18 Actually Cool Things You Can Do in Atlanta This Winter

Stay cozy and entertained.

You don’t need us to tell you how magical Atlanta is during the winter—you can just feel it. Whether it’s due to most of us being outside of our comfort zone with the chilly weather or the overall glee from the holidays, the winter season really is a special time of the year for Atlantans. Even though snow may not fall, the city is still able to turn into a winter wonderland thanks to pop-up igloos, skating rinks, and other special holiday attractions.

Over the next few months, there will be a lot of exciting events and activities taking place throughout the city, but do yourself a favor and remember that we are still in a pandemic, so act accordingly whenever going out. That means getting vaccinated if you can, continuing to wear your masks, frequently washing your hands, and social distancing whenever you’re at events with other people. Now, with that said, here are 18 long awesome things that you can do in Atlanta this winter.

Downtown
Dining in the Dark is bringing a special holiday twist to its unparalleled tasting experiences. On Wednesdays throughout December, Dining in the Dark invites guests to participate in a dark holiday menu tasting that temporarily takes away their vision in an effort to heighten their senses of smell and taste. If wearing a blindfold and tasting a surprise menu—vegan, seafood, and meat options available—sounds fun to you, then secure your tickets to Dining in the Dark as soon as possible.

KAWS PRINTS
High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Midtown
Every so often, the High Museum of Art houses exhibitions that bridge high art and popular culture, and this winter, there will be two such exhibitions at the High—KAWS PRINTS and The Obama Portraits Tour. KAWS PRINTS will showcase the High’s full collection of prints by KAWS (Brian Donnelly), and those who appreciate the pop culture phenomenon’s work will be able to check out that exhibit from December 3 to March 27, 2022. The Obama Portraits Tour is an exhibition that is just as—and arguably more—anticipated as KAWS PRINTS. The renowned portraits of President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama will be on display from January 14, 2022 to March 20, 2022, and due to the demand of the exhibition, an exhibition-specific ticket will be required to see Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald’s gorgeous portraits in person.

Old Fourth Ward
If you have already been to the Illuminarium and checked out the immersive WILD experience, there is at last a cool new reason for you to go back. In honor of the holidays, the Illuminarium is ditching the African Safari for a stunning snowy paradise called WINTERLAND. From November 26 to January 2, 2022, attendees will be able to hang out with their friends and families while being treated to original orchestration and surrounded by incredible projections of the Northern Lights, magical forest creatures, and the village of Winterland’s snowy landscape. For a boozier WINTERLAND experience, get into the holiday spirit by going to WINTERLAND After Dark, a 21+ experience that makes for a visually captivating date night.

Atlantic Station
Atlantic Station

Skate, drink, and be merry

Midtown
For a city that doesn’t typically yield too many sub-freezing temperature days during the winter, Atlanta actually has a wealth of ice skating venues set up throughout the holiday season. For an ice skating rink positioned right at one of the best shopping centers in the city, you can Skate the Station at Atlantic Station’s huge ice skating rink from November 19 to January 17, 2022. Just a few miles away, you can hit up Park Tavern’s holiday bar for drinks before or after hitting The Rink, which is open for ice skating from Thanksgiving Day to Presidents’ Day 2022. This year, Colony Square is getting in on the fun too, by launching Skate on the Square (an outdoor ice-skating rink) and The North Pole (a holiday pop-up bar). You can grab some food from Politan Row and enjoy Colony Square’s new holiday activations starting November 19.

Fairburn
Many of the city’s favorite annual holiday events are returning at one point or another this winter, but there is also an exciting new holiday experience debuting southwest of the perimeter. Premiering in the Southeast region of the US for the first time ever, Holiday Road Atlanta will be setting up shop in Fairburn from November 26 to January 2, 2022. The self-guided, winter wonderland-themed trail at Bouckaert Farm will consist of a half-mile of illuminated holiday displays, twinkling lights, food trucks, a holiday bar, and a souvenir shop. Grab your timed tickets in advance and get ready to take some unforgettable holiday family photos.

Go to the theatre for two of Atlanta’s best holiday productions

Cobb
Whether you spend the winter months rewatching all of the Harry Potter movies or you can’t fully enjoy Christmas without seeing The Year Without a Santa Claus, we all have our essential holiday movies. In Atlanta, the same applies to its theatrical productions. The Atlanta Ballet’s The Nutcracker is a holiday standard in the city, and even though the dance company has finally moved its annual production to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, it is still sure to be one of the best-executed shows this season. Broadway Atlanta is also bringing the holiday vibes with its latest theatrical production, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical. Get all of the grinchy vibes out of your system by seeing it for yourself at the Fox Theatre this December.

ATL Holiday Lights
ATL Holiday Lights

Midtown
As previously mentioned, we’re all trying to stay healthy throughout the winter and holiday season, so it’s great that the pandemic-friendly ATL Holiday Lights show is back for another year. From now until January 2, the drive-thru light show will be taking place at Atlantic Station, and like last year, participants will just have to pay for one ticket for their car rather than paying per head. However, if you are interested in walking through the ornate holiday experience, there will be walking nights as well.

Stone Mountain
There’s no better way to close out a cold, winter day than by putting on some comfortable—and preferably fuzzy—clothes and sitting next to a fire. If that sounds great but you’re living the #apartmentlife or just don’t have a functional fireplace in your home, here’s the perfect work-around for you: a camping trip at Stone Mountain Park. At the park’s campgrounds, you can rent a heated yurt or a decked-out RV, so after you enjoy a nice evening around the campfire with your family and friends, you can rest warm and easy as one of Stone Mountain’s new glampers. And don’t forget to make s’mores!

Take a cozy trip to the cabins

North Georgia
We could all use a break from regular life this winter, so whether you’re off for the holidays or down to make a weekend road trip, now is the perfect time to hit the cabins in North Georgia. There are plenty of great reasons to visit the Bavarian-style town of Helen, and a road trip to Ellijay would be a great option as well. From vineyards and scenic train rides to chilly nature hikes and quirky little towns, a cozy trip to the cabins could be exactly what you need this winter.

Puttshack
Puttshack

West Midtown
Get out of the cold and warm yourself up with a heated game of miniature golf at Puttshack. The new Atlanta attraction is an upscale, tech-infused mini-golf hangout where you can eat, drink, and compete with friends for putt-putt bragging rights. Puttshack is a 21+ affair every day from 8 pm to midnight (and 1 am on the weekends), so don’t hesitate to squeeze in some late-night practice sessions. By the time the weather starts to heat up next spring, you’ll (hopefully) be a mini-golf champion.

Old Fourth Ward
For an arts experience that is sure to get your creative juices flowing this fall, check out the Splatter Studio at Ponce City Market. The innovative space sidesteps typical painting events and puts visitors into space where anything—like literally getting splattered with paint—is possible. Each session at Splatter is one hour long with enough space for two to eight people to participate, and each participant gets a disposable poncho, disposable shoe covers, sterilized gloves and goggles, a 16 x 20-inch canvas, and access to splatter paint. Go unleash your creativity all season long.

Ponce City Roof
Ponce City Roof

Old Fourth Ward
Even though it’s probably counterintuitive to go to high elevations during these colder months, there’s just too much fun to be had on The Roof at Ponce City Market this winter. In celebration of the holiday season, there are several festive attractions setting up shop on The Roof, including the Skate the Sky ice skating rink, the Holiday Social Bar, and most importantly, the igloos. Starting on ​​Friday, November 26, there will be rink-side and 9 Mile Station igloos available for reservations, so whether you want to Skate the Sky while sipping on warm cocktails or have a picturesque dinner overlooking the city, The Roof’s igloos should definitely be on your winter checklist.

Cobb
Atlanta has a reputation for having some of the most difficult and well-produced escape rooms in the South, and one of the most exciting ones that you can experience is The Escape Game at The Battery. With captivating games ranging from breaking out of prison to executing a museum heist, The Escape Game boasts several challenges that will test your wits and deductive reasoning skills. The entertaining Battery attraction recently debuted its latest escape game—an underwater challenge set inside of a submarine. Players are tasked with completing “forbidden research” in the submerged laboratory, and while going through the hour-long game, they will experience boundary-pushing sound and lighting design, interactive video, and immersive technology. Give it a shot this winter, and even if you don’t escape the puzzle before time runs out, you’ll at least get a cool submarine photo out of the experience.

Book a movie theater all to yourself

Various locations
One of the coolest pandemic-inspired innovations has been the private screening specials offered by local theatres like Midtown Art Cinema, and following the grand opening of Silverspot Cinema earlier this summer, there’s no better way to get familiar with Atlanta’s newest movie theatre. Three-hour theatre rentals are available at Silverspot Cinema, and renters have the option to watch a flick from their preferred streaming app or Silverspot’s current lineup. This winter, must-see movies like House of Gucci, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and The Matrix Resurrections are hitting the big screen, so book a private screening at Silverspot Cinema for a dynamic, one-of-a-kind viewing experience.

The Paint Factory
The Paint Factory

Online
If you’d much rather marvel at Georgia’s wintertime beauty from the indoors, then a private at-home paint-n-sip is exactly what you need. The Paint Factory is a great Black- and woman-owned mobile paint-n-sip company that regularly hosts themed in-person events, and it also offers private at-home paint-n-sips for those looking for a more intimate art experience. That way, you can still have fun while you social distance this winter.
 

Various locations
Atlanta and its surrounding areas have no shortage of visually striking outdoor recreation areas, and since this lovely cold weather has finally crept in, now is the perfect time to bundle up and get a different perspective on Georgia’s natural beauty. You’ll find that some of the most visually striking places in Georgia—from winding hiking trails to breathtaking natural landmarks—look completely different during the winter, so use that as an excuse to get some fresh air and explore the Peach State’s most astonishing outdoor areas.

Six Flags Over Georgia & Hurricane Harbor
Six Flags Over Georgia & Hurricane Harbor

Austell
On select dates from November to January, Six Flags Over Georgia is inviting guests to experience the return of Holiday in the Park. For the special winter celebration, visitors will have access to all of the typical Six Flags rides, and there will also be new holiday attractions, including the Holiday Traditions Around The World train ride, the Merry Lane stroll-through tunnel, and the Oh What Fun! A Holiday Light Spectacular. In addition to all of the special holiday experiences popping up at Six Flags Over Georgia this winter, there will also be Christmas carolers and other festive entertainment options spread throughout the park.

Midtown
With the arrival of a new season, the Atlanta Botanical Garden has transformed once again, and from now until January 15, 2022, guests will be able to witness the garden’s 11th annual Garden Lights, Holiday Nights exhibition. Anyone who has ever strolled through the botanical garden already knows that it is one of the most gorgeous places in the city, but somehow, Garden Lights, Holiday Nights makes the garden look even more beautiful. Guests can expect a Glowing Grove along the Flower Walk, oversized flowers leading to the Ice Goddess, and several lighted sculptures recycled from this summer’s SUPERnatural: Glass Art exhibition. As always, this exhibition is expected to sell out quickly, so make sure you go ahead and secure your timed tickets online.

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Joshua Robinson is a contributor for Thrillist. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @roshjobin.