Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Get Away Close to Home

Callaway Gardens Beach Trip Saves Travelers Time and Money
—Shandra Hill Smith
For Arlanda James and her family, a recent visit to Callaway Gardens was perfect —with one exception. The mother, husband, daughter and son could have used more time to enjoy all the activities.

“There is so much to do there,” says James. “We did not make it to the some of the activities because there was just so much to keep us busy.”

The James family of Locust Grove made the trek down I-85S to Pine Mountain, Ga., for a summer getaway through Callaway Gardens’ Summer Beach Trip. The beach trip package is designed to help visitors save travel time and money, while not compromising fun. An overnight package starts at $99 and includes a one-night stay at the Mountain Creek Inn. The special (which runs through August 26) includes the following plus more: admission to Robin Lake Beach, the world’s largest inland, man-made white sand beach; unlimited admission to Aqua Island, a floating water playground; and perfomances of the Florida State University Flying High Circus

James says her children Sigriss and C.J. couldn’t get enough of Aqua Island, while she found the John A. Sibley Horticultural Center to be a personal favorite. She also enjoyed peaceful nature walks as well as the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center.

For a family of four, the opportunity to cook their own meals at the Southern Pine Cottages — which includes living and dining areas and a full kitchen — proved a bonus. “It was almost like being at home,” says James. “My husband barbecued on the grill both nights. The kids were so excited that they did want to come back home.”

Owned and operated by the nonprofit Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, Callaway Gardens includes a garden, resort, preserve and residential community on 13,000 acres in Pine Mountain. It’s located 60 minutes southwest of Atlanta. Highlights include a butterfly conservatory, horticultural center, discovery center, chapel, inland beach, nature trails and special events throughout the year.