A Holiday Hike through the Enchanted Garden of Lights

Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights sign

Photo by Candy Cook

The perfect holiday light display for outdoor families, Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights sets Lookout Mountain aglow with the magic of the season. I visited the display last week to celebrate the season with my sons. Meandering along the rock garden path is pure magic!

Gingerbread light display at Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights

Photo by Candy Cook

Holiday cheer appears around every corner with quirky elves and drummer boys greeting guests along the trail. Soaring mountain rock formations become tunnels of splendor, bouncing colors from lights draped high above and echoing classic holiday tunes. Light displays animate dancing trees set to music, penguins in a winter wonderland, and a bright gingerbread village before the path leads to the overlook where we “See Seven States” of distant twinkling lights.

Toy soldiers at Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights

Photo by Candy Cook

Memorable moments are made warming up around flickering fire pits, meeting with Santa on the Cliff Terrace, and shopping for last-minute gifts at the holiday marketplace. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the magic when children meet fun characters like Jack Frost, Mrs. Claus and Frosty the Snowman. Finally, grab a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy live musical performances featuring choirs and bands playing the sounds of the season in the North Pole Lodge.

Enjoy all the festivities of Enchanted Garden of Lights holiday evenings from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. through January 2.

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.

Georgia’s Most Unique New Year’s Eve Events

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Parade

See award-winning marching bands and more at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Parade in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve.

Each year, towns throughout Georgia forgo customary New Year’s Eve ball drops in favor of their own takes on the traditional festivities.

Dropping of the Edelweiss (Helen) – Gather at the Helen Festhalle on New Year’s Eve to watch the Edelweiss drop. The family-friendly event is a party featuring music, food, dancing, party favors and a midnight toast.

Noon Year’s Eve Balloon Drops (Atlanta) – Join the folks at The Children’s Museum of Atlanta and LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta at noon on New Year’s Eve for kid-friendly fun that the whole family won’t have to stay up late for.

Up the Cup (Savannah) – Celebrate the new year and Savannah’s relaxed alcohol containment laws at the annual Up the Cup event at Riverfront Plaza. As the year counts down, the six-foot to-go cup rises to greet the new year.

Shamrock Drop (Dublin) – Gather in downtown Dublin and ring in the new year with a celebration befitting the town’s name. Each year, a giant shamrock is lowered from the top of The Fred Roberts.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Parade (Atlanta) – This parade is all about the big game. Football fans are invited to spend the morning downtown Atlanta where floats, classic cars, cheerleaders, mascots, award-winning marching bands and dance groups will be parading near Centennial Olympic Park.

The Possum Drop (Tallapoosa) – The party goes through midnight, when a stuffed possum named Spencer is lowered in a ball covered with holiday lights from atop one of the town’s historic buildings.

Perry Buzzard Drop (Perry) – Downtown Perry is home to the annual Buzzard Drop. The annual event features Bob the Buzzard who, legend has it, made his way to Perry because he approved of the town’s Southern hospitality.

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.

Places to Explore Georgia by Candlelight in December

Chief Vann House in Chatsworth decorated for the holidays

Chief Vann House in Chatsworth decorated for the holidays

Candlelight Tours at McDaniel Farm (Duluth) – On select dates in December, the historic Duluth homestead offers family-friendly candlelight tours of its grounds. Costumed guides and interpreters welcome guests to explore what the holiday season was like in the 1930s. Reservations required.

Christmas by Candlelight at Chief Vann House Historic Site (Chatsworth) – Head to Chatsworth on December 11 and 12 to enjoy the sights and sounds of a 19th century Christmas on the grounds of a well-preserved Cherokee Indian home. Admission fee charged to those who attend.

Candlelight Tours of the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson (Augusta) – On Saturday, December 12, the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson welcomes visitors to view the house and grounds via candlelight. Tours will occur every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour from 5-7 p.m. Ticket required for entry.

Caroling by Candlelight (Madison) – After the annual holiday parade on December 12, gather with the locals in downtown Madison to enjoy an evening in Town Park watching classics being sung and joining in. Free to attend.

Candlelight Tour of Historic Homes (Senoia) – On December 13, visit historic homes and Senoia United Methodist Church as part of this annual event. Ticket required for entry.

Keep these events in mind for next year: 

The Marietta Pilgrimage (Marietta) – Each year the Marietta Visitors Bureau and Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society presents an annual tour of homes that allows visitors to see the homes by daylight and candlelight, depending on their preference. Ticket required for entry.

Hofwyl Plantation Christmas (Brunswick) – Step back in time and see a historically accurate re-enactment of an 1850s Christmas celebration by candlelight complete with Civil War re-enactors, Christmas carols and Santa Claus.

Find more candlelit holiday events on the Explore Georgia Events page.

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.

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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Unwrap the Holiday Magic in Alpharetta

‘Tis the season for tree lightings, mistletoe, tacky sweaters and Santa photos. With numerous holiday events, there’s never been a better time to visit Alpharetta. Stop in and tell Santa what’s on your Christmas list after snapping a photo with him at one of the many photo opportunities around the city. Lace up a pair of ice skates and take a twirl at the ice skating rink at The Cooler or at Avalon. After you’ve worked up an appetite, choose from more than 175 dining options. Or, if shopping is more your style, drop into a few of Alpharetta’s 250 retail shops located in five shopping distinct districts for one-of-a-kind finds.

ice skating at Avalon

Go ice skating at Avalon through Jan. 24, 2016

Ice Skating at Avalon: Lace up your skates and glide on ice at Avalon’s Rockefeller-inspired skating rink through January 24.

Ice Skating at The Cooler: Enjoy public ice skating in the indoor rink. Dates, times and prices vary. Click here for updated information.

Visit with Santa this holiday season in Alpharetta

Visit with Santa this holiday season in Alpharetta

Santa Sightings in Alpharetta: Santa Claus is making his list and checking it twice in Alpharetta. He is making his rounds at some of your favorite attractions. To see a complete list and to get times, click here.

Take a holiday cooking class in Alpharetta

Take a holiday cooking class in Alpharetta

Holiday Themed Cooking ClassesGather friends and family and learn how to make special holiday cookies, desserts and traditional meals. You’ll surely be baking like a pro this season!

  • Girls Night out: Cookie Swap at Sur la Table at North Point Mall – December 15
  • European Christmas Vacation at Salud! Cooking School at Whole Foods Market Avalon – December 18
  • Incr-Edible Holiday Cookies at Publix Apron’s Cooking School – December 23

For more information on Alpharetta’s three cooking schools, including the only Publix Apron’s Cooking School in Georgia, click here.

Smokejack BBQ in Alpharetta

Smokejack BBQ in Alpharetta

Shopping and Dining in Alpharetta – Whether you crave traditional or unique dishes, there’s an Alpharetta restaurant for you. Walk the downtown area and visit local favorites such as Smokejack BBQ, South Main Kitchen and MADE Kitchen and Cocktails, or head over to Avalon to have a taste of Chef Michael Perez’s novel interpretations of Italian food at the one and only Colletta. For more of a dainty bite accompanied by your favorite doll, make a reservation for tea at the American Girl Boutique and Bistro in North Point Mall.

shopping in Alpharetta

Find gifts for everyone on your list in Alpharetta

Fashionistas love visiting Alpharetta’s five shopping districts. Stop at a variety of locally owned boutiques like Sis and Moon’s and La Bella Maison in downtown Alpharetta or make a day of it and hit all your favorite stores like Fab’rik, West Elm and American Threads at Avalon. Then, drop in at North Point Mall to visit all your favorite, well-known stores like Von Maur, Macy’s and Michael Kors. Visit Dress Up Boutique along Windward Parkway to browse trendy outfits and accessories. Last but not least, head to the North on Main district for upscale consignment including high-end finds from Designer Consigner.

Alpharetta is an awesome place to experience the holidays. But, don’t take our word for it – come experience it for yourself! Enter to win the Ultimate Shopping and Dining Giveaway in Alpharetta that is packed with shopping and dining certificates worth over $2,000!

Make your plans now and begin unwrapping the holiday magic in Alpharetta. Visit www.awesomealpharetta.com for a complete list of Alpharetta hotels and rates as well as a comprehensive list of things to do.

CaitlynFlorida native turned Georgian, Caitlyn Blizzard is the Director of Communications at the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau and loves advocating all things fun and unique in Awesome Alpharetta. She enjoys exploring metro Atlanta attractions and restaurants and spending time outside with her miniature schnauzer, Winstyn.