Editor’s note: Reporter Newspapers usually focus attention on our local communities. But now and then, we find it worthwhile to gas up the car and head off to see something of the world outside. In that spirit, we’re launching this new feature, Road Trips. These articles will describe interesting places to go and unusual things to see within a two-hour drive of Sandy Springs, Buckhead, Brookhaven and Dunwoody. They’ll appear occasionally whenever the spirit moves us for a good road trip.
Some have stories to tell. Others offer exotic flowers or displays of floral beauty. Clean out the SUV, load up the family and take a moment to smell the roses, or the irises, or the daffodils.
Vines Gardens, Loganville
Address: 3500 Oak Grove Road
Directions: Take I-285 East to Exit 39B. Take U.S 78 East for about 21 miles. Turn left on Hoke Okelly Road SW, then turn left onto Oak Grove Road.
Hours: sunrise to sunset, unless otherwise posted.
What it’s known for: 25-acre garden, a model railroad that opens May 10.
For more information: 678-277-0890, www.gwinnettcounty.com
Smith-Gilbert Gardens, Kennesaw
The 16-acre gardens grew up around the historic Hiram Butler House, which was built in 1880. Robert Gilbert purchased the property in 1970 and over the next 35 years, Gilbert and Richard Smith added the gardens and sculpture collection. The house and gardens, owned by the city of Kennesaw, now feature more than 3,000 species of plants.
Address: 2382 Pine Mountain Road
Directions: Take I-75 North to Exit 269. Take Cobb Parkway to Pine Mountain Road, turn left onto Ernest W. Barrett Parkway NW, take a right onto Cobb Parkway and go 2.8 miles, then turn left onto Pine Mountain Road.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays.
Cost: $7 for adults; $6 for senior citizens and active duty military; $5 for children aged 6 to 12.
What it’s known for: The garden features 31 sculptures.
For more information: 770-919-0248 or www.smithgilbertgardens.com
Cason J. Callaway, a textile magnate from LaGrange, and his wife, Virginia, conceived of these gardens in the 1930s and began working on them in the 1940s, according to the garden’s website. Open to the public since 1952 and now operated by a foundation, this 2,600-acre resort complex offers golf, water sports and restaurants. The garden features a butterfly house, and claims to be home to the world’s largest azalea garden. Peak azalea blooms are expected in late March and early April.
Address: 17800 U.S. 27
Directions: I- 85 South to I-185 South (Exit 21). Exit at U. S. 27 (Exit 42), turn left and proceed to Pine Mountain, then turn right onto Ga. 354 West and proceed to intersection with Ga. 18. Callaway Gardens’ main entrance is on the opposite side of this intersection.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $18 to $25 (depending on type of ticket) for adults; $15 to $20 for senior citizens 65 and older; $9 to $12.50 for children 6 to 12; 5 and younger, free.
What it’s known for: Azaleas, butterflies, native plants, seasonal special events such as a hot air balloon festival in the summer, and holiday lights in November and December.
For more information: 1-800-225-5292 or www.callawaygardens.com
Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta
Efforts to create an Atlanta garden began in 1973, and the garden opened in 1976. It now occupies about 30 acres and five main buildings, and operates as a nonprofit charged with developing and maintaining plant collections for display, education, research and conservation.
Address: 1345 Piedmont Avenue
Directions: The garden is next to Piedmont Park in Atlanta. Take I-85 South to Exit 84 and follow signs to 14th Street. Turn left on 14th and continue to Piedmont Avenue. Turn left on Piedmont. The garden is on the right.
Hours: Tuesdays through Sundays – 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. November through March; 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. April through October; Thursdays – 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. May through October; closed Mondays, except holidays.
Cost: $18.95 for adults; $12.95 for children aged 3 to 12; free for children younger than 3.
What it’s known for: Orchids, roses, hydrangeas, a Japanese garden, desert plants, high elevation plants.
For more information: 404-876-5859 or atlantabotanicalgarden.org
Gibbs Gardens, Ball Ground
Retired landscape company founder James H. Gibbs started building a combination of 16 gardens in 1980 on 220 acres around his Cherokee County home, the gardens’ website says. He opened the house and garden to the public in 2012.
Address: 1987 Gibbs Drive
Directions: Take Ga. 400 North to Exit 12B. Turn right on Atlanta Highway (Ga. 9), go about 2 miles and turn left onto Campground Road. Go about six miles and turn left on Cumming Highway (Ga. 20), go about a mile and turn right on Ball Ground Road (Ga. 372), go about three miles and turn right onto Hightower Road (Ga. 369), go about two miles and turn left onto Yellow Creek Road, go about seven miles and turn right onto Gibbs Drive.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, from June 12 through Dec. 12.
Cost: $20 for adults; $18 for seniors 65 and older and for children aged 4 to 17; free for children 3 and younger.
What it’s known for: Daffodils, ferns, a lane shaded by maples and cypress.
For more information: 770-893-1880 or www.gibbsgardens.com
Barnsley Gardens, Adairsville
In the 1840s, Englishman Godfrey Barnsley bought acreage in northwest Georgia and began building a mansion and formal garden for his wife, Julia. She died before the project was completed and work stopped until Barnsley dreamed that Julia appeared in the garden and told him to finish the project. Barnsley’s descendants lived at the property until 1942. In 1989, Prince Hubertus Fugger Babenhause of Germany bought the land and restored the garden. The property now is home to the Barnsley Resort, which includes cottages, restaurants, a spa and golf course.
Address: 597 Barnsley Gardens Road
Directions: Take I-75 North to Exit 306. Turn left and drive about 2.2 miles on Ga. 140. Turn left at Hall Station Road and travel south approximately 5.5 miles. Take a right at Barnsley Gardens Road (just past Mt. Carmel Church). Travel 2.5 miles to the main entrance of the resort on the left.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: $10 for adults; $8 for seniors 55 and older; $5 for students and children aged 4 to 11; free for children younger than 4
What it’s known for: 19th century boxwood gardens, wildflower meadow, rose arbor.
For more information: 1-877-773-2447 or 770-773-7480 or www.barnsleyresort.com
Dunaway Gardens, Roscoe
Actress Hetty Jane Dunaway in 1934 opened a “theatrical training ground” on her husband Wayne P. Sewell’s property six miles from Newnan, Dunaway Gardens says on its website. Her stone-walled gardens hosted theatrical and dance performances. They fell into disrepair and were overgrown by kudzu and ivy for nearly half a century. Owner Jennifer Bigham began restoring the gardens in 2000, and the gardens reopened in 2005.
Address: 3218 Roscoe Road
Directions: Take I-85 South to Exit 69. Exit onto South Fulton Parkway and go about 21 miles. Turn left onto Campbellton Redwine Road, go 7 miles. Turn right after the bridge into the stone and gated entrance to the gardens.
Hours: Scheduled to be open only on selected weekend days in April, May and June. Open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and noon until 4 p.m. on Sundays. Check the website, www.dunawaygardens.com/visiting.php, for open days.
Cost: $10 for adults; $8 for children.
What it’s known for: Past association with celebrities, such as Minnie Pearl, an amphitheater, the Hanging Gardens.
For more information: 678-423-4050 or www.dunawaygardens.com