Typically December is a month filled with fun holiday gatherings and end-of-year celebrations. But with the current pandemic looming, many of us are looking for activities to celebrate the season while remaining safe, socially distanced and outdoors. Fortunately, there are lots of fun outdoor holiday activities in Atlanta to check out this season. Colder temperatures outside mean bundling up and walking in the fresh air, but there are also a few options that you can enjoy from the comfort of your car.
Whether you are looking to do something active, spend time in nature or just see some excellent light displays, there are some creative options for enjoying the holiday season safely during this pandemic. Here are some of the best outdoor holiday activities in Atlanta to check out near you this season.
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights – Atlanta Botanical Garden
For more than 40 years, Atlantans and visitors have been enjoying the lush natural oasis of the Atlanta Botanical Garden situated in the heart of Midtown. The Garden Lights, Holiday Nights exhibit is something many of us look forward to every year. This year is no different, even with masks and social distancing. The display is on and better than ever to enjoy with friends or family. There is coordinated music and lights throughout the garden’s 30 acres. You can purchase hot chocolate or cider to sip on as you enjoy the garden displays and the cool weather. Guests should buy tickets ahead of time this year, as space is limited to ensure proper social distancing. The display runs every evening through Jan. 16.
Though the Lake Lanier Magical Nights of Lights was a fan favorite for nearly 30 years, the popular drive-through display has been replaced this year by the Margaritaville at Lanier Islands Lakeside Lights Spectacular. Guests can purchase hot cocoa or cocktails to enjoy while walking through the displays of lights accompanied by holiday tunes. There are also opportunities for a socially distanced Santa visit or to enjoy carnival rides near the attraction. The Lakeside Lights Spectacular runs nightly through Jan. 5, and it will continue as a weekend-only event through Feb. 21.
Atlanta Festival of Lights – Atlantic Station
A newcomer to the holiday scene has emerged with Atlantic Station’s Atlanta Festival of Lights. This is a 20-minute drive through a range of holiday lights displays that can be enjoyed as a family experience or as a festive addition to date night. Visitors are encouraged to purchase advance tickets to this event. The Festival of Lights runs from 6-11 p.m. every night (except Dec. 31 and Jan. 1) through Jan. 18.
Fantasy in Lights – Callaway Gardens
For an award-winning experience that’s a bit further outside of Atlanta, consider visiting Callaway Gardens for their Fantasy in Lights. This display was named one of National Geographic’s Top 10 lights displays in the world in both 2011 and 2018. More than 2,500 acres are part of the gardens, and the lights display covers many of them with more than eight million lights. It has become a well-loved tradition for many Georgians, and this is the event’s 29th year. To enjoy the Fantasy in Lights, guests can ride on an open-air trolley or drive through the display in their own vehicles. There is also a Christmas Village on-site with concessions. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance, since there is limited capacity. Fantasy in Lights runs through Jan. 4.
World of Illumination – Marietta
The World of Illumination has an Atlanta-area outpost this year in Marietta on the site of Six Flags White Water, where they are hosting the Candy Rush lights display. Their light displays are purported to be the world’s largest drive-thru animated light shows. Marietta’s Candy Rush is a candy-based wonderland geared toward children that features sugar plum fairies, unicorns and rainbows. Online reservations are required for this event, and it runs through Jan. 3.
Stone Mountain Christmas – Stone Mountain
At Stone Mountain Park this time of year there are many festive attractions as a part of the Stone Mountain Christmas celebration. Things to do include the Snow Angels Christmas Parade, a 10-minute Christmas-themed laser light show, and Santa’s Big Flight during an Enchanted Tree Lighting Ceremony. Guests can also enjoy regular outdoor attractions like the Summit Skyride and the Scenic Railroad. Many holiday characters are also present, so this event promises lots of fun for families with children. You can also catch a few different shows including caroling and a magic show. Stone Mountain Christmas is open on select dates now through Jan. 3.
With all of these great outdoor options, it will be easy to stay safe and enjoy fun outdoor holiday activities in Atlanta this year. Whether you prefer to drive through a lights display or to enjoy some time strolling in the great outdoors, there are many fun and festive things to do. So when you and your family are looking for something jolly to experience this season, check out one of these safe choices for your December celebrations.
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