Callaway Gardens

Pine Mountain, Georgia
September 2-5, 2023

Callaway Gardens is a 6,500-acre resort complex located in Pine Mountain, Georgia, nestled in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and about a 25 minute (~20 mile) drive from Robert and Natalie's home in LaGrange, Georgia. The destination is said to draw over 750,000 visitors annually. The resort includes nature trails, a Butterfly Center, a Birds of Prey show, and Robin Lake – the largest man-made white sand beach in the world, stretching a mile around the 65-acre lake. The resort is home to two golf courses and a variety of other attractions.

We again spent a super nice Labor Day Weekend there. We stayed in the same location as in November 2022, but this time we had a four-bedroom cabin in Pine Mountain Villas.

Jay plus Karen and her family traveled from Tampa on Friday, departing in the morning for the eight-hour trip. We all arrived at Callaway Gardens around 5:00 in the afternoon. That left time to unpack and draw the golf Cart that we would later take down to the beach area where the balloon festival was ongoing and where there were fireworks later that night.

Robert and Natalie did a whole bunch of shopping for all of us. That had to have been a lot of work. During the stay the food items purchased by Robert and Natalie covered the breakfasts and lunches, and also some snacks. They also checked into the Villa for us and arranged for the golf Cart to be picked up.

(Click on any slide to enlarge it.)

Overall our two-story Villa was very, very nice with plenty of get-together space. The bedrooms were fairly large, each having a full bath with a double vanity, good closet space, and its own coffee closet that included a small refrigerator. The view out the back windows was really great. A larger kitchen was needed, but we somehow made it work. Overall, however, the accommodations were great.

       

               


Breakfast at the villa and hanging out at the villa:

       

As we said, for this visit Robert again reserved and we rented two, six–passenger golf carts, as we have done before. Staying at the resort and driving around on golf carts adds a whole new and very entertaining dimension to the vacation. Traveling around the various roads and trails of Callaway Gardens in a golf cart is a sweet experience. Daylin and Skyler, each with their drivers license, were again allowed to drive a cart so long as an adult was in the cart. They liked doing that.

       

               


Friday night we had chopped pork for dinner, and also a great tasting pasta salad made by Karen. The family also got to experience Jay's famous clam dip, which was a hit. (For those interested in copying this recipe, it is very complicated and it is not recommended for amateurs to try, so don't bother.)

After dinner we rode in our golf carts to see the balloon fest and the nightly fireworks.


Saturday morning, the exercise crew was out taking a morning run or a morning fast walk with the twins.

               

Then we made our way over to the Adventure Center where we watched the "Birds of Prey" show and then most of our group participated in the zip line and obstacle course called the TreeTop Adventure - Discovery Course. This time, however, they added the "Water Course" as a follow-on, and everyone really liked to 400' and 500' and 700' zip lines across and back Robin Lake.

       

               

               


Following the zip line courses, we gathered at the playground where we played on the equipment and are our lunch meal: A variety of sandwiches made early that morning by Robert.

Later that night, we played the card game "31."


Sunday was "Beach Day," we arrived around 10:30 and were able to secure two picnic tables on grass and shaded by a tree. This was a real winner for a picnic spot. (Thanks, Cathy!). Robert set up his canopy right down the hill on the sandy beach and we had the perfect set up.


A cart loaded for the beach day.

               

This time at Callaway, we added an activity that I don’t think we had tried before: Kickball! We found an open field on the other side of the dome-shaped exhibition hall, marked our field with orange cones, set up teams, and had fun. Our players were Kathy, Karen, Braden, Daylin, Skyler, Robert, Benjamin, Everett, Luke, and Charlie. The results were pretty much as we expected: Jay’s team (Karen, Cathy, Benjamin, Everett, Charlie) came in second place, while Robert's team came in next to last.

       

We again had wooden paddles, and the small, soft, rubber ball to play paddle ball. Unfortunately, the volleyball net had plenty of "business," so we had to make do by finding a flat area and setting up a game there. It was Jay, Skyler, and Benjamin against Braden, Daylin and Charlie. Fun.

               

Aqua Island was as fun as ever. Lots of challenges available to be conquered. The Braden-Alvarez Clan played a spirited game of tag with the common "no tag back" rule and one other: If a player slips into the water while trying not to be tagged, that person becomes "IT." PaPa B was the observer, the obstacles had just about worn him out.

While in the area, all enjoyed a nice lunch that had been prepared by Robert, Natalie, Karen, and Cathy.


We had some activities with no pictures:


Charlie caught around 30 brill
in one of the small creeks on the property using a hook
and a line, and bread for bait.
Fish for dinner, anyone?

On Sunday night, on our way
to the lake, Jay stopped twice,
challenging the kids to find at least
one golf ball each time.
Everyone was a winner!

The kids also made a couple of
trips to the Villa Pool. A bit cool but
still nice. The attached spa had warmer water, so that was a help.

Here are some family comments on our Callaway vacation:

  • Karen - Nothing is better than family time. Watching our kids interact with each other is priceless! Loved the golf cart rides and kickball game. Just being together is something that you just can't put into words.
  • Cathy -
  • Braden - My favorite part of Callaway was seeing my cousins. My favorite part with hanging out with my cousins is when we went to the high ropes and doing the sky ropes for the first time. Another time that I really enjoyed was when we went on the Aqua Island big inflatable at the lake and we played tag and jumped off the highest tower. I can't wait to go to Callaway next year with the same amazing people and keep exploring.
  • Daylin - I really enjoyed exploring together on the golf Cart and going swimming together on Aqua Island. I also enjoyed watching the hot air balloon show and fireworks.
  • Skyler - This weekend at Callaway Gardens was super fun. I had a great time seeing and spending time with everyone. I loved going on the Aqua Island because that was super fun playing tag and jumping off the tall platforms. So was Tree Top Adventures - being able to do the new course that was great and going on that really long and high zip line. Lastly I loved when all of us were just in the kitchen and living room eating and just relaxing.
  • Robert - I liked a number of things. Here they are in no special order. The golf carts add a great dimension to being at Callaway. Yes, we went out briefly to pick up some dinners, but with the golf carts we were essentially "on property" for our visit, something that sweetened the time we had together. I heard the kids loved Aqua Island so I would support going there twice during our next stay. I liked that we had a wonderful time and still didn't explore some of their activities, like miniature golf and the butterfly garden and bicycling. The beach was great but we only had one beach day. Yes, this is to be a relaxing vacation but maybe we should plan to go down to the beach two hours before lunch every day. Then we can return to the villa for lunch and the babies (big and small) can catch their afternoon nap.
  • Natalie -
  • Benjamin - I loved going on the zip line with my cousins, and doing Aqua Island with everyone. My favorite time with my family was at night when we played cards, talked, and laughed together.
  • Everett - One of my favorite parts of the Callaway Gardens was Aqua Island; it was very fun playing tag on Aqua Island with everyone. I also really loved riding in the golf carts and looking for golf balls on the golf course. It was very fun hanging out with the family.
  • Charlie - I liked having the family there. I really liked Aqua Island fun.
  • Luke - The Treetop Adventure was really good and I liked Aqua Island. Everything was fun.
  • Jay - I really appreciate what Robert and Natalie did in ordering and delivering breakfast and lunch items with drinks and snacks. While I understand that "Get in the car (golf cart) NOW!" seems to conflict with the idea of being able to relax while vacationing, the fact is that we do more and have more enjoyment when we stay active and try to sample all or most of the sights and activities of a resort/cruise/theme park, etc. So I propose we map out schedule of events - what everyone expects me to say - but with perhaps a middle ground for something like going to the beach area each day from 10:30 to 12:30 is to have an "early" cart and a "later" cart. One cart departs for the beach at 10:30 for those ready to go, and the other cart is there at the Villa for those who want a more relaxed departure time.

Monday morning we packed up and headed home with lots of good memories of fun family time together.


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