The coldest days are upon us, but there’s no need to hunker down inside by a raging fire. Georgia has outdoor fun that’s sure to warm your heart during the weeks ahead, so check out these wintertime events and attractions.
Atlanta’s legacy as host of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games lives on at Centennial Olympic Park
where the possibilities for recreation aren’t limited to the warmer months. Stunning gardens, public art and the majestic, dancing Fountain of Rings create an inviting sanctuary in the heart of the city. Through early January, this beautiful 21-acre playground is ablaze with thousands of twinkling lights, the perfect backdrop for a moonlit stroll in the shadows of the city skyline. Take a spin on the only downtown Atlanta outdoor ice rink, open now through the end of January. Visit www.centennialpark.com for details.
For an evening away from the city’s hustle and bustle, head to Lake Lanier Islands Resort, north of Atlanta. Throughout December, the resort’s Magical Nights of Lights event is a winter wonderland of illuminated displays. Now in its 19th year, the holiday celebration offers something for everyone: Carnival rides, a zip line, animated characters, a petting zoo and live entertainment, plus a seven-mile driving tour that takes you through the Icicle Tunnel, past Santa’s Elves and through Candy Cane Lane, all on the way to Holiday Village where hot chocolate, a bonfire and some last-minute shopping awaits. Lodging packages are available. Make reservations and get complete information at www.lakelanierislands.com.
In the coastal area near Savannah, Skidaway Island State Park is the natural place for a holiday getaway. Located along the Intracoastal Waterway, the park’s forest and marsh areas are abundant in wildlife. There’s also an observation tower and an interpretive center that just might make a birder out of you. Just in time for the holidays, Skidaway Island hosts the 5th Annual Luminary Fun Night with Santa, giving kids a chance to visit with their favorite jolly elf, stroll the luminary trail, take a hayride and enjoy hands-on activities. It all happens on Saturday, December 17, 2011. Get directions and details at www.gastateparks.org/SkidawayIsland.
For a different kind of old-fashioned fun, head to the Roundhouse Railroad Museum, also in Savannah. From December 27 through 30, 2011, the museum is celebrating “Steam Days,” your chance to take a guided ride in the passenger car of a restored steam locomotive. This unique museum is housed in the more than 100-year-old Savannah repair shops of the Central Railway. Today, the museum is a National Historic Landmark where you can go for a ride, see train engines, cars and cabooses from the past and enjoy all kinds of hands-on fun. During Steam Days, four rides will be offered daily. Find additional information at www.chsgeorgia.org/home.cfm/page/RoundhouseRailroad.htm.
During your holiday break, head outside for some winter fun, Georgia style. The state’s natural beauty and historic charm, all wrapped in twinkling lights, will make your season bright.