Can you imagine being almost 100 years old and still looking good? I am amazed that Bok Tower was dedicated back in 1929 when Calvin Coolidge was president of the United States! I had a chance to visit the tower and gardens in Lake Wales. It was mid-March, a perfect weather day, and the azaleas were at their peak. However, it doesn't matter what time of year you visit because there will always be some color and something different to see. Just the ponds and the tower are worth the drive!
From the entry gate, you travel past rows of orange groves to a final big parking lot. It's a great place for families. You can bring a picnic lunch to enjoy inside or get a reasonable snack at their cafe. (Both inside and outside seating). Bring a blanket and sit in the shade of an oak tree on the hill near the tower. Masks are required in all buildings and shops. Otherwise, you're free to enjoy the big outdoors. The pathways take you around the manicured lawns past plantings of various trees, shrubs, and flowers. When you finally round the corner and get your first view of the tower it is very impressive.
Edward Bok wanted to create a tower that would remind him of the carillons of The Netherlands. The placement was to be exact so that it was at the highest elevation and would be reflected in the pools below it. The tower is several shades of marble with elaborate carvings. I think it is a beautiful blend of light pinks, rose, tans, and soft grays. Carvings of cranes and pelicans were done in place on solid blocks of marble already in position. I can't imagine that task! The south face has a huge sundial. In the middle of the sundial are Coolidge's words "for visitation by the American people,” February 1929. The inside of the 205-foot tower has seven functional levels, including a 6th level studio and sound equipment for broadcasting the music. The bells have been constantly maintained and weigh a total of 62 tons. There is a viewing area in the garden to watch the playing of the bells on closed-circuit TV.
At Bok Tower, there is also the Pinewood Estate, built in the 1930s. There are no tours of the house right now due to the virus. But you can stroll all around the outside space, see the plantings, the sitting areas, and appreciate one of the finest examples of Mediterranean-style architecture. You could imagine the wealthy enjoying a spectacular view from one of the three porches. After that more pathways lead you back from the estate to a boardwalk, more gardens, and a bird sanctuary area before returning to the front. Being a plant lover I can't go away from Bok Tower without a stop at the gift shop. They have a selection of plants, unique gifts, books, and other items.
You also can't go away from Bok Tower without feeling refreshed. It gives you a new appreciation for nature. How wonderful that it will still be here another 100 years down the road. It carries on the dream. Edward Bok is fulfilling what his Dutch grandmother had said, "Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it." We could all learn from the Bok family.
Use the address 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales 33853 for GPS navigation.
From eastern Hernando County take Hwy 50 east toward Groveland, then continue to Clermont. There take Hwy 27 South until Lake Wales.
The attraction is open 365 days per year 8am-6pm (last ticket sold at the gate at 5 pm)
Admission $15 for adults, The park is pet-friendly. Dogs are $5 and welcome in all the gardens and open areas as long as on a leash.