This Small Georgia Town Is Less Than 3 Square Miles – but It's Home to the World's Largest Human-made White-sand Beach

Tasty Southern cuisine, beautiful gardens, and outdoor adventures are also part of the package.

A view of the Pine Mountain Valley from the F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Georgia

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Georgia may be best known for its big cities like Atlanta, Augusta, and Savannah, but the Peach State delivers sweet vacation spots in its small towns, too. For travelers seeking the perfect balance of Southern hospitality, outdoor adventure, and American history, a visit to Pine Mountain, Georgia, shouldn’t be missed. 

With under 2,000 local residents and an official measurement of just 2.99 square miles, there’s no escaping the charm of this small (and we mean small) Georgia town. Located roughly an hour’s drive from Atlanta, Pine Mountain offers a complete 180 from the hustle and bustle of the big city, yet it doesn’t hold back when it comes to delicious Southern food staples, access to more than 10,000 acres of outdoor activities, and the opportunity to spot wildlife — in the wild and from your car. Check out why Pine Mountain was one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite places to escape, relax, and heal. 

Best Things to Do in Pine Mountain, Georgia

Car exhibit in FDR's Little White House Museum

Ralph Daniel/Explore Georgia

Many travelers to Pine Mountain use the town as a gateway for accessing the area’s popular tourist points — just make sure to experience what the town itself has to offer, especially when it comes to its Southern cuisine. 

Two Main Street must-stops for a devilishly good taste of casual Southern eats include Moore’s Whistling Pig Cafe and Oyster House. Fill up on staples like smoky barbecue sandwiches, fried green tomatoes, Brunswick stew, potato salad, and freshly fried pork rinds at the former. Or, swap land for sea with fried, grilled, broiled, or boiled fish and shellfish, seafood platters, and, of course, po' boys at the Oyster House.

Walk off the meals while perusing the downtown area, stopping to sift through antiques, check out local artisan wares, or just window shop at the town’s local boutiques. 

Pine Mountain may be easy to conquer in an afternoon, but you’ll need considerably more time to scope out the Callaway Resort & Gardens. With its adjacent location to downtown Pine Mountain, this 2,500-acre property offers many on-site activities — a huge draw to the area. 

Buying a general admission ticket to Callaway Gardens also gets you access to five different areas within the property — including the bird-filled Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, the beautiful Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl, the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, the seasonal Robin Lake Beach (the largest human-made white sand beach in the world), and the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel — plus 10 miles of bike trails and all the walking paths that wind through the grounds. We highly recommend renting a golf cart or bikes to help you get around, especially if you have multiple places you’d like to visit. 

Different programs run throughout the year at each center, giving visitors the chance to learn more about the plants and animals within the gardens, including birds of prey, insects, and marine life. If all that’s not enough for you, you can also hit up the inflatable Aqua Island playground, go fishing in the lake, test your skills on a suspended adventure course, play rounds of golf, snag a spa treatment, or enjoy nonmotorized water sports on the lake — all for an additional cost to your admission.   

For those looking to get a little more wild, Pine Mountain is also a gateway to Georgia’s largest state park, the F.D. Roosevelt State Park. Whether you’re looking for a scenic day hike, want to be rewarded with beautiful views, or feel like winding through waterfalls and creeks, this 9,049-acre park offers more than 40 miles of established hiking trails for all experience and exercise levels, including routes within the 23-mile Pine Mountain Trail

While you’re here, it’s worth checking out the Little White House, the former vacation home of the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt built the house in 1932 (though he didn’t become president until the following year), approximately eight years after he began vacationing in the area at a spot called Warm Springs. The former president used the Little White House as his respite from the demands of Washington, D.C., and found relief for his polio-inflicted ailments in the naturally warm spring waters. 

The Little White House can now be visited as a museum, providing an intimate look at how Roosevelt lived, worked, and vacationed. Much of the interior has been left or restored to the way it was during his time of death in 1945, including an in-progress painted portrait. 

F.D. Roosevelt State Park also hosts educational programs and guided tours — try one on horseback from Roosevelt Stables for an added bit of fun — as well as seasonal swims in the spring-fed Liberty Bell pool and photo ops with a life-size statue of Roosevelt in the very spot where he would picnic. 

Prefer to stay seated? Take a ride around the world at Wild Animal Safari, where you can come across 75 different species from around the globe, including Australian emus, American buffalo, and African zebras. You can drive through at your own pace or join a guided tour. There are also on-site animal encounters such as feeding giraffes and handling reptiles, if you prefer a more hands-on approach. 

Best Time to Visit Pine Mountain, Georgia

A road through FDR State Park surrounded by fall foliage

Ralph Daniel/Explore Georgia

If you haven’t noticed, most of what draws people to Pine Mountain revolves around outdoor activities. The weather in Pine Mountain is surprisingly scattered, making for freezing winter temperatures and hot, humid summers. Keep in mind the type of activities you’re looking to do, and plan accordingly. 

Lakes are only open seasonally and have a special, refreshing quality on hot summer days, but if you’re coming to spot animals, they tend to stick to shade during the warmer months.

Love fall foliage? Hit the hiking trails come autumn and you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous shades. Wear layers and know that you’ll be missing out on water activities and likely any wildlife sightings, too. 

To see Callaway Gardens in full bloom — bursting at the seams with millions of colorful flowers — visiting from March through May is your best bet. Just be sure to book ahead because the Spring Flower Fest is popular. This is also a great time for spotting animals and bird species. 

And while the gardens may not be as brilliant in the winter months, they twinkle during Christmastime for the Fantasy in Lights, which illuminates the property with outstanding themed light displays and shows.  

Best Places to Stay in Pine Mountain, Georgia

Two young boys on a raft ride at Callway Resort

Ralph Daniel/Explore Georgia

Without a doubt, the best place to stay in Pine Mountain is Callaway Resort & Gardens, where you’ll have the option of a villa, cottage, or resort room or suite — and receive daily admission to the Callaway Gardens for free. The Lodge & Spa rooms and suites feature balconies with views of the lake, forest, or gardens. You’ll also find contemporary, upscale amenities, plus easy access to the spa. Surrounded by forest, the cottages offer more privacy and a home-away-from-home feel, thanks to the separate living area, bedrooms, fireplaces, and full kitchens, while the two- and four-bedroom villas are larger and sport more rustic, lodge-like decor. 

Other lodging options include the in-town Chipley Murrah Bed & Breakfast and Cottages (around the corner from the Oyster House), where you’ll stay in a restored 1895 Victorian mansion, soak in claw-foot tubs, sleep in wooden four-post beds, and be served a full hot breakfast.

Dietary restrictions can be accommodated. Just note the two cottages don’t include breakfast, but they are their own stand-alone multibedroom units with full kitchens and claw-foot tubs. 

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