Once upon a time, there where two Florida towers (maybe more). One lured the populace to ascend its height to view lush citrus groves on the land far and wide. The other enticed the masses with quiet solitude in the midst of foliage and flora and solitude.

What lurked beneath one was a trap of sorts, while the other was discovered mostly through word of mouth.

I don’t have the ability to weave a magical, fantastical story, so I’ll just get right to it. The Citrus Tower, in my opinion, is nothing more than a tourist trap; whereas, the Bok Tower is a haven of beauty for all of our senses.

The Tourist Trap

The Citrus Tower is near Clermont, Florida on US Hwy 27. It opened on July 14, 1956. The tower sits on a hill—yes there are hills in Florida—at some 200 feet above sea level, and is 226 feet high with two floors – the main floor and the top floor. Originally, the top floor was open-air, but over the years it has been enclosed with glass on all four sides with air conditioning to make it comfortable for visitors. When it first opened, the view from the top was miles and miles of orange groves (thus the name Citrus Tower) and lakes. Now the view is all rooftops, roads and lakes – no orange groves in sight.

Upon entering the first floor, there is a coffee shop. I quickly scanned the menu, and the prices seemed reasonable. We didn’t purchase anything from the coffee shop, though. There was a video playing on a loop showing the construction and opening of the tower as well as the original views from the top (those were the days…). Postcards were $3.00 each, which I found to be outrageous! (No, I did not buy one…) The price to ride in the elevator to the top floor was, in my opinion, excessive. Adults were $11; seniors $10. Because Carl hounded me for weeks about visiting the Citrus Tower, we decided to pay the hefty price of $21 plus tax to ride to the top.

What a disappointment. The elevator ride was fine. The view was boring in all four directions. What used to be citrus groves in all directions are now shopping centers, housing developments, and roads. You can see other areas off in the distance—downtown Orlando,  a chain of lakes, and, on good day, maybe a rocket lunch from Cape Canaveral.

I was not happy that we spent the money to go to the top, and you are welcome to enjoy a few pictures here so you can save your money!

Haven of Beauty

The 205-foot-tall Bok Tower was built in 1929 and is situated within 250 acres of gardens, nature trails, and a bird sanctuary in Lake Wales, Florida. The tower structure itself has beautiful detail. It is a tower to be viewed and listened to from the outside, but not to climb. The interior consists of (from bottom to top) the Founder’s Room, an archive area, water cisterns, a workshop space, a Carillon Library, the Carillon studio, the playing cabin, and the bell chamber. A Carillon is an instrument comprised of bells, and the Bok Tower has 23 bells. Every day at 1:00pm and 3:00pm, the singing tower plays a 30-minute concert. (Click here to hear a short bit of the singing tower’s concert.)

There is a café on site, along with a visitor center and a shop. Various events, like classes, other concerts, and weddings take place regularly. Adult admission is $17 for the day and is worth every penny. We did not ask if Carl’s Senior Park Pass (or, for that matter, a regular national park pass) would have worked there (giving us free or discounted admission), but we think it would have. It doesn’t hurt to ask when you go! For those who have the national “museum pass” – Yes! Your admission would be free or discounted.

We did not have the chance to explore the entire acreage the day we went. We were moving to a new RV park that day so we had the Airstream in tow, and Carl was not feeling too well. However, there is plenty of parking and miles of nature trails. Plan to spend several hours there enjoying the outdoors, the gardens, the koi pond, the Carillon concerts, and more.

And so the story goes…

The visitors of Bok Tower enjoyed a peaceful, beautiful day. Those who visited the Citrus Tower wanted their money back.

The End