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Georgia’s Callaway Gardens, A Family Experience

Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel
Robin Lake beach

When I was a child my family spent summer weeks in the Appalachians hiking, fishing and just laying back. The world seemed to move slower back then with days spent on simple pleasures. Rocking on the porch in the evening. Taking a bike ride along a wooded trail. Canoeing across a mountain lake. Wouldn’t it be nice to return to those days if only for a short time? A few years back our family discovered how.

Trail around Robin Lake
Callaway Discovery Center
The Gardens Restaurant seen from the boathouse
Labor Day Weekend Balloon Launch

Welcome to Callaway Gardens. Located seventy miles southwest of Atlanta in Pine Mountain, Georgia, a delightful throwback to an age that seems to have all but disappeared. While the Gardens still draw crowds to special events like a hot air balloon event every Labor Day and a national water skiing competition there is plenty to recommend this interesting attraction all year round.

Bike trail bridge
Trails thru the Pine Cabins
The Lodge& Spa entrance

The Gardens include miles of hiking and bicycling trails thru a number of habitats. A butterfly center where typically 1,000 or more butterflies flutter freely about in one of North America’s largest tropical butterfly conservatories. Several lakes for fishing, boating and water sports including Robin Lake beach with a recreation area, snack bar and weekend concerts in the summer. There are also a number of good restaurants associated with the property including:

  • Piedmont Dining Room – Located at the Spa Resort it’s open for breakfast, lunch, dinner. No matter the meal the Piedmont Dining Room has something delicious in store for you.
  • Country Kitchen – Tucked inside the historic Callaway Gardens Country Store, the Country Kitchen specializes in down-home Southern dishes.
  • Cason’s Tap Room – Cason’s offers handcrafted cocktails, modern Southern cuisine and the latest craft beers on tap.
  • Discovery Café – This eatery in the Callaway Discovery Center is a wonderful spot for a light lunch or snack in the Gardens. Sit outdoors on the deck overlooking the lake.
  • Robin Lake Beach Dining – A summertime favorite overlooking Robin Lake Beach, the Beach Pavilion is the place to cool off with cold drinks and ice cream or grab a quick bite.

Accommodations at the Gardens include The Lodge and Spa, The Mountain Creek Inn along with rental Pine Cottages and rental villas.

There are a number of activity programs like in the gardens. One of the most popular in Summer is the Family Adventure, focused on entertainment and activities for the whole family. There area also several championship golf courses and a regular nature show called Birds of Prey. At Christmas the Gardens attract crowds to Fantasy in Lights, one of the countries highest rated light displays. The gardens are also the Summer home of Florida State University’s student circus program.

Pioneer Log Cabin

One spectacular time at the Garden is Spring when the acres of Azaleas are in bloom. They line miles of trails and are featured in a couple of Azalea gardens. Two other special times to visit are in the Fall around late October and early November when the leaves are changing color and Christmas when the roads and trails are ablaze in millions of holiday lights and decorations.

Photo curtesy of FSU

Callaway is also the summer home of the Florida State University Flying High Circus which includes daily performances and also provides lessons to children in The Family Adventure program. The circus begins performing at Callaway Gardens the weekend after Memorial Day and generally runs until the first week in August. Weekly Performance Schedule: Monday – 3:30PM. Thursday – 3:30PM. Friday – 8:00PM. Saturday – 3:30PM and 8:00PM. Sunday – 3:30PM. Performances are free for guests of the Gardens.

Downtown Pine Mountain

Near the Gardens is town the of Pine Mountain with good antique shopping and a number of additional restaurants. Just a short drive away is the town of Warm Springs, Georgia that was the summer Whitehouse of FDR and is a National Historic Site open for tours.

Looking for an alternative to theme parks and tourist attraction crowds? Take the family for a little old fashioned fun in the South.

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