If Texas has the market cornered on hair, Georgia owns the market for big, bright, bold, and over-the-top holiday light displays. If you’re looking for an evening outing that will amaze the entire family, you’re in the right place. Read on to find the best spots around town to be dazzled.

Atlanta Botanical Lights

Photo: Timothy J via flickr Creative Commons

Atlanta Botanical Garden
Now in it’s fifth year, the million-light display at the Botanical Garden can’t be beat. Family favorites include the orchestral orbs (glowing balls that blink in time with holiday classics), the tricked-out train display, and the fire pits for roasting s’mores (while mom and dad drink a cocktail from the cash adult bar). Be sure to bring a stroller for little legs, and don’t miss the incredible laser light display in the orchid house.

Details: November 14, 2015 to January 9, 2016, 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday – Sunday, $26 adult, $20 ages 3-12, Free under 3. Monday – Wednesday, $23 adult, $17 ages 3-12, Free under 3. Tickets available online or in person.

1345 Piedmont Avenue
Atlanta, Ga
Online: atlantabg.org

Centennial Olympic Park Atlanta

Photo: Centennial Olympic Park via Facebook

Centennial Olympic Park
With thousands of lights twinkling over 21 acres, the holidays just might be the best time of year to visit downtown’s Centennial Olympic Park. While you’re there, take a spin on the outdoor ice skating rink on the Great Lawn, or meander over to the Sky View ferris wheel to take in the lights from the sky.

Details: November 21, 2015 to January 10, 2016 daily from dark until 11:00 p.m. Free admission. 

265 Park Avenue W NW
Atlanta, Ga
Online: centennialpark.com


Photo: Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens
With more than 15 displays and 8 million lights this year, the Fantasy in Lights drive-through experience is worth the hour and a half trek from Atlanta. Not sure your kiddos can bear a road trip where the destination is more time in the car? Opt to ride the Jolly Trolly (no car seats, but bring your coats – it’s open air!). Don’t forget to hit the Christmas Village before you head back home. Filled with ornaments, treats, and the Big Guy himself (photos available), the kids will love the chance to stretch their legs and marinate in the merriment.

Details: November 13, 2015 to January 2, 2016 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Adults $28, Children ages 6-12 $14, Free for ages 5 and under, Check the website for specially priced nights and advance purchase discounts. To order tickets, click here or call 1.800.CALLAWAY (800.225.5292).

17800 US Hwy 27
Pine Mountain, GA
Online: callawaygardens.com

lights of life

Photo: Life University via Facebook 

Life University
Talk about some holiday spirit! This incredible light exhibit is a zero-profit event for Life University in Marietta that boasts the tallest Santa and his sleigh display in the Southeast. New displays are added yearly, and the entire arrangement is unique each year. Be sure to hit the petting zoo, train rides, pony rides, and visit with Santa before you leave, but you might want to wait until after driving-through the light exhibit to tell the littles. You won’t be able to keep them in the car, otherwise.

Details: November 26, 2015 to December 31, 2015 from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday to Sunday, $10 per car, Monday to Thursday, $5 per car, Train, pony rides, petting zoo, and Santa are additional, from $3 – $12.

1269 Barclay Circle
Marietta, GA
Online: life.edu

Stone mountain park

Photo: Stone Mountain Park via Facebook

Stone Mountain
Another pedestrian option for families with littles who just don’t love the car, Stone Mountain decks the halls with millions of lights, and offers plenty of options for keeping the kiddos entertained from taking a ride on the train (decorated for the holidays and rockin’ some jolly tunes) to taking in a visit with Santa, Rudolph, or the Bumble. Get there early and take a ride on Atlanta’s only snow covered slope! Night owls in your family? Stick around for the flying Snow Angel and fireworks finale at 8:45 or 9:45 p.m., depending on the schedule.

Details: November 7th to January 3rd (select dates). $44.95/ person – Includes two-hour tubing session, all day snow play area access, and access to Stone Mountain Christmas attractions and entertainment. Purchase tickets here.

1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd
Stone Mountain, GA
Online: stonemountainpark.com

lake lanier islands lights

Photo: Lanier Islands

Lake Lanier Magical Nights
This road trip option (45 minutes up the road towards Buford) includes millions of drive-through twinkling lights, Santa’s Holiday Village, where kids can share their Christmas wishes with the big man himself, a live nativity, and a brand new adventure this year called Winter Adventure – a snow-packed play land with tubing and sledding.

Details: Magical Nights of Light, November 27th to January 3rd, Adults $17 and up, Children $10 and up, Winter Adventure, November 27th to February 15th, Adults $20 and up, Children $15 and up. Purchase tickets here

7000 Lanier Islands Parkway
Buford, GA
Online: lanierislands.com

Where will you go to light up your nights this season? Tell us below!

—Shelley Massey