The holiday season brings many exciting things to your front door, including visiting family and friends! Once they’re here, how do you keep them entertained? We can help with that! Whether your company is here for an extended stay or a quick visit, the metro area is brimming with fun, festive activities for visiting guests and permanent residents to enjoy.
Scenic Blue Ridge Mountains
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Residents in metro Atlanta can easily get caught up in the hustle and bustle of city life. When friends and family are visiting for the holidays, take the opportunity to get away for the day and explore Georgia’s diverse natural landscape. The Blue Ridge Mountains are accessed via I-575 about 90 minutes north of Atlanta and offer the perfect getaway for every traveler.
Originally settled in the 1800s as a railway stop, Blue Ridge blossomed over the centuries into the perfect scenic getaway for Georgia travelers and residents. Ranked by Southern Living Magazine in the 2020 South’s Best Mountain Town list, the pocket of small towns in the area surrounding Blue Ridge feature wineries, orchards, antique shopping, unique dining and hiking.
Challenge family and friends at one of the many forest reserves and recreation areas to finish out your 2021 resolutions. Home to a section of the famed Appalachian Trail, popular stops include Aska Trails, Swinging Bridge Trail, Springer Mountain and Long Creek Falls. If you’re lucky, the gorgeous mountains will be dusted in snow for the perfect picturesque hike.
Visit the downtown centers of Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Dahlonega and Helen to browse the antique and boutique shops and discover long-forgotten treasures, Southern fashion and locally sourced wine and olive oil while enjoying the festive lights around town.
Popular eateries feature diverse selections of Southern comfort food, barbecue, pastries and sweets. Whether you’re in the mood to enjoy a hearty lunch at Cantaberry in downtown Ellijay or satisfy that fried chicken craving at Wagon Wheel, visitors are guaranteed a delicious bite to eat.
For more information, visit www.blueridgemountains.com.
Lake Lanier Islands
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When visitors imagine Lake Lanier Islands, they picture boats on the water and the bright summer sunshine. However, this series of islands has a lot to offer during the colder months of the year. An hour outside of the heart of Atlanta, this is an accessible destination for a day of festive fun.
Enjoy wintery snow flurries on the 575-foot Parrot Mountain, Georgia’s only snow tubing slide at Snow Island. This fun, interactive spot also features ice skating with cheerful holiday tunes on repeat and carnival rides for kids of all ages. Under a constant cover of snow, fresh flurries are blown daily for endless snowball fights and snowman building contests.
It wouldn’t be the holiday season without sparkling lights! Margaritaville at Lake Lanier hosts an interactive light spectacular. Stroll through the dazzling lights while enjoying festive holiday music for the perfect holiday adventure. Virtually purchase tickets on the venue’s website.
Other family-friendly Lake Lanier Island calendar events include a visit from the Coke Polar Bear, holiday crafts, a visit from Mrs. Claus, gingerbread house building and more. Visit the Lake Lanier Islands website today to plan a fun holiday getaway.
Stone Mountain Park
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Stone Mountain Christmas is an event that metro residents hear whispers of year-round. The highly anticipated event takes place from November to February, making the holiday season a little brighter. Jolly activities include a ride on the scenic railroad, the Summit Skyride, the Polar Express in 4D and more. Purchase tickets and member passes on the website and if you time your visit right, young guests might get the chance to meet the famed Snow Angel.
Traverse the magical and musical Frosted Forest for an interactive and fun family activity. Say hello to Santa through his shop window to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek of the North Pole.
Each day brings different delights from carolers to holiday plays to visits from Rudolph. The virtual park calendar details each day’s events to ensure your experience is as magical as can be. Check the Play Safe Page for information on COVID-19 restrictions for a safe and fun daycation.
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With football wrapping up and students away on winter break, the holidays are the perfect time to visit downtown Athens for a unique southern Christmas experience.
Offering a quaint and connected holiday getaway, Athens has a holiday calendar guaranteed to please every family member. From ice skating at The Classic Center to the Downtown Parade of Lights, a day trip to Athens is a must-do this holiday season.
About an hour-and-a-half outside of Atlanta via Highway 316, Athens is the historic home to the University of Georgia, as well as a vibrant music scene and culinary destination. Historical buildings that showcase the epitome of southern architecture are showered in bright lights, transforming the town into a quaint Christmas scene. Museums, performing arts centers, art galleries and a thriving food scene offer plenty of options to create a packed itinerary from dawn till dusk.
The Table Bistro, Porterhouse Grill and Osteria Athena are top local eateries and pair perfectly with a holiday light show. Tour historic buildings, galleries and shops, grab a yummy bite to eat and, as the sun goes down, revel in the Christmas spirit in a true southern fashion.
For more information about holiday events in Athens, visit www.visitathensga.com/events/holiday.