The Highest Point in Florida (or close enough)
My girlfriend happens to be one of those free-spirited people who would be happy living on the side of a mountain in a town that non-ironically has horse and buggies still operating. You can imagine then that Miami might not really be her cup of tea for the most part (though she is a native, don’t worry). Throughout our relationship, between my unrelenting need to be right and my love for my home town, I’ve taken it upon myself to pinpoint the aspects of the city I think will appeal to the vagabond in her. And I have to say, having that motivation in the back of my mind has been great for getting me out of my comfort zone and into some really cool places. Now that you have a little insight into what led me on this road trip in the first place, here’s a more in depth look at the first stop on our excursion: Bok Tower Gardens.
Once you get to the gate you follow a little road that weaves through the orange groves and makes for an extremely pleasant open-windowed drive to the parking lot. You’ll see several routes that lead you into the grounds but honestly, your best bet is to just pick an entry point that looks good to you and stroll around in the general direction of the sprawling tower.
This description off their site pretty much hits the nail on the head as far as the vibe you get from the grounds: “The meandering garden is one of the greatest achievements of famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. Tranquil resting places, shady recesses, picturesque vistas and expansive splashes of color create a contemplative setting for your personal renewal and enjoyment.” There are makeshift paths that cut through the trees every which way that all kind of lead you vaguely in the same direction. It’s easy to lose yourself in the glades and trails, taking in the flora and fauna.
I do have to mention though, on the off chance you have any kind of fear of rodents, stay away. If, like most people, you find squirrels cute and a little spazzy, you’ll love it. They almost overrun the place and have become so accustomed to the human presence that if you stand still you’ll have no problem getting them to come right up to your feet. Watch for falling nuts and berries though, because I’m pretty sure one of them intentionally pelted me from up a tree.
Barring any surprise attacks from above, the grounds are a joy to explore. Most of the plants have labels somewhere by them, and there’s a huge variety of different kinds of trees and flowers. The main attraction though, is the “205 foot neo-Gothic and art deco Singing Tower”, a monument erected in memory of Edward Bok, an American editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Why’s this guy got a tower named after him you ask? “Bok was a champion of social causes, a pioneer in the field of public sex education, prenatal education and childcare, and an environmental activist in public health and the saving of Niagara Falls.” There’s a bunch more information to be found on his legacy on their website but suffice it to say that whatever his accomplishments were, be glad that people took the time to create this amazing place to commemorate him.
The only other recommendations I can offer (since it really is a place you have to see for yourself to fully appreciate) are to go when it’s still cool out, and to go around an hour or two before sunset, both for the stellar lighting in the gardens leading up to it, and for the setting of the sun itself.
Check out all the pictures from my travels including more of Bok Tower here: