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Bok Tower Gardens is one of the best “secret spots” in Florida, according to Southern Living

A tall tower rising from lush green gardens
Photo via Bok Tower Gardens

Southern Living jut released its list of the top “secret spots” to visit in Florida. While we don’t consider these marquee attractions secrets, we’re happy to see a spotlight shone on these wonderful destinations in the Sunshine State. One of the top spots on the list is Bok Tower Gardens, a tranquil escape about 90 minutes outside of Tampa. Visit: 151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales.

Know before you go: Bok Tower Gardens is open daily from 8am-6pm, with last admission at 5pm. The Visitor Center, Blue Palmetto Cafe, and Shop at Bok are open daily from 9am-5pm. Adult general admission is $20, Children $10 (ages 6-17), children 5 and under are free, Dogs are $10. General admission tickets do not include a tour of El Retiro. Admission to El Retiro is $10 per adult ($5 children ages 6-17, children 5 and under are free) and general admission to Bok Tower Gardens is required. 

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Step into the tranquil oasis of Lake Wales and discover the masterpiece crafted by none other than Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., renowned for his legacy with New York’s Central Park. This gem, founded by Edward W. Bok, boasts the timeless beauty of Bok Tower Gardens.

A tree forms an arch over a dreamy winding nature trail
Photo via Bok Tower Gardens

Explore beautiful Bok Tower Gardens

Central to its allure is the majestic Singing Tower, soaring 205 feet into the sky and home to a captivating 60-bell carillon. As visitors wander through nature trails adorned with rare and endangered species, the melodious chimes of the bells serenade their journey.

For the curious souls, a carillon is a musical marvel comprising at least 23 finely-tuned bells in a chromatic series. Crafted from bronze, these bells, with their precise tuning, create enchanting melodies. Originating in the low countries of Belgium and the Netherlands in the 17th century, the carillon remains a cherished tradition, with the highest concentrations found in its birthplace.

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The Gardens cover over 250 acres of rolling hills and spectacular natural landscapes. Its lovely Blue Palmetto Cafe is a resplendent sanctuary after a morning of wandering around the scenic grounds.

Two rocking chairs overlooking a green landscape
Enjoy a perfect view at one of Bok Tower Gardens many trails | Photo via Bok Tower Gardens

A picturesque trail rich with Florida history

Bok Tower’s 1.5-mile Preserve Trail engages and inspires learners of all ages about one of Florida’s most endangered ecosystems and the ongoing restoration efforts. Some of this land is an original Longleaf Pine forest, while some is former citrus grove being restored to Longleaf Pine. It has been paved with pebble rock from phosphate mines, rich in fossils from Central Florida’s “Bone Valley,” which lends an additional regional interest. Along the trail is a parking area and picnic shelter at number 9.

The Pine Ridge Nature Trail at Bok Tower Gardens is a longleaf pine/turkey oak habitat. The 3/4-mile walking trail takes you through this unique habitat that once covered millions of acres of the Southeastern United States. The longleaf pine forest is now in danger of disappearing. Fortunately, Bok Tower has been able to preserve a portion of this habitat for visitors to experience and learn from.

You can learn more about the area and planning your next excursion by visiting the garden’s website.

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