AAA Editor Notes
Callaway Gardens, 15880 SR 18, covers 6,500 acres in the foothills of the Appalachians. Founded in 1952 by industrialist Cason J. Callaway, the gardens feature beautiful plant and flower displays and miles of scenic woodland drives. Attractions include an early 1800s log cabin, the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel and the Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center. The center offers a daily birds of prey show and serves as an information center for Callaway’s recreational opportunities, which include golf, miniature golf, bicycling, walking, swimming, fishing, boating and tennis. Also available on the grounds is TreeTop Adventure, a course of aerial challenges and ziplines through the tree tops.
The gardens contain native azaleas, once plentiful in the natural woodlands of the Southeast. These rare varieties, usually purer in color than cultivated shrubs, display brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. There also are hundreds of cultivated azalea varieties found in the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl, purported to be the world's largest azalea garden, and the Overlook Azalea Garden, both of which bloom in spring. The 5-mile Scenic Drive winds around Mountain Creek Lake, where canoes, kayaks, paddleboats and fishing boats are available for rent. Geocache stations also are available.
The grounds are the site of many events, including a steeplechase, fairs, concerts and the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival, held Labor Day weekend. A large man-made sand beach borders Robin Lake, site of the Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament, a premier water ski tournament that takes place Memorial Day weekend, and shows featuring the Florida State University Flying High Circus (daily except Tues.-Wed., late May-late July). From mid-November through late December, Callaway's Fantasy In Lights bedecks Callaway with a holiday display of more than 8 million lights.
Recreational activities are permitted. Picnicking is permitted. Food is available.
$24.95; $21.95 (ages 65+); $14.95 (ages 6-12); free (active and retired military with ID and spouse and half-price up to four guests in one vehicle). TreeTop Adventure admission $35. There are separate fees for special events. Phone ahead to confirm rates.
Gardens open daily 9-6, third Sat. in Mar.-Sun. before Labor Day; 9-5, rest of year. Hours may vary early Jan. Phone ahead to confirm schedule. Allow 4 hours minimum.