The third stop on our Drawn to Central Florida tour, as described by the artist, Josh “Bump” Galletta.
Looking up at a 205-foot Singing Tower and out over the Lake Wales Ridge has the power to change your perspective. That’s why I had to make Bok Tower Gardens a stop on my Drawn to Central Florida tour. My family and I hadn’t been to the gardens in several years, so this particular trip was an exciting reunion. Like most reunions, you find some things never change, and in the case of Bok Tower Gardens, some do. And for the better, I might add!
The first place we stopped, and where I would suggest others stop as well, was the visitor’s center. In the exhibit hall, we learned more about the history of the tower and Edward Bok, got to look at a cool collection of black and white photos from the 20s, learned about plant life found on the ridge, saw samples of the stone used to build the tower and more. One of my kids is really into LEGOs and was particularly fascinated by everything that had to do with the tower’s construction. There is also a theatre where you can watch a 15-minute film about the tower, Edward Bok and Pinewood Estates. Both are great ways to get oriented with the garden’s history and make exploring it all the more meaningful.
Now on to the great outdoors! Blue skies and a nice breeze made for a perfectly comfortable stroll of the gardens, which brings me to the first welcomed change we noticed, which was the paths. There are now a couple nice paved paths (in addition to mulched paths) leading to the tower, so that even patrons in wheelchairs can wander winding trails of blooms to a front row seat at a carillon concert or a picnic.
Although Bok Tower is a quiet, relaxing place to visit, my kids (ages 5 & 7) still had a blast and I never felt like I had to stifle their energy. Channel it, maybe. Stifle it, no. They loved rolling down the hill near our picnic site by the tower, discovering hidden curiosities like a bench beneath a tent of vines and spotting wildlife (they say the gardens are home to more than 100 different species of birds and other threatened or endangered species). I’d like to point out that while it’s not ready yet, Bok Tower Gardens is in the process of constructing a new Children’s Garden that will open September 2016. I saw the construction site and it’s already looking awesome. They’ve also got a new edible garden and outdoor kitchen where they recently began hosting tasty events!
You not only experience lots of the beauty of nature at the gardens, you encounter lots of interesting couple about how to read the tower’s sundial and even made up some stories about who could live up in the tower to entertain my kids. Hey, dads will be dads
Overall, it was a wonderful day spent with my family and I highly recommend you visit soon!