By staff writer
More people visit public gardens annually in America (78 million) than visit Las Vegas (48 million) or Disneyland (11 million) and Disneyworld (11 million) combined. This is great news for Atlanta, whose garden tourism industry has been blossoming in the past few years.
Metro Atlanta is home to a number of beautiful gardens, including the Atlanta History Center Goizueta Gardens, Callaway Resort and Gardens, Dunaway Gardens, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and Gibbs Gardens.
“We’re going to be doing a lot with our gardens in 2019,” Sheffield Hale, CEO of the Atlanta History Center, told Focus: Atlanta when he sat down with our team last year. “A lot is going to open. That’s a whole other focus that people don’t even know about: our 22 acres of gardens.”
The 33 acres that comprise the Atlanta History Center campus are home to six historic gardens, each of which represents a period in Georgia’s history, from its pre-colonial settlement to the 1930s. Visitors can spend hours — or even days — exploring the enchanting gardens, woodlands and trails.
According to USA Today, the Atlanta Botanical Garden is one of the top 10 best botanical gardens in the U.S. The garden occupies a 30-acre site dedicated solely to the care and enjoyment of a variety of plants and flowers. Its 200,000 annual visitors in 2010 more than doubled to 500,000 in 2017, underscoring the growing popularity of these green attractions.
Barnsley Resort directly incorporates gardens and hospitality by connecting travelers to nature and an outdoor lifestyle. More than 3,000 acres in size, the resort offers countless hands-on learning experiences in its beautiful gardens and takes advantage of the boom in garden tourism. In fact, the attraction opened a new 55-room inn and 9,000-square-foot event space called Georgian Hall in early 2018.
The City of Atlanta has also taken note of the emerging garden tourism industry. In May 2018, the Atlanta City Council approved a $100 million expansion project within Piedmont Park that includes the botanical gardens. According to a press release from the City of Atlanta, “The expansion project will include a connection to the Atlanta BeltLine, improved pedestrian trails and access to Piedmont Park, additional open greenspace and forested land.” Piedmont is one of the most visited parks in Atlanta, and this expansion is sure to attract even more visitors.
While it’s difficult to measure the economic impact of garden tourism, there’s no doubt that visitors who come to tour Atlanta’s parks and gardens contribute significantly to the local economy. And it’s more than just at hotels, restaurants and shops but also at the metro area’s diverse offerings of cultural organizations. In fact, one research study found that the single most common denominator among cultural tourists was an interest in gardening. This is one blooming industry that Focus: Atlanta will be keeping an eye on as we move into 2019!
For more information on our interviewee, visit http://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/.