Full of culture, history, and nature, Georgia’s capital of Atlanta is a limitless collection of amusement and activities. We have compiled a list of a few of the top things to do in Atlanta during the winter. Each of these attractions has its own unique history to explore and beauty to experience. And during the holiday season, there is even more excitement to be had!
Atlanta’s mild winter makes outdoor activities still possible and enjoyable. On the off chance it rains, the indoor activities are just as endless. Jump on Atlanta’s Public Transportation and explore the city of Atlanta with us.
Stone Mountain Park officially opened in 1965. Located on 3,200 of natural beauty, the Park features Stone Mountain, campgrounds, historic sites, a railroad and locomotive, two golf courses, and two hotels. Also, the Park hosts numerous events and family-friendly attractions throughout the year.
One of the most notable historic sites is the Confederate Memorial Carving which depicts three Confederate figures of the Civil War. The carved surface measures three acres and towers 400 feet above the ground. The carving began in 1912 in the imagination of Mrs. Helen Plane. After many delays, three sculptors, and 60 years, the monument received its finishing touches in 1972. The Confederate Memorial Carving is viewed best from the Summit Skyride, a cable car that transports guests from the ground to the top of Stone Mountain.
This holiday season, visitors to the Park can purchase a Christmas Attractions Pass to partake in all of the events there are to enjoy. Experience the NEW 10-minute Christmas Lasershow on the Lower Memorial Law. See the Snow Angel’s in the magical Christmas Parade and Fireworks Finale.
Explore the Musical Frosted Forest with breathtaking lights, sights, and sounds along the Memorial Hall Walkway. Listen to the renowned Tinseltone Carolers singing your holiday favorites. Go on an extraordinary adventure with The Polar Express: 4D Experience.
All this and more are part of Stone Mountain Park Christmas this year. For the full schedule, map, and details, visit their website.
The Park and its hosts have implemented several new health and safety measures based on the guidance of the CDC and government agencies. Some events have been canceled this year, including Snow Mountain. Reservations are strongly recommended for all events. Tickets and passes may be purchased online.
Another fun thing to do in Atlanta during the winter is a visit to Zoo Atlanta. From the smallest of creatures, like the Panamanian golden frog, to the largest, like the African elephant, Zoo Atlanta is home to more than 1,500 animals. The Zoo is one of the oldest in the US with its origins dating back to 1889. With over 40 acres of grounds, Zoo Atlanta has indoor and outdoor playgrounds, a petting zoo, and numerous interactive encounters for guests to enjoy, learn, and explore.
One of the newest members of the Zoo Atlanta family is Floyd, a baby Silverback gorilla born on July 24th, 2020. One of the oldest is Shuffles, the Aldabra Giant Tortoise who is estimated to have hatched in 1965.
One of the largest exhibits at the Zoo is the African Savanna. This habit is home to elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, warthogs, rhinos, and meerkats. Visit today for a chance to have an Elephant Wild Encounter. See behind-the-scenes of how the elephants are cared for and even get the chance to hand-feed one of the elephants a tasty treat.
Don’t forget to visit Zoo Atlanta on December 12th from 3pm – 6pm for their annual holiday tree lighting. This event will feature festive activities, treat stations, gleeful performers, and more. All are included with the purchase of a general admission ticket. Food and beverages are an additional charge.
To protect the safety of its guests and its team members, Zoo Atlanta now has timed reservations. The Zoo encourages guests to purchase their tickets online in advance.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden had its humble beginnings in 1973 when a group of Atlantans created a community botanical garden. Forty-seven years later, the Garden has over 30 acres of outdoor gardens, dozens of permanent sculptures and water features, and its own staff of scientists.
The Garden’s Conservation & Research team works to maintain and preserve the beauty of nature while educating its guests on the fragile ecosystems and rare plant life housed at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Guests visiting the Garden during the holiday season have the opportunity to experience the 10th annual outdoor lights extravaganza, Garden Lights, Holiday Nights. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens are transformed with thousands of sparkling lights and live holiday music.
Three highlights of the event are Nature’s Wonders (the world’s largest wall of synchronized light and sound), the Ice Goddess (the magical transformation of the 25-foot tall sculpture normally called Earth Goddess), and Alice’s Wonderland Reimagined (a holiday spin on beloved blockbuster exhibition).
Atlanta’s urban oasis is open and taking precautions to keep its visitors safe. Before your visit, tickets must be purchased online to reserve a time slot.
The Fernbank Museum of Natural History has been inspiring and educating the public on science, history, nature, and more since its opening in 1992. Fernbank is a non-profit organization inspired by the dreams of Emily Harrison. In the late 1800s, she fought to preserve this section of forest, which she named Fernbank Forest, from city and neighborhood development. Harrison’s dream was to have a “school in the woods,” and Fernbank has brought that dream to life.
From the stars shining in the sky to the seashells found by the ocean, Fernbank Museum explores the creation and science behind some of nature’s most amazing wonders. And don’t forget to look down! Forty thousand limestone tiles make up the floors of the Fernbank Museum. Each of the tiles contains the fossil remains of an animal who lived on a shallow reef.
Outdoors, visitors can explore the 75 acres that make up the Fernbank Forest and WildWoods. Take a stroll down the canopy walks. Sit and stay awhile inside one of the uniquely shaped tree pods. Or get a first-hand experience with wildlife and nature exhibits throughout the forest. There are over two miles of trails to explore through the old-growth forest of Fernbank.
During the holiday season, Fernbank is offering a variety of special programs. See the indoor Winter Wonderland, a holiday-inspired exhibit that features decorated trees and cultural displays. Also, check out the 6 giant Snow Globes outside that have been decorated to feature the best parts of the holidays like sledding and gingerbread houses. Both of these events are running now through January 8th and are included with general museum admission.
To protect the safety and health of their staff and visitors, Fernbank is currently offering timed ticket slots. Fernbank asks its guests to purchase their tickets in advance.
No time in Atlanta during winter or summer would be complete without a trip to the Ponce City Market. Once known as the Sears, Roebuck & Co. building, the Ponce City Market was fully restored and renovated in 2014. Located between Ponce de Leon Ave and North Ave and across the street from the Historic Fourth Ward Park, the Ponce City Market is quite literally in the heart of Atlanta.
On the upper floors of the east and west wings of the building are apartments, but in the center of the Ponce City Market from ground floor to roof, there is shopping, dining, and more.
The Central Food Hall has everything from morning coffee shops and date-night worthy dinners to edible cookie dough shops and influential cocktail bars. But don’t forget about the boutique and specialty shops like custom framing, handmade stationery, and local artists. And if that wasn’t enough, there is a yoga studio, a barbershop, a bookstore, numerous clothing stores, a flower shop, and a candle-making shop.
After you have eaten your fill and shopped until your dropped, head up to THE ROOF and enjoy an evening at Skyline Park with vintage rides, games, and mini-golf.
Join us as we celebrate the holidays with all of the shops and restaurants throughout Ponce City Market. Every weekend in December leading up to Christmas, check out the events that are scheduled. For a full list of events, see the online calendar.
Ponce City Market and its partners have worked along with the CDC to ensure precautions are taken to protect the safety of its tenants, staff, and guests. Please check their online directory for current hours of operation.
We hope this list of things to do in Atlanta during the winter is helpful and inspiring. Whether you are planning to stay just one night, a whole week, or even longer in Atlanta, check out our extended stay rooms with kitchens that will make your stay feel like a home away from home. And if you find yourself on a budget this winter, here are some cheap things to do in Atlanta that are chock-full of fun! We can’t wait to see you in Atlanta!