• GUIDE: Places to find snow and fun near Atlanta this holiday season!

    By: April Hunt


    ATLANTA - More than just a song about the ones you used to know, a white Christmas can be magical.

    Snowflakes create the chance for snowball fights, fireside romance and everything in between. Living in Georgia, though, means a winter wonderland isn't very likely – and you might be stuck in traffic anyway.

    Luckily, if you've got your two front teeth and all you want is snow, you have options.

    Several events and attractions that make for a holiday season like something out of a snow globe are within driving distance.

    Here are some of our favorites:

    Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain (1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain. 1-800-401-2407)

    Tube runs, a sledding hill and a snowy play area make Stone Mountain Park's annual icy attraction one of the closest options. Keep in mind that Snow Mountain closes for weather – when the actual forecast calls for snow. Tickets are $59.95 for unlimited tubing and $34.95 for 2 hours of tubing, with daylong access to the snow play area. Snow Mountain will be open through Feb. 24

    Margaritaville at Lanier Islands (7000 Lake Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford. 678-304-3120)

    Ditch the flip flops for snow boots at Georgia's largest inland beach. In addition to tubing runs, License to Chill Snow Island offers sleigh rides, 13 winter-themed carnival rides and an ice rink. The island is also home to the 7-mile Magical Night of Lights. Admission to Snow Island without rides is free before 5 p.m. Tickets range from $2.50 for some rides to $39.99 for all-access snow, ice rink and carnival rides.

    Ski Sapphire Valley (127 Cherokee Trail, Sapphire Valley, N.C. 828-743-7663)

    At about 2 ½ hours from Atlanta, the closest ski lodge to Atlanta offers skiing on a 1,600-foot main run, tubing, boarding and even a winter zip line. There is even a ski school to help you learn the right way to fall. Or maybe that was just us. Tickets range between $60 and $66 for an adult snowboard gear rental and lift and ski gear rental/lift or ski gear. Check holiday pricing and children's tickets on the website.

    Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center (7420 Dillard Road, Scaly Mountain, North Carolina. 800-401-2407)

    If you're not ready to strap on the skis but still want to play in the snow, this tubing-only resort is also just 2 ½ hours from Atlanta in the western North Carolina mountains. There are three tubing lanes for adults and children who are at least 42 inches tall, while a kiddie slope is open for children under 4 years old. Tickets are $25 for a 2-hour session on the main lanes and $12 for the kiddie slope. Ice skating is available on an outdoor rink, at $12 for an hour. There is also a stocked trout pond where you can fish if the water isn't frozen over. Check the website for weather conditions before traveling.

    Ober Gatlinburg (1001 Parkway Suite 2, Gatlinburg, Tennessee. 800-251-9202)

    Though the Smoky Mountains are more likely to see real snow in January or February, temperatures are just about right for machine-made snow for skiing, tubing and snowboarding. The tubing lanes are already open, with skiing slated to open in mid-December. In keeping with the religious season, the resort offers Church on the Slopes every Sunday, holding a church service while skiing. Tickets range from $25 for tubing for 90 minutes for ages 5 and up to $36 and $60 for weekday and holiday skiing. 

    Hawknest Snow Tubing (2058 Skyland Drive, Seven Devils, N.C. 828-963-6561)

    Real snow, real cold and the East Coast's largest snow tubing park are on hand at park in Seven Devils, North Carolina, about 5 hours' drive from Atlanta. Lights along the 30 tubing lanes allow for activity well after dark, with some lanes set aside for novices. Tickets are $30 weekdays and $38 weekends and holidays. Check the website for availability, since tickets are limited to allow maximum tubing time.

    Gaylord Palms ICE! (6000 West Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee, Fla. 407-586-4423)

    Even in sunny Orlando -- 7 hours by car, 2 by air -- you can catch some chilly Christmas spirit if you plan ahead. ICE!, a walk-through ice exhibit inside the hotel, features scenes from the 1983 film, "A Christmas Story," including the triple-dog daring of licking a flagpole moment (signs also warn you not touch, sit on or yes, lick, the ice in the attraction). The interactive attraction also includes two-story carved slide and finishes with a traditional Nativity scene. And, if the 9 degree exhibit isn't chilly enough, there are also eight lanes of snow tubing outside. Check the website for tickets and prices, which vary based on attraction combinations.

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