March 1–April 30
80 miles from Atlanta
What it is: Callaway Gardens’ 20,000 azaleas, not to mention dogwoods, crabapples, daffodils, and tulips, are in top bloom during April. Track the peak with the website’s Azalea Watch. The forty-acre Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl is the world’s largest azalea garden, with specimens massed around the one-acre Mirror Pond to create dramatic reflections. callawaygardens.com
Why I go: “When you have thousands of azaleas in a relatively compact area, that’s just a feast for the eyes. To see undulating pink and white and red on the hillsides—it’s really just spectacular.” —Walter Reeves, longtime WSB radio host, gardening expert, and author
What’s to love: Day Butterfly Center (mingle with Monarchs!), nature trails, golf, fishing, spring events like the annual lakeside Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concert; nearby F.D. Roosevelt State Park and Little White House.
Where to stay and eat: The Marriott-owned Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens. Callaway’s own Mountain Creek Inn was renovated in 2013.
Detour: Reeves says kids love feeding the animals at nearby Wild Animal Safari, a drive-through animal park.
This article originally appeared in our March 2014 issue.