Callaway in Winter
I had lunch with an egret.
Or a heron. I can’t be sure which. But zipping by on the 10 miles of biking trails at Callaway Gardens during winter, I stopped just in time to spot a tall bird and realize he was stalking his prey. The story ended badly for the fish, but it was a memorable experience for a couple of quiet onlookers.
This is part of the garden’s charm in cooler months. The 13,000-acre resort is not nearly as crowded and you have the opportunity to see wildlife and nature in a different way. Better still, you might get in for free. Founder’s Day, held on Nov. 6 and Feb. 21, always includes free admission, and the gardens sometimes offer the same deal on weekdays in January and February.
If you want to spend the weekend in Pine Mountain, you can stay in one of their villas or cottages and take the chill off the season with a warm fire.
The cottages are a good choice if you want to feel like you’re out in secluded nature while enjoying the comforts of modern life. You have a fully stocked kitchen — plates, mugs, pans, corkscrew, ice bucket, toaster, coffee maker, etc. — toiletries, an iron, cable TV, a screened-in porch and a deck with grill.
While it’s tempting to stay indoors by the fire in this weather, be sure to venture out and explore all Callaway offers during this time of year. The holly trail is always attractive in the winter and there are many other attractions that stay in bloom year-round.
The Day Butterfly Center boasts hundreds of butterflies in a tropical, sunny setting. It’s a good place to visit when the temperature drops outside. Watch a video about butterfly life cycles and get an up-close look at dozens of species in display cases outside the enclosure.
For nature represented through art, visit the Discovery Center for current exhibits. From there, you can walk to the Memorial Chapel, where organ concerts play regularly.
The Sibley Horticultural Center is perhaps the best place to visit in colder months. The greenhouse spans five acres and features a 22-foot waterfall, exotic blooms, Mediterranean plants, bronze sculptures and trees.