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5 Southern spots that offer a true old-fashioned Christmas

Whether you're hoping to celebrate a traditional, storybook Christmas complete with carriage rides and twinkling lights, or an exciting holiday filled with sledding, snow tubing and light shows, the South sure knows how to make the season bright. 

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Although you'll find a little Christmas joy and holiday cheer in every small town throughout the Southern states, these top locations host truly unforgettable celebrations that will give your family a lifetime of memories that they'll cherish forever. So, gather up the kiddos and head out to experience one of these awe-inspiring Christmastime destinations, all within a day's journey from Atlanta. 

Spend an old-fashioned Christmas up in Dahlonega this year.
Photo: Courtesy of Dahlonega Downtown Development Authority

An Old-Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega

Runs through Jan. 12. Free. Downtown Dahlonega. 13 S. Park St., Dahlonega, Georgia. 800-231-5543. www.dahlonegachristmas.wordpress.com.

Dahlonega hosts an Old-Fashioned Christmas throughout the month of December, which features regular visits from Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides, community caroling, activities for the whole family, a live nativity, a Christmas Tea and much more. If you've ever wanted to experience a traditional Christmas, make sure to stop by this charming small town at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains for this much-loved holiday event.

Stone Mountain Christmas

Runs through Jan. 5. Ticket prices vary. Stone Mountain Park. 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain, Georgia. 800-401-2407. www.stonemountainpark.com.

Visit Stone Mountain Park until Jan. 5 and your family will enjoy a 400-foot hill covered in real snow to tube down, a thick snowfield perfect for building a snowman, live holiday music, millions of twinkling lights, The Polar Express 4-D Experience and the Enchanted Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony every night followed by a holiday parade. Make sure to purchase one of the S'Mores kits for your little ones, which they can toast over one of the fire pits located in the park.

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Christmas in Candyland

Runs through Dec. 29. Free admission, ride and attraction prices vary. Andalusia Court Square, Andalusia, Alabama. 334-222-2030. www.christmasincandyland.com.

Travel over to Andalusia, Alabama for a Christmastime adventure like no other, including regular visits from Santa, ice skating, characters in costume, colorful play cottages, a snow-covered tubing hill, train rides, hot cocoa and more. This annual Christmas in Candyland event is absolutely free.

A Colonial Christmas in Williamsburg
Photo: Courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation/For the AJC

A Colonial Christmas

Runs through Dec. 31. $8-$23 per person, free for children under 6. Jamestown Settlement at Colonial Williamsburg. 2110 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, Virginia. 888-965-7254. www.visitwilliamsburg.com.

Head north and step back in time for a Colonial Christmas celebration in Williamsburg, Virginia. Located in the Jamestown Settlement inside Colonial Williamsburg, visitors can meander through one of the best living history museums in the country, experience American Revolution-era holiday activities, see period-accurate holiday decor, talk to historical reenactors about life in Colonial America, watch live performances and witness the stunning Grand Illumination filled with candlelight and fireworks. 

Fantasy In Lights at Callaway Gardens

Runs through Jan. 4. $35 for adults, $17.50 for children ages 6-12. Callaway Resort & Gardens. 17800 US Highway 27, Pine Mountain, Georgia. 844-512-3826. www.callawaygardens.com.

Tired of driving through neighborhoods to see Christmas light displays? Save on gas money and amaze your loved ones this year with a trip to Callaway Gardens. Featured in National Geograhic Magazine as one of the top 10 Christmas light displays in the world, Callaway Gardens' Fantasy In Lights event showcases over 8 million dazzling lights illuminating the gardens, forests and grounds, a festive Christmas Village, costumed characters, holiday-themed concerts, live entertainment and more. 

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