We took a day trip and went out to Bok Tower Gardens. Its about a 1 hour and 20 minute drive from Orlando to the Bok Tower Gardens historical landmark in Lake Wales. Through the inspiration of Mr. Edward William Bok and the vision and design of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. “Bok Tower Gardens has offered some of Florida’s most remarkable experiences to more than 23 million visitors since 1929. Through its historic landscape gardens, unique Singing Tower carillon and magnificent 1930s Mediterranean-style mansion (El Retiro), the Gardens offer unparalleled opportunities for artistic, cultural, personal and spiritual enrichment.” At least thats what it says on the website, and they are not lying. It is absolutely breathtaking and beautiful. Lush gardens as far as the eye can see and an awe inspiring tower that you can see in the picture in beginning of this newsletter. (Its magnificent, and the picture… as much as I tried… just does not do it justice) (I also realized I didnt get any pictures of the gardens for some reason. I guess I was too mesmerized by the tower and home.) The tower is 205 feet high and located on what was the highest point dicovered in the state of Florida when it was built. (Now Britton Hill is discovered as higher) It is an awesome site to behold with the stained glass windows set in the pink and gray marble from Georgia and coquina stone from St. Augustine. The tower is rich in carvings depicting the flora and fauna of Florida.
After looking at the tower you can go look at a breathtaking view of almost the rest of central Florida it seems like. There is a dropoff behind the tower where you can see what seems like hudreds of miles. All I can say is you have to see this in person. There are lots of trees, gardens. ponds, a historical home and other things to see and experience. We truly felt like we were part of nature there. They have a museum, cafe, gift shop, and lots of paths all over the grounds. Seems like you could go there like 3 or 4 times and still not see everything.
EL Retiro is the beautiful Spanish design inspired historical home that was designed and built to be part of the landscape of the gardens. Built and owned by not Mr. Bok, but Mr. Buck who was vice president at Bethlehem Steel corporation in Bethlehem, PA. The home and all landscaping was designed in a collaboration by Charles Wait , William Lyman Phillips of the Olmstead firm and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr himself. It is located on the grounds of the gardens and the gorgeous and well maintained home is a great addition to the tour and well worth the extra 7 bucks entrance fee. So if you are just visiting Central Florida…and you get tired of the hustle, bustle, noise, and lines at the parks… go out to Bok Tower Gardens and enjoy the peace, tranquility and a quiet commune with nature so you can get yourself centered again before you head back home. Its also way cheaper than the parks and you can easily spend the whole day there. If you live in Central Florida or anywhere in Florida for that matter you need to check out what is in your backyard and what is part of the great history of our state.
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