Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bok Tower Gardens

"Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it."
Edward W. Bok, 1929

When you think about Florida, you probably don’t think about history. At least I didn’t until I started visiting the Florida lighthouses a few years ago. Then I discovered that there is so much more to Florida than beaches and Mickey Mouse. And not just lighthouses but forts and railroads, shipwrecks and grand Victorian hotels.

The weather on Saturday was sunny and clear but way too chilly for going out on the boat. So we decided to use the opportunity to visit one of Florida’s historic landmarks – the Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales. The Gardens were established in 1929 by Pulitzer Prize winning author and Dutch immigrant Edward W. Bok, as a gift of gratitude to the American people.

All throughout the gardens, Bok’s love of beauty, nature and music was evident. The focal point was the 205-foot pink and gray marble tower, built to house a 60-bell carillon. We happened to visit during the Founder’s Day celebration and the base of the tower was open to the public. We were able to cross the moat surrounding the tower to see it up close. I awed by the tower’s brass door, which depicts scenes from the Book of Genesis. Beautiful!

Even in February, there were plenty of flowers in bloom, especially camellias in all shades of pink, red and white. We spent about four hours walking around the gardens, eating lunch at the café, and touring Pinewood Estate, a Spanish-style mansion built in 1930. It was a great way to experience some of the beauty and history of Florida.

Reflection Pool
Reflection Pool

Bok Tower

Bok Tower door

Edward Bok grave site
Grave of Edward Bok in front of the Great Door

Bok Tower door detail
Door detail




flowers in Bok Tower Gardens Visitor Center
Samples of the flowers in bloom at the Visitor Center

scenic overlook
Scenic overlook

Pinewood Estate
Pinewood Estate

Pinewood Estate

Pinewood Estate

Travel Tips: Don’t miss the live carillon concerts, daily at 1 and 3 pm.


  1. Beautiful! The big brass door reminds me of the door into the Baptistry in Florence, I wonder if that's what inspired him.

  2. It's so incredibly beautiful. I can't believe I'd not heard of this place before. Your pictures do a wonderful job of bringing the beauty into our home. The door is especially inspiring.