The holidays are all about family and friends and spending time together — but that doesn’t mean you have to spend that time at home!
You may be wondering, “What is open on Christmas Day?” We’ve got the answer for you! There are quite a few things open on Christmas Day in and around Atlanta, Georgia — if you know where to look.
We have a fabulous list of things to do on Christmas Day in Atlanta, as well as some activities you can do anywhere.
THINGS TO DO ON CHRISTMAS DAY: SEE THE HOLIDAY LIGHTS
THE ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDENS
The Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Garden Lights, Holiday Nights is open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day from 5 – 10pm. In my opinion, the Garden has one of the best light shows in Atlanta and is the perfect outing to keep the holiday cheer going.
While plenty of the show’s fan-favorite features return in 2023, guests can expect new twists, including a 144-foot-long wintery white skynet by Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics, whose work was featured during 2021’s SUPERnatural exhibition. You can also see the return of White Rabbit to the Skyline Garden pond, the first glimpse of the Garden’s Alice’s Wonderland mosaiculture exhibition, which returns with new installations in 2024.
It’s the perfect family outing, and one that people of all ages will enjoy.
CALLAWAY GARDENS 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 30 years, they also have a Christmas Village with food and shopping.
Experience their newest scene, Celebration Lake, a floating spectacular featuring 30 dancing trees honoring the first 30 years of Fantasy In Lights!
In addition to the Celebration Lake, a lot of their newer experiences will return again in 2023, including their walk-through experience and Callaway Christmas Village.
LAKE LANIER LAKESIDE LIGHTS SPECTACULAR
Margaritaville at Lanier Islands’ Lakeside Lights Spectacular is the place to go for a night of nostalgic family fun. The new Lakeside Lights Spectacular is a walk-through experience, as opposed to the previous drive-through one.
You will go on a magical walk through an amazing light extravaganza along the shores of Margaritaville at Lanier Islands with a holiday music playing in the background. (Don’t worry! It’s only a three-quarter-mile walk.)
Along the way, you can stop for photos and purchase seasonal goodies (like hot chocolate!) while enjoying the light displays at your own pace. It’s open on Christmas Eve from 11am to 10pm and on Christmas Day from 2pm to 10pm.
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.
The rink at Atlantic Station is the largest outdoor ice rink in the southeast. There is something so magical about ice skating amid the gleaming skyscrapers on a chilly winter evening.
This year, Skate the Station is open on Christmas Eve from 11am to 8pm, and on Christmas Day from 4pm to 11pm. What a wonderful way to wrap up Christmas!
AVALON ON ICE
Can’t make it to Rockefeller Center this holiday season? Don’t worry! The Avalon ice skating rink is a Rockefeller inspired ice skating rink at Avalon in Alpharetta. The family-friendly outdoor ice rink is open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year, from 10am to 10pm.
Guests will want to book ice skating reservations in advance to ensure a skating time slot. Walk-ups are also welcome, but they cannot guarantee you will be able to skate at that time if you choose to go that route.
ATLANTA ATTRACTIONS YOU’LL LOVE
The Pink Pig is no more, but there are some other great Atlanta attractions open on Christmas Day!
SKYVIEW FERRIS WHEEL
Downtown is the place to be for Christmas Day, thanks to the Atlanta Ferris Wheel, SkyView Atlanta.
Towering nearly 20 stories above Centennial Olympic Park, the SkyView Ferris wheel features 42 climate-controlled + private gondolas providing guests with breathtaking panoramic views of downtown Atlanta.
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. Bonus: The aquarium will be festively decorated while you’re there!
The Georgia Aquarium is open on Christmas Day beginning at Noon. Get Your Guide is a great place to get your Georgia Aquarium tickets, and they make a great Christmas gift!
There are so many great things to do outside in Atlanta, and lucky for us — we usually have great weather on Christmas Day to enjoy it. Here are some of our favorite outdoorsy adventures that can be done on the big day.
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 seven Atlanta area ClueTown Books, PLUS seven Atlanta neighborhood mini-hunts, so you can explore the area of most interest to you!
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 out near you. Here are five great places to 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 at this state park in Lithia Springs. You’ll also walk past mill ruins.
- Lullwater Park. This quiet in-town park at Emory University 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 at this state park in Dawsonville.
- Tallulah 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.
The bicycle. It’s the quintessential holiday gift! Nowadays 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.
Our favorites? The Silver Comet Trail and the Atlanta BeltLine. You can even combine two of our suggestions — Clue Town Books offers an Atlanta BeltLine scavenger hunt! The Atlanta BeltLine has amazing southern art you can see along the way too. Check out this interactive map to learn more about the artwork! (Click on The Art Collection on the left.)
MORE WINTER FUN IN ATLANTA:
- HOLIDAY LIGHTS: 37+ Sparkling Christmas Light Displays Near Me (+ Residential Light Shows)
- ICE SKATING: The Best Rinks For Kids, Teens & Adults In Atlanta
- NATURE CRAFTS: 9 Awesome Nature-Based Holiday Projects Kids Will Love
- SERVICE PROJECTS: 13+ Perfect Atlanta Volunteer Opportunities For Kids and Their Families
- FREE CHRISTMAS: 19+ Free Christmas Events In Atlanta
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