Make precious memories that last with holiday fun throughout the Southeast
Get into the HO HO HOliday spirit with a tour of the South’s finest Christmas festivities. Between world-renowned twinkling lights, shopping fit for Jolly Ol’ St. Nick himself and train rides that dazzle the imagination, these Southern adventures are sure to be forever etched into your family’s favorite yuletide memories.
Families will be laughing all the way at Chehaw Park’s Festival of Lights in Albany, conveniently located off I-75 and I-10 in southwest Georgia. Crank the Christmas tunes and drive through more than 1,000 sparkling holiday light fixtures. Or, catch the jolly scenery aboard a train ride. Every glowing piece is handcrafted in the park’s welding shop, making this a truly one-of-a-kind spectacle. www.VisitAlbanyGa.com
Alpine Helen-White County, GA
Santa’s sleigh will overflow after a trip to this slice of Bavaria found in the North Georgia Mountains, about 90 minutes north of Atlanta. Fill up your shopping bags at Helen’s annual Christkindlmarkt, a German tradition where the center of town is filled with booths offering specialty gift items, decorations, assorted savory food, drinks and candied treats, December 3-4 and December 10-11. Don’t miss out on the Annual Helen Christmas Parade that rolls through downtown on December 10. www.WhiteCountyChamber.org. www.HelenChamber.com. www.HelenGa.org
Blue Ridge, GA
Climb on board the Santa Express Train and be whisked away to the winter wonderland that is the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. Just 90 minutes north of Atlanta, off of 575, this Southern mountain town will charm guests as they chug along to lasting Christmas memories. While on board, hear “Twas’ The Night Before Christmas,” sing Christmas carols and, of course, enjoy a meet and greet with Jolly Ol’ St. Nick! The train takes off November 27 and rides throughout December. Also catch Santa and Mrs. Claus as they parade through this charming mountain town on November 26 at Light Up Blue Ridge. www.BlueRidgeMountains.com.
The Christmas spirit takes hold of Columbus, Georgia before the leaves even begin to fall. This inviting Southern town is located 100 miles Southwest of Atlanta, borders the state of Alabama and is the home of The Ludy Christmas Spectacular. The Ludy family starts decorating in August and mesmerizes guests from both near and far with their 155,000 lights. The show stopping home was featured on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” Also, be sure to stop by the Annual Bi-City Christmas Parade on December 3. www.VisitColumbusGa.com
Celebrate the Christmas of Yesteryear at Thomasville’s Victorian Christmas Festival December 8-9. This darling city is snuggled in the Red Hills region, located 35 miles northeast of Tallahassee and 45 miles west of Valdosta, Georgia. 15,000 visitors stroll the streets each night while listening to live music and stopping in storefronts dressed for the season. Enjoy carriage rides with jingle bells, stilt walkers, carolers and performers dressed in Victorian clothing. Aromas fill the air with while food vendors dish up scrumptious seasonal delicacies. Catch a ride on the full-size Ferris wheel and carousel. Don’t forget to toast marshmallows on the open fire. www.ThomasvilleGa.com
Martin County, FL
Escape the holiday hustle and bustle and cozy up in what Coastal Living describes as one of the “Happiest Seaside Towns,” Martin County, Florida. Twenty-two miles of beach make up this ideal getaway, located just off of A1A and a short drive from multiple airports. Mild Florida winters are ideal for unplugging, spending time together and getting out and exploring the pristine parks and conserved lands this coastal gem offers. After soaking in the Florida sun, catch a holiday inspired show at the Lyric Theatre and top it off with a waterfront dinner in the moonlight. www.DiscoverMartin.com
Eight million lights and 15 spectacular scenes make for one magical Christmas season in LaGrange, Georgia an hour south of Atlanta and right along I-85. Visitors will immediately know why National Geographic named Callaway Garden’s Fantasy in Lights as one of the top 10 Christmas light displays in the world. Or celebrate the season in a big way at Hills And Dales. Deck the halls of this 1916 Callaway family manor that is 13,000 square feet and hosts 30 rooms. Lagrange is also where you can step back in time to the very first Christmas. “Follow the Shepard’s Walk” explores Mary and Joseph’s journey as they travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem at the Biblical History Center. www.LaGrangeChamber.com