About an hour south of Disney, the elegant, 250-acre gardens—designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., who worked on the National Mall and the Jefferson Memorial—are not often visited, which is too bad, because it’s a big reason you’re in Orlando at all: It was one of Central Florida’s first world-famous attractions. They’re genuinely tranquil and among the best surviving remnants of early-20th-century philanthropic privilege. The gardens (don’t miss the water lilies, big enough to support a child) and their 205-foot, neo-Gothic Singing Tower were commissioned as a thank-you to the American people by a Dutch-born editor, Edward William Bok, publisher of “The Ladies’ Home Journal” and a pioneer in public sex education. Bok was buried at the tower’s base in 1930, the year after its completion and dedication by President Calvin Coolidge. The 57-bell carillon on the tower’s sixth level sounds concerts at 1 and 3pm daily, and its 1930s Mediterranean-style Pinewood estate ($6 more) is open for tours. The sanctuary was enshrined in 1993 as a National Historic Landmark.
Bok Tower Gardens
1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales
Our Rating Hours Daily 8am–6pm, last admission at 5pm Phone 863/676-1408 Prices $12 adults, $3 kids 5–12 Web site Bok Tower Gardens
Map1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales Orlando
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.