend a day and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to see it all again and learn even more about the grounds that have been kept so well.