March 5, 2010

Road Trip - Day 4, Maclay Gardens

Today is supposed to be rainy, windy and cold but so far my luck has held and I'm in Tallahassee's Maclay Gardens determined to bring it to you come rain or come shine. This place is magical! When I was younger my grandmother brought me here in the spring to see the azaleas in bloom and to this day I remember the reflecting pool and all those rich colors. I said then that if I ever got married it would be here. Well, in my youthful wish I left out the fact that it was nine hours from my hometown. Bit of a drive for guests! Eventually, when I did marry it was in a beautiful garden (closer to home), Flamingo Gardens, but that's a story for another time. This garden was my inspiration for that setting.
Maclay Gardens sits in the northwest corner of Tallahasse about an hours drive from Carrabelle on the road to Thomasville (GA).  It is a 1076 upland acres state park and garden.  The gardens were first planted by the Maclays after purchasing the property for their winter home.  This garden is spectacular in the spring for which I was a bit early.  So I was a little concerned my timing was off for flower viewing but the camellia blooming in my parents front yard gave me hope.  Maclay Gardens did not disappoint.  There are no Azaleas blooming right now but the Camellias and the Dogwood among others were putting on a spectacular display.  It's a flower show - in February?  Just look for yourself.  I stayed for a couple hours even in a slight rain (cold rain) and it was well worth it. 
After exploring the gardens I checked out the rest of the state park.  There are campsites, bike trails, horse trails, hiking trails, and access to fishing, canoeing, kayaking, sculling and swimming, and pavilions and grills along the lake shore. Obviously, there is a lot to love about this park.  It's one of Florida's best kept secrets and it shouldn't be any longer.  So I'm telling you don't miss this treasure!
Map of Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park

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