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HISTORIC BOK SANCTUARY
How about visiting somewhere different when you are next in Florida? Bok Sanctuary has something to interest almost everyone. An extremely serene and peaceful place, this national historic landmark was gifted to the USA by Dutchman Edward W Bok in 1929. The Sanctuary is situated at Tower Boulevard, Lake Wales.
From Orlando, take I4 West. Take exit 55 and proceed on the US highway 27 for approximately 23 miles. Turn left onto Mountain Lake Cut Off Road. Then turn right (south) onto County Road 17 (also know as Scenic Highway) for 1. 3 miles and the main entrance sign is on the left. Proceed left to the entrance gate. The admission fees are $8 for adults and $3 for children, under 5s free and are open every day of the year.
Firstly there is an exhibit hall and museum which forms part of a spacious Visitor’s Centre which provides the background to the Sanctuary’s creation and to the story of Edward Bok’s life. There are ‘hands-on’ exhibits including ringing of a bell from the original keyboard. Children can borrow a Reading Basket free of charge at the Information Desk. Each themed basket contains books, puppets and a blanket for sitting on. The Carillon Café is located here where a variety of delicious food can be eaten either indoors or out.
The 205 foot beautiful “singing tower” with marble sculpture houses the wonderful sounding carillon bells which are cup shaped and cast in bronze. The sounds of the 60 bells can be heard daily. The tower was built as a focal point and it certainly is! The Sanctuary holds several festivals and outdoor concerts throughout the year to suit everybody’s taste in music.
Then there are the beautiful landscaped gardens to wander through which are a mix of native and exotic plants. As well as the ferns, palms, numerous colourful flowers there are several family-friendly areas where children can observe butterflies, native birds and reptiles. There is a nature observatory at the edge of a pond so that visitors can observe these in their natural habitat, so you never know what you will catch a glimpse of! Also, take a ¾ mile walk along the Pine Ridge Nature Reserve where you will be able to spot many endangered species including the gopher tortoise, eastern indigo snake, gopher frogs and Florida mouse.
Also, there is the Pinewood Estate; a classic 20 room Mediterranean mansion built in the 1930s with its 3 larges porches which provide wonderful views of the gardens and grounds. There are daily guided tours. At Christmas time every room is transformed by decorations and is something not to be missed so I am told!
The Tower & Garden Gift shop sells a wide variety of gifts and souvenirs where you can either browse or buy something to remind you of your memorable visit.
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