Tourists travelled long distances to see the many lush gardens that Florida had to offer. As a result of Florida's mild climate and long growing season, profiteers were able to create colorful and lavish gardens out of the state's swamps and pine forests. Roadside attractions with gardens differed from public parks and gardens in that they were smaller in size and they were not strictly botanic.
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L-R: Mrs. Coolidge, President Calvin Coolidge, Mrs. Edward Bok, Mr. Bok at Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower dedication on February 1, 1929.
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Bok Tower was constructed by the Pulitzer Prize winning editor of Ladies Home Journal, Edward Bok. Dedicated on February 1, 1929, Bok Tower became one of the first major tourist attractions in Florida during the automobile age. The tower was constructed to cover irrigation tanks used to water the gardens on site. Bok Tower is a Historic Landmark that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The marble and coquina stone tower contains 60 bronze bells weighing from 17 pounds to more than 11 tons.
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Entrance to 80 acres of natural jungle setting with more than 2,500 varieties of rare plants, including pelican flowers from Guatemala, mahogany from Africa, giant bamboo from the Far East, and Australian tree ferns. Wildlife exhibits include colorful macaws from Brazil, graceful flamingos from the West Indies, talking parrots from Mexico, mynah birds from India, African crowned cranes, acrobatic monkeys, and playful Florida otters. A large walk-in bird aviary allows visitors to see many tropical birds up close. The large Orchidarium holds thousands of orchids in all colors, shapes, and sizes.
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One of Florida's finest naturalistic attractions with enchanting trails and strange exotic beauty at every turn: pelican flowers from Guatemala, mahogany trees from Africa, giant bamboo from the Far East, and Australian tree ferns. Wildlife exhibits include macaws, flamingos, parrots, mynah birds, cranes, monkeys, and otters. During World War II the U.S. Navy used McKee Jungle Gardens for training pilots in jungle survival.
"Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission $1.85 for adults and 50 cents for children ages 5 to 14."
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Folk-architect and co-founder of the McKee Jungle Gardens.
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Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida, was founded in 1936 by Dick and Julie Pope. By the 1950s, Cypress Gardens became one of the biggest roadside tourist attractions in Florida.
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Accompanying note "Beauty among the many varieties of roses found in the rose gardens of world famous Cypress Gardens"
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Founded in 1936 by Dick and Julie Pope, Cypress Gardens was the state's first theme park. Proclaimed the Water Ski Capitol of the World, Cypress Gardens became the birthplace of performance water skiing in 1941.