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Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales

Orlando, FL, USA


Bok Tower Gardens are situated in the middle of nowhere! There is very little else to do nearby, which makes it a bad choice if you have kids. If you don't mind driving far to see some pleasant gardens, then visit. If you don't have kids, it could be a nice place to sit on a picnic blanket, enjoy the breeze coming up off the valley, and look up at the wispy Spanish moss hanging from the huge oak trees. The towns around the gardens are basic and the landscape is ugly- dry, flat, with plenty of nothingness. So the drive out will not be a highlight. But once you pull into the road to the gardens, you are immersed in the most delightful smell- orange blossoms (come in spring!). I had no idea orange blossoms smelled so lovely! The scent is floral, not citrus. This was actually the best part of visiting the gardens and our kids loved the it!
At the entrance there is an attractive visitor's center with colorful flower plantings, fountains, and some creative, unusual planters. The visitor center has exhibits about Edward W. Bok's childhood in Holland and how he built the tower which has carillon bells just like those you hear in Holland! Kids can borrow a bag with binoculars, magnifying glass, and nature books, and my daughter enjoyed using these.
The gardens are located on Iron Mountain, which is really just a slight incline! It's nice though to walk on an incline for a change. There are plenty of huge trees, as well as some camellias, but not many other flowers. Window to the Pond is a little shed with a huge window looking out on a pond. This is a nice idea because you can sit there meditating on the view without worrying about an alligator leaping out at you! At the top of the path you come to the nicest part of the gardens, a huge lawn dotted with moss-hung oaks overlooking the valley with rows of orange trees. Here you find the gothic tower with a moat around it and some pretty ironwork gates. The gold door to the tower is gorgeous. The tower is so clean! How do they keep it spotless on the outside?! The colorful art deco design at the top is unique. There was a wedding taking place when we were there- a serene place to have a wedding.
Pinewood Estate is the Spanish-style house on the property. You can pay a little extra to see it. I didn't like it because it is dark inside, with imposing furniture and darkest wood and tile everywhere. The formal gardens in the front of it are nice, and can be seen without paying to enter the house.
The carillon plays every half hour and there are concerts daily at 1 and 3pm. I expected elegant melodies to ring out over the valley, but the carillon sounds jumbled, with too many notes, and no clear melody to follow. That was the case even at the International Carillon Festival, when I visited.
Plan to stay for lunch because the cafe is in a lovely outdoor setting looking out on a lawn bordered with bright flowers. When we were there, a violinist was playing while everyone ate. The prices for a sandwich are very reasonable and the food is delicious. Try the sweet potato fries!
I saw only one or two families with kids (there were mostly retirees) even though it was a Saturday when we visited.
If you stay in this town overnight, spend a fun day the next day at Legoland!

Photo Gallery

Driving through the orange orchards to get to the gardens.

Flowerbed near the cafe.

The trail.

Plants hanging from cords- so cool!

Powder Puff tree.

Pale pink camelia.

Bok Tower Gardens are slightly raised up above the surrounding countryside.

Gazebo amongst moss-draped oaks.

Pathway through moss-draped oaks.

Visitors enjoy a walk under the exquisite oak trees.

Tower and palms.

Spanish moss.

Lilies in the forest.

Looking across the lake to the tower's golden door.

Spanish moss blowing in the breeze.

Tower and blue sky.

An elderly couple takes in the view of the orange orchards below.

Azalea galore!

Japanese spirit sculpture and Spanish moss.

The lake and tropical foliage.

Abundance in the garden.

Southern Charm Azalea.

A couple walks in view of the tower.

Strange fluffy plant!

Peaceful scene.

Rows of bushes near the house.

Love these plants hanging in the air near the cafe!

Inside the house.

Spanish tiles on the stairway to the house entrance.

Engraved wooden door.


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Bok Tower Gardens are located at 1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales FL 33853, call (863) 676-1408.
Exit the Florida Turnpike at Hwy 60 west and drive for 43 miles. This is not nice scenery. Turn right on Buckmore Rd and drive 1.5 miles, then left on Burns Ave, and then right on Tower Blvd. You pay at the entrance gate and then drive to the parking lot.
Open daily 8-6, with last entrance at 5. Daily free carillon concerts at 1 and 3.
Pinewood Estate house open Mon-Sat 12-4, and Sun 1-4.
Admission to the gardens is $12 for adults and $3 for children 5-12 years old. It is $6 extra ($5 extra for kids) to enter the Pinewood Estate house.
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