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Try A Family Christmas-Time Break In Atlanta

The Christmas season can get chaotic. There are meals to make, families to visit, gifts to buy, decorations to put up; .you know the drill. Taking a time-out from all that to visit a city full of holiday lights and sounds gives you actual quality time with your partner and your kids. It magically changes this time of year from hectic to happy.

These are the Atlanta holiday events that you just can’t miss if you choose this southern city for a holiday-season break. between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. They’ve become wonderful traditions in our household. Maybe some of them will become your traditions, too.

Here are our Altanta Christmas time top five with kids.

Christmas-time Atlanta Family Weekend Getaway

Atlanta Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

The Nutcracker at the Atlanta Ballet

The historic and palatial Fox Theatre could not be a more perfect place to present the Nutcracker ballet. The music, dance and sets will make you nostalgic for the Christmases of your own childhood.

First-timers must splurge on a seat in the ‘snow row’ for a complete experience. You can guess what happens there! For kids it’s quite magical and make them feel part of the action.

Make time to stay afterward. Your kids can craft an Abominable Snow Monster hand puppet.

Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens

lights at hallway gardens outside of atlanta

If light shows are your favorite holiday treat, indulge in lights galore at Callaway Gardens, just about an hour outside of Atlanta.

Drive your own car or hop on the Jolly Trolley for a display of more than 8 million twinkling lights.

National Geographic named it one of the top 10 places in the country to see holiday lights.

For a real treat, spend a night at the Calloway Resort, not far from the Gardens. They often have packages that include an overnight stay and tickets to the light show. Choose the lodge, cottages, or Mountain Creek Inn, which offer different rooms, pools, hot tubs, restaurants and other amenities. (search for the lowest seasonal rates at the The Lodge.)

Garden Lights at Atlanta Botanical Gardens

If you want to stay closer to town, million twinkling lights decorate the gardens here. Plus there’s s’mores for the kids and hot buttered rum for mom and dad.

Nighttime is glorious because of all the lights. But don’t skip a daytime visit, especially with smaller kids. You can see a model train, take photos with and old-world Santa and more.

Stone Mountain Park Christmas
and Snow Mountain

santa claus at stone mountain resort in Atlanta

My family goes for the holiday parade, complete with a flying snow angel. It brings a smile to the faces of everyone in my family.

There are also character meet-and-greets with Rudolph and Bumble,  the sing-along train, live holiday shows, visits with Santa Claus, a 4D Rudolph movie and lots more lights.

We love dinner at the Campfire Grill with cookie decorating for dessert, and a gondola ride down the powdery hill at Snow Mountain!

Tip: If you are visiting for the weekend, consider a stay at the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott, which is located within the park and has a heated indoor pool. (Check the lowest seasonal rates.)

live rudolph puppet show in atlanta
Rudolph at the Center for Puppetry Arts

Parents who grew up watching the classic 1964l Ranken-Bass cartoon will love seeing it come to life on stage. My children look forward to seeing the Santa and Rudolph puppets every year.  And it’s one of my favorite Christmas traditions, too.

Planning a trip?
Find reviews and rates for Atlanta-area hotels and winter activities on TripAdvisor.
Find the lowest rates across travel booking sites on Hotels Combined.

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Lesli Peterson is owner, editor & CEO of, a digital resource for families who believe that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. She also serves as the Family Travel Ambassador for Georgia and freelances for several national publications. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene. Find her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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