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Christmas at Callaway Gardens, GA

Originally published February 25, 2017

December 2011. After retiring from the United States Navy in November 2011, I had a one-week residency for my doctoral program. Since I had moved out to Arizona during my terminal leave in September, I took the opportunity to invite my son, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter to spend three days with me at Georgia’s Callaway Gardens. This would be an opportunity for all of us to spend some quality time together before I had to return to Arizona after my residency ended.

My son & his niece (my granddaughter) 2011

After flying into Atlanta, I picked up my rental car and headed to my hotel. After checking in and getting everything ready that I would need to start my residency, I packed a bag and settled in for the night. The next day I got up and headed to Callaway Gardens to meet the family for a few days together.

As part of the Christmas presents for all of them, I had rented a three bedroom cottage for a long weekend. It was the first time that I had seen all of them in just over three months, so I was very excited for the upcoming reunion! Even more exciting was the prospect of spending enough time with them that we could explore many of the adventures that Callaway Gardens had to offer–from nature to dining to historic locations. And with the added bonus of it being near to Christmas, there would be seasonal things that would make the trip even more special…

The family arrived that morning in time to check in, in time for a brief reunion and then sitting down for lunch. Afterward, we went to the cottage to unpack and set up our respective rooms. My daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter were given the master suite, which included a fireplace, king bed, and the portable playpen/crib they brought with them. I let my son have the other room with a large bed since it was, after all, the holiday season. I took the bed with two twin beds–something in which I had not slept for a number of years…lol. Everyone was happy to be together and have a nice place with their rooms, a full kitchen, dining area, living room, fireplace, and quiet surroundings–a great start to the reunion!

There were many different activities to do during our stay. First, of course, would be an afternoon nap for my granddaughter while the rest of us caught up and planned what attractions we wanted to explore when she awakened. Of course, the Christmas Bazaar and holiday train ride through all the lighted, animated, and musical exhibits throughout the gardens were going to be a must-see for the evening!

And so we headed over to the restaurant where we would have dinner that evening and got ourselves fueled for the evening Christmas-themed attractions. We had a nice dinner in a relatively formal setting–a chance to relax, eat some hot food, and regenerate. And then we decided that it was time to brave the cold and head out for the evening’s holiday activities! Now I, of course, having flown in from Arizona, had only brought along a light jacket–after all, that is what is worn in Arizona’s Central Valley for the “winter,” you know…

Now…it was coldddd that evening for the train ride. In fact, my son had only brought a hoodie sweatshirt along, so my daughter and her family took the open train ride (with their coats and a blanket) and my son & I drove slowly through the exhibits using the car route. Here are some pictures and video clips of that year’s exhibits…

The next day we spent a day in the warm sun exploring the butterfly exhibit and the aviary–my daughter loves birds and has a few beautiful ones at home. We were able to see a show that included a few different birds, including an eagle! What a magnificent and majestic creature.

They also had falcons, owls, and other beautiful winged creatures to see.

Unfortunately, after the afternoon’s activities and an early dinner that day, I had to return to Atlanta to be ready for my residency’s first day the following morning. The family was able to remain another night, exploring some other attractions at the gardens. It was a nice holiday treat for all of us!


Would you like to visit Callaway Gardens? Here are some of the information points to help you discover the area and the various events that happen nearly year-round:

Contact Information:

Callaway Gardens 17800 US Hwy 27 Pine Mountain, GA 31822 800.852.3810


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