Elegant Lodge Nestled in the Woodlands of Callaway Gardens
Callaway Gardens began as the dream of Cason and Virginia Callaway, who imagined an Eden-like place where man and nature could coexist. In 1952, they staked out a plot of land in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Over the years, that plot expanded to include 14,000 wooded acres filled with lakes, creeks, a butterfly habitat, and the blooming Azalea Bowl, one of the world's largest. Frommer's called it "one of the most beautiful spots in the South."
The Lodge & Spa at Callaway Gardens is nestled amid the Callaway Gardens campus, which encompasses a freshwater beach, two golf courses, and a spread of cottages and villas. Just a small part of this complex, The Lodge & Spa houses 150 guest rooms in a hotel appointed like an elegant southern estate, with cozy, refined furniture. Each room includes a private balcony that opens out onto the forest, and the interior reflects the natural surroundings with warm woods and brown-and-green linens.
The onsite Spa Prunifolia also takes its cue from nature; it's named after the prunifolia azalea that surrounds the facility. Organic Spa Magazine included it on the list of Top 10 Green Spas for its nature-based services, which include massages and botanical body treatments.
Most of the fruit and vegetables used by The Lodge & Spa's restaurant, Piedmont Grille, are grown on the grounds. The menu here skews toward upscale southern fare, such as slow-roasted prime rib served with a horseradish and roasted garlic cream sauce. Head to Ironwood Lounge for a cocktail beside the large stone fireplace, or sit outside on the patio with views of the gardens and deer and hummingbirds.
Pine Mountain, Georgia: Expansive Flower Gardens, Beaches, and Wildlife Parks
Located one hour southwest of Atlanta, Pine Mountain is a small southern town known for its quaint antique and handicraft shops. Today it's popular as the gateway to Callaway Gardens, which receives upwards of 700,000 visitors every year. The park has many attractions, but the 40-acre Azalea Bowl stands out for its thousands of hybrid azaleas that blanket the garden in red, white, and pink blooms. Another highlight, the butterfly center, encloses more than 1,000 butterflies in glass conservatory filled with tropical plants.
There's more to Callaway Gardens than the nature walks. The area also has paved biking trails and golf courses, and you can rent fishing boats at Mountain Creek Lake, or hit Robin Lake Beach⎯the world's largest inland manmade beach⎯for riverboat rides, circus shows, and miniature golf. Come around Christmastime to see millions of lights strung up throughout the woodlands during the Fantasy in Lights spectacle, which landed Callaway Gardens on National Geographic Traveler’s list of Top Places to See Holiday Lights.
Another point of interest around Pine Mountains is the Wild Animal Safari, a 250-acre site where you can come face-to-face with zebras, tigers, and American bison in a natural setting.
Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.