Even though there is no ocean in middle Georgia, Callaway Gardens offers a summer beach for those times when the coast is not an option, or even when it might be. The beach is included at no additional cost for admission to the Gardens. Swimming, a children's playground, miniature golf and shuffleboard are among the activites offered at or near the beach. (Our apologies to Stone Mountain Park, Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona, which also offer sand near a large swimming hole.)
Photo: Special / Callaway Gardens
Photo: Special / Callaway Gardens

10 ways to play, eat and stay at Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens is more than a garden; it’s a resort filled with adventure and beauty. Spend the day or escape for a weekend, and you will have only scratched the surface. You’ve heard about bike riding on the azaleas-lined pathways or watching the colors fly inside the butterfly house, but what about these other 10 exciting activities? Pack your bags and head to Pine Mountain, where there are myriad ways to play, eat and stay.


Catch spectacular views of sunrise and sunset. 
Make your way over to The Country Kitchen for a breakfast of eggs Benedict, but be sure to do so before dawn. The most spectacular sunrise view is across from the eatery. Grab your cup of joe and enjoy Mother Nature’s alarm clock. In the evening hour, say goodbye to the day from the comfort of a rocking chair at Robin Lake Beach, where the sun puts on one last show before sinking beneath the trees.

Fly through the air on a trapeze
Visit in summer (June - July) when the circus comes to town – the FSU Flying High Circus. You’ll unleash your inner acrobat with a one-hour class, learning tricks of the trade and soaring through the clouds. Reservations are required for the class, and kiddos must be at least 7 years old.

Ride through rescued azalea in style
The Callaway Gardens logo represents the Plumleaf azalea, which was the impetus for the resort. Cason J. Callaway discovered the azalea while on a forest walk one summer, learned of its near extinction and then worked with his wife, Virginia, to develop the gardens knowing that their efforts would preserve this rare beauty. 
The red-orange blooms of the Plumleaf radiate color in July and August, and only within about a 100-mile radius of Callaway. To view the rare species, you can walk the azalea trails, ride bikes or a rent Callaway Cruiser – a four-seat golf cart allowing you to roam the gardens in style.

» RELATED: 5 trails for the whole family around Atlanta

Enjoy the gardensAzaleas are tops at Callaway, there's the Azalea Bowl and the Azalea Overlook Garden but the Meadowlark Garden features hollies and you can probably guess what you'll find at the Thornhill Hydrangea garden. You can also learn about butterfly gardening at the Day Butterfly Center. Really, the entire grounds are a garden.


Feast on the fried chicken 
Even the locals agree that the fried chicken at Callaway Gardens is delectable. You can order it from the menu every night at The Country Kitchen, or try it on the Saturday Southern Buffet in The Plant Room at the Mountain Creek Inn.

Purchase the official 1996 Olympic grits
Callaway Garden’s Country Store is one of only a handful of places you can purchase stone ground grits. Callaway’s grits, The Callaway Gardens Speckled Heart Grits, deliver a unique flavor that comes from grinding the heart of the corn, and tastes delicious enough to have been named the official grits of the 1996 Olympics.

Relax with a picnic in the garden
Guests of the Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens can pop in to the Callaway Discovery Center’s Cafe for a light lunch on the patio or get it to go for a picnic lunch, perfect for enjoying in the gardens. Spread out near the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel or underneath the TreeTop Adventure Course.

» RELATED: The 5 best brunches in Atlanta


Save when you slumber
When you stay the night at Callaway Gardens, admission to the gardens is included for the days you stay and the day of departure. Enjoy hotel-like amenities at Mountain Creek Inn, or spread out in the suite-style Southern Pine Cottages, with multiple bedrooms, a fireplace and full kitchen. Additional options include 2-, 3- or 4-bedroom villas and vacation homes, or the classic luxury of The Lodge and Spa.

Live in luxury at the gardensOnce you fall in love with Callaway Gardens, you don’t have to leave; you can live there. Select from homes on the golf course at Sky View Meadows or put down roots at Longleaf, where EarthCraft Certified homes offer environmentally friendly living options. Homes start in the high $200,000s.

Hike these 5 beginner-friendly waterfall trails in North Georgia. Video produced by Fiza Pirani/AJC.
Video: www.accessatlanta.com

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