12 Things to Do in Atlanta on Christmas Day

After the last gift is unwrapped and the leftovers have been put away, Atlanta beckons to families with some incredible options for getting out to enjoy Christmas day. From exploring the great outdoors to checking out the city’s brightest residential light displays, we’re certain you’ve saved room for one last helping of holiday cheer. Keep reading for the inside scoop on where to find some fun, beyond the base of the Christmas tree.

photo: iStock

Drive-Through Neighborhood Lights

We could all use some high-voltage cheer this holiday season, and with these megawatt neighborhood Christmas light displays—where you never have to leave your car—you’re sure to flip the switch on some family fun. These Atlanta-area winter wonderlands are brought to you by families with some serious spirit.

Garden Lights at Atlanta Botanical Garden

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden is Atlanta's best light display—and is among the best in the country—and should be on the top of your list for consideration for Christmas night entertainment. The Garden is a perfect place to run off some pent-up energy, while continuing the Christmas festivities. Open from 5-11 p.m., pricing on Christmas Day is $34.95 for adults, $31.95 for children ages 3 to 12, and free under 3.

1345 Piedmont Avenue NE
Atlanta, Ga

Atlanta SkyView

Santa may not be gracing the night sky on Christmas, but you can soar above Atlanta in the SkyView ferris wheel. With twinkling city lights below mixed in with holiday decorations downtown, the bird's eye view is the best view. And great news! Each gondola on the wheel is climate controlled, so you won't need to plan for frostbite.

168 Luckie St. NW
Atlanta, Ga

Go for a Bike Ride

Even if they didn't get a new set of wheels for Christmas, you'll have some happy elves if you load them up and go for a ride on their old wheels, new scooters, or even hovercraft. Check out the playgrounds located along the BeltLine, or head to Cochran Shoals at Columns Drive to Interstate North, where you'll pedal along the banks of the 'Hooch. Or, give our favorite outdoor trails a spin. You'll be amazed at what's just a few minutes from your own front door!

830 Willoughby Way NE
Atlanta, Ga

Magical Nights of Lights and License to Chill Snow Island at Lanier Islands

Lanier Island's drive-through light display and 8-story tall snow tubing hill are just the headliners on what you can do during a visit to Magical Night of Lights and License to Chill. Drive past illuminated scenes of Christmas and the holidays, and then stop at Holiday Village to eat, shop, skate, visit Santa, eat some s'mores, and enjoy the carnival rides. Then, take a plunge into the snow, where you can play and tube. Check website for hours of operation, as they vary by date. 

7000 Lanier Islands Parkway
Buford, Ga

photo: Main Event Entertainment

Main Event Entertainment

If you’re tired of the tinsel and ready to hock the holly, head to Main Event for laser tag, bowling, arcade games, and an indoor ropes gym. Open from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. and prices for playing vary by selection.

3101 Cobb Parkway SE, Suite 104
Atlanta, Ga
Online: mainevent.com

photo: Georgia State Parks 

Georgia State Parks

Atlanta weather can run hot or cold at Christmas, so keep Georgia’s State Parks in mind if we land on a sunny and unseasonably warm Christmas day. Trails abound at Sweetwater Creek State Park, and you can start working on your resolutions by hiking the first leg (little, little leg) of the Appalachian Trail at Amicalola State Park. And if you don't want to venture much further than the Perimeter, you can enjoy exploring miles of trails along the Chattahoochee, a National Parks Service-run land. Find out more here


Georgia Aquarium

Yes, the Georgia Aquarium is actually open on Christmas Day. Get the kiddos out of the house and make a splash with the world's largest aquarium. Purchase tickets online in advance. 

225 Baker Street NW
Atlanta, Ga

Go Ice Skating

Glide beneath the stars and skyscrapers at one of the following ice rinks—many of which are open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 


Bowlmor Lanes Atlanta

Roll into Bolwmor lanes on Christmas Day, and try your hand in the  arcades, classic table games, and interactive laser tag battles also available. Open from 1 p.m. to midnight on Christmas day, games are reasonably priced per person and kids under 4 play free.

2175 Savoy Dr.
Atlanta, Ga
Online: bowlmor.com

Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens

Traffic in Atlanta is as good as it gets on Christmas day, so why not take advantage of it and head to Callaway Gardens' Fantasy in Lights to check out their 8 million lights, accessible via your own wheels or the Jolly Trolley. Open from 6 to 9 p.m., Same-Day Ticket Pricing is $35 plus tax & service fees regardless of date. Advance ticket purchases are recommended.

17800 US Hwy 27
Pine Mountain, Ga

photo: The Melting Pot 

The Melting Pot

Baby it’s cold outside, so heat things up at this festive and “fun”due spot. On Christmas Day, The Melting Pot is serving seasonally inspired fondues in addition to the classic menu. They're open from 4 to 9 p.m. and reservations are recommended.

754 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, Ga
Online: meltingpot.com

—Shelley Massey