Bok Tower: Lake Wales, Florida
by Helen K. Ferguson 1997

The Bok Tower in Lake Wales, Florida is a beautiful structure of pink granite and coquina that sits on the highest point of land in  peninsular Florida. It was built for Edward Bok, who had come to  the United States from Holland. He did well in this country and  wanted to show his appreciation.

There is a carillon in the Tower and it plays on the hour and half  hour. There are special concerts at different times of the year. The  one at Christmas is especially nice. A large garden surrounds the Tower, with a variety of plants and flowers. There are a couple of small ponds where swans glide  gracefully back and forth. Birds, squirrels and other wildlife cross  the paths as the visitor strolls along under the trees. This is truly a  tranquil and beautiful place. A museum provides an 8-minute film about the gardens, as well as  many pictures and memorabilia about Edward Bok and his associates.  The staff is most helpful. There is a cafe, which serves adequate food, and a gift shop (bring money).

Accessibility is good for this facility. There are manual wheelchairs, which require someone to push them, and electric carts, which rent for $8.00 an hour. None of the doors are automatic, but they are not very heavy unless one is restricted because of upper body weakness or arthritic hands. If a visitor takes a personal scooter, batteries should be fully charged as the Tower is at the top of a hill and many of the paths are mulched, which makes progress difficult.

There are two sets of restrooms; one is located next to the cart rental and the other is in the museum. The former is not very large but does have one accessible stall. The latter is larger, though there is not much room for turning.

The cafe has adequate room between tables but it is difficult to get to the counter to order if it is crowded. There are also several outdoor tables with umbrellas. The admission to the gardens is $4.00 per person; members are not charged.

We stayed at The Hampton Inn, 151 N. Douglas St., Altamonte Springs, Fl. (N. Orlando) Phone, 1-800-426-7866. There is a ramp and automatic doors to the lobby. The counter does not have a lowered area for those in wheelchairs. The Staff was helpful and pleasant. The double room had very little space to turn a wheelchair or scooter, but it could be done. The phone was across the room from the beds. One lamp was easily reached from a sitting position but the others were not.

Other than the things mentioned above, this was an adequately thought out room. There was a refrigerator in the room. A mirror was placed so that it could be viewed from a sitting position. Part of the clothes rack was also reachable from a wheelchair. There was an iron and ironing board in the room. The sink in the dressing room had knee space for those in wheelchairs.

The bathroom had a raised commode, with grab bars beside and behind the tank. The sink had knee space. There was a roll-in shower, with a sturdy, pull-down shower seat and a flexible showerhead. There were several grab bars in the shower. Plenty of towels were provided.

Security seemed good. There were peepholes in the door that could be used by someone sitting or standing. Two chains on the door were also easily reached. There was a doorbell, which activated a light and a noise to announce visitors, as well as a lighted fire signal. Local phone calls are free.

There was a free Continental breakfast, which consisted of a variety of muffins, waffles, cereals, fruit, coffee, tea, and orange juice. For meals at other times of the day, there are several nearby restaurants. Longhorn's Steak House is across the parking lot from the Inn.

Rates are dependent upon the time of year. AAA and AARP members receive discounts. If a credit card is used at check-in, express check-out makes it a breeze to leave.

According to Maurice (Tony) Denson, The Hampton Inn is nationally franchised and the traveler can expect to find similar accommodations, though there may be some variations. These can be checked with advance phone calls to specific Inns.

This motel met my needs enough that I would return.

Happy Traveling! For photos and additional information on visiting the Bok Tower, visit the Bok Tower web site.


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