Bok Tower Gardens has been on my shortlist of places to visit for a while.  I am always a big fan of gardens and hiking, and Bok Towers Gardens has plenty of both.

Grab a map on your way in – there’s lots to see but you won’t find it all unless you are looking for it. 

Come in past the visitor center, the shop, and cafe and wander into the oval. If you veer off the paved path you will find yourself in the Pollinator Garden where you will, of course, be surrounded by bees, butterflies, and such. A perfect start. I learned that the orange butterflies that are always in my backyard are among the most common in Florida and that they are probably there because of the passion vines covering my patio.

What’s next? Check that map in your back pocket to decide. We headed to the Endangered Plant Garden and the Window by the Pond. The Window by the Pond was my absolute, hands down favorite place in Bik Tower Gardens. Wander into an unassuming wood shed and find benches to rest on while looking through the window at a beautiful pond. The window frames it like the piece of artwork that it is.  I didn’t see any of the local wildlife, but it’s said to be a great place to do so. It was a little warm in the middle of summer though!

Next we headed to the Singing Tower, the main event in the gardens. It’s incredibly tall yet hidden by the trees until you are almost to it. The tower is surrounded by grass fields dotted with benches to sit on. One of the great things about this park is the complete lack of ‘Keep Off the Grass’ signs, you can roam and investigate to your heart’s content.  We sat in the rain shelter and listened to the tower sing to mark the hour. Not a bad way to spend the morning.
Checking the map it seemed the only place left to see was the Pinewood Estate and Gardens. There’s an extra fee to tour the estate, but it was closed the day we went anyways.  I do plan to go back when it’s open to take the tour. Walking around the estate you can find lots of great nooks and crannies, my favorite being a small fountain surrounded by stone walls covered in moss. If you’re one to believe in fairies this is where you’d look for them.

To be honest, at this point I was a little disappointed. Everything we saw was great but I thought there was more to Bok Tower Gardens, we’d wandered around about an hour and a half and were about done.  We decided to head back to the exit, and if it wasn’t too late we’d walk the Pine Ridge Preserve & Trails.

This is when we discovered the true magic of Bok Tower Gardens. Heading back we kept seeing another little path that we hadn’t seen on the way in and wandered down each finding unexpected incredible spots that hadn’t been mapped out. By the time we wandered into the Children’s Garden near the entrance we’d spent another hour and a half just wandering around exploring. The children’s garden is also amazing, there is everything from musical instruments to hammocks to fairy houses. I didn’t even have any kids with me but I spent a good amount of time exploring this area too.

There is also an area with an art installment (Trapped) of large carnivorous plants. It’s fun and educational to walk through, but I have to admit the art was not the star of the show in my opinion. Growing in random places along the path were live carnivorous plants growing among the grasses.  I admit, being a bit of a plant nerd I may have been more excited about this than the average tourist.

By the time we got done it was too late for us to walk the Pine Ridge Preserve & Trails as we had other places to be. I’m not terribly disappointed though, I know I’ll be back to walk the trails, tour the estate, and just soak up the tranquility that is Bok Tower Gardens.

If you’re as interested in botanical gardens as I am be sure to also stop by Bayfront Gardens in Sarasota and Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo!

Here’s what you need to know to play tourist:

1151 Tower Boulevard
Lake Wales, FL 33853

(863) 676-1408

boktowergardens.org