Are you ready for a quick getaway that is only an hour south of Fayette County? Then hop in the car and check out the charming towns of Warm Springs and Pine Mountain. You will discover stunning scenery, including formal gardens, mountain views, and an area rich in American history.
‘We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
Avoid the freeway altogether and follow the back roads for a scenic country drive. Take GA 54 W and then 54 S to Luthersville, and then pick up US 27 Alt. S to Warm Springs. Here, President Franklin D. Roosevelt built his “Little White House,” an unassuming, six-room cottage – the only home he would ever own! Roosevelt looked forward to regular trips to Warm Springs for relaxation and for polio therapy at the nearby geothermal springs. This was not only his place of refuge, but where he developed many of his New Deal political policies.
The whole family will enjoy a visit to the Little White House, a Georgia State Parks Historic Site. Not only can you tour the home, but you will find a Walk of the States and museum, where you can view two of FDR’s classic cars. While sitting for a portrait at the Little White House, FDR was taken ill and died shortly thereafter. The “Unfinished Portrait” can be viewed during your visit. The Little White House is open daily (except holidays) from 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. For more information, go to: gastateparks.org/LittleWhiteHouse.
After you visit to the Little White House, spend some time on Main Street in Warm Springs. A popular place to eat is the Bulloch House. The original Bulloch House, built in 1893 by Benjamin F. Bulloch, one of the founders of Bullochville, later renamed Warm Springs. In 1990, the house became a popular restaurant for locals as well as tourists, but a lightning strike in 2015 started a fire that destroyed the historic structure. The Bulloch House was rebuilt on Main Street and still offers a delicious buffet of Southern comfort food, including its famous fried chicken and fried green tomatoes. After lunch, stroll through the charming downtown, filled with an eclectic mix of shops. For more information on the Bulloch House, go to: bullochhouse.com.
Continue your loop drive to Pine Mountain by continuing on US 27 Alt. S to GA 190 W – a scenic drive through FDR State Park, home of the 23-mile Pine Mountain Trail. As you approach GA 190 W, you will see the WJSP TV tower. Here is the parking lot and trailhead for the Wolfden Loop Trail – a 6.7 mile loop that starts at the end of the Pine Mountain Trail, following mile marker 23 to mile marker 18 before splitting off and returning to the start.
If you don’t want to walk the whole loop, take the two mile “out and back” hike to the signature waterfall in the park, Cascade Waterfall. Wear, water-proof hiking shoes because you will ford a stream 13 times, crossing over well-placed boulders and bridges. You will pass several small waterfalls on the way to Cascade Falls, where you will want to stop for photos and a picnic.
Continue a short distance past Cascade Falls to find the “wolf den,” for which the trail was named. Turn around and take the trail back to the start for a moderate four-mile jaunt. The land you are walking was once part of a farm owned by FDR and is now part of the 8,800 acres of FDR State Park – the largest park in the Georgia State Park system.
After your hike on the Wolfden Loop Trail, continue driving through FDR State Park on the scenic GA 190 W. to GA 354 and US 27 which will take you to nearby Callaway Resort & Gardens, or into the small town of Pine Mountain. Callaway Gardens, rated by USA Today as “Best Attraction in Georgia,” features activities for the whole family, in every season of the year. During the spring, thousands flock to the 2,500 acres of gardens to enjoy the spectacular azalea displays – a feast for the senses in colors of vibrant pink, red, orange, yellow and white.
During the summer, enjoy golfing, fishing, ziplining, water skiing, hiking and bike trails, or head to the “beach” at Robin Lake – the world’s largest man-made white sand beach! The kids will love the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, home to over 1,000 tropical butterflies, and the Birds of Prey shows. Callaway Gardens offers several options for dining and for overnight stays. For more information on planning a trip to Callaway Gardens, go to: callawaygardens.com.
Spend some time strolling through the charming town of Pine Mountain. You can download a mobile app for iPhone and iPad called “Pine Mountain Then and Now: A Walking Tour” that shares local history and helps you explore the town, or you can stop by the Chipley Historical Center to learn more about the history of the area.
The downtown Welcome Center has restrooms and lots of brochures of “things to do.” You will find an eclectic array of shops that offer antiques, art, and handcrafted gifts. If you are looking for a great seafood lunch or dinner, you can’t beat The Oyster House on Main Street. The modest, diner-style, restaurant serves up seafood buckets and platters, and delectable Po’ Boy sandwiches. The Oyster House is open Monday – Thursday at 5 p.m. for dinner and Friday – Sunday at noon for lunch and dinner. Another popular lunch spot is EatZ on the Corner, 100 Commerce Street in Pine Mountain, featuring “Southern American food with a tropical flair.” Their specialty is shrimp and grits.
Head back from Pine Mountain on GA 18 NE to US 27 Alternate North to Luthersville and then back on GA 54 N to home.