Florida Guide > Other Activities
One of the most relaxing ‘chill out’ afternoons you can spend in Central Florida is at Historic Bok Sanctuary. Whenever we want to unwind and get away from all the hustle and bustle of the theme parks for a change, we drive down Highway 27 towards Lake Wales to enjoy this pleasant oasis of peace and tranquillity.
As you walk through the fantastic gardens admiring the multi coloured butterflies and birds you come across the main feature, which is the beautiful 205ft high marble tower, this tower houses a carillon. A carillon, for anyone who, like me, hasn’t heard of this before, is a piano type keyboard attached to sixty bells. Tunes ring out from this instrument echoing around the park at certain times during the day (Concerts at 1 and 3 pm but selections can also be heard occasionally at other times during the day). It’s so enchanting to hear familiar songs, both classic and popular tunes, ringing out as you walk around the ground taking in the warm Florida air. It really is a very special place.
The gardens are wonderful. They will encourage all gardeners and non-gardeners alike to go out and buy some of the beautiful plants to add to their own homes as we have done, in an attempt to replicate the experience on a smaller scale. However, the gardens and tower are not all there is to see at Bok Sanctuary. Every time we go we discover something we haven’t seen before. Whether it’s finding a new route around the gardening themselves, new plants to admire or walking the Pine Ridge trail on the outskirts of the gardens where you feel as though you are miles away from anywhere in ‘spaghetti western’ terrain. On the outside edges of the Sanctuary you can also visit a Mediterranean villa decorated in the style it would have been in 1930’s. This estate was acquired by the Bok Sanctuary in the 1970s and is listed on the National Register of Historic places. There is also a lovely little gift shop and café and not least of all the small museum in the grounds. In the museum you can have a go at playing a carillon for yourself.
The gardens were bequeathed to Florida by the philanthropist Edward Bok. A small admission charge (about $10 for adults and $3 for children) and an army of local volunteers keep this wonderful place thriving for us all to experience. Bok is buried in at the foot of the tower, a fitting monument to such a generous man. I wish I could remember the exact quote I read somewhere about advise given to him by his mother. It went something like ‘make the world a better place’ Bok certainly did this with Bok Sanctuary.
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