Out-of-town guests during the holidays? Atlanta has a lot to offer

When visitors come to town, Atlanta poet Hank Stewart has a checklist of places to go and things to do.

Stewart, who moved here in 1984 from Jacksonville, Fla., said his new home “has glimpses of everything. It has the historical piece, it has the spiritual piece. It has evolved into an entertainment and cultural center. You can get everything here. When you say you’re from Atlanta, everyone’s eyes light up.”

For breakfast and lunch, he prefers Le Petit Marché on Hosea L. Williams Drive. For live music or a night out with friends, he goes to St. James Live on Butner Road or the Lobby in the 12 Hotel in Midtown.

Having out-of-town guests for the holidays?

Let us help you plan activities with a sampling of where you can take them to experience the city and its surroundings. You should always check for special holiday hours and closings.

Atlanta Botanical Garden

The garden, which opened in 1976, is home to one of the largest collections of plants and flowers in the Southeast. It's open for people who want to take a stroll through what Mother Nature has to offer even with a chill in the air. While the Atlanta Botanical Garden is known for its wonderful exhibits and events, you'll also find dining and shopping on the grounds. During the holidays, the garden has several events including "Garden Lights, Holiday Nights," which runs nightly through Jan. 6. This year's "Garden Lights, Holiday Nights" offers new features and fan favorites – including new music and motion for Nature's Wonders. Nature-minded visitors can also be treated to the debut of the Skylights Lounge in the Skyline Garden. Additionally, several larger-than-life plant giants from "Imaginary Worlds: Once Upon a Time" will be awash in holiday glow. See the Ice Goddess and Tunnel of Light along with the Orchestral Orbs, Radiant Rainforest, Model Trains and other favorites that continue to make the exhibition a must-see holiday tradition. The exhibit is closed during the day on Christmas and New Year's Day, but open nightly for "Garden Lights, Holiday Nights," from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. 1345 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-876-5859, atlantabg.org.

Related: Garden Lights, Holiday Nights for 2018

Buford Highway

Need a break from turkey and dressing? Foodies will get a kick by stopping at any number of restaurants along Buford Highway, which boasts some of the metro area's tastiest delights. This diverse culinary corridor boasts Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Mexican, Thai, Bangladeshi and many more cuisines from Buckhead to Buford. Buford Highway has more than 125 restaurants concentrated within the 8-mile corridor that traverses Brookhaven, Chamblee and Doraville, according to a recent article by dining editor and writer Ligaya Figueras. Among the many options for a delicious day are the Korean fried chicken restaurant Hello Chicken in DoravilleMexican sandwich shop Tortas Factory del D.F. and the Halal Guys, which started as a mere food cart in New York. It's a culinary trip around the world without ever leaving the metro Atlanta area.

Related: BuHi brings the world to Georgia food lovers

Six Flags Over Georgia

The Austell amusement park welcomes thrill seekers with rides like the Twisted Cyclone, Goliath and Batman. Holiday in the Park returns to Six Flags for the fifth year, operating on select days though Jan. 6. The experience transforms the park into an immersive holiday extravaganza, featuring nine world-class roller coasters, more than a million LED lights, new entertainment and holiday treats. The fun also includes "Bad Bob Humbug," an all-new slapstick comedy show; a Main Street Christmas park entrance with a canopy filled with 165,000 twinkling lights and artificial snow; and the North Pole Express to see Santa at the North Pole. You'll also find a tree lighting ceremony every night at sunset. Six Flags Over Georgia 2019 Season Passes are on sale now and provide unlimited visits for Holiday in the Park and all of 2019. 275 Riverside Parkway S.W., Austell. 770-739-3400, sixflags.com/overgeorgia.

Credit: Emily Jenkins

Credit: Emily Jenkins

National Center for Civil and Human Rights

You can’t visit Atlanta without learning about the city’s history in the civil and human rights movements. Opened in 2014, the center offers visitors an inside look at movements that have changed Atlanta and the world. From civil rights to human rights and women’s rights, it’s all covered through exhibits, photographs and stories. A typical visit lasts approximately 90 to 120 minutes. It’s also close to other downtown attractions such as the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium. Tickets are $19.99, and free for ages 6 and younger. 100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd., Atlanta. 678-999-8990, www.civilandhumanrights.org

Related: A video tour of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

This historic area touches three counties — DeKalb, Henry and Rockdale — and includes 2,500 acres of biking and hiking trails and natural beauty. The area is considered a natural wonder with wildlife and a variety of flowers and plants. There are also a number of recurring events at the area. On Dec. 23 and Dec. 28, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., visitors can hike and learn about the natural and cultural resources of the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve. You'll leave inspired with a better understanding of local history, early DeKalb industry, and the animals and plants that call this special place home. Hikes are moderate and last 2 to 3 hours. Please dress in long pants, closed-toe shoes, and bring plenty of water. Winter is a great time of year and a wonderful opportunity for families to explore the great outdoors and enjoy a scavenger hunt, which happens several times a week. Stop by the nature center and pick up a card. Check things off the list while discovering the natural world, then bring back the completed card for a small prize. Registration is required. All events and park visitation are free. Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, 3787 Klondike Road, Lithonia 770-492-5220. arabiaalliance.org.

Related: Five Hiking Trails that are a quick drive from Atlanta

Related: Trail mix and match: Enjoy the outdoors for every toughness level