Christmas Vacation in Atlanta: 50 Staycation Ideas for Things to Do With Kids

Visit Stone Mountain for a magical Christmas experience during holiday break. Photo courtesy of Stone Mountain
Visit Stone Mountain for a magical Christmas experience during holiday break. Photo courtesy of Stone Mountain
12/17/23 - By James Smith

Christmas vacation is one of the best things about the holiday season for many Atlanta kids. Parents, on the other hand, may dread the thought of keeping their children entertained for the holiday break. Have no fear! We've got some amazing Atlanta staycation ideas to enjoy the ultimate Christmas vacation.

Because kids can sleep in during holiday break, take advantage of evening ideas like Christmas light displays  and Atlanta holiday shows and Nutcracker performances. Try outdoor activities, such as ice skating and winter hikes, since Atlanta's weather is generally mild. Save money during Christmas vacation by getting an Atlanta CityPass for many of Atlanta's top attractions, including Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, and more.


Don't forget to check out our Christmas Activities and Holiday Guide for Atlanta Kids for more holiday-focused events over winter break, as well as our Atlanta Calendar of Events; and sign up for our FREE newsletter to stay in the know of everything Atlanta.

Don’t miss the illuminations at the drive-thru Shine Light Show. Photo by Bruce Johnson

Christmas Vacation in Atlanta: Holiday Lights

1. Winter Lantern Festival Atlanta - Lawrenceville

Head to the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds to walk through an outdoor maze of over 1,000 illuminated Chinese lanterns. Additional activities include a bounce house, illuminated swings, and lots of photo ops. Through January 2, 2024.

2. Garden Lights, Holiday Nights - Midtown

Visitors to the Atlanta Botanical Garden can explore 30 acres of illuminated gardens in one of the largest synchronized light and sound shows in the country. The event continues through January 14, 2024.

3. Glow Light Show & Festival - Lawrenceville

This Christmas light display features synchronized music from your car radio. Since visitors don't leave vehicles, this is perfect for cold winter nights and for little ones who may fall asleep early.   

4. Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights - Pine Mountain

This Callaway Garden holiday event happens through January 1, 2024. In addition to the seven-mile drive through the Enchanted Forest, families should visit the Christmas Village and Celebration Lake with 30 dancing trees.

5. IllumiNights at Zoo Atlanta - Grant Park

IllumiNights is a Chinese lantern festival of lights happening nightly through January 14, 2024. 

6. Christmas Light Displays - Various Locations

Families will also enjoy Lights of LIFE at Life University and Holiday Lights of Hope at Hobgood Park in Woodstock.

RELATED: Tasty Restaurants Open on Christmas Day in Atlanta

Lace-up your skates and take a spin on the ice at Skate the Station. Photo courtesy of Atlantic Station

Christmas Vacation in Atlanta: Ice Skating

7. Skate City Springs - Sandy Springs

Families can head to the new outdoor skating rink at City Springs. Reserve tickets online which include one hour of skating and skate rental. The 5,000-square-foot ice rink be open every day, except Christmas Day, through January 21, 2024. 

8. Skate the Station - Midtown

The Southeast’s largest outdoor rink is located in Atlantic Station, open on Christmas and New Year’s Day at 4pm. Skate rental is included with admission. 

9. The Ice Rink at Sugar Hill - Snellville

This outdoor ice rink is open through February (even on Christmas and New Year's Day!) with skate rentals, skate aids, and helmets available.

10. Avalon on Ice - Alpharetta 

For those who live north of Atlanta, spend the day on the ice at Avalon. It is open daily with extended hours during the holiday break.

11. Olde Town on Ice - Conyers

Spend the holiday winter break on this partially covered rink -- perfect if the weather outside is frightful. 

RELATED: Best Outdoor Ice Skating Near Atlanta 

Christmas Vacation in Atlanta: Seek Adventure

12. Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Over Georgia - Austell

Six Flags is open practically every day during the holiday break (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), featuring hot chocolate, beautiful light displays, and of course, thrilling rides.

13. License to Chill Snow Island - Buford

Margaritaville at Lake Lanier Islands becomes a frosty paradise in the winter, with snow hills, carnival rides, an ice skating rink, and a fire pit with s'mores.

14. Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge - LaGrange

In addition to the massive indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge, guests enjoy seasonal arts and crafts, games, visits with Santa, the Frosty Fest Dance Party, and more. Don't miss getting a photo in front of the life-size gingerbread house.

15. Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park - Various Locations

Kids can challenge themselves on a ropes course, play dodgeball, tackle climbing walls, and get rid of all their extra holiday energy.

RELATED: The Best Holiday and Christmas Events in Atlanta 

Atlanta Things to do over Christmas Break: Fernbank transforms into a Winter Wonderland
Fernbank transforms into a Winter Wonderland this holiday season. Photo courtesy of Fernbank

Christmas Vacation in Atlanta: Festivals, Theater, & Train Rides

16. Stone Mountain Christmas - Stone Mountain

This popular event continues through January 2, 2024, and includes music, lights, live performances, and visits from familiar holiday friends.

17. Winter Wonderland at Fernbank - Atlanta

Fernbank is transformed into a winter wonderland with decorated holiday trees and giant snow globes through January 7, 2024.

18. Atlanta Christkindl Market - Buckhead

Families can enjoy a German-themed Christmas market in Buckhead Village through Christmas Eve.

19. Center for Puppetry Arts - Midtown

If your child loves the dramatic arts, check out the Center for Puppetry Arts, where the holiday classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is being performed through December 31, 2023.

20. Holiday Shows - Various locations

Keep the holiday spirit going during the winter break at a show! For example, catch the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, on stage through Christmas Eve at Alliance Theatre.

21. Holiday Train Rides - Various Locations

Ride to the North Pole on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad's Polar Express in Bryson City, NC through December 31, 2023. Families can also journey on the Winter Wonderland Train at the Pine Mountain Gold Museum through December 30, 2023.

Atlanta Things to do Christmas Vacation: Illuminarium: Winter Wonderland Spectacular
Walk through an immersive holiday wonderland during this magical show at Illuminarim Atlanta.

Christmas Vacation in Atlanta: Exhibits and Museums

22. Jurassic World Immersive Exhibition - Kirkwood

Based on the movie, guests walk among life-size dinosaurs, explore a genetic creation lab, and pose for photos with baby dinos. Catch the exhibit before it leaves Atlanta on January 1, 2024. 

23. Illuminarium: Winter Wonderland Spectacular - Old Fourth Ward

Journey through a snowstorm to Santa's palace in this immersive experience complete with dancing nutcrackers, toy trains, and candy canes. Tickets include hot chocolate and a picture with Santa through January 6, 2024.

24. Sloomoo Institute Atlanta - Buckhead

If your kids love playing with slime, check out the new Sloomoo Institute Atlanta for a super sensory experience. At the end of the timed visit, guests create their own slime concoction to take home. 

25. Tutankhamun: His Tomb and His Treasures - Doraville

See this interactive King Tut exhibit before it leaves Atlanta January 31, 2024. Recommended for all ages, families will travel to ancient Egypt while learning about one of the youngest pharaohs.  

26. Van Gogh: The Immersive Exhibit - Doraville

Back by popular demand, the Van Gogh exhibit returns to Atlanta. The immersive experience, lasting about an hour, allows visitors to walk through the world of Vincent Van Gogh and his paintings through music and light projections.

27. Disney's The Little Mermaid x Camp - Dunwoody

Families love participating in this interactive version of Disney's The Little Mermaid with singing and dancing. The experience lasts about one hour.

28. Snow Days at Children's Museum of Atlanta - Downtown

Head to the Children's Museum of Atlanta for a fun snow-themed exhibit featuring sock skating and crafts. Snow Days goes through December 30, 2023. 

29. Holidays at the Georgia Aquarium - Downtown

In addition to the 40-foot tree, visitors enjoy carolers, animal presentations, photos with Santa, Scuba Claus, and more until January 1, 2024. Open both Christmas Day and New Year's Day.  

Atlanta-things to do on Christmas Break: holidays at the World of Coca-Cola
Enjoy the holidays at the World of Coca-Cola during winter break. Photo courtesy of Coca-Cola Company

30. World of Coca-Cola - Downtown

What kid wouldn’t love visiting the World of Coca-Cola, with its new Beverage Lab and a chance to meet the Coke polar bears?!

31. Museum of Illusions Atlanta - Midtown

Opening earlier this year, the Museum of Illusions provides families with over 80 logic-defying experiences. Kids enjoy multiple illusion rooms, puzzles, and holograms.  

RELATED: Best Atlanta Museums for Families to Learn and Play

Spark Village Houses in Sandy Springs.
Do something different by visiting the Spark Village Houses in Sandy Springs. Photo by Rebecca Ruffin Leffler

Christmas Vacation in Atlanta: Outdoorsy Fun

32. WildWoods: AGLOW - Druid Hills

Explore the multi-sensory experience of nature lit in a totally new and exciting way before it ends February 25, 2024 

33. Enchanted Woodland Trail - Roswell

If you're feeling outdoorsy, bundle up and head to the Chattahoochee Nature Center with whimsical gnome and fairy houses through February 29, 2024.

34. Sparkle Village Houses - Sandy Springs

Walk around more than 25 holiday-themed miniature houses with great photo ops at Sandy Springs City Springs through January 1, 2024.

35. Atlanta BeltLine - Westside

Explore the Atlanta BeltLine when it is less crowded during the winter months. Or explore one of these kid-friendly winter hikes as well.

Christmas Vacation in Atlanta: Vacation Camps

36. Zoo Atlanta - Grant Park

The zoo offers a winter break Safari Camp, where kids 5 to 11 are introduced to wildlife, conservation, and more. Campers can attend December 18-22 and December 27-29, 2024.

37. Alliance Theatre - Atlanta

Enroll kids in School Break Play Days, December 18-22, 2023. Designed for kids ages 4 through 5th grade, each day features a different theme.

38. Hi-Five Sports Zone - Alpharetta

Young athletes enjoy a camp filled with team sports like basketball, dodgeball, soccer, and football. The venue offers half- and full-day options through January 2, 2024. 

39. Young Chef's Academy - Sandy Springs, Marietta, Cumming

If you have a budding chef, sign them up for Culinary Camp at Young Chef's Academy during the holiday break. Morning and afternoon sessions are available for kids ages 5-15.

40. Dunwoody Nature Center - Dunwoody

Get the kids outside during the break! Dunwoody Nature Center hosts winter break camp sessions on December 18-22 and December 27-29, 2023 for kids ages 4 through fifth grade. Early drop-off and after-care available.  

41. YMCA of Atlanta - Various Locations

Check out your local YMCA branch as many offer school break camps perfect for parents who work during the time off.

42. Tutu Camp - Alpharetta

Sign your kids up for Camp Tutu at Tutu School Halycon. Potty-trained kids from ages 3.5 to 8 years old can participate in Nutcracker Camp December 20-22, 2024 or Swan Lake Camp December 27-29, 2023. 

Christmas Vacation in Atlanta: More Things to Do

43. Bowling

When the weather gets cold, you don't have to stay indoors. Gather the family and head to these bowling alleys for some fun, friendly competition.

44. Indoor Play

When little ones want to play inside, venture to one of Atlanta's many indoor play spaces.

45. Indoor Water Parks and Pools

Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean kids can't go swimming. Take a dip in these Atlanta indoor pools and water parks for aquatic fun.

46. College Bowl Games

Cheer on your favorite college bowl games at these great spots to watch college football with kids.

47. Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Downtown

Enjoy the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl festivities, including the parade, FanFest, and the football game.

48. Go Shopping

Buy new stuff, return holiday gifts, or just window shop with your little fashionistas for a day of shopping, especially for those after-Christmas sales. Remember to shop local!

Atlanta things to do over Christmas break: Winterfest in the historical Virginia-Highland neighborhood.
Take part in Winterfest in the historical Virginia-Highland neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Virginia District Association

49. Explore Cool Areas of Atlanta

Check out our neighborhood guides to the historical Virginia-Highland neighborhood and Decatur, both not too far from downtown for a day of family fun. Or, if you want to explore a family-friendly mixed-use development north of Atlanta, head up to Halcyon with cool places to eat and plenty of kid-friendly events. 

50. Take a Day Trip close to Atlanta

If you feel you've taken the kids to do everything in Atlanta and just want to get away for the day, check out these spots for a quick getaway. 

Whatever you do, enjoy the Christmas break; you’ve earned it! And Happy New Year from your friends at Mommy Poppins Atlanta.

Additional reporting by Rebecca Ruffin Leffler