Pack the car with family, friends, snacks, maybe an overnight bag, and tune into your favorite Christmas music station for a de-LIGHT-ful road trip. A visit to these sites, some of the biggest and brightest holiday light displays within a few hours, surely will get you in the Christmas spirit. We put our twist on a list we found at Explore Georgia.
Beginning Thanksgiving evening, and running every night, rain or shine, through New Year’s Eve. Introduced in 1989 as a gift to the local community, this display has grown to be one of the most popular light shows in the Southeast, attracting nearly half a million spectators. Cruise through the spectacularly illuminated campus, stopping along the 1.5-mile drive to enjoy an array of seasonal entertainments. Costs are $5 per car Mondays-Thursdays, $10 per car Fridays-Sundays, as well as Nov. 23-26 and Dec. 15-31. The display opens at dark every night and runs until 9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Open through Jan. 3. Millions of lights, Christmas shows and Rudolph create a night to remember. Don’t miss a 5-mile excursion on the Singalong Christmas Train, featuring a satellite message from Santa’s elves and a track-side show about the first Christmas. Watch the new live children’s show, “The Littlest Christmas Tree,” and end your night at Stone Mountain Park with the magic of the Snow Angel flying high to create snow and fireworks. 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. 770-498-5690.
Open through Jan. 7. Orchestral Orbs glow harmoniously with holiday tunes. A Tunnel of Light from the radiant Ice Goddess to the Glittering Galaxy embraces visitors in enchanting light. Named one of the top 10 holiday light shows in the country by USA Today. 1345 Piedmont Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-876-5859.
Through Jan. 7. Bundle up for a Jolly Trolley ride, or drive your own car through more than 8 million lights. Named one of the top 10 places to see holiday lights by National Geographic Traveler, Callaway Gardens glistens with custom-built scenes. Inside the Christmas Village, shop for gifts from Georgia crafters and specialty treats. 17800 U.S. Highway 27, Pine Mountain. 706-663-2281.
Through Jan. 6. Holiday scenes include more than 1 million lights. Stop in the pavilion for nightly entertainment, gingerbread cookie decorating and to warm up by the fire. Special VIP tickets are available for dinner with Santa and early garden entrance. 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, TN. 706-820-2531.
Through Jan. 3. Drive through larger-than-life holiday light displays while you hear songs of the season on your radio or smartphone. Enhance the experience with the companion app, and be sure to stop at the Holiday Village to visit Santa, shop for gifts, and ride carnival rides. 7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Gainesville. 770-945-8787. www.lanierislands.com
Through Dec. 30, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. A holiday treat for the entire family, where the fairgrounds are transformed into a spectacular and magical holiday light show, with Christmas music, arts and crafts vendors, holiday food, a visit and pictures with Santa, and hot chocolate and s’mores! 1311 Music Hall Road, Hiawassee. 706-896-4191.
Through Dec. 30. Bring a blanket and snuggle on the trains as they make their way along a 1.25-mile rail at the show in Waycross, filled with thousands of lights. Walk through the park and enjoy a meal or snacks (including gator tail) at the Peach Pit Snack Shack.
Through Dec. 24, select nights. Savannah’s jewel of a Christmas returns with more than 1 million sparkling lights. This walking tour allows you to stroll leisurely through illuminated garden areas. Visit with Santa Claus and the Coastal Rail Buff’s miniature train display, and stop at Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen for a hot beverage and baked goodies. 2 Canebrake Road, Savannah. 912-921-5460.
Through Dec. 28. Visitors (including those who are not staying overnight), are welcome to view more than 1 million lights and festive décor in the historic 1800s manor house ruins, surrounding gardens and English-style village. There is a small fee for the self-guided tour. 597 Barnsley Gardens Road, Adairsville. 770-773-7480.
Various dates through Dec. 25. Drive through the mile-long display of thousands of lights, all strung by volunteers and ranch hands of the property. Bring the family by Truett’s Barn for hot cocoa and apple cider, soups and other treats. On select days, families can dine with Santa and pose for a keepsake. 5020 Barnesville Highway, The Rock. 706-647-6374.