The holiday season is a hectic time, no doubt, but it’s also a magical one. I’m constantly reminding myself to make the most of these years with fa-la-la and fantasy fun, as we have so few. Our children get so few Christmases to enjoy the magic, beauty and sensation through their innocent eyes. If you try to make the most of the holidays, why not take a trip to some Christmas cheer destinations? You may not realize; there’s a lot of wonder and dazzle happening in the South! We’ve compiled a list of our favorite Christmas road trips, some near and some far, to help you create some lasting, magical memories for your child:
The Polar Express: The Polar Express is a long-standing Christmas classic storybook, but what if you could bring that story to life, and we don’t mean the Warner Brothers film. Nestled in the Great Smokey Mountains, The Polar Express takes your child on the ride of their dreams, complete with singing, snacks and reading the Polar Express classic. Once arriving at the North Pole, each child receives a gift from Santa!
North Pole Limited: Take a ride on the Tennessee Valley Railroad to the North Pole. While riding, snack on cookies and cocoa, visit with Santa and admire beautiful Christmas lights. Plus, book a night at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel and be tucked in by story-time elves! It’s really a magical experience.
Rock City Gardens: Also in the Chattanooga area, Rock City Gardens offers “Yule Town” a magical Christmas city painted in lights for your child’s enjoyment. Sign up for Dinner with Santa, sit for story-time with Mrs. Claus or decorate gingerbread houses!
Winter Wonderland: Fernbank Museum of Natural History is decorated with two floors of beautifully decorated trees showcasing holiday celebrations around the world. Use this Christmas destination as an educational trip!
The Santa Express: In the Village of Blue Ridge, Georgia your child can hop aboard the Santa Express for Christmas carols, a visit with Santa and friends and a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights: Experience beauty in holiday lights at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens with music, model trains, the Ice Goddess and a tunnel of light. It’s a beautiful sight for an evening stroll.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Does your child love Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Then a trip to Center of Puppetry Arts to see it live is a must. This isn’t just your typical behind-the-wall puppet show: it snows, scenes change, and puppets react and respond! It’s magic for the whole family. Seriously, adults love it too!
Stone Mountain Christmas: Meet Rudolph and friends, experience snow, watch a skylight spectacular and board the sing-along Christmas train. Stone Mountain is a year-round destination, with extra magic at Christmas.
Santa’s Fantastical: Enjoy meet and greets with Santa and friends, holiday shows, Instagrammable photo ops, crafts, games and more at this holiday pop-up.
Close to Home
Christmas at the Rock Ranch: Only an hour outside of Columbus, the Rock Ranch offers a tractor wagon ride through a Christmas light display, Breakfast with Santa, a Christmas cookie decoration station, story time with an elf, letter to Santa station, face painting and keepsake ornament station.
Fantasy in Lights: Also just outside of Columbus, Callaway Gardens was named one of the “Top 10 places to see Christmas lights” by National Geographic. This massive Christmas light display isn’t the only attraction at Callaway! You can also visit with Santa, Shop the Christmas Village and listen to story-time with Mrs. Claus during your trip too!
Character Breakfast at Callaway Gardens: Be sure to purchase tickets to this plentiful breakfast buffet, including a made-to-order Omelet station, to visit with beloved characters such as Rudolph, Frosty, Gingerbread Man, and more. Join us between 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. for a wonderful breakfast and Christmas cheer with our favorite characters during this most wonderful time of the year!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Dinner Show at Callaway Gardens: Enjoy this live-action adaptation of the beloved children’s tale by Dr. Seuss, the reclusive green Grinch decides to ruin Christmas. The Classic Southern Buffet will be served, and guests are asked to promptly arrive and be seated with your meal by 5:30p.m. as the entertainment will begin at 5:45 p.m. sharp.
Tips for Roadtripping with Kids
Local Holiday Events & Santa Appearances
Christmas Cookie Exchange Recipes