Ten Things I Didn’t Know You Could Do at Callaway Gardens

 

Callaway Gardens is located about twenty minutes off of I-85 in Pine Mountain, Georgia so odds are that if you have driven to Atlanta from Pensacola, you have driven past signs telling you that Callaway Gardens is nearby.  It is just a short four hours north of Pensacola so it makes for a wonderful weekend getaway.

Did you know that Callaway Gardens is more than just a garden?  I didn’t until our recent visit.  I was expecting gardens much like Bellingrath in Theodore, Alabama or Alfred B. Maclay Gardens in Tallahassee where you wander through gardens, go for a walk, maybe ride a boat or see the home.  Boy, was I wrong!  When we started planning our trip, I was amazed at all of the different things that you can do at Callaway Gardens.

Stay on the grounds.  Little cottages, villas, rooms at the inn or the gorgeous lodge are a few of the lodging options available on the grounds of Callaway Gardens.  We stayed in a two bedroom unit in the Southern Pines Cottages.  These cute little cottages are hidden around the trees.  You are close to neighboring cottages but not close enough that it was too loud.  They are perfect for families, both large and small.  The two bedroom cottages have a small kitchen, dining area and living area as well as two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  There are decks off of both the living room and bedrooms where you watch the lightning bugs and stars light up the night.  Nearby is a pool, a Laundromat and a pizza parlor.

Go for a hike or ride a bike.  The expansive property of Callaway Gardens is full of places to hike or go for a bike ride.  A great way to get around Callaway Gardens is by bike but be prepared because it is very hilly and attractions are not as close to each other as they appear to be!  There are many different trails with varying levels of difficulty and length.  Our favorite walk was the walk from the Discovery Center to the Butterfly Center.  We were able to wander through the woods, walk over bridges, and spy turtles sunbathing in the water.

Spend time on a lake.  There are lots of ways to become one with nature at Callaway Gardens but my kids will tell you that their swimming time was their favorite activity.  There is swimming, kayaking, boating, water skiing, tubing, and so much more to keep you occupied and out in the sun all day long!

Zip line through the trees.  One of the newest additions at Callaway Gardens is the Treetop Adventure.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to try it out due partly to the fact that my children are too short and that the time slots filled up so quickly that they weren’t taking anymore signups for the day.  We did, however, spend some time watching other visitors shimmy from tree to tree over rickety bridges and zip across the path into the woods.  We were very impressed by the Treetop Adventure staff.  As one little girl slowly began to panic, we watched a staff member quickly calm her down, hook her up to a rope, and slowly lower her to the ground all the while telling her what he was doing and how it worked.  She was able to calm down enough to get to terra firma without completely freaking out!   It was nice to know that if you had any issues with the heights of the aeriel challenges that there was a plan in place to get you down!

Find your inner peace in the Butterfly House.  One of my favorite activities was visiting the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center.  We loved to watch the butterflies float through the air and land gracefully on the trees and flowers throughout the center.

Get your exercise on Aqua Island.  Aqua Island is an inflatable island at Robin Lake Beach.  You can visit the island for an hour at a time where you can climb, slip, slide and jump around and into the water.  Children under seven (if I am remembering correctly) must be accompanied by an adult and all visitors must wear a lifejacket, which are provided for you.  About halfway through our hour on aqua island we were beginning to think we should have signed up for two hours…until we finally finished our hour.  We were all exhausted after running around the different obstacles, jumping into the water and getting back out again.

Watch birds and students soar through the sky!  When you are ready to stop moving and rest for awhile, check out the Birds of Prey show.  Held inside to keep you out of the heat during the day and outside in the evening, these birds swoop and fly while you learn about the mighty raptors.  You can also watch students fly through the air.  Yes, students!  The Florida State University Flying High Circus performs through August 12th every summer.  Unfortunately, they are almost done with their summer session but they do put on occasional public shows at FSU.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was thoroughly impressed.  The kids couldn’t take their eyes off of the acrobatics happening above their heads.  If you visit in the summertime, be sure to catch the show.

Eat some Southern soul food.  There are many restaurant choices on the grounds of Callaway Gardens and for the most part they are reasonably priced.  We had dinner at the pizza parlor in the Southern Pine Cottage area the first night.  The pizza was tasty but I do recommend calling ahead.  We waited almost exactly an hour for our pizza due to the crowds.  The group next to us had called their order in earlier so they got their pizza only just a few minutes after they grabbed a table.  But nothing topped our delicious meal at the Country Kitchen.  Located just a few minutes outside of the entrance, the Country Kitchen serves up yummy southern dishes.  We ate perfectly fried chicken, baked apples and seasoned French fries until we couldn’t stomach it anymore.

Practice your swing.  If you prefer to pick up a tennis racket or a golf club, there is ample opportunity at the tennis courts or the golf course.  The golf course offers different packages and offers an academy as well.

Visit the vegetable garden.  When we arrived at the gardens on a Friday evening, the sun was still out but some of the activities had closed up already.  We weren’t ready to check out the lake so we took a drive around.  I saw the sign for the vegetable garden so we decided to take a look.  This is no backyard veggie garden!  This vegetable garden is huge!  Rows and rows of corn, watermelon, grapes, and so much more are spread throughout the garden.  We saw how okra looks before it is fried up (really…I had no idea what it looked like because I am not a huge fan!) and we saw beautiful sunflowers blooming.  On Friday nights, you can visit the Farmer’s Market and purchase veggies that have just been picked right out of the garden!  As we were walking around, I almost expected to see Peter Rabbit come bounding through the rows!

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • When you arrive and get settled in your accommodations, read up on the height, age and weight limits.  There were a couple of things that we were unable to do (like laser tag and the treetop adventure) due to the limits.
  • If you really want to do something, head to Square One located at Robin Lake Beach to sign up early.  If you don’t, you might miss out.  We went to sign up for the Blaster Boats at 11 in the morning and they were already booked until 7pm that night.
  • Although biking is a wonderful way to get around the gardens, if you have smaller children this might not be an option.  We almost threw the bikes into our car but at the last minute we didn’t bring them.  I was glad because when I saw the hills and how far apart some of the stuff was, I knew my kids wouldn’t have made it very far without complaining.   We used our car to travel around the gardens.
  • If available, consider purchasing the Ultimate Summer Fun Pass which includes admission into the Treetop Adventure, Light Striker Laser Tag, Aqua Island, Blaster Boats, Golf on Lake View Golf Course, Bicycling, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, and Tennis.  If you are planning on participating in several of these activities, you will pay off the pass quickly.
  • If you are looking to get away before school starts, Callaway Gardens has a great special going on.  Rates at the Mountain Creek Inn begin at $99 a night and you can purchase the Ultimate Summer Fun Pass for only $48 a person per night.

Have you been to Callaway Gardens?  What was your favorite activity?

*Disclosure: Callaway Gardens hosted our stay and provided us with Ultimate Summer Fun Passes.  We paid for our gas, all meals, and additional activities while we were there.  As always, my opinions are my own and are not influenced by others (except for maybe my kids!).

Summer Road Trip Celebration – San Antonio, Texas

A few months ago, I entered a blog contest and won a trip to San Antonio, Texas.  The prize included a two night hotel stay and four tickets to six different attractions.  San Antonio was about a twelve hour drive so this trip probably would not be fitting for a weekend of course!  We left Pensacola on a Friday and returned on the following Tuesday with both Friday and Tuesday being all day travel days.  Even though we had to cover all of our food, several extra hotel nights, and attractions that weren’t included in the prize, we had a great time in San Antonio and are glad we went! 

 

Ten Kid-Friendly Activities in San Antonio, Texas

  • Six Flags Fiesta Texas – With your admission fee, you get entrance into both the theme park and the small water park attached to it.  The little ones will love Wiggles World and the Boardwalk.  The older children will enjoy the Superman ride and the other very scary roller coasters!
  • San Antonio Missions National Park – This national park consists of the different missions scattered throughout San Antonio.  Before you visit the missions, stop by the Visitor Center and pick up a Junior Ranger Booklet to take with you.
  • The Witte Museum – We moved quickly through this museum so we didn’t spend much time here.  The best part for the kids was the H.E.B. Science treehouse where they had several hands-on activities for kids.
  • Buckhorn Museum – We only went to this because the tickets were included in our prize package but this is definitely not for the feint of heart.  There are animals that are no longer breathing…everywhere…lots of them.  The kids did enjoy the Texas Ranger side of the museum.
  • San Antonio Zoo – This is not the biggest zoo we have ever been to, but it is one of the most kid-friendly zoos we have ever been to.  There is lots for the kids to do to keep them active including a petting zoo where you can actually go into the pens and a discovery center with an area to play.
  • San Antonio Children’s Museum – Great children’s museum with lots of hands-on and interactive activities for the children.
  • Take a boat ride through the Riverwalk – The Riverwalk tours are about 35 minutes and if your kids like boat rides they might get a kick out of this activity.  I wish it had been a little bit shorter because my three year old had her fill about halfway through the trip but we really enjoyed the trip.
  • Eat dinner at Tomatillos – We loved our Tex Mex meal here so much that we went back the next day for a second meal.  On the kid’s menu, they have a plate of refired beans, rice, and tortillas for just $2!!!
  • Schlitterbahn – You may have seen this waterpark on the Discovery Channel show…this waterpark will keep the whole family busy all day long.
  • If you are a fan of theme parks, stop by Sea World San Antonio.

For more family friendly San Antonio activities, visit Wandering Off.  This mama lives in San Antonio and writes about all of her adventures.

Looking for other options for a summer road trip?  See our other summer road trip posts: Tallahassee, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia;  Aliceville, Alabama; and Jacksonville, Florida.  We will continue with our Summer Road Trip Celebration through the rest of the summer!

Today, I am linking up with Trekaroo for Spotlight Thursday.

San Antonio Family Vacation

Summer Road Trip Celebration – 10 Things to Do in Tallahassee, Florida with Kids

Tallahassee, Florida is only about three hours from Pensacola.  If you are really brave you could make a day trip of it but we prefer to stay overnight if possible.  To continue the PWK’s Summer Road Trip Celebration, we are thinking about Tallahassee, Florida!  We haven’t done all of the activities on this list but we hope to soon!  Here are 10 things to do with your kids in Tallahassee.

Do you have a fun, kid-friendly activity in Tallahassee to add to the list?  Leave a comment!
Tallahassee Family Vacation

Summer Road Trip Celebration – 10 Things To Do in Atlanta, Georgia with Kids

This week for our Summer Road Trip Celebration we are thinking about Atlanta, Georgia.  All of your guesses for Mystery Photo Monday were correct!  It is about a 6 hour drive from Pensacola and is great for a weekend getaway.  Suzanne commented yesterday with some great suggestions and you can check out my buddy’s website, Atlanta with Kid (today she posted 10 free or cheap things to do in Atlanta this summer).  Here are our top ten picks for Atlanta with your kids:

  • See the whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium.  You will not be able to get over the size of these whale sharks.
  • Let the kids get some imaginative play at the Imagine It! Children’s Museum.
  • Take a walk on the new Canopy Walk and check out the Children’s Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.
  • If you like Coca-Cola, visit World of Coca-Cola and try colas from all over the world in the tasting room.
  • Watch the Fountain of Rings show and let the kids splash around to cool off in Centennial Olympic Park.
  • My little girl is just old enough that she would love to have tea at the American Girl Place!
  • See a Braves baseball game or tour Turner Field.
  • If you have a roller coaster fan in your family, visit Six Flags over Georgia.
  • Get outside and visit Stone Mountain.  See the laser light show, go camping, hiking or ride the Ducks!
  • The art lovers in your family will enjoy the High Museum of Art.  Before you go, see if there are family activities going on that day!

Atlanta Family Vacation

Mystery Photo Monday #19

We are going to continue with the Pensacola with Kids’ Summer Road Trip Celebration for Mystery Photo Monday this week.  Do you know where this photo was taken?  Here are a few hints:  If you watch Go, Deigo, Go, you might know what is pictured here; it is about a 6 hour drive from Pensacola; and you can taste some very different Coca-Cola products at one of the attractions!

We hope you will play along!  If you know which city Pensacola with Kids is thinking about this week for our Summer Road Trip Celebration, leave a comment!  This week we will post a top ten list for visiting this city with families!  Happy Road Tripping!

Mystery Photo Monday #18

For this week’s Mystery Photo Monday, I am kicking off the Pensacola With Kid’s Summer Road Trip Celebration with a picture from another city.  Throughout the summer, I will be posting road trip suggestions from both the readers and PWK’s favorite places to go to get away.  Don’t worry…we will continue to write about Pensacola and the surrounding areas.  I can’t wait to start exploring with my kids this summer! 

Here are a few hints:  This fountain is downtown next to a great museum the kids will love; the Superbowl was held here; it is one of the largest cities in Florida.

Have a guess?  We hope you will play along!  If you know where we will be road tripping this week, leave your guess in the comments.  I will give you a Top 10 with kids list for visiting this city later this week.  Also this week on Pensacola with Kids, info on Friday Family Flicks,  geocaching in Pensacola, and the Pensacola Pelicans!