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Since first opening its gates in 1932, Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia, has been a welcoming retreat. Today, it’s still an oasis of flora and fauna that beckons folks to trade their whirlwind schedules, smartphones, TVs, and tablets for bicycles, fishing poles, wooded trails, and the beauty of thousands of blooms.
Owned and operated by the non-profit Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, Callaway Gardens includes a resort, preserve, and residential community, and among its 13,000 acres of gardens, ponds, lake, golf course, and butterfly center, you’ll never run out of things to see and do. Yet the easy pace of the available activities and the serene setting make the experience refreshing instead of rushed.
Start your exploration at the Discovery Center to get your bearings and grab a bike. Callaway’s miles of bike trails have stops at all the major attractions and are a great way to traverse the property and immerse yourself in nature’s splendor, like the profusion of both native and exotic azaleas currently blanketing pieces of the property, including the aptly named Azalea Bowl. Remember to keep your eyes open for the abundant but often well-camouflaged wildlife that calls Callaway Gardens home.
Stop in the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, one of the country’s largest butterfly conservatories. Approximately 1,000 brightly hued and elaborately patterned tropical butterflies float on gossamer wings and alight on plants allowing you the unique opportunity to interact with more than fifty different species from around the world.
Learn more about the life cycles of all kinds of plants at the John A. Sibely Horticultural Center. Then take a stroll through Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden, a 7.5-acre demonstration plot named after Callaway Gardens’ founder, Cason J. Callaway. There’s a lot more than veggies pushing through the earth here, and the space was designed to encourage visitors to try gardening themselves.
Finally, take a rest in the deep shade outside the Ida Cason Callaway Chapel, and then head inside the charming chapel to get a glimpse of the colorful stained glass windows.
Callaway Gardens makes for a great day trip, but if you just can’t tear yourself away, you can spend the night. Callaway has multiple accommodation options ranging from hotel rooms in its Lodge (complete with a spa!) to two- , three- and four-bedroom cottages and villas.
No matter how you choose to spend your time at Callaway Gardens, there is one must-do: Fill your lungs full of the still-cool spring air and enjoy the gift of the outdoors.
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