With three generations living under one roof, planning a summer vacation can be a bit more challenging because we want to find a destination we can all enjoy. Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia was an easy sell for Grambo. She is all about being outdoors and loves anything to do with a garden and plants. With a wide variety of attractions at Callaway Gardens it turned out to be great for the entire family. Even Shibly Horticultural Center! To be honest, I was nervous about taking W there but it turned out that I had nothing to worry about!
Callaway Gardens: Sibley Horticultural Center
The Sibley Horticultural Center is a one-of-a kind garden and greenhouse that includes five acres of native and exotic plants. It has a tropical conservatory, sub-Mediterranean conservatory, sculpture garden, grotto, main conservatory and outdoor garden. Oh and a 22-foot indoor waterfall!
Grambo read the description and was ready to head out. There was no hesitation on her part. I was worried that W would go a little crazy without anything that sounded focused on the kids. Oh, the challenges of going on adventures with three generations!
But from the moment W spotted some fish in the pond in front of the center, he was sold.
Grambo fell in love immediately. It was like something out of her dreams. I don’t even have a green thumb but I’ll admit that it took my breathe away and J quietly mumbled about it’s beauty. He’s quiet like that but it was amazing to hear all of us have such appreciation for the natural beauty. And then W took off down one of the paths.
There isn’t always much time for quiet appreciation with a toddler around!
But with a variety of paths to walk on, his sense of adventure and exploration just couldn’t be ignored. W loved walking along the stepping stones as well as the paved paths to see what he could discover both indoors and outdoors at the center. The weather was beautiful and luckily J took the lead on chasing W since I was pregnant. That left Grambo and I to enjoy everything at a bit slower pace.
Of course there is something special about seeing the world through the eyes of your child. He was the first one to happen upon “Daddy’s favorite flowers.” Why are they J’s favorite? According to W, because they are blue and Daddy’s favorite color is blue. J’s favorite color is actually red but that’s also W’s favorite and apparently they aren’t allowed to share.
But these were some “awesome plants” according to W because they had bees. BIG bees! The wide eye wonder of a two-year old is really something special.
W also discovered “Mommy’s favorite flower” and yes, it is my favorite because it is pink. He actually made a good choice with this one. I would love to have a garden full of them. So beautiful. And these were just some of W’s favorite flowers of the hundreds of varieties at the center. It blew my mind at how much beauty could be in one place.
Beauty in both the plants and in the other living creatures. You just never know what you might discover when you are exploring a new place. It’s what I love about traveling with my family. We all notice different things as we experience it all together.
We discovered this little gem when Grambo almost walked through it! It was the first time W ever really got a good look at a spider web up close. And it might be the largest one I’ve ever seen. We were left wondering who might have spun such a web.
W was pretty convinced that it might have belonged to the spider we discovered a bit later on in the day.
Between the gorgeous plants and the insects and spiders, Grambo and W were pretty much in heaven, I think. I enjoyed hunting down some of my favorite flowers while also discovering some new favorites that I’d never seen before. J checked it all out with us in his own quiet way but did find quite a few things he liked at the Sibley Horticultural Center at Callaway Gardens.
Now who doesn’t love a good swing? I would have loved to transport one of these back to our yard here in Texas! It would be perfect under the shade of some of our trees. I’m pretty sure I would never leave! And we did spend a lot of time on those swings that day. There was a whole line of them along one of the paths.
But we couldn’t stay there the whole day and Grambo had more places to see. She was on a mission to get inside and check out the waterfall!
Until W discovered something along the way that made for some of the best memories of our trip to Callaway Gardens.
We found a maze of trees that was just tall enough for us to go in with W. Once we were inside it was such a magic place. It was like something out of the a secret garden. So quiet and calm. It was a nice break from the summer sun that was really starting to warm up. It was like taking a deep breath and just relaxing. Even W seemed enthralled as he snuck under shorter branches and found his way through the trees.
In those quieter moments I had to wonder why I had worried about the center being a good place for the family. It was an unexpected gem in the middle of our first roadtrip adventure as a family. And we ended up spending a good stretch of hours just exploring and enjoying the beauty. We watched insects, spotted some birds, and read the names of the plants to W.
And I didn’t eve get tired of hearing him ask, “What that sign says?” with his little toddler accent.
I love when I’m not expecting a place to turn into something amazing and it does. Of course I love when I expect things to be wonderful and they are, but there is something special about when a place really surprises me. And the Sibley Horticultural Center at Callaway Gardens was one of those special places. It’s a place I would definitely love to visit again one day.
How does your family explore nature while traveling?