One of the best parts of North Georgia is the scenery. From rolling hills and sparkling lakes to rustling wildlife and sunsets over the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s a place of peace and natural beauty – peppered with special little gems to make Blue Ridge getaways extra-special. On the banks of Lake Chatuge (try boating here as well) in Hiawassee, Georgia, Hamilton Gardens is one such gem.
Hamilton Gardens at Lake Chatuge is a gorgeous Blue Ridge attraction in the North Georgia mountains boasting more than 20 acres of manicured gardens, trails, and art installations. It is listed as a botanical garden by the state of Georgia, and it is home to the largest collection of rhododendrons in the southeast. It is truly a classic Southern sight! And Hamilton Gardens is only about a 2 ½-hour drive from Atlanta and a 20-minute drive from Blairsville, (home of the Blairsville Sorghum Festival), so if you live in the area, it’s a great day trip! If you’re traveling from North Carolina, consider making it a weekend getaway!
Hamilton Gardens at Lake Chatuge showcases a huge variety of native flora – from vivid wildflowers and lush plants to lovely trees and more. When the blooms really open up, it is a beautiful place to spend a day. You could even make a game of seeing who can find the most varieties of rhododendron in the botanical gardens! There are more than 1,500 rhododendrons and native azaleas within the garden, but that’s not all. Stop and smell the flowers in the Hamilton Gardens – and be on the lookout for:
- Shooting stars
- Trout lilies
- Wild ginger
- Solomon’s seal
When to See the Blooms
With blooming flowers, an herb garden, modern art sculptures, more than 2 miles of beautiful trails, a water wheel, greenhouses, a gorgeous rhododendron garden, and more, Hamilton Gardens is great to visit year-round. You’ll enjoy wonderful views – no matter when you visit – at this tranquil garden set on scenic Lake Chatuge. But if there is a special flower you’re pining for, be sure to check out the usual schedule of blooms. Just remember – Mother Nature is unpredictable! Bloom times may vary, but peak blooming is usually around Mother’s Day. The gardens refer to this magical time as A Blooming Affair at Hamilton Gardens.
Late March – daffodils and wildflowers
Early April – native azaleas
Mid-April – hybrid rhododendron
Early to mid-May – rhododendrons, mountain laurels, daylilies, iris, and perennials
More Than Just Flowers
Hamilton Gardens is a paradise for flower lovers, but blooms aren’t the only thing to enjoy at this Blue Ridge gem. You can stroll along the Courey Shoreline Trail on a nice day, enjoy the scenery from the Gloria Brooks overlook and water wheel, or take a moment of serenity at the Fishing Hole Rock observation deck.
As you make your way around the gardens, be sure to find the 8 metal sculptures created by local artists. Ron Salzer showcases 3 modern art pieces in the gardens, and a wireframe elephant and octopus are tucked behind the barn. Kids will love hunting for the cat tails and bugs by artist Greg Quick.
As the day goes on, stop by the Bonnie Day arbor and bridges, visit the Celebration Plaza (which can be rented out for weddings) and fountain, or admire the spiral herb garden. Spend time strolling along the 2+ miles of groomed trails, check out what’s growing in the 2 greenhouses, or learn more at the pollinator and demonstration gardens.
Pick up a Plant – Greenhouse Sales
Spring at Hamilton Gardens doesn’t just mean flowers to view at the gardens. They also host plant sales on Saturdays and Sundays, 10 AM – 2 PM, mid-April through mid-May. The 2021 plant sale is slated to be a wonderful one, with hundreds of plants to choose from. Stop by to find the perfect one for your home, including 3-gallon rhododendrons, a pink-blossomed native dwarf rhododendron, hybrid rhododendrons, and more. During the holiday season, Hamilton Gardens plans to have handmade wreaths, cyclamens, and poinsettias for some holiday magic.
The Daffodil Project
Hamilton Gardens has planted 600 memorial daffodil bulbs in the beautiful Memorial Garden as part of the international Daffodil Project, focused on honoring and remembering the 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust. It was dedicated in 2018 and continues to serve as a space for guests to reflect to this day.
Hamilton Gardens is open year-round from 8 AM until dusk.
$5 per person or $10 per family, on the honor system
Things to Know
To help protect these beautiful gardens, tobacco products and pets are not allowed.
Currently, guided tours and golf cart tours are unavailable. Social distancing is required and masks are recommended.
Guests needing accessibility accommodations will find handicapped parking near the entrance and wheelchair-accessible restrooms in the Paris Pavilion. There are benches around the gardens for guests to rest, and most of the garden paths are mulched to make walking easier.
*Wheelchairs are not available for rent at the gardens.
Where to Stay
In beautiful Blue Ridge, Georgia, you’ll find local wineries, art galleries, unique boutiques, a scenic train tour, wildflowers, and wonderful farm-to-table food. After you’ve spent the day sampling, sipping, strolling, shopping, and soaking in the beauty of the gorgeous Hamilton Gardens, come back to a beautiful Blue Ridge cabin to relax and unwind. Our vacation rentals offer a wide range of luxury amenities, the conveniences of home, and stunning views – all adding up to a memorable experience in the North Georgia mountains.
More Fun in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Looking for more to do on your trip to the Hamilton Gardens of Hiawassee, Georgia? You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the many opportunities to explore the local arts scene, enjoy delicious farm-to-table food, listen to live music, shop, have some family fun, and explore the great outdoors! Here are a few of our other favorite things to do in the North Georgia mountains.
Hike to area waterfalls.
Check some trails off your Appalachian Trails bucket list and enjoy the scenery in the North Georgia mountains.
Go biking among the gorgeous North Georgia scenery.
Enjoy stunning views from Brasstown Bald.
Pick fresh peaches at a local peach orchard in Blue Ridge.
Go on a geocaching adventure in the area.
Get a taste of the mountains at the Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Festival.
Listen to live music at the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.