Should have titled this “Bok Tower,” but Iron Mountain makes it sound more dramatic! Bok Tower gardens is just south of Orlando and is a beautiful way to spend a few hours on a sunny day. I first and last went in high school, so it’s been quite a while since I’d visited.
The gardens charges reasonable admission and includes an eatery, visitor center/museum, the gardens themselves, and Bok Tower (which you can look at but can’t actually go into). The area actually *is* on Iron Mountain, which seems like a misnomer if you know anything about Florida (a perpetually flat land), but it really is the highest point in the state. They charge an additional fee if you want to tour Pinewood Estate – more on that later.
This is the area right by the restaurant and visitor center – pretty like everything here!
They’re doing a bit of new construction right now to add some cool stuff: a kids’ area, outdoor kitchen, and an edible garden.
This is going to be worth another visit when finished! It looks like it nearly is:
…and the edible garden:
check out this okra! Now, saying “edible garden”… I don’t think you’re supposed to just pick and eat things, but I anticipate they’ll use this stuff in their outdoor kitchen. Some yummy looking eggplant:
And look who we found amongst the veggies!
After that we began exploring gardens. They have some trails and some sections (e.g. wetlands). Ultimately, it’s not a huge area; you can see the tower from several points:
It’s also not too far to walk to Pinewood Estate:
Honestly, I didn’t know this was here. We completely missed it on my last visit. If you paid for the admission, you get a ticket and can line up for a tour, about every 15 minutes. The initial portion had a guide but after you can roam around, except you go on a directed path, and there are attendants in most rooms that will give a speech or else be available for questions. Luckily, they do allow photos inside!
I’m excited they did, as most estate home museums in America don’t.
I think the docent described it as “Mediterranean Revival” style, but am not sure. I was paying more attention to taking pictures.
They had this one super narrow staircase that was pretty cool:
You can walk around outside the house too and see its gardens.
I read a book that featured a moon garden as a major plot point but had never seen one, so I was excited about this:
However, they said it was never finished, so I guess I still don’t know what a moon garden really looks like.
After that, it was clouding up so we made a beeline for Bok Tower itself. On the way and leaving Pinewood, we saw some cool trees:
Winding our way through tree-lined paths, it didn’t take long to reach the tower.
Truly, a beautiful and unique Florida icon. Its carillon bells ring at different times of the day. Like I said, you can’t go inside but can get fairly close.
I didn’t get a good picture of it, but the pond is filled with koi fish.
A sundial, truly cool. The whole thing is ornate.
My favorite part might actually be the ironwork for the gate in front of it (there are gates to a bridge that crosses the moat surrounding the tower). It’s both creepy and cute:
And now to prove it really IS above sea level:
The view down the mountain, behind the tower:orange groves of Lake Wales. Oh, and a little local denizen we came across:
Bok Tower is definitely worth a visit. If you don’t live close, you can easily combine it with a visit to Orlando or the surrounding area.🙂