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“What a nice surprise”
Review of Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: A 2,500 acre, year-round horticultural display garden that offers the Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, Birds of Prey Show, Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, Walking Trails, Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel and Pioneer Log Cabin as well as golf, tennis, fishing, fly fishing and biking. Those looking for some adrenaline will love TreeTop Adventure's zip lines and aerial obstacles. Seasonal events and educational workshops are offered throughout the year. Four lodging types, eight restaurants and a lounge are available.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities, Food available for purchase, Wheelchair access, Stroller parking
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“What a nice surprise”
Reviewed June 24, 2013

What a beautiful place! There are many things to see and do while visiting Callaway Gardens (more than I thought there would be). I thought the entrance fee was very reasonable for all they have to offer. My only disappointment is that the road to the vegetable garden was closed via a gate and we couldn't figure out how to get there otherwise. This was our first visit and if we are in the area again I would definitely return.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank DNF98
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CallawayGardens1, Guest Relations Manager at Callaway Gardens, responded to this review, June 25, 2013
We appreciate your time visiting with us and sending us a review. If you were here on a Friday the inner gate does close due to the Farmer's Market we offer at the Robin Lake Beach area. I will pass this information along so that it may be looked into and hopefully corrected. Wishing you the best for the summer and hope to see you again soon.
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English first
Bridgetown, Saint Michael, Barbados
Level Contributor
39 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Peace and Tranquility”
Reviewed June 24, 2013

Callaway Gardens is a very tranquil and peaceful place, the gardens are well laid out. The prices at the snack bar were not exorbitant and the walking trail and the bike trail gave you easy access to cover the grounds, I enjoyed the bird show. The butterfly sanctuary was very educational and I saw many different species of butterflies.Taking a walk through the gardens you feel at peace with yourself. I did not get there in time for the vegetable garden show but from what I saw the grounds are well maintained and the staff take pride in doing their work.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Eve J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CallawayGardens1, Guest Relations Manager at Callaway Gardens, responded to this review, June 25, 2013
We want to thank you for visiting with us. Callaway Gardens was founded on the concept of "Remove nothing from the Gardens except nourishment for th soul, consolation for the heart and inspiration for the mind." We are so glad that you enjoyed your visit and Thank you for your review.
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Level Contributor
14 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“A Nice Bicycle Park”
Reviewed June 23, 2013 via mobile

We camped at F D Roosevelt State Park. We decided to visit Callaway Gardens. We have always heard the place was beautiful. We were a little worried the kids would get bored walking around looking at beautiful gardens. We started out at The Discovery Center. We were greeted by a nice lady, who pretty much gave us no info. We asked if she could point us in a direction as of where to start, but she didn't. We thought it would have been real helpful for someone to show us the points of interests on the map they gave us, etc. So, we headed out on our own. We started out at a nice lake. We fed the fish and the turtles. We walked a nice, peaceful trail a ways to the butterfly house. We did enjoy the butterfly house. I expected more butterflies, but everyone else thought it was great. We walked the same trail back to watch a birds of pray show. It was good. It was packed and in the direct sun, so we only stayed for a couple of birds. The trails are shady. This was good to block the June heat. Although, we have been looking the whole time for the beautiful flowers. There were some some beds of flowers close to the butterfly house, but nothing spectacular.

Callaway is quite large. After taking notice of other people, we decided it was best to drive to the places of interest on the map. Mr. Cason's garden was a huge let down. The herb gardens were full of weeds. They had not been upkept in a while. I suppose being from Mississippi, we have lots of nice gardens, and I was expecting something impressive. We saw some flowers here and there, but nothing more than we see in people's yards.

The horticultural building had some very neat plants. This looks like the place where the weddings are held. It was nice here, and I overheard a man say it was breathtaking, but I am not sure what it was he thought was breathtaking.

We did not go to the beach area, but we did drive by and it was packed. There were some very nice bicycle paths.

We were very disappointed in our visit. It was not at all what we expected. If you are going to see some beautiful flower gardens, save your money. We could never find them. Callaway has more of a park feel. So, if you have bicycles, go and spend all day riding and have a picnic lunch. If you are a beach or golf person, this place is for you. They also have zip lining, but after we paid $18 a person to get in the park, we did not want to pay a additional fee to do this.

I would not go back, and we would have rather spent our day horseback riding at the state park.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank DeliBwy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CallawayGardens1, Guest Relations Manager at Callaway Gardens, responded to this review, July 16, 2013
I am sorry to hear that you were disappointed in Callaway Gardens. There are lots of things to do especially during the summer. The Beach area is quite the place with free swimming, life size chess and checkers, playground, FSU Flying high Circus, shuffle board and many other things. The trails are long and bikes are the best way to get around from attraction to attraction inside the Gardens. We do appreciate that you spent the day with us and hope you visit the area in the near future.
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Level Contributor
21 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Butterflies + Aqua Island = Awesome.”
Reviewed June 22, 2013 via mobile

The age of our kids dictated our activities for the day; butterfly center and Robin Lake were it for us.

The butterfly center was an educational, beautifully presented, worthwhile stop. There is a staff-led program, a self-guided tour through the tropical (read: hot and humid) butterfly garden that can be completed in 10 minutes if you're short on time, and a gift shop with everything butterfly related that you never knew you needed. The kids ages 1.5 to 7 had a great time, as did the adults in our group.

Then we drove to Robin Lake. Lake temperature was refreshing in early June. There are lifeguards on duty, but don't expect them to do your parenting for you; we saw two lifeguards on their phones while on the stand, though I credit them for attempting to be discreet. The highlight of Robin Lake was Aqua Island, the inflated obstacle course. It costs $10 per person for 45 to 50 minutes of play time, regardless of age. Ages 2 to 6 require an adult, 7 and up can conquer the fun solo. You sign a waiver, pick out a life jacket, and at the top of the hour, a lifeguard goes over a couple rules and you swim out to the course. There are so many fun obstacles, towers to slide down, jump off, and a trampoline. The lifeguards on AI were attentive, willing to lend a hand if you needed help, and let you have fun as long as things didn't get out of hand. At about 50 past the hour, a guard blows the whistle, and you swim ashore. Even with a 3 year-old to pull, push, and chase, I had a blast on AI. It was a good workout, and would be really tough if you don't have decent upper-body strength.

In sum, we enjoyed the two activities above, but I still think $18 admission per adult to get into the gardens is a bit steep (check prices as they fluctuate depending on season, holidays, weekends, groups, etc.)

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
Thank GreenHokies
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CallawayGardens1, Guest Relations Manager at Callaway Gardens, responded to this review, June 25, 2013
Awesome! We love to hear that our guest enjoyed there visit here at Callaway Gardens. Aqua Island is a great workout. I will forward the review over the Beach Manager so that he knows how much you enjoyed the Beach but also to let them know about the lifeguards. We do offer an annual pass that gives you great discounts for admission and purchases for food and retail. Enjoy your summer and we look forward to seeing you again.
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Boiling Springs, South Carolina, United States
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Wedding uncoordinated”
Reviewed June 20, 2013

Callaway Gardens wedding "specialist" is really just the most terrible person in customer service that I've dealt with. I live out of town and she wouldn't communicate through email, she was very vague and unhelpful. Needless to say communicating online wasn't the easiest since I have a busy work schedule and she hardly ever responded to my questions. I understand she's not exactly a wedding planner but she wouldn't answer simple questions like: Does the Chapel have a bridal room? Does the chapel have electrical outlets? When are you available for me to come for a visit to meet in person so I can ask some questions?

I was a DIY bride and it was an absolute nightmare trying to gather information with her help.

So, the rehearsal starts to near and I'm assuming that I have no wedding director because the wedding specialist from Callaway never responded when I asked if I would be meeting her at the rehearsal. I discussed directional plans with my pastor and we had everything worked out pre-rehearsal. Get to the chapel, there is a lady waiting for us that I've never talked to, heard of, or seen. She seems nice enough until she tries to ramrod the wedding directions. IE: Talking over my pastor, correcting him on his directions, TALKING DURING PRAYER. I mean, I'm saying she was telling us how we were walking down was wrong...we weren't trying to light fireworks in the place. She didn't like how he was hiding me pre-ceremony, how he had us standing up front, how we all walked in..etc. This was all fine, nerve wracking but...not enough to make me write an angry review.

Until I arrived at the ceremony and she told me I looked tired and asked one of my wedding party if I was pregnant (WHICH I AM NOT)

If you're a carefree bride with enough money to hire a wedding planner to deal with these sorts of things for you, then I would definitely recommend Callaway gardens as a venue because it's BEAUTIFUL. However, the stress of dealing with the staff was ALMOST not worth it. I'm thankful it's over and that my wedding pictures are beautiful, but I will never forget hearing that I looked tired and pregnant on my wedding day. As 23 year old bride who planned her own wedding, that's just not the sort of commentary you need on your big day. Especially since I gave Callaway Gardens the benefit of the doubt even after I realized their wedding specialist was unprofessional and negligent. I also had the chapel contractually until 7pm. My ceremony started at 5, ended before six and as soon as it was over the wedding in progress sign was flipped at the lady asked if we were almost done taking pictures around 6:30. Seriously?

Save a headache, hire a wedding planner and let them hide all of the dirty details from you until AFTER the wedding.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank JoannaBW_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CallawayGardens1, Public Relations Manager at Callaway Gardens, responded to this review, June 26, 2013
We are very sorry to hear about your experience. Brides usually brag about the team members and their great experience having their weddings at Callaway Gardens. Our pre-wedding team traditionally responds to emails within 12-24 hours of receipt. It sounds as if the Wedding Planning Kit, which addresses many of your questions, possibly didn't deliver to your email account. Our records show responses were sent within 12 hours of receipt. We'll definitely be taking another look at the Wedding Planning Kit to make sure it is as comprehensive as possible.

Please know that the pre-wedding team is different from the person who is on-site the day of the event. We agree that the comments you shared about your day-of experince are outrageous. We have private messaged you to confirm the person who made these comments so that we can re-train as neccesary.

We appreciate you taking the time to share your experince so that we can work to provide best guest service, especially bridal guest service.
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