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

Things to do on Christmas Day: 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 which is open on Christmas eve and Christmas day from 5 – 11 pm. In my opinion, the Garden has one of the best light shows in Atlanta and the perfect outing to keep the holiday cheer going.
1345 Piedmont Avenue NE | Atlanta, Ga | 404-876-5859

Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights

If you are willing to drive a bit, Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights is also open on Christmas day. In addition to the twinkling lights, they also have a Christmas Village with food and shopping.
17800 US Hwy 27 | Pine Mountain, Ga | 800.225.5292

Illuminate

For those in the northern suburbs, head to Sugarloaf Mall for Illuminate. Immerse yourself in a world of light as you wander through a maze of illuminated sculptures scaling nearly 30 feet tall. Afterwards, take in a show. The Beijing Acrobats will dazzle and amaze.
Sugarloaf Mills | 5900 Sugarloaf Pkwy, |  Lawrenceville, GA 30043

 

christmas-events-long

What to do on Christmas Day: 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

Head to Atlantic Station to skate, take in the giant tree lighting, and see the nightly snow shows.
1380 Atlantic Dr NW | Atlanta, GA 30363 | 404-410-4010

The Astor Ice Rink

The Astor Holiday Ice Rink at the St. Regis is also open on Christmas Day. The St. Regis has some of the best hot chocolate – just sayin, and a beautiful classic Christmas tree perfect for the family photo. Click the links for information on each rink.
88 West Paces Ferry Road | Atlanta, Ga | 404-563-7797

If you’d rather be inside, celebrate the holiday at one of the many Atlanta roller skating rinks. Sparkles in Smryna and Cascade roller skating rink are both two that are open on Christmas Day. Here’s a list of other roller skating rinks in Atlanta.

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. In past years they have had a beautiful light display. Some construction in recent years has meant no lights – so stay tuned we are checking to see if they’ll be back in 2018.
168 Luckie St NW, | Atlanta, GA 30303 | 678-949-9023

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. And during the holidays, enjoy the indoor light show FantaSEA in Lights.
225 Baker St NW | Atlanta, GA 30313 | 404-581-4000

What to do on Christmas Day: Movies

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, you can enjoy a first run movie on December 25. When I was a kid, my older brothers would come home from college for Christmas. After dinner, they’d take me with them to the movies. It was a fun tradition. AMC and Regal movie theaters will have Christmas shows. Here is a list of cheap movie theaters in Atlanta – call first to make sure they are open on Christmas Day, not everyone has Christmas hours.

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.

What to do on Christmas Day: Bowling

A quick call to Brunswick Zone confirmed that all Brunswick Bowling Centers are open on Christmas Day. A perfect holiday outing. I contacted AMF Bowling Centers too and it’s up to the individual lanes to determine if they are open, so call before you go.

Things to do on Christmas Day

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 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, hooverboard or skates from Santa, here are a couple of places to take them for a spin.

  • Silver Comet Trail – This trail is in Smyrna, and goes all the way to Alabama. It’s paved so it’s great for hiking, biking, scooters, or whatever wheels you have.
  • Atlanta Beltline – There are several different sections of the Atlanta Beltline. Along each route you’ll find local art as part of the Art on the Beltline project.
  • Bobby Jones Golf Course Trail – This trail is a spur for the Northside portion of the Atlanta Beltline. It cuts a wide paved path all around Bobby Jones Golf Course. Parking is available at the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center.
  • Hard Labor Creek State Park – This state park just east of Atlanta has miles of mountain bike trails for the beginner through advanced biker.

Atlanta Restaurants Open on Christmas Day

You’ve probably already had a big meal (or maybe you don’t want to cook one), after running around you may still be hungry. Here are a few places that are open on Christmas Day. We’ve included three ideas for all price points, so there is sure to be something to fit your wallet, and your palette.

Southern Art

Don’t feel like cooking on Christmas day? Let Art Smith, who served as Oprah’s personal chef for 10 years, take care of it for you. Southern Art has both a Christmas brunch and Christmas dinner. Yum.

3315 Peachtree Rd NE | AtlantaGA 30326-1007 | 404-946-9070

Melting Pot

I like this idea because fondue is more of an event than just eating food. This is a popular thing to do on Christmas Day (who knew) so be sure to make reservations before you go.
754 Peachtree Street NE | Atlanta, Ga | 404-389-0099

Waffle House

I mean come on, it’s a Southern tradition, and they have bacon. You may not be able to ride the Pink Pig anymore on Christmas Day, but you can go down the street for Lenox and get some waffles.
3016 Piedmont Rd NE | Atlanta, GA 30305 | 404-231-0023

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Looking for a way to get out of the house on Christmas Day with your family? These 15+ activities for your kids, even for teenagers, will give you a Christmas you'll always remember. If you are staying home for the holidays or in town visiting family in Atlanta, these ideas are great! After opening gifts, head out to enjoy the rest of the day! #holidays #Atlanta #kids #family #Christmas #activities

Sue Rodman | Co-Founder

Sue came to Atlanta after finishing the Walt Disney World College Program where she was a tour guide then guest relations hostess (and no she did not moonlight as Snow White). Sue spent 25 years in PR before adding freelance travel writing to her resume. Prior to 365 Atlanta Traveler, Sue published an award winning family travel blog called Field Trips with Sue for eight years, and produced a TV segment with the same name on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta. Her favorite place to visit is anywhere with her husband and three sons. Sue believes anytime is a good time for dessert and there are no bad field trips, just better stories. @SueRodman

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