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Fields of flowers and healing powers in Pine Mountain 

A little more than an hour south of Atlanta's southern reaches, the small town of Pine Mountain (www.pinemountain.org) works both as a pleasant place to spend a few hours or an ideal jumping-off spot for several popular area attractions.

The primary draw for Pine Mountain is Callaway Gardens (5887 Ga. 354, Pine Mountain, 706-663-2281, www.callawaygardens.com), the 13,000-acre golf and spa resort known for its carefully tended flowers, nature trails and tropical butterfly habitat. More than 750,000 visitors a year come to Callaway for a day-long visit or to stay in the lodge, inn or luxury cottages. While the buildings are located amid woods, lakes and azaleas, there's nothing remotely rustic about the top-shelf amenities.

In nearby Warm Springs is the Little White House State Historic Site (401 Little White House Road, Warm Springs, 706-655-5870, www.fdr-littlewhitehouse.org), featuring the modest house where then-President Franklin Roosevelt would stay while partaking in the restorative effects of the hot mineral springs – and to rendezvous with various mistresses. In fact, one longtime paramour was at FDR's bedside when he died at the house in April 1945. The property is surrounded by FDR State Park (2970 Ga. 190, Pine Mountain, 706-663-4858, www.gastateparks.org/FDR), Georgia's largest, which also boasts several historic structures built during the Great Depression by the FDR-created Civilian Conservation Corps.

Another local attraction is the Wild Animal Safari (1300 Oak Grove Road, Pine Mountain, 706-663-8744, www.animalsafari.com), a wildlife preserve in which visitors can take driving tours through grasslands, swamps, deserts and forests surrounded by zebras, rhinos, giraffes, lions, tigers – even the unholy combo platter of "ligers."

But one of the best reasons to visit the area is for Pine Mountain itself, with its quaint small-town main street lined with antique stores, boutiques and restaurants. It's an easy destination, south on I-85, then 12 miles southeast along U.S. 27. From vintage clothes to antique kitchenware and used books to garden goods, the charming burg has most of what you'd hope to find in such a place – unless what you're looking for are head shops and skateboard dealers.

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