Things to do on Christmas Day: 15+ Excellent Adventures

The holidays are about family, giving, and together time, but it doesn’t mean you have to sit around the house all day with relatives.

You may be wondering, “What is open on Christmas Day?” Well, the answer is — there are lots of things to do on Christmas Day, if you know where to look.

Skyview Ferris Wheel

We have a fabulous list of things to do on Christmas Day in Atlanta, as well as activities you can do anywhere. Do you have a favorite activity for the holiday season or know fun places open on Christmas Day? If so, share it with us. FYI – Many of these suggestions are also good if you are wondering what to do on Christmas Eve.

Atlanta Botanical Gardens Lights
Photo Courtesy of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Holiday Lights

Many of the holiday light displays in Atlanta are visible on Christmas Day, including these favorites.

The Atlanta Botanical Gardens

The Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Holiday Lights, Garden Nights is open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day from 5 – 10 p.m. In my opinion, the Garden has one of the best light shows in Atlanta and the perfect outing to keep the holiday cheer going.

Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights

Discount Tickets: Save up to 42% off single day tickets to Fantasy in Lights

If you are willing to drive a bit, Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights is also open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In addition to the twinkling lights they’ve been putting on display for over 25 years, they also have a Christmas Village with food and shopping.

Ice Skating 

Ice skating is a fun way to get outside and enjoy the cold weather. Atlanta has several fantastic ice rinks within the city. Here is an overview of Atlanta area outdoor ice skating rinks.

Skate the Station

The Astor Holiday Ice at the St. Regis is no more, so head to Atlantic Station to skate!  Take in the giant Christmas tree lighting, see the nightly snow shows, and maybe sing a Christmas carol or two while you’re there.  Open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Attractions You’ll Love

Skyview Ferris Wheel

Downtown is the place to be for Christmas Day, thanks to the Atlanta Ferris Wheel, Skyview Atlanta.  Afterwards, head over the Centennial Olympic Park. (Note: Currently Centennial Olympic Park is closed due to COVID-19.)

Georgia Aquarium

Escape the chill and go under the sea at the Georgia Aquarium. Those Beluga whales are super calming if you’ve had a hectic holiday season. Another great place to find inner peace is in the Ocean Voyager exhibit, watching the giant whale sharks glide by. Open on Christmas Day beginning at Noon.

Go on a Scavenger Hunt

This one will take a little bit of planning, but makes a great stocking stuffer. ClueTown Books are a great way to explore the city by going on a scavenger hunt. Solve puzzles to move on to the next stop.

There are four ClueTown Books, so you can explore any of these four areas of Atlanta: Decatur, Piedmont Park, Oakland Cemetery, or The Atlanta Beltline.  They also have ones for Emory and Georgia Tech campuses.

State Parks and Other Hikes

Why not work off a bit of the holiday gluttony with a hike in the woods? Many state parks are open on Christmas Day, so check one near you. However, National Parks are usually closed on Christmas Day. Here are five places for a hike on Christmas Day.

  • Sope Creek Trail – This trail in Marietta takes you to a babbling creek and historic mill ruins.
  • Sweetwater Creek State Park – My boys loved hopping the rocks across the creek. You’ll also walk past mill ruins.
  • Lullwater Park – This quiet in-town park is perfect for a quick walk.
  • Amicalola State Park – Climb the stairs to the top, or start at the top and work your way down.
  • Tullulah Gorge State Park – The rushing falls are beautiful and can take your mind off those January bills.
  • Cloudland Canyon – If you are in the NW portion of the state, this is a beautiful park near Chattanooga.

Bike Trails

The bicycle. It’s the quintessential holiday gift. Now-a-days I feel like kids aren’t as keen to get a bike. But even if they get a scooter, hoverboard or skates from Santa, here are a couple of places to take them for a spin. Here’s our list of great trails.