As much as I love Disney, visiting the pre-Mouse tourist attractions in Florida is one of my favorite things to do. Bok Tower Gardens is one of the absolute best Old Florida attractions. It’s located in Lake Wales at the top of a mountain… well, at least by Floridian standards. 298 feet above sea level is pretty staggering around these parts! And because of its location and its gorgeous grounds, the views are spectacular.
The place has quite the impressive history. It was a dream of Edward Bok, Ladies Home Journal editor, who wanted to create a bird sanctuary. The landscaping was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr. who also designed the grounds of the White House and some of the monuments in D.C. The Gardens were dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge and are on the National Register of Historic Places. With a story like that, you know it has to be good.
On our most recent trip we noticed lots of improvements being made: new paved paths and additional garden spaces (there is even going to be a children’s garden!) are in progress and it’s going to make this Central Florida gem even better.
There are two daily carillon concerts in the tower with shorter tunes played on the hour and half hour that can be heard throughout the grounds.
Hours: Open 365 days a year from 8AM to 6PM.
Cost: $18 for adults and $8 for children 5-12. BUT if you’re a member at Leu Gardens there’s reciprocity! If your family plans on visiting both places even once in a year it might make sense for you to get a membership at Leu Gardens – for $50 you get in all year! Membership for a family at Bok Tower is $75 a year.
Recommended ages: All! There is a bit of a hike up the hill to the tower, but you can rent a stroller or wheelchair if you need to.
- Bring your camera! It’s such a beautiful place to catch some family portraits.
- There’s plenty of shade to avoid sunburn, but bring bug spray! You’ll need it.
- Bring a picnic lunch or pick up a bite to eat at the cafe on-site. There’s not much around for a few miles, so make sure you plan for food if you’ll be visiting around lunch time.
- While you’re in the area, take the quick side trip over to Spook Hill to check out the fun optical illusion!
Enjoy your visit and make sure you check out my list of 100+ Adventures in Central Florida!