This is an edited version of the original article published on TownieTourist.com
As you start to plan summer break outdoor activities for your kids, make sure you add Bok Tower Gardens to your lineup. The fact is, Bok Tower Gardens has been on my list for years. It always seemed too far, and I wasn’t quite sure what was out there. Rest assured, it’s worth the drive.
Edward Bok came to the United States from the Netherlands as a child, and his family spent winters in Lake Wales. As he grew up, he became a mega-successful publisher, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and humanitarian. In 1929, he purchased the land that is now Bok Tower Gardens and made a beautiful sanctuary.
The gardens — oh, the gardens! — are filled with lush, tropical beauty and winding paths that feel like they stretch forever. In reality, it’s a quick walk from place to place, which is super important with the kiddos. Gorgeous music from the Singing Tower carillon, a bell tower, echoes throughout the gardens. You can also buy a ticket to Pinewood Estate, a historic home on property with scheduled tours running throughout the day.
Aside from all this, there’s a special area just for the kids. Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden is a little nature wonderland. Nature wasn’t just the backdrop but the forefront for the kids to explore their curiosity and creativity. This play area includes a sandbox, a giant spider web climbing structure, wooden instruments, arts and crafts tables, an outdoor dress-up theater and a rustic pioneer kitchen playspace. I know what you’re thinking: “I have all this stuff at home and at the park by my house.” And to that I say, “Yes, you do. But do you have it in a gorgeous nature sanctuary that you will swear transports you to Colorado or some other fabulous non-Florida feeling place? No, you don’t.” The kids spent hours exploring and running around. They would’ve spent hours more, but the adults were getting hungry. Conveniently, there’s a restaurant on-site, the Blue Palmetto Café, that was quite delicious.
We spent four hours at the Bok Tower Gardens, and I know we only scratched the surface of what it has to offer. With kids or without, this is an awesome place for a day trip.
PLAY Tip: Bok Tower Gardens is part of the Reciprocal Member Program with Leu Gardens, Orange County Regional History Center, Polasek Sculpture Gardens, Central Florida Zoo and Art & History Museums – Maitland, so check and see what discount or free admission this provides you.
Photos of the Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden:
Townie Tourist is a travel blog created for Orlandoans by Jenny De Witt. She is dedicated to sharing the real Florida, one town at a time. Watch Townie Tourist LIVE on Facebook, Saturdays at 10 a.m.