Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, about an hour north of Atlanta, is a world-class feast of flowers and colorful trees covering more than 220 acres, with many activities planned year round for families looking to experience natural beauty. Allow about three hours to take in the sprawling gardens and plan a visit based on what’s in bloom or what’s happening in the gardens. Here’s what to look for:

Japanese Gardens

The largest Japanese gardens in the United States transports you to Asia, with its ancient bonsai trees, cherry blossoms, weeping willows, pagodas and bridges. Enter through a Torii Gate, and see lots of Japanese architectural touches throughout the hill and pond-dotted strolling gardens. Spring, summer and fall are the best times to see the brilliantly colored Japanese Maples.

Festival Fun at Gibbs Gardens

Festivals held throughout the year celebrate what’s blooming (like azaleas, dogwoods, and waterlilies.) A Fall Festival features live music and a Spring Arts Festival features local artists’ interpretations of nature.  The Gardens also hosts individual music performances and strolling musicians on select evenings. Check the events calendar to find a time you’ll most want to visit.

Birds and Fish

Bird watch from the gazebo in the Pleasance, where the stream and food sources attracts a huge variety of birds. Near the Manor House, catch the activity in the Fish Pool, where bright koi swim, splash and shimmer.

Grandchildren’s Sculpture Gardens

Go see the grandkids! The 11 grandchildren of Gardens founders Jim and Sally Jim Gibbs are represented in sculpture form near the Japanese Gardens. Kids love to see what these life-size artworks are up to – playing, fishing, playing an instrument – and some of them cast reflections in the water.  Make it a game to count them all, and see which one is doing something your child loves to do.

– Dalia Faupel

The Details

Gibbs Gardens
1987 Gibbs Drive, Ball Ground.
Cost: Adults, $20; children 3-17. $10. 2 and younger, free
Hours: March 1-June 11, Tues.-Sun. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. June 14-Dec. 10, Wed.-Sun., 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Entry gates close at 4 p.m.

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