Magical Nights of Lights and Winter Adventure

Magical Nights of Lights is back at Lanier Islands with all new winter adventures added to one of Georgia’s best holiday light tours. We had a blast discovering new ways to spend the winter outdoors with Southern twists on classic cold-weather fun.

Wizard of Oz display at Magical Nights of Lights at Lanier Islands

Wizard of Oz display at Magical Nights of Lights. Photo by Candy Cook.

Upon arrival, we downloaded a new app that enhances the driving tour of light displays. The app plays music and stories as guests take in the unique animated lights. Interesting features include a Birds of Paradise area with animated hummingbirds and peacocks, Wizard of Oz themed lights with all your favorite characters, dinosaurs, and traditional holiday lights. Along the drive, guests can visit the live nativity scene presented by Cross Pointe Church.

The Giant Wheel and carnival games at Magical Nights of Lights

Ride the Giant Wheel and play carnival games at Magical Nights of Lights. Photo by Candy Cook.

Holiday Village & Carnival

The spectacular light displays lead straight to Santa’s Workshop and Winter Adventure inside LanierWorld’s Family Fun Park. Inside Santa’s Workshop, children meet Santa while festive elves capture the memorable moment in photos. Outside Santa’s Workshop, take an enchanting stroll through holiday village with snow falling from above. Peruse shops for Christmas gifts and enjoy fun-filled carnival rides.

A bubble-skating rink offers Southern-style “ice” skating with slippery bubbles instead of cold ice. The snow play area and a short tube-slide offer more chances for younger kids to enjoy the winter holiday. Finally, warm up and roast marshmallows around the large glowing fire pits.

Slides at Winter Adventure at Lanier Islands

Slip down the slides at Winter Adventure at Lanier Islands. Photo by Candy Cook.

Winter Adventure

Winter Adventure is not just for the little ones. Plenty of thrills await older teens and adults. The big kids speed along on tubes and sleds in a series of exciting slides, as well as zooming over the beach on the triple ziplines. Another new addition, Knockerball, really gets rambunctious as players BECOME bouncy balls themselves.

After all the excitement, sit for a spell in front of the impressive drive-in movie screen as it plays a wintry mix of family seasonal music videos and memorable moments from favorite holiday classics. Magical Nights of Lights and Winter Adventure is a can’t-miss tradition this holiday season.

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

Visit Ancient Israel at the Biblical History Center

Live nativities give a glimpse into the evening Jesus was born, but what was life like as he grew up? The answer can be found at the Biblical History Center in LaGrange, Georgia. The center, formerly called Explorations in Antiquity, explores life in ancient Israel during Biblical times through self-guided and guided tours, as well as special programs for children, adults and holidays.

Grape presses at the Biblical History Center in LaGrange

Grape presses at the Biblical History Center in LaGrange

The center has an unbelievable museum gallery of authentic antiquities on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority. The collection is the only one of its kind in the Southeast and includes artifacts from the New and Old Testament periods. As amazing as the artifacts are, it is the interactive, life-sized re-creations of a nomadic shepherd’s camp, an authentic Roman village, and a Biblical era farm that allow visitors to truly travel back in time.

Archaeological dig at the Biblical History Center in LaGrange

Archaeological dig at the Biblical History Center in LaGrange

Guests can experience the daily life of a nomad under the shepherd’s goat and camel hair tent. Help pinch out dough and bake bread over an open fire during the bread-making tour. Send the young ones to the temporary sheep fold to see where the animals would live. Watch the activity of the town from the rooftop of an authentic village home. Visit the Roman market where you can weigh purchases to ensure you aren’t being cheated, or my son’s favorite, push a heavy stone grain wheel. All of these interactive elements are part of the permanent garden-style exhibit. Young guests can even participate in an authentic archaeological dig.

The Holidays at the Biblical History Center

During the month of December, trace the journey of Mary and Joseph as they travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. In addition, the center has a “Two Different Kings” light and sound show, which contrasts the difference between the world of King Herod and King Jesus.

To follow the path of Mary and Joseph around Atlanta, see a list of Live Nativities on Field Trips with Sue.

SueSue Rodman is Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer and the editor and publisher of the award-winning family travel blog Field Trips with Sue. Click here for more Smart Travel content from Sue.

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Six Ways to Save on Tickets to Stone Mountain Christmas

Meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Stone Mountain Christmas

Meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Stone Mountain Christmas. Photo courtesy Stone Mountain.

Every year we anxiously await the start of the holiday season with Stone Mountain Christmas. It gives us an opportunity to kick-start our festivities and relish what means most to us this season: the sparkle of magic in our children’s eyes. While I highly recommend splurging on Stone Mountain Christmas, sometimes families have to pinch pennies during gift-giving season. That is why I am sharing six ways to save on tickets to Stone Mountain Christmas/Snow Mountain.

Take pictures with the Snow Angel at Stone Mountain Christmas.

Take pictures with the Snow Angel at Stone Mountain Christmas. Photo courtesy Stone Mountain.

Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort Christmas Package. With prices starting as low as $209 per night, staying overnight is a treat but not a splurge! The Christmas Package includes overnight accommodations, breakfast at the restaurant, passes to Stone Mountain Christmas and access to the heated pools.

Groupon. For the next two weeks (or as supplies last), Groupon is offering a 32% discount on tickets to Stone Mountain Christmas!

Snow Mountain & Christmas Combo Pass. This includes two hours at Snow Mountain, plus all the celebrations of Stone Mountain Christmas. You can do both in the same day, or spread the fun over the season.

Free meal and unlimited drinks. Purchase your Adventure Pass online and get a free meal from Marketplace and unlimited drink refills.

Save on an Adventure Pass. If you’ll be eating off-site, then consider purchasing the Adventure Pass online. It doesn’t include the meal voucher, but can still save you $5.

Snow Mountain Pass. If you want to skip Stone Mountain Christmas but still want to play in the snow, then grab the Snow Mountain-only pass.

You can read more here about why Stone Mountain Christmas is special to us, or find over 150 additional Christmas events in Atlanta!

And don’t miss our other fun Christmas articles:

LesliLesli is the Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.

Explore Georgia’s Military History Year-round

Veterans Day is this week, but it’s not the only day to honor Georgia’s military history. There are festivals and events that happen each year across the state celebrating the victories and sacrifices of the armed forces.

The Black Patriots Monument in Washington, Ga.

The Black Patriots Monument in Washington, Ga., honors black Revolutionary War soldiers.

Revolutionary Days Parade in Washington, Ga.

Revolutionary Days Parade in Washington, Ga.

Revolutionary Days (February, Washington) – Hundreds of re-enactors, historians and spectators gather in Historic Downtown Washington for a parade and re-enactment of the February 14, 1779, Battle of Kettle Creek. There is also a historical memorial church service, reminiscent of a late-1700s service.

Thunder Over Augusta (May, Augusta) – Each year, on Armed Forces Day, this festival celebrates America with military pageantry and a heaping helping of typical festival fun.

Currahee Military Weekend (October, Toccoa) – In the early 1940s, Toccoa was home to a paratrooper training camp. 18,000 men attended the camp, but only 6,000 made it through the training. Since 2000, Currahee Military Weekend honors the men of the 101st, 506th, 501st, 511th and the 517th who trained at the site. While you’re there, plan on exploring the 14,000-square-foot Currahee Military Museum.

Also, the 6th Cavalry Museum in Fort Oglethorpe and Andersonville National Historic Site celebrate Georgia’s military history throughout the year with a variety of events.

To see more Georgia military history, be sure to visit the Ft. Stewart Military Museum (Augusta), Heritage Park Veterans Museum (McDonough), Marietta Museum of History (Marietta), U.S. Army Signal Corps Museum (Ft. Gordon), National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center (Columbus), the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force (Pooler), the Museum of Aviation (Warner Robins) and The Drummer Boy Civil War Museum (Andersonville).

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.

Swayin’ to the Music at Cole Swindell’s Favorite Georgia Venues

Cole Swindell shares his favorite places to catch (or play!) a show around his home state.


Cole Swindell is taking the country music scene by storm! He releases his EP, Down Home Sessions, on November 6, before hitting the road for his first headlining tour on Nov. 11 in New York City with stops in Georgia in Carrollton (Nov. 19) and Athens (Nov. 20)

Cole’s song off of his self-titled album, Swayin’, talks about a taking a girl to see her favorite band play at a concert, savoring the experience and living in the moment. This is what #GeorgiaMusic is all about; seeing your favorite performers and experiencing it all at one of Georgia’s incredible venues.

Now, Cole, who grew up in Bronwood, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, shares with us his favorite places to catch (or play!) a show around his home state:

Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood – Atlanta

Photo courtesy of Aaron's Ampitheatre

Spanning 75 beautiful, wooded acres, Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood is specifically designed with live music in mind. Its high quality acoustics make it a favorite for many artists, including Cole.

Albany Civic Center  – Albany

Photo: Animation Options
The Civic Center holds a special place in Cole’s heart. This is where he saw Reba McEntire perform every year when he was growing up! The center provides a wide variety of entertainment for visitors of Southwest Georgia each year.


Atlanta Motor Speedway – Hampton

Located 30 miles south of Atlanta, the 1.54-mile track at Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of the premier motorsports facilities in the country. It’s a dream come true for any musician to play before thousands at a NASCAR race.

Bluewater Bar – Valdosta

Located in a rambling old house in the former mill village of Remerton, Bluewater regularly presents singer/songwriters like Cole Swindell for Valdosta State Blazers and country music fans from all over.

Georgia Theatre –  Athens


After a fire that nearly destroyed the theatre, the historic venue reemerged in 2011. This year, the ticket company Pollstar ranked the Theatre as No. 15 in the world. It is a must-see on every music lover’s bucket list. The theater also has an amazing rooftop bar, The Rooftop, where guests can grab a bite to eat while overlooking downtown Athens.

Wild Bill’s  – Duluth

 Located in Duluth near Gwinnett Place Mall off of I-85, the venue holds up to 5,000 fans and features different bands and artists each weekend.

Turner Field – Atlanta

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“It ain’t every day you have a view like this at sound check. Can’t wait to see everyone at Turner Field tonight! We gonna #BringTheChopBack” – @cswinde2 (Instagram)



What’s better than America’s favorite pastime and a concert? Home of the Atlanta Braves (and Cole’s favorite baseball team), Turner Field hosts the Braves Summer Concert Series each year. After you take in a game – catch a free show!

The Gin
– Tifton

A premiere music venue and night club in South Georgia, The Gin hosts a variety of artists each week. Cole and other big names in country music like Florida Georgia Line, Tyler Farr, Parmalee, Sam Hunt and Chase Rice have played the stage. However, The Gin isn’t just for country fans! It also hosts a variety of other artists such as local favorites, hip hop and tribute bands.

Philips Arena – Atlanta


From the first time Cole saw one of his idols, Kenny Chesney, play Philips Arena, it has been on his list as a favorite venue. Every concert at the Atlanta Hawk’s home is an experience like no other. The venue can hold up to 18,238 of your closest friends!

The Coliseum –  Carrollton

Win TWO tickets to the show!

Coming back down South for his Down Home Tour, Cole Swindell will perform at The Coliseum on November 19th at the University of West Georgia! Performing all his latest hits, with special guests, Adam Sanders and Jon Langston, Cole’s show is guaranteed to be some “down home” fun! Don’t miss it!

And guess what? We’re giving away TWO free tickets to the show so you can be Swayin’ too! Enter HERE to win!