Updated October 9, 2020
Bok Tower Gardens is a serene sanctuary not far from the hectic pace and noise of typical Central Florida tourist attractions. This place of tranquil beauty is only one hour south of Orlando.
Edward Bok was a Dutch immigrant who became a Pulitzer Prize winning author and an editor.
He became famous as the editor of Ladies Home Journal, a major magazine in its time.
Bok and his wife spent winters at the Mountain Lake community near Lake Wales, Florida.
He loved to take walks to the top of nearby Iron Mountain, the highest hill in the Lake Wales Ridge region of Florida.
He decided to buy the hill and surrounding acreage, and hired famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead to design a garden.
He told Olmstead to make the barren sandhill into "a spot of beauty second to none in the country".
Mr. Olmstead succeeded. Today the tropical plantings provide cooling shade to visitors, and refuge for squirrels and more than 100 bird species. It is on many discerning people's list of favorite Florida tourist attractions.
Almost as an afterthought, Bok decided to have a magnificent "singing tower" added to the gardens.
It would have a carillon in it, and would be designed to fit well with the gardens.
The Bok Tower is built of Florida coquina stone and Georgia pink marble. It contains one of the finest Carillons in the world, with 71 bells.
The architecture of the tower with its carvings and mosaics is worth the visit alone and would make this one of the most popular Florida tourist attractions even without the gardens.
The Bok Tower and Gardens were created by Mr. Bok to give thanks to America for the opportunities he was given.
Bok Tower Gardens was dedicated on February 1, 1929, by the president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Landmark.
Edward William Bok died in Lake Wales within sight of the Tower on January 9, 1930, and is now buried at the base of the tower.
The carillon plays concerts at 1 and 3 p.m. daily, and brief musical selections throughout the day.
Bok Tower Gardens has become a popular site for weddings, in addition to being one of the major Florida tourist attractions.
This sanctuary is an ideal place to go every now and then to renew oneself. Not many Florida tourist attractions can make that claim.
Give quiet thanks to Edward W. Bok when you go.
Group rates are available with pre-registration of 20 or more.
Saturday admission rate: On 8-9 a.m. on Saturdays, the admission rate is now 50 percent of general admission.
General admission tickets are good for one day only and do not include specially ticketed events.
Bok Tower Gardens is open every day of the year from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with last admission at 5 p.m.
The Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.