9 Holiday Traditions Outside Atlanta

From train rides to light displays, Georgia is full of holiday traditions!

Photo Credit: SAM Shortline

Photo Credit: SAM Shortline

December 19th & 20th: Climb on board the SAM Shortline for a holiday train ride through southwest Georgia! SAM Shortline offers three holiday-themed excursions – The North Pole Express, Breakfast with Santa Train and Supper with Santa Train.

Through December 23rd: Celebrate a true antebellum Christmas at the Old Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville! Witness the mansion transform into a scene from the 1800s on a guided tour, offered Tuesday-Sunday. Admission is $10.

December 27th & 28th: Get rid of your old tree at North Georgia Zoo and Farm’s Tree Toss! All those who donate a tree will receive $1 off their admission and the opportunity to see how animals react to recycled trees. 

Photo Credit: Chehaw

Photo Credit: Chehaw

Through December 28th: Drive or take a magical ride on the Wiregrass Express through the Festival of Lights at Chehaw in Albany. Admission is $15 per vehicle

Through December 28th: Light up the night & help feed the hungry at TMT Farms’ spectacular holiday light display. Admission is free but donations of non-perishable food items are encouraged. The food will be distributed to needy families throughout the region.

Through December 30th: Snuggle up on a memorable train ride through the Okefenokee Swamp Park Annual Light Show. The trains travel along a 1.25-mile rail, where thousands of lights and numerous outdoor displays can be viewed. There is even a miniature train just for little ones!

Photo Credit: Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Photo Credit: Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Through December 31st: Take a train ride with Santa on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway!  The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway offers two holiday train rides including the Santa Express and a Night Train ride to Santa’s Pavillion.

Photo Credit: Cornelia Main Street

Photo Credit: Cornelia Main Street

Through January 1, 2015: Ice skate, go on a hayride, roast marshmallows, meet Santa Claus and explore the Elf Workshop at the famous Cornelia Christmas Light Spectacular.

Through January 25, 2015: Hit the ice at The Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro! The 6,000-square-foot Ice Rink is open to the public for $20 for children and $30 for adults.

1470250_10201404779337586_897188189_nLauren Cleland is the voice of Explore Georgia on social media. She loves ice cold sweet tea, anything peach flavored, channeling Scarlett O’Hara in her daily life and sharing the wonders of her beloved Georgia with all of you!

5 Holiday Date Nights in Georgia

Heat things up in the cold winter months with these romantic holiday dates.

Photo Credit: Richard Puscas

Photo Credit: Richard Puscas

Roast s’mores over an open fire, walk through dazzling holiday light displays, take in a holiday show and ride your favorite roller coasters, including Goliath and Dare Devil Dive, during Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Over Georgia – going on now through January 4th! Pro Tip: Knock out the coasters while the sun is shining and spend the rest of the evening strolling through the light displays while sipping hot chocolate.

Photo Credit: Atlanta Ballet

Photo Credit: Atlanta Ballet

The Nutcracker at The Fox Theatre is the perfect excuse for you and your significant other to dress in your holiday finery for an unforgettable night of theater! Performed live with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker will transport you to a world of sugarplum fairies, dancing rats and and sparkling snowflakes. Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker runs through December 28th at The Fox Theatre. Pro Tip: Reserve your seat in the Orchestra section for a snowy surprise.

Photo Credit: Ritz Carlton

Photo Credit: Ritz Carlton

Spend the night (or the weekend) at The Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Plantation. From a 6,000-square-foot Ice Rink to holiday-inspired spa treatments, your time at The Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Plantation will be filled with memorable moments. Pro Tip: Always check for overnight package deals.

Photo Credit: Rock City

Photo Credit: Rock City

Stroll hand-in-hand through more than 30 holiday scenes at Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights. Pro Tip: The last ticket is sold at 9 p.m. each night so be sure to arrive near 6 p.m. for maximum enjoyment.


Photo Credit: Lake Lanier Islands

Photo Credit: Lake Lanier Islands

Rush down one of 5 thrilling speed slides, race your date down 13 snow tubing lanes and carve your names in the snow at Lake Lanier Island’s SnowWorld! Pro Tip: Warm up at Sunset Cove which is now enclosed and features a delicious new assortment of dishes.

1470250_10201404779337586_897188189_nLauren Cleland is the voice of Explore Georgia on social media. She loves ice cold sweet tea, anything peach flavored, channeling Scarlett O’Hara in her daily life and sharing the wonders of her beloved Georgia with all of you!

If the Stars of “Gone With the Wind” Had Instagram

Monday, December 15th marks the 75th anniversary of the Atlanta premiere of “Gone with the Wind!” The three-day event included a parade of limousines featuring stars from the film, receptions and a costume ball. Since Instagram didn’t exist 75 years ago, I decided to make my own guess as to how Vivian Leigh, Clark Gable and the whole gang would have used the social media network to share their “Gone with the Wind” premiere experiences.

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Click here for a list of Georgia events honoring the anniversary of “Gone with the Wind.”

Click here to order your FREE 2014 Georgia Travel Guide honoring “Gone with the Wind.”

GWTW premiere photos provided by Atlanta History Center.





Lauren Cleland is the voice of Explore Georgia on social media. She loves ice cold sweet tea, anything peach flavored, channeling Scarlett O’Hara in her daily life and sharing the wonders of her beloved Georgia with all of you!


FREE Holiday Events Happening This Weekend

Get in the holiday spirit at these FREE events!

Yule Log Celebration - Listing

Friday, December 12th: Children can search for the fabled Yule Log during the Yule Log Celebration at Reynolds Nature Preserve in Morrow. Other activities include ornament making, storytelling, face painting and seasonal refreshments.

Thursday, December 11th: Eat dinner by candlelight, take a horse-drawn carriage, roast marshmallows and meet Santa during the 12th Annual Hometown Christmas in downtown Warrenton. Don’t miss the tree lighting at 5pm!

Friday, December 12th: Dreaming of a white Christmas? Snowing on the Square in downtown Washington can make those dreams come true. Snow will fall at 6:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 11th – Friday, December 12th: Stroll the old-fashioned brick streets in your best Victorian finery and enjoy the carolers singing your favorite holiday songs, or board a horse-drawn carriage for a ride through these historic streets lit by candlelight during Victorian Christmas in Thomasville.

Tripp Christmas  - Tripp

Photo Credit: Tripp Family

Nightly: The Tripp Family invites you to experience their 500,000+ light display in Cochran. The lights are open for viewing nightly with Santa Claus making an appearance Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Admission is free but donations are accepted.

Nightly: TMT Farms Christmtas Lights in Statesboro will be open every evening from 6 p.m. – 12 a.m. Drive through or park in the designated areas to explore on foot, and look for the antique and vintage cars, trucks and tools. Admission is free but donations of canned goods, gift cards or new/unwrapped toys are appreciated.

Saturday, December 13th: Take a Candlelight Christmas Tour of President Carter’s Boyhood Home to see the holiday decorations; listen to interpreters presenting President Carter’s memories and hear how these memories are special to him still. Tours will start at 6:30 p.m. and will end at 8 p.m. Time slots can be reserved by calling the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site at 229-824-4104.

Wreaths Across America Andersonville - Andersonville

Photo Credit: Andersonville NHS

Saturday, December 13th: Each December, Andersonville National Historic Site participates in the national Wreaths Across America program to remember and honor our military veterans. Sponsored wreaths will be laid on gravesites in Andersonville National Cemetery from 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

ENDING Saturday, December 13th: This is the final week to experience the famous Festival of Trees at Unicoi Lodge and Conference Center in Helen! The trees are open to the public from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Saturday, December 13th: Enjoy one-stop holiday shopping, featuring arts and crafts, jewelry and more during the Simply Christmas shopping event at the Historic Haralson County Courthouse in Buchanan.

Santa McDonough - Listing

Saturday, December 13th: Meet Santa Claus during Santa Saturday on the McDonough Square! Santa will be available for meet and greets from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Photos for purchase will be available.

Saturday, December 13th: The Albany Area Arts Council (AAAC) and Albany Recreation and Parks Department (ARPD) will present a Holiday Party from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Arts Council. Families will enjoy hands-on holiday art activities and the DCSS Elementary Art Show.

Saturday, December 13th: Enjoy an evening full of music and holiday spirit brought to you by Madison Main Street. Local choral groups, bands and musicians will perform holiday carols that are certain to warm your heart. Learn more here.

Sunday, December 14th: Welcome Santa Claus and his friends at the Royston Christmas Parade! The parade begins at 3:30 p.m.

11 Ways to Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of “Gone with the Wind”


Before there was Brad and Angelina, there was Scarlett and Rhett. Explore Georgia to celebrate 75 years of this quintessential Hollywood classic.



Photo Credit: Atlanta Restaurant Blog

Atlanta Movie Tours will offer their special Gone with the Wind tour on Saturday, December 13th.  Board a luxury coach for a 3-hour tour based on the world’s most famous novel with the woman who created it. Book your spot here.

In celebration of the film premiere’s 75th anniversary, Oakland Cemetery will bring back their special topic tour on Margaret Mitchell on Sunday, December 14th. Reserve your spot ASAP – tickets for the 3pm tour are already sold out! Click here for reservations.

The Road to Tara Museum, Margaret Mitchell House and Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square will be offering visitors a special admission rate of 75 cents at each location on Monday, December 15th. Click here to learn more.

10650053_10154898555050151_6880114776464112800_nMonday, December 15th: Join the Atlanta History Center in celebrating the 75th anniversary of Gone With the Wind by reliving the glitz and glamour of the 1939 Atlanta premiere through real-time updates and photos chronicling the event. To follow the live blog, visit AtlantaHistoryCenter.tumblr.com and look for posts with #GWTWATL.

Watch a special 75th Anniversary Showing of Gone with the Wind at The Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum on Monday, December 15th. Film begins at 7pm with a pre-show at 6:30pm. Buy tickets here.


Travelguide2014(1)Relive the excitement of the 1939 premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on page 12 of the 2014 Georgia Travel Guide! Order your FREE copy here.

Discover the history and legacy behind one of the world’s most beloved novels through the Gone With the Wind Trail in and around Atlanta, an official state designated trail.

The Gone With The Wind Tour is a nostalgic audio narrative through the rich and romantic antebellum era that inspired Margaret Mitchell’s legendary novel. Be entertained with the tales of Mitchell’s world-renown Gone With The Wind and its unique literary ties to Jonesboro.

The University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the premiere of Gone With the Wind with a major exhibit. The UGA Libraries has the largest collection in the country of Mitchell’s personal papers and other materials, donated by Mitchell’s brother, Stephens Mitchell. The exhibit will remain on display through the end of 2014.

Photo Credit: Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast

Photo Credit: Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast

Spend the night in the Frankly Scarlett Suite at The Twelves Oaks Bed & Breakfast in Covington. In his book “Antebellum Homes of Georgia,” David King Gleason writes that Margaret Mitchell recommended Twelve Oaks as a model for Ashley’s home in the Gone With The Wind film.

Tour Stately Oaks Plantation in Jonesboro – the home that was said to inspire Margaret Mitchell’s Tara.