Callaway Gardens, named after its founder Jason J. Callaway, is a 14,000-acre garden
at the very southern tip of the Appalachians in Pine Mountain, Georgia
. Callaway has a number of resorts and restaurants, and the basic makeup of the gardens include:
The Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center: Here one can find the orientation theater, explaining the evolution of Callaway, along with an education and lecture hall section, a gift shop and the Mountain Creek Cafe. It’s found on the edge of Mountain Creek Lake.
The Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center: This is my favorite place here, which I try to visit annually. A beautiful center where aprroximately 1,000 different species of butterflies float freely among tropical plants and birds. Walking through the center, butterflies surround the visitors and will sometimes land on you. Some of the butterflies are huge, painted with incredible color, and the entire place is just enrapturing.
The Horticultral Center: My second-favorite section of Callaway. A greenhouse which covers five acres of exotic plants. There’s a rock wall garden, sculpture garden, fern grotto, and an outdoor garden. Inside there is a 22-foot waterfall. This place is lit up spectaularly during the Christmas season.
The Vegetable Garden: Well, this of course is a garden full of vegetables. It is also the setting for the PBS show “The Victory Garden.”
The Azalea Bowl: A 40-acre garden which opened in the sprng of 1999, which carries more than 3,400 hybrid azaleas. (Pink, red and white galore, oh my!) These gardens also have a gazebo, a pavilion, and a stream running through one section with an arched bridge connecting the garden to the Discovery Center mentioned above.
Robin Lake Beach: This is the world’s largest man-made white sand beach. It stretches for one mile around the 65-acre Robin Lake, and along the beach you can find miniature golf, volleyball, shuffleboard, table tennis and paddle boats.
Also at Callaway you can find a 10-mile bike trail, countless nature trails, a gun club, and a fly-fishing program. For golfers at Callway there is the Mountain View Golf Course, where the PGA Tour’s Buick Challenge is held annually. Yearly events here include the Fantasy of Lights during the winter holiday season, an annual plant fair, the July 4th Surf and Sand Spectaular and the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival.
There are a number of places to dine in and around Callaway, though the most popular are probably The Country Kitchen and the Plantation Room. This is a popular place for conventions in and around Georgia, and extremely popular for weddings.
A one-day ticket at Callway is $12 for each adult, $6 for each child (12 or under). There are also special group rates cutting each person’s admission about $2 off, and special Bed and Breakfast and Extended stay packages. They are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. To get here form Atlanta, take 85 South to I-185 South, then take the U.S. 27 Exit. Turn left on Hwy. 27 and drive south 10 miles to Pine Mountain. Turn right into Ga. Hwy. 354 and go to Ga. Hwy 18. Turn left into Callaway Gardens.