Nestled in the foothills of Georgia's Appalachian countryside is Pine Mountain, a small town home to less than 1,500 people as of the 2020 census. Those unfamiliar with this scenic small town might be wondering what more there is to do other than explore its surrounding nature but might be surprised to know that a grand resort and garden exists there.
Callaway Resort & Gardens first opened in 1952 and has been open ever since as one of southern Georgia's most scenic destinations. When the Callaway family came up with the idea to share their stunning nature retreat with the rest of the world, no one ever dreamed that it would become something that survived decades to become a longtime staple in Pine Mountain's history.
In addition to its beautiful gardens, Callaway is known for its premier resort, TreeTop Adventures, scenic hikes, tranquil beach, and other summer activities. During the holidays, visitors can also look forward to seasonal events such as light shows, pumpkin festivals, flower shows, and more. Here's why Callaway Gardens is still such a dream destination, exactly 70 years later.
About Callaway Resort & Gardens And Its History In Pine Mountain, Georgia
The beautiful thing about Callaway Gardens is that the entire Callaway family had a hand in turning it into what it is today. The idea began when Cason Callaway and his wife Virginia, founders of Callaway Gardens, saw a need for a place where both man and nature could coexist in a serene environment. As time went on, future members of the Callaway family continued this tradition, creating something truly wonderful in Georgia's Appalachian foothills.
The inspiration for Callaway Gardens came from Blue Springs, where the family had a weekend retreat. The land was discovered by Cason and Virginia while picnicking with friends, and its name came from the bright blue waters of the spring they'd stumbled upon. While the family had created an empire with their textile business, Cason was thinking toward the future, often wondering if the same joy they derived from Blue Springs could translate to an escape for the public. Thus, the idea for Callaway Gardens was born.
What began as an easy weekend retreat soon grew as Cason purchased the land surrounding Blue Springs. A large cabin was built, intended to be a weekend getaway for couples seeking the tranquility of Georgia's rural mountain countryside. Eventually, Cason grew a reputation for being one of the leading agriculturalists in the area, drawing attention to his innovative farming and the skills he found himself teaching to others. After his passing, Virginia took on the mantle, continuing the journey into gardening that Cason had started. After her passing in 1995, 50 acres of the land were donated to the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation - a foundation named after Cason's mother, which shares the same name as the very first lake he'd ever created on the property.
- Fact: Today, the property at Callaway Gardens spans 2,500 acres.
What Visitors Can Do At Callaway Resort & Gardens
There is a seemingly infinite number of activities to do at Callaway Gardens, not limited to nature walks and actually exploring its incredible garden displays. While many people come from all over to experience its beauty, there's plenty of excitement to be had through the other activities this cozy and modern resort offers.
Natural Beauty, Hiking, Gardens, And Parks At Callaway Gardens
USA Today named Callaway Resort & Gardens the 'Best Georgia Attraction' back in 2018, and as far as we're concerned, it still is one of the best. Along with stunning nature walks, Callaway Gardens is also home to a wildlife display, a beach, a butterfly center, biking and hiking trails, and several historic buildings that are open for tours. Details about each are as follows:
- Callaway Discovery Center: Recommended by Callaway Gardens as the ideal place to start any tour of its gardens, the Discovery Center is part memorial to the late Virginia Hand Callaway, and part nature observatory and learning center.
- Birds of Prey: Found within the Callaway Discovery Center, this is where visitors can get an up-close look at some of Georgia's most impressive bird species. Most-talked-about activity by former visitors.
- Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center: On average, visitors will find more than 1,000 butterflies fluttering around this exhibit at any given time.
- Overlook Azalea Garden: The best time to visit this garden is during the spring when the azalea bushes are bursting forth with vibrant color.
- Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl: Another unique garden home to 40 acres of beautiful azalea bushes featuring serene nature paths around its colorful landscaping.
- Biking and Nature Trails: With more than ten miles of hiking and biking to explore, there's no better place to do it than Callaway Gardens when the flowers are in peak bloom.
- Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel: This stunning chapel is a historic tribute to Cason Callaway's mother, and features fieldstone quartz with beautiful, nature-themed stained-glass details.
- Pioneer Log Cabin: For those interested in the way life was during the 19th century at Callaway Gardens, this historic cabin is ready to help them step back in time.
- Meadowlark Garden: Named one of the world's Top 25 displays of both Asian and American holly, it's a vibrant floral nature walk that's unlike any other.
- Thornhill Hydrangea Garden: It's recommended to add this to the itinerary before or after visiting the butterfly center in order to fully appreciate these incredible hydrangea blooms.
- Robin Lake Beach: A popular destination during the summer, Robin Lake Beach is home to a plethora of water activities, calm waters for swimming, and a sandy shore for sunbathing or enjoying the scenery.
- TreeTop Adventure & Ziplines: This aerial obstacle course is open all year round and offers three different options for visitors looking to stretch their legs and test their agility. The courses mix traditional obstacles with ziplining, making for a thrilling adventure for the entire family.
Signature Events At Callaway Gardens
Those visiting Callaway Gardens during any one of their signature events are in for a vacation that will undoubtedly be full of great memories. The resort plays host to both seasonal and traditional, Callaway-specific festivals, including:
- Spring FlowerFest: As its name implies, when Callaway Gardens is in full bloom, the fun begins with a number of traditional activities and nature walks.
- Memorial Day Weekend - Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament: Come and watch some of the most talented athletes perform water ski and wakeboard tricks for the crowd!
- Summer Family Adventure: Described as a 'summer camp for the entire family,' this event is a must for those visiting Pine Mountain in the summer.
- July 4th Weekend Star Spangled Beach Party: This all-American event occurs throughout an entire weekend featuring fireworks and more.
- Labor Day Weekend Fireworks & Hot Air Balloon Glow Nights: As hot air balloons rise over Robin Lake Beach at night, onlookers can enjoy fireworks during their long weekend vacation.
- Pumpkins At Callaway: A special autumn event that only began in 2021, this festival includes themed experiences, games, dance parties, costume contests, and fall-themed food.
- Azalea Season: With more than 20,000 azaleas to see in full bloom, as well as Dogwoods, Crabapples, Tulips, and Daffodils, this is arguably the most scenic floral season at Callaway.
- Blue Morpho Butterfly Month: Now back by popular demand, this month-long display is all about one of the world's most stunning tropical butterfly species.
- The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens: With plenty of obstacles for those riding horseback, this event takes place in November and leaves onlookers in awe of its talented riders.
- Fantasy In Lights: Named one of the 'Top 10 Light Displays in the World' by National Geographic, this Christmas-at-Callaway light show is definitely not one to be missed.
- BirdFest: A two-day event for all things bird-related, including education, exhibits, demonstrations, and shows.
- Easter Weekend: Combining the magic of the holiday with nature at Callaway, Easter weekend is perfect for those seeking a springtime getaway.
Staying At Callaway Resort & Gardens
Callaway Resort & Gardens offers a number of options for those looking to book a stay on its beautiful grounds. The Lodge & Spa is home to 150 modern guest rooms and suites, which feature balconies overlooking the lake, woodlands, and gardens. With upscale amenities and first-class service, it's the perfect place to relax and unwind. Also featuring a cabana bar, swimming pool, a hot tub, and peaceful outdoor seating, this is also a great option for those interested in spending time at Robin Lake Beach, only a short walk away.
For those seeking a bit more room and plenty of privacy, The Cottages at Callaway present the perfect option. With a choice of two and four-bedroom cottage options, these spacious accommodations also feature a fireplace, cozy living space, a full kitchen, and a dining area. Screened porches allow guests to relax outdoors in the comfort of their cottage, and both Robin Lake Beach and the outdoor pool are only a short bike ride away.
In need of even more space or seeking a grand luxe experience? The Villas at Callaway are more than accommodating, each tucked away in the seclusion of Callaway's scenic woodlands. Available are two and four-bedroom villas, each of which offers the most in Callaway's luxury lodging only a short distance away from the main resort and gardens. With a spacious living area, a fully-outfitted kitchen, washer and dryer, a fireplace, a patio and/or sundeck, or a screened-in porch, this is the utmost in Pine Mountain relaxation.