Callaway Gardens … There’s no place like it

August 8, 2011 · 0 comments

in Best Road Trips, Road Trip Ideas

Callaway Gardens defies descriptions that are not extremely complex.

Callaway Gardens is a “Garden of Eden, created by the Callaway family from wasteland that had been decimated from years of cotton farmers who had no idea they were destroying the land.

We just returned from our eighth trip to Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA. We first went there in 1964 on our “honeymoon” trip. We returned as our children grew. Then a few years ago we started trips with our grandchildren. You may not expect a child to enjoy a garden, but there is more to Callaway Gardens than the name implies. Inside The Gardens is a world-class mountain resort. Callaway Gardens has attractions and activities to excite any mind and as you know, excitement invigorates the body. We have a way of greeting our company down south, we say: “We’ll treat you so many ways you’re bound to like one of them.” That seems to be the sentiment of the staff of Callaway Gardens. Callaway Gardens is a not profit organization dedicated to connecting man and nature in a way that benefits both. It is a place of pleasing, beauty and wonder. It is a place of purpose and enduring pleasure.

Scenic Drive in Callaway Gardens

Georgia is a beautiful state, but this very special place is my choice. This beautiful 14,000 acre garden is located on US Highway 27 in Pine Mountain, GA, just a hop, skip and a jump off I-85 and I-185 between Atlanta and Columbus, GA. The City of Pine Mountain, GA compliments with a small but adequate variety of amenities for travelers. This is not an overpowering tourist-type town. But it has a friendly atmosphere, a soda fountain, local Bar B Q and other eateries, antique and gift shops, gas stations, a Dollar Store and a grocery store.I’ll highlight some local attractions in a separate article on Pine Mountain, GA and the surrounding area.

Here’s a good question: Why would anyone choose to visit the same place eight times? Well, I can answer that! But believe me … no one can describe Callaway Gardens. You have to visit in person to take in its magical beauty and awe inspiring charm. It’s the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen and it gets prettier each year. Although it is already the most beautiful garden imaginable, the staff never stops dreaming, improving and tweaking it. Callaway Gardens is a grand exemplar of the beauty that can be achieved when God and man work together.

To help you “see” Callaway Gardens I am writing this ‘main article’ on our Callaway Gardens experience as a starting point. Hopefully you will want to learn more than I can put in a single article. As I add extensions I’ll put links in this article so you can get to the features that interest you.

You can stay right in the Resort Facility

Rooms are reasonably priced in Callaway Gardens. The Mountain Creek Inn has clean, comfortable motel-styled rooms, a swimming pool, restaurants and a bar. Rooms have either a King-size bed or two double beds. But if  this doesn’t meet your needs, you have options. There is the Lodge and Spa, Mountain Creek Villas, Camp Callaway and Mountain View Golf Cottages, all are part of Callaway Gardens. You can even buy a home within the property. Admission to Callaway Gardens is included for guests.

In The Gardens you can eat at the Beach Pavilion restaurant, the Beach Bar, Champions, Country Kitchen, Discovery Cafe, Gardens Restaurant, Plant Room, Rockin’ Robin’s Malt Shop and Pizzeria, and The Vineyard Green Restaurant and Spirits. Our favorite is The Country Kitchen which is located inside The Country Store just south of The Gardens on US Hwy 27. The Country Store offers two breathtaking views and The Country Kitchen has good Southern Cooking. Restaurants in The Gardens serve food produced from their vegetable gardens.

You will have ample opportunities to buy souvenirs of Callaway Gardens from the gift shops. Gift shops are located in The Day Butterfly Center, Callaway Gardens Country Store, The Discovery Center, Sibley Horticultural Center and The Sand Bucket. There are also arts and crafts placed here and there.

It is difficult to group all the features in a manner which doesn’t overlap. There is just so much to see and do! Some things are seasonal, others are perennial and unaffected by season changes. But some flowers blossom in spring, summer, winter or autumn. Each season yields new character and color. This area is in the Appalachian Mountains and Fall Colors from native hardwoods are spectacular. Azaleas bloom in February to March and the Azalea Bowl is spectacular.

Beginning November 18 through year-end you can see a dazzling, unique holiday extravaganza. Christmas is a season of its own as Callaway Gardens becomes the Fantasy In Lights … a tour like no other. More than 8 millions lights create a jaw-dropping panorama of exciting color in 14 holiday scenes. It will be late when you finish so plan to spend the night. 

Children love Robin Lake Beach, Aqua Island, Light Striker Lazer Tag, Blaster Boats, water-skiing, wakeboarding or tubing. Adults may prefer a beach chair and umbrella to relax at Robin Lake Beach. Robin Lake Beach boasts the world’s largest inland man-made beach. Each Summer a group of students from Florida State University produce a Three Ring Circus show. The entire cast is made up of students. They do all the prep work and perform in acts of skill and daring. You see Acrobatics, Juggling, Comedy, Jump Roping, and other amazing acts of daring. 26 Students are chosen from the 100+ who are enrolled in this extracurricular course at FSU. It is worth the trip just to experience the circus. The Ringmaster does a Ring-masterful Job of keeping the show moving and making you wish that “All your days will be Circus Days!”

A broad range of activities surrounds The Discovery Center. Here you find the Day Butterfly Center, Horticultural Center, Birds of Prey, The Treetop Experience (which is Zipline on Hormones) the Pioneer Log Cabin and the list goes on.

Like to fish? You can fish insome of  the dozen lakes.

Callaway Gardens was founded by the parents of US Congressman/Secretary of the Army Bo Callaway who also created Crested Butte Ski Resort. The Callaway name is also connected to Callaway Golf which was created by Ely R. Callaway, a nephew to Cason Callaway. So as you would expect, … golf hits the big-time in The Gardens. Two elegant PGA courses wind their way through Callaway Gardens; Lake View and Mountain View Golf courses. You can also visit the Mountain View Clubhouse or the Twin Oaks Golf Practice Facility.

Walking and Bicycle trails abound through woods, across roads and over hill and dale. Some trails have guided tours, while on other jaunts you take your time and go at your own pace. One “must” visit is the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel where you can hear an afternoon concert on the  beautiful pipe organ.

Special exhibits highlight The Discovery Center … Butterflies, Birds of Prey, Horticulture, Gardening and dozens of other subjects. It requires a published daily agenda  of events to keep guests apprised of what happens each day. Click here to read Birds of Prey … And a TreeTop Experience at Callaway Gardens.

I can't possibly say it all in one article. I will expand this as quickly as possible.

Until next time you keep rolling up miles and dialing up smiles.

Bill Taylor

 

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