Tag Archives: Florida Attractions

Bok Tower Gardens – Lake Wales, FL

Bok Tower Gardens is a botanical garden and bird sanctuary, located north of Lake Wales, Florida. It consists of a 250-acre garden, the 205-foot tall Singing Tower with its carillon bells, Pine Ridge Trail, Pinewood Estate, and a visitor center. The tower was built upon Iron Mountain, one of the highest points of peninsular Florida, estimated to be 295 feet above sea level. It is a National Historic Landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Bok Tower Gardens is open daily and an admission fee is charged.

History

The gardens began in 1921 when a Dutch immigrant, Edward W. Bok, editor of the popular women’s magazine Ladies Home Journal and his wife, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, were spending the winter beside Florida’s Lake Wales Ridge and decided to create a bird sanctuary on its highest hill. Bok commissioned noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. to transform what then was an arid sand hill into “a spot of beauty second to none in the country”.

The Gardens

Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. designed the meandering gardens of Bok Tower Gardens to feature acres of ferns, palms, oaks, pines, and wetland plants. The plantings also include camellias, tree ferns, creeping fig, yaupon and dahoon holly, Asiatic jasmine, justicia, crinum and spider lily, monstera, wax myrtle, date and sabal palm, papyrus, philodendron, blue plumbago, and horsetail rush. The site is a refuge for more than a hundred bird species. Wild turkey and groups of sandhill cranes are also often seen wandering the grounds.

The Singing Tower

The Singing Tower is the centerpiece of the gardens. The tower was built at the highest elevation of the site, south of a reflection pool that allows the water to reflect its full image. A 60-bell carillon set within the 205-foot tall, Gothic Revival and Art Deco tower that was designed by architect Milton B. Medary. The tower is 51 feet square at its base, changing form at 150 feet high to an octagon with 37 feet sides that include sculptures designed by Lee Lawrie. The tower is surrounded by a 15-foot moat that serves as a Koi pond. It is built of pink Etowah marble and gray Creole marble, mined in Tate, Georgia, and Florida native coquina stone, from Daytona Beach, Florida.

Although the tower’s interior is not open to the public, it contains the Anton Brees Carillon Library, said to be the largest carillon library in the world. Inside the bell chamber is a playing room that houses a clavier that is used for playing the carillon bells. Recitals are given daily from the 60-bell carillon set.

Pine Ridge Trail

The Pine Ridge Nature Preserve and Trail is an ecosystem typified by an over-story of Longleaf Pine and a dense groundcover of perennial grasses that includes a nature trail that extends for three-quarters of a mile, a bog garden, an open glade, and a sandhill forest community.

Pinewood Estate

8 acres of the Gardens include the Pinewood Estate, which features a twenty-room Mediterranean Revival mansion. This mansion was built between 1930-1932 by C. Austin Buck, vice-president of Bethlehem Steel Co. in Pennsylvania, as a winter residence. Its original name was “El Retiro”, and it has been restored to its 1930s appearance. The sanctuary features several events at this mansion during the year. Guided tours of the 20 room Mediterranean-style mansion are given daily.

Events

Throughout the year, there are numerous events designed to draw visitors to the Gardens. These events include various concerts featuring jazz, orchestras, and the carillon bells of the Tower. The most popular are the semi-annual symphony concerts, given in the evening once in the Fall and once in the Spring. These events draw thousands of visitors to the large field in front of the Tower for an outdoor picnic; and feature music from both the symphony orchestra and carillon bells.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Bok Tower Gardens, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

Busch Gardens – Tampa Bay, FL

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a 335-acre, 19th century African-themed animal theme park located in the city of Tampa, Florida. It opened on March 31, 1959 as an admission-free hospitality facility for Tampa Anheuser-Busch; in addition to various beer tastings they had, a bird garden and the Stairway to the Stars which was an escalator that took guests to the roof of the brewery.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is divided into themed areas. The Serengeti Express (a replica steam train) runs along the back end of the park and makes stops at the Nairobi, Congo and Stanleyville themed areas. The Skyride transports guests between Crown Colony and Stanleyville.

Morocco

The park’s main entrance is home to the Mystic Sheiks of Morocco brass and percussion ensemble. Treats can be purchased at the Sultan’s Sweets and the Zagora Cafe. The Moroccan Palace, a 1,200 seat indoor theatre is located here, as well as the outdoor Marrakesh Theater. Gwazi is the major ride in this area. Gwazi, a 105-foot , 50 mph dueling wooden roller coaster named after a mythological creature with the head of a tiger and the body of a lion opened. The dueling sides consist of a lion side and a tiger side, which cross paths seven times.

Bird Gardens

This area is mostly gardens and animal exhibits and shows. “Walkabout Way” is themed as an Australian outpost.  This area which is the Bird Gardens give guests the chance to see and hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies. In addition this area is home a kookaburra, magpie geese and Australian black swans. This experience is open to all guests 5 years of age or older.

Stanleyville

This section of the park is home to the park’s water rides and SheiKra, a Dive Coaster. The Stanley Falls Flume and Tanganyika Tidal Wave is also located in Stanleyville.

Congo

This section contains two of the park’s more popular rides. Kumba, meaning roar in Swahili, is a 143-foot steel sit-down roller coaster with seven inversions. It still remains a popular ride today. Other rides in the Congo include The Congo River Rapids, a water ride that simulates raging whitewater rapids, and Ubanga Banga Bumper Cars, a bumper cars ride.

Jungala

Jungala is a 4-acrefamily attraction featuring up-close animal encounters, rope bridges to explore three stories of jungle life, and a water-play area for children. Also located in this area are two family attractions: Jungle Flyers, a zip line that offers three different flight patterns above the treetops of the new area, and Wild Surge, a shot tower that launches guests above a waterfall. Another attraction is Tiger Trail, which is a walkthrough with tigers where there is also a glass turret where you can look out right in the middle of the tiger enclosure. Stiltwalkers perform and interact with guests in the heart of Jungala during several parts of the day.

Timbuktu

Timbuktu is a section themed after the malls and bazaars of Africa. Attractions here include Timbuktu Theater, The Desert Grill, and the park’s family-friendly Sand Serpent wild mouse roller coaster. Rides include the Scorpion, a sit-down roller coaster with one vertical loop, Sand Serpent, a steel wild mouse roller coaster, Phoenix, a looping starship themed as an Egyptian cargo vessel. Other attractions include Sesame Street Film Festival, and Caravan Carousel, a carousel with horses, camels, and chariots

Nairobi

Alligators and crocodiles can be observed here up close. In Curiosity Cavern, guests can view mammal and reptile exhibits. Visitors to Nairobi can view injured or abandoned newborns at the Nairobi Field Station Animal Nursery. The area also contains Myombe Reserve, a tropical rainforest that is home to Western Lowland Gorillas and Common Chimpanzees. The major ride here is Rhino Rally, an unpredictable off-road safari. Rhino Rally, a River Adventure ride, where riders board inside modified Land Rovers through the park’s Serengeti Plain habitat, interacting with animals.

Crown Colony Plaza

Crown Colony is the smallest section of the park. It features a restaurant, the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster, and the Skyride station.

Egypt

Bedouin tents and authentic handicrafts and art create an Egyptian marketplace feel. Guests can visit a replica of King Tutankhamen’s tomb with the excavation in progress. The primary attraction of the Egypt themed area is Montu, an inverted steel coaster. Montu, named after the Egyptian Falcon God of War, is a 150-foot steel inverted roller coaster with seven inversions.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

Seaworld- Orlando, FL

SeaWorld Orlando is a theme park, and marine-life based zoological park, in Orlando, Florida. When combined with its neighbor Discovery Cove and Aquatica, it forms Seaworld Parks and Resorts Orlando, an entertainment complex consisting of the three parks and many neighboring hotels and eateries.

Unlike most other theme parks, SeaWorld Orlando is not fully divided into dedicated themed “lands” or sections. There are instead individually themed attractions and select themed areas of the park including the following:

Main Entrance

The main entrance of the park features a Florida-inspired theme with lush tropical landscaping and a large artificial freshwater marina with a Shamu-themed iconic lighthouse. The theme of the main entrance area integrates into the nearby Key West at SeaWorld area with similar architecture and landscaping. The Manta attraction and aquarium exhibit is also near the main entrance area.

Key West at SeaWorld

Key West at SeaWorld is designed to mimic the appearance of the city of Key West, Florida with architecture and landscaping reminiscent of the area. Animal exhibits in this portion of the park include cownose rays, southern stingrays, green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, greater flamingos, West Indian manatees, American alligators and brown pelicans. The stingray and dolphin habitats offer opportunities for guests to feed the animals.

Shamu’s Happy Harbor

Shamu’s Happy Harbor is a children’s area hosted by Shamu, the park’s killer whale mascot. The area is located adjacent to Shamu Stadium and features family activities including Shamu Express (a junior rollercoaster), a net climbing structure, and a water play area.

The Waterfront at SeaWorld

The Waterfront is the newest themed area of the park, the area resembles a seaside Mediterranean village and contains shops, restaurants, and a pearl dive exhibit, as well as the park’s iconic Sky Tower ride which was integrated into the theme of The Waterfront village when the new area opened in 2003.

Wild Arctic

The Wild Arctic indoor pavilion serves as a combined attraction which includes a motion simulator or film followed by an indoor animal exhibit hosting Polar bears, Beluga whales, and Pacific walrus. The area is themed after an exploration base camp located in the cold elements of the arctic with features including ice walls and a sunken ship trapped in ice that leads to an underwater viewing area of the animal exhibits.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article SeaWorld Orlando, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

Titusville, Florida

Titusville is a quiet community situated between I-95 and the Atlantic Ocean. A river does run through it – the scenic Indian River! From its banks you can find marvelous spots to fish and view spectacular space shuttle launches. You can reach Titusville from I-95 exits 79 and 80.

Places to Stay

Several of the major hotel chains do business here, including Best Western and Holiday Inn. For an inexpensive stay right on the highway, try the Luck’s Way Inn, 3655 Cheney Hwy. (SR 50), Titusville. Take I-95 exit 79 and head west at the end of the ramp. For a great view of the Indian River and shuttle launches, try the Holiday Inn Kennedy Space Center, 4951 S. Washington Ave. (US 1), Titusville.
For RVers, there are many nice resorts. The Great Outdoors provides RV sites for camping and if you like it you can build a home there. The resort also offers an 18-hole, 71-par championship golf course and aqua range which are open to the public for play. Try the Great Outdoors website at http://www.tgoresort.com, call them at 1-800-621-2267, or e-mail info@tgoresort.com.
There is also a brand new resort at the north border of Titusville called Seasons In The Sun; check the website at http://www.seasonsinthesunrvresort.com, call 1-877-687-7275, or contact them by e-mail at SeasonsInTheSnRV@aol.com.

Places to Eat

Titusville abounds with places to eat. A must-try for barbeque is Sonny’s Bar-B-Q, 2900 Cheney Hwy. (SR 50), right across from the Wal-Mart. Take exit 79 and head east at the end of the ramp.
For a taste of Southern charm, try Kloiber’s Cobbler Eatery, 337 S. Washington Ave. (US 1), Titusville. Take exit 79, head east on Cheney Hwy. (SR 50); at the Indian River, turn north (left) on Washington Ave. (US 1). You will go north for several miles through the city to the downtown district; once in the downtown district, Kloiber’s will be on the right, just south of Garden Street (SR 406).
A trip to Titusville is not complete without a stop at Dixie Crossroads, 1475 Garden St. (SR 406), Titusville. Take exit 80; at the end of the ramp head east on Garden Street (SR 406). Dixie Crossroads is across from the 7-Eleven, one block west of the intersection of Garden and Park. This beautifully landscaped restaurant specializes in seafood.
There are several chain restaurants at exit 79 (SR 50).

Places to See

Titusville is the place to go if you want to see space shots. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center can be accessed from exit 79. Go east on Cheney Hwy. (SR 50); in front of Wal-Mart turn right onto Columbia Blvd. (SR 405) and proceed directly to the launch pads.
The Astronaut Hall of Fame and U.S. Space Camp are on the way there.

Getting Around

Titusville has five major roadways as reference points: I-95 running north and south; Washington Ave. (US 1) running north and south along the Indian River; Cheney Hwy. (SR 50) off exit 79 which runs east and west; Garden Street (SR 406), which runs east and west off exit 80; and SR 405, which is known as Columbia Blvd. to the south of Cheney Hwy. and South Street to the north of Cheney Hwy.