Discover some of nature’s most breathtaking natural wonders in a region known as much for its simple country style as its ties to two influential American presidents. Enjoy botanical gardens and unspoiled scenery, peaceful retreats and theatrical ties, and explore presidential footsteps and historical happenings. Blaze a path along the rails, trails, and scenic waterways of West Georgia while brushing up on history, indulging in nostalgia, and basking in the warmth of the Presidential Pathways region.
Callaway Gardens is an award-winning, 13,000-acre garden, resort and preserve nestled in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, in Pine Mountain, Georgia. In addition to three types of accommodations, nine restaurants, and plenty of shopping, guests at this family-friendly getaway enjoy lots to see and do. The Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, Birds of Prey shows, Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, John A. Sibley Horticultural Center, Mr. Cason's Vegetable Garden, Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl, Overlook Azalea Garden and miles of nature trails showcase the beauty of nature. The 10-mile Discovery Bicycle Trail combines sightseeing with an outdoor excursion that puts you up-close to Southern flora and wildlife. Callaway Gardens begins its extensive Pine Mountain, Georgia, summer vacation schedule in May of every year. www.callawaygardens.com
Hills & Dales Estate
This historic estate was the home of textile magnate Fuller E. Callaway, Sr. and his family. The property features the historic Ferrell Gardens which are one of the best preserved 19th century gardens in America. The gardens were created by Sarah Ferrell between 1841 and 1903 and include extensive boxwood plantings, fountains, an herb garden, and a greenhouse. The centerpiece of the thirty-five-acre estate is a beautiful Italian villa designed by the noted architects Neel Reid and Hal Hentz which was completed in 1916. The visitor center features museum exhibits, a fourteen-minute orientation film and a gift shop. A children's guide featuring Earle the Squirrel is available and includes Earle's Great Hunt for which children can earn a prize for completing. A major restoration of the house was completed in 2010 and all three floors of the home are open for guided tours. www.hillsanddales.org
SAM Shortline Excursion Train
SAM Shortline Excursion Train travels through southwest Georgia in air-conditioned 1949 vintage cars mixing a taste of the old rural south with todays excitement. There are fun and exciting train stops at the Georgia Veterans State Park at Lake Blackshear, the Telephone Museum in Leslie, Americus, Plains, and Archery (Jimmy Carter's childhood home). While in Americus, you can visit the historic Windsor hotel Global Village, which is part of Habitat for Humanity, or the exciting Rylander Theater. The last stop is at President Carter's Boyhood Farm. The Farm is managed by The National Park Service and rangers are on duty to tell the history. samshortline.com