With a vision of pulling man closer to nature, the Callaway Gardens was founded by the couple Cason and Virginia Callaway, initially to promote and preserve native azalea species. It started as a retreat for the couple and eventually expanded to provide a relaxing, fun as well as an inspiring place to spend a family vacation at.
The Callaway Gardens is a resort complex situated in a 13,000 acre land that offers a wide variety of recreational activities and attractions for visitors of Pine Mountain, Georgia. The Gardens opened to the public on May 21, 1952 as the Ida Cason Gardens (named after Cason Callaway?s mother but was changed to Ida Cason Callaway Gardens in 1955) with a number of lakes, a golf course and scenic drives. A year after its opening, the Robin Lake Beach and the Overlook Azalea Garden became available to the visitors of the Gardens.
The Robin Lake Beach is the world?s largest man-made, white sand beach stretching a mile around Robin Lake. The beach serves as the venue of the summer program ?Summer Family Adventure?, and allows for swimming and sunbathing. Sports enthusiasts will find the beach interesting due to its miniature golf, table tennis, shuffleboard and volleyball. A concession area is available for hungry guests and they can bond with their families while enjoying their food on picnic tables found around the area. A store can provide for their basic vacation needs and equipment like johnboats, canoes and kayaks are also available for rent. Just recently, the Light Striker Laser Tag, a floating playground called Aqua Island and the Blaster Boats were introduced as additional attractions at the beach.
Adventure aficionados will definitely enjoy the 11 mile Discover Bike Trail that crosses through the wooden gardens and allows them to access all attractions readily. Bikes and helmets can be rented at the Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center. Meanwhile, those who prefer to walk while enjoying the scenery have five walking trails accessible. Or they can challenge themselves in an obstacle course, set in the tree canopy, called TreeTop Adventure featuring 20 aerial challenges and 5 zip lines.
Tourists will be enchanted with the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center that features about a hundred species of butterflies in an enclosed butterfly conservatory. The butterflies are imported from Malaysia, Costa Rica, the Philippines, and Tanzania while in the pupa stage. Aside from conservation, the Butterfly Center is also dedicated in educating the public about ecology and environmental issues and in inspiring them to get involved in saving the rainforests or to start their own butterfly gardens.
The Callaway Gardens hosts several seasonal events such as festivals, tournaments, races, fairs and symposiums. The first event that took place here was the Masters Water-ski Tournament which held its first competition in 1959 and is now an annual event. In 1985 the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens ran its first race, another annual event held in the Gardens. "Fantasy in Lights", an extravagant Christmas light display first presented in 1992. The Azalea Bowl and the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival both premiered in 1999. Guests may participate and learn about gardening in the Southern Gardening Symposium and Callaway Gardening School and save a lot on plant purchases during the Annual Plant Fair & Sale.
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