Saturday, March 31, 2012

Roll into Pine Mountain, Georgia

I have been wanting to make a family trip to Callaway Gardens in picturesque Pine Mountain, Ga., since friends talked about their outdoor adventures in this 13,000-acre resort complex. But when Joe and I looked at our spring break calendar, a family trip was not possible this year. So when Joe and the boys headed to Atlanta to watch Kentucky basketball, the girls and I rolled into Pine Mountain. Although we only spent one night in Pine Mountain, we packed so much in that I feel like we fully experienced spring in one weekend. Come along with us as we experience this Georgia gem.

The Bakery and Cafe at Rose Cottage

"Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts!" ~ James Beard

We rolled into Pine Mountain in time for a late lunch at The Bakery and Cafe at Rose Cottage. Before we left home, I researched dining options online and couldn't wait to visit this charming bakery.

There is something so warm and cozy about a bakery, and Rose Cottage oozes charm. Of course, my eye was drawn to the tea accouterments!

The girls and I enjoyed exploring the restaurant while we waited for our food.

And there were plenty of pretties to tempt us to shop.

The ambiance alone was enough for me to enjoy my visit to Rose Cottage, but the food was definitely worth the trip.

Chef John W. Makin made his mark in the culinary world, being named one of Food and Wine's top 10 chefs in America in 1987. His impressive resume includes serving as the executive chef at The Four Seasons in Los Angeles, and serving as executive chef for Sun International Hotels of South Africa, where he was chosen to cater the presidential inauguration of Nelson Mandela. Most recently, he worked as Food and Beverage Director at Callaway Gardens before opening the Bakery and Cafe at Rose Cottage with his wife. Explore Chef Makin's menu of lunch, dinner and lite-bite options here.

The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens

After lunch we headed to Callaway Gardens to settle into our room. Thanks to Joe's frequent travels, he was able to give us a night at The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens. We felt completely pampered in this premier luxury resort! With the girls being so young, we didn't venture into the 13,000-square-foot Spa Prunifolia. That will be something to look forward to on a future girls trip!

Every room in the hotel has a balcony, offering beautiful views of the lush landscaping.

After lounging in the room for a bit to settle Emma's tummy after lunch, the girls were ready to explore our new home away from home.

The girls were eager to find bike trails, but first we wanted to stroll the grounds of the Lodge.

Surrounded by towering pines, the heated pool beckons just beyond this gate. We looked forward to taking a dip after our bike ride. I wanted to snap a few pictures of the girls before we headed out on our bicycles.

My sweet girls!

And finally, after days of build-up and anticipation, it was time to ride.

Emma learned to ride a bike last year during spring break, so it was fun to plan this trip, knowing we could all participate.

"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills or coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle." ~ Ernest Hemingway

We explored just a portion of the more than 10 miles of bike trails the gardens have to offer.

I so enjoyed glimpsing the cabins and cottages that dot the landscape. Doesn't this look like a wonderful retreat?

Robin Lake Beach

The girls were delighted to discover Robin Lake Beach, a man-made, one-mile, white-sand beach near our hotel. On this cool afternoon, we had it all to ourselves.

Emma and Mary Ashley dipped their toes in the water, skipped, twirled and sang to their hearts content.

I loved watching my sweet Mary Ashley embrace the moment.

"A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable." ~ William Wadsworth

We arrived in Pine Mountain with rain in the forecast, but my little Emma always brings sunshine.

"A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." ~ Henry David Thoreau

"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride." ~ John F. Kennedy

After a restful night at the Lodge, the girls and I spent a perfect spring day exploring Callaway Gardens. Join me next week for a breathtaking explosion of spring!

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade." ~ Charles Dickens

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