Trekaroo Family Travel Blog kids. trips. tips. Sat, 20 Nov 2021 01:44:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Trekaroo Family Travel Blog 32 32 9953755 Over 25 of the Best Things to do in Turks and Caicos! Fri, 19 Nov 2021 23:14:28 +0000 Pristine white sand beaches, the clearest turquoise water, verdant coral reefs, and a deep ocean trench make Turks and Caicos the perfect destination for a beach vacation for those who …

The post Over 25 of the Best Things to do in Turks and Caicos! appeared first on Trekaroo Family Travel Blog.

Pristine white sand beaches, the clearest turquoise water, verdant coral reefs, and a deep ocean trench make Turks and Caicos the perfect destination for a beach vacation for those who want to relax on the beach or explore underwater. But there are also many other things to do in Turks and Caicos beyond scuba diving and beachcombing.

Where is Turks and Caicos?

Things to do in Turks and Caicos include spending time at the beach

Turks and Caicos consists of eight main islands and is located in the Atlantic Ocean at the edge of the Caribbean Sea. The islands are part of the Bahamas island chain.

Turks and Caicos is close to Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. This British territory boasts some of the most pristine beaches and clear turquoise waters in the world.

The most touristed island in Turks and Caicos is Providenciales, home to world-class, family-friendly resorts including Beaches Turks and Caicos. Which is where we stayed during our visit to Turks and Caicos thanks to their offer to host us.

Here are 10 Great Reasons to Take Your Family to Beaches Turks and Caicos.

Do You Need a Passport to Travel to Turks and Caicos?

You need a passport to visit Turks and Caicos

A valid passport is required to enter Turks and Caicos. Visas are not required for U.K., U.S., and Canadian citizens and residents, along with a list of select countries who also do not require a visa. 

There are other entry requirements currently in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • All visitors 16 and above must show proof of vaccination.
  • Children 10 and up and adults must obtain and show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of arrival. Only certain test types are accepted.
  • Travel insurance that covers COVID-19 medical costs and full hospitalization, doctors’ visits, prescriptions, air ambulance, and quarantine. Visitors are fully responsible for the cost of quarantine in the event they test positive during their stay. If you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort like Beaches Turks and Caicos, your reservation includes this insurance.
  • Travel authorization from TCI after completing a health screening questionnaire. As COVID-19 procedures change often, be sure to visit the VisitTCI website for the most current information.

Is Turks and Caicos Expensive?

Turks and Caicos is a mid range Caribbean island in terms of price

The simple answer is, yes. Of course, don’t rule it out. Hotel prices are about the middle of the pack as compared to other Caribbean island destinations and there are always bargains to be had.

There are two ways to vacation in Turks and Caicos – stay at an all-inclusive resort or rent a villa on your own and take care of your own transportation, food, and outdoor activity costs.

While the upfront costs of staying at an all-inclusive resort might feel high at first glance, it allows you to stick to your vacation budget and enjoy every moment without feeling the pain of each purchasing decision.

For example, at the all-inclusive Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos, all your food and drinks (including alcoholic beverages) are included, and all your water sports including scuba diving and sailing are also included. We’ve seen the low range of a stay at this resort start at around $250 per person per night. 

If you choose to rent your own villa, you’ll find that food, gas, and any tours are expensive on Turks and Caicos. Fortunately, if all you really want to do is hang out on a beautiful beach most of your days, the beach and the ocean are free to enjoy.

The time of year also determines how much you spend. Resort prices fluctuate greatly throughout the year.

Christmas, New Year’s and Spring Break will see the highest prices. These times are also the driest season in Turks and Caicos. Late January and September to November (hurricane season) are the best times to book if you want to find the biggest discounts.

Best Things to do in Turks and Caicos

Enjoy the Beaches

Spending time at the beach is one of the best things to do in Turks and Caicos
Leeward Beach

When you think Turks & Caicos, you think beaches. Beautiful and wondrous beaches against the magical backdrop of the pristine sea.

The sand on the beaches in Turks & Caicos is white to a light peach and consists primarily of shells and coral. The incredibly fine sand is a delight to walk barefoot on. Here are some of the best beaches in Turks & Caicos.

Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos
Grace Bay Beach

Grace Bay Beach is located on Providenciales Island (locally known as Provo). Grace Bay Beach is part of Princess Alexandria National Park and is also home to many luxury resorts, including the extensive Beaches by Sandals Resort.

The white sand and crystal turquoise water are legendary. The bay has great scuba diving sites and is protected by a barrier reef that is teeming with sea life.

Leeward Beach is situated to the east of Grace Bay and is a quiet and secluded beach. Kayaking, standup paddleboarding, and wakeboarding are popular here.

Mudjin Harbor is located on Middle Caicos and features limestone cliffs, white sand beaches, Dragon Cay, and the Conch Bar caves. The caves are the largest dry cave system in the Bahamas.

Long Bay Beach is the place for kiteboarding in Providenciales, with constant tradewinds, it’s the place to shred for pros and beginners alike. It’s also a great place to go horseback riding on the beach. At Long Bay, you can also see the ghost-like shipwreck of the La Famille Express, which sits about two miles offshore.

Sapodilla Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos
Sapodilla Bay Beach

Sapodilla Bay Beach is on the southwest side of Providenciales and is known for its incredibly calm water which is sheltered between the hills.

Half Moon Bay is located between Water Cay and Little Water Cay (also called Iguana Island). It’s about a mile from Provo and has a beach and a sandbar lagoon.

It’s a destination for boaters and you can even kayak over from Providenciales. You’ll find the Turks & Caicos Rock Iguana here, as well as lemon sharks, and palm trees.

North Bay Beach is on the island of Salt Cay and is a day trip from Providenciales. It’s got small reefs for snorkeling and a little bit of surf for standup paddleboarding.

Governor's Beach on Grand Turk Island
Governor’s Beach

Governor’s Beach is located on the island of Grand Turk near the Cruise Center and Cockburn Town. This beach is sheltered from the tradewinds and features a long white sand beach, shallow water, and thickly shaded trees. There aren’t many rocky areas here, so it’s really not the best place for snorkeling.

Pine Cay Beach is a two-mile beach located on the small private island of Pine Cay, which is home to a number of Caicos Pine trees. Pine Cay was also reputed to be a base for pirates.

Cedar Point Beach is remotely located on the eastern side of Middle Caicos and is best accessed via 4×4 vehicles for the adventure-hardy.

Scuba Diving & Free Diving at the Wall

Scuba Diving in Turks and Caicos

The clear, warm waters of Turks and Caicos make it one of the best places to scuba dive. The archipelago of islands sits on top of a huge underwater plateau.

Near land, the sandy ocean floor is about 40-50 feet below sea level with vertical walls that drop off the shelf. On any given dive, you can explore distinctive spur and groove formations, sand chutes, canyons, and cracks. 

The coral reefs are healthy, with colorful Caribbean reef fish darting around vibrant coral and sponges. It’s likely you’ll also see a variety of sharks and rays while scuba diving in the waters around Turks and Caicos. 

From Providenciales, you’ll get access to a wide variety of dive sites but some of the best are an hour boat ride away and usually require large boat charters.

French Cay, West Caicos, and Northwest Point are some popular spots. Nearly all popular dive sites in the country are located in protected nature reserves and national parks.

Book this popular Edge of the Banks Tour which takes you to West Caicos or French Cay.

Many all-inclusive resorts, such as Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos, include scuba diving in their packages and offer dives options for first-timers as well as advanced divers.

If you’re new to diving, resorts offer a PADI Discover Scuba Course (for a fee) and other PADI certification courses for additional fees. Kids eight and up can even get their feet wet with the PADI Bubblemaker Experience or PADI Seal Team Experience.


Snrokeling in Turks and Caicos

Snorkeling in Turks & Caicos is a treat, as it is home to an incredible barrier reef system. The best places to snorkel are located in Providenciales, Grand Turk, and Salt Cay.

Some locations are easier to get to than others. Fortunately, if you’re staying at one of the all-inclusive resorts like Beaches Turks & Caicos, your stay will include unlimited use of snorkel gear and snorkel boat rides.

​​Two of the most popular snorkeling spots with kids on Providenciales are Bight Reef and Smith Reef. Both are about a 10 minute walk from Grace Bay.

Go to Bight Reef for a good chance to swim with hawksbill turtles, parrotfish, stingrays, trumpet fish, and barracudas. The coral reef system here is between 15 to 20 feet from the surface of the water. 

Head to Smith’s Reef for an array of tropical fish, eagle rays, moray eels, and lobsters. This large reef system starts off shallow and then extends deeper as you get further away from the shore. This area includes a nice variety of hard and soft coral-like sea fans. 

At the aforementioned locations, you can easily snorkel right from the shore, but taking a snorkeling cruise offered by your resort or a private boat tour will allow you to get to some of the best spots where the water is clearest with peak reef conditions. On a charter you are more likely to see a wider variety of fish and larger creatures.

Families enjoy this catamaran and snorkel combo cruise from Grace Bay.

While most snorkel cruises include equipment rental, the quality of the equipment can vary, and if your kids have small faces or bodies, it is a good idea to bring your own equipment and flotation device to ensure a good fit. There is nothing worse than snorkeling with a child who has saltwater seeping into their mask the whole time.

Find more snorkeling and tours >

Paddleboarding & Kayaking

Water sports in Turks and Caicos

Most all-inclusive resorts and villa rentals will include kayaks and paddleboards as part of your stay.

You can even experience the wonders of a glass-bottom kayak by renting a clear kayak from one of several kayak rental companies such as My Time Tours.

Clear kayaks allow you to see right below your kayak through the clear waters of Turks and Caicos. You might spot sea stars, stingrays, turtles, baby sharks, and reef fish. 

On Providenciales, Grace Bay is very protected and is a great spot to launch a kayak or paddleboard right off the beach. However, another location that is accessible and provides a different experience is Mangrove Cay.

Rent a kayak or paddleboard from the Big Blue Collective located at Mangrove Cay and explore the red mangrove estuaries of Princess Alexandra Nature Preserve. You’re likely to spot herons, egrets, sharks, conch, starfish, stingrays, and young sea turtles.

This area is connected via channels to Little Water Cay where you can see endangered rock iguanas and the spectacular views of Half Moon Cay.

On North and Middle Caicos, the extensive wetlands and shallow waters offer some of the best kayaking and paddling locations on the islands. Tour companies offer half, full, and even overnight kayak expeditions.

Every Flavor of Watersport – Parasailing, Jetskiing, & E-Foiling

Parasailing in Turks and Caicos

With miles and miles of turquoise blue waters dotted with picturesque views, it’s hard to resist the opportunity to get a birds-eye view or test your skills at a new watersport.

If someone has dreamed up a way to play in the water, it’s available in Turks and Caicos. Providenciales offers the most options to play on the water.

Fly up on a parasail to get a bird’s eye view. Speed through the wake on a jet ski or wakeboard. Hang on tight for the bumpy ride on a wake tube pulled behind a boat, or try your hand at kitesurfing or windsurfing

Or maybe you’re feeling extra adventurous and want to test your balance on a flyboard. If you’ve never heard of flyboarding, imagine having your feet attached to a fireman’s hose that propels you out of the water and into the air.

If it sounds insane, it kinda is, but exactly the kind of thing your adrenaline junky teen would probably enjoy. ​​


Kite boardingin Turks and Caicos

Kiteboarding locations can be found on Providenciales and South Caicos. November to May offers the best winds for kitesurfing. Provo has several places that offer lessons and rentals. Long Bay Beach is the most popular location for kitesurfing on Providenciales.

Glass Bottom or Semi-Submarine Boat Tour

Semi Submarine tour by Caicos Tours
Photo by: Caicos Tours

For young kids or adults who are not comfortable snorkeling, a glass-bottom boat tour or a semi-submarine boat tour is the best way to get a view of the wonderful aquatic life.

A semi-submarine will partially submerge its see-through hull into the water to provide both a from-the-top and front-facing view of aquatic life.

​​Some all-inclusive resorts include a glass-bottom boat tour, additionally, the Caicos Tour’s Undersea Explorer is a semi-submarine tour company operating out of Turtle Cove in central Providenciales.

Got a kid who believes in mermaids? You might want to check out their mermaid encounter as well. 

Most glass bottom boat and semi-submarine tours visit Smith’s Reef and Grace Bay. Other destinations include the Caicos barrier reef and the offshore edge of Princess Alexandra National Park.

Eat Some Conch Fritters

Conch shell

One of the most tasty things to do in Turks and Caicos is eat conch fritters. Conch is prepared as fried conch fritters, raw in conch salad like a ceviche, or simmered in a conch stew.

You’ll see conch on menus of local restaurants and at resorts, but if you’re looking for a local restaurant that specializes in conch, try Bugaloo’s Conch Crawl or Da Conch Shack

The local fish fry on Thursday Nights is normally popular with locals and visitors, but due to COVID restrictions, it is currently not gathering.

Jerk and BBQ on the Beach

Caribbean style barbecue

Caribbean-style barbecue features patiently roasted meats barbecued on greenwood fires. Whether you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort or on a boat tour, you have to pop a beer and enjoy some BBQ or spicy Jamaican jerk (chicken, beef, pork, fish) which has found its way to the tables of most Caribbean islands.

If you’re staying at Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos, visit their famous Jerk Hut for at least one meal during your stay. This Jamaican-owned resort takes pride in its jerk.

Jeep or ATV tours to the Wild Side

ATV tour on Turks and Caicos

Getting on the back of an ATV or Jeep will allow you to explore the wild parts of Providenciales, Grand Turk, and Salt Cay.

On Provo, ATV tours explore Northwest Point National Park, Malcolm’s Road Beach, and West Harbour Bluff. In these protected areas on the west coast, you’ll see lots of shorebirds like ospreys, pelicans, egrets, herons, and even flamingos.

On Grand Turk, the tour begins north of the cruise center past the Hawkes Nest Salina, travels past the Mercury Friendship 7 space capsule, through the historical oceanfront of Cockburn Town, and up North Creek, a popular birdwatching and kayaking spot, and up to Grand Turk Lighthouse.

Horseback Riding on Long Beach

If turquoise water and white sand on horseback sound dreamy to you, Providenciales has three small riding stables.

Book your horseback riding adventure today.

At Long Bay Beach (south side of the island) you’ll find Provo Ponies. Young children can also take guide-led pony rides. Long Bay Beach is less developed and located on shallow Caicos Banks.  

There is also a stable at Blue Hills Beach in central Provo. Five Cays Beach also has a stable near Bugaloo’s restaurant. 

Explore the Historic Sites on Providenciales

It is easy when visiting Turks and Caicos to spend your entire time within the walls of your beach resort, but it will give you little sense of the culture and history of the people of Turks and Caicos.

Renting a car or taking a history and culture tour allow you to visit a couple of important historic sites. 

Cheshire Hall Plantation was the largest cotton plantations on Providenciales. The Sapodilla Bay Hill Rock Carvings date back to the 1700-1800’s when the area served as a port serving the cotton industry. Waiting sailors carved symbols and messages into the rock as they awaited for their new assignments.

The National Museum and Heritage Site on Providenciales has a few outdoor exhibits – a reproduction of an original dwelling and the Caicos Sloop, a small ocean vessel that was used in the islands for centuries.

Reef, Shore, Bone, and Deep Sea Fishing

Fishing in Turks and Caicos

What’s your flavor of fishing? Reef and bottom fishing in the shallow waters require less skill.  Bonefishing requires a little more skill and is a little bit like the flyfishing of the Caribbean.

If you’re interested in catching bigger fish, there are deep-sea fishing charters out of Providenciales. Visitors can purchase a day pass. Fishing in nature preserves and popular beaches is not permitted.

Fishing charters operate out of Blue Haven Marina and Turtle Cove Marina. On the reef, you might fish for red snapper, mutton snapper, grey snapper, Nassau grouper, yellowtail, and jacks.

On deep-sea fishing charters, you’ll be aiming to catch sailfish, blue marlin, white marlin, swordfish, shark, yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, bigeye tuna, skipjack tuna, mahi-mahi, and wahoo.

Boat Tours

Over 25 of the Best Things to do in Turks and Caicos! 1

As you can imagine, exploring by boat is popular on Turks and Caicos. After all, many of the 40 islands and numerous cays can’t be accessed any other way.

Boat tours come in many different varieties. Sunset and glowworm cruises, snorkeling charters, beach hopping and BBQ’s boat trips, and party boats.

For most visitors staying at Providenciales, most boat tours will visit a string of small cays and islands between Providenciales and North Caicos, an area about nine miles long.

A popular destination is the iguana nature sanctuary of Little Water Cay. Half Moon Bay Beach is another popular spot for its beautiful views.

Island hopping by sailboat has more of a laidback and romantic feel. Catamaran powerboats offer more of a party vibe with slides and trampolines, something that kids and adults alike can love.

Sunset cruises off the northeast of Provo often encounter Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. If you’re lucky enough to be in Turks and Caicos about 3-5 days after a full moon, you might have the opportunity to observe the bioluminescent glow-worm.

This mating dance of the female glow-worm creates a mysterious light display just beneath the surface of the water about an hour after sunset for just 15 minutes. The best place to see these glow worms is in the shallow waters of Caicos Banks south of Providenciales. 

Day Trips and Island Hopping

If you are arriving in Turks and Caicos by plane, you will land at the Providenciales International Airport. From Provo, you can take a flight on a domestic airline to Grand Turk, South Caicos, and Salt Cay.

From Providenciales, you can travel by ferry to Middle Caicos and North Caicos. There is also a ferry from Grand Turk to Salt Cay. Private boat tours will pick up guests from resorts and villas. 

North Caicos and Middle Caicos

Conch Bar Caves

A full-day tour to North Caicos and Middle Caicos from Providenciales will usually begin with a 30-40 minute ferry ride and then transportation by car or bicycle. Remote areas might be accessed by kayak or stand-up paddleboard where you can see a plethora of wildlife. 

Middle Caicos is home to the Karst cave system, which includes the Conch Bar Caves with miles of tunnels. These caves are only accessible by guided tours. On North Caicos, you’ll find Cottage Pond, a small sinkhole pond, with an impressive depth of almost 300 feet.

South Caicos

Flamingo Turks and Caicos

A day trip to the small island of South Caicos begins with a flight, ferry, or private boat charter. Upon arriving you’ll have to rent a car in advance or plan to bicycle to see the sights.

ATV and Jeeps are also available to explore the sights, beaches, vistas, and wetlands of the South Caicos.

The wetland and abandoned salinas from the sea salt industry are great for birdwatching Caribbean flamingos, egrets, herons, and pelicans.

Salt Cay

Over 25 of the Best Things to do in Turks and Caicos! 2
Bikes on Salt Cay

A day trip to Salt Cay requires a flight from Providenciales or a ferry ride from Grand Turk. On this small island, the transportation of choice is an off-road golf cart to explore the unpaved roads and trails of Salt Cay. Bicycling is also popular for exploring Balfour Town and South District.

Salt Cay is the destination for serious scuba diving. From January to March, you can even snorkel with humpback whales. This small, tranquil island also has some old salt salinas you can visit. 

Grand Turk

Grand Turk in Turks and Caicos

If you are cruising to Turks and Caicos, you’ll land at Grand Turk island at the nation’s capital of Cockburn Town with its historic colonial-era buildings and the Turks and Caicos National Museum.

If you fly from Providenciales, it makes for a full-day trip to explore Grand Turk’s historic sites and natural beauty. If you’re not cruising, it’s best to check the cruise ship schedule and avoid visiting on those days.

On Grand Turk, Gibbs Cay is a popular attraction for its wild and human-friendly stingrays. Tours to Gibbs Cay often include diving for conch, snorkeling, and a barbecue lunch on the beach. The Grand Turk Lighthouse and the old U.S. Navy NAVFAC 104 Base are also some historic attractions to visit. 

*Disclosure: Our visit to Turks and Caicos was hosted by Beaches Turks and Caicos. However, these recommendations and opinions come entirely from us. We are also grateful to VisitTCI for their excellent source of information which we referenced to fill in the gaps.

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Christmas in Atlanta- 12 Days of Christmas Events In Atlanta for 2021 Fri, 19 Nov 2021 08:32:00 +0000 Throw on a scarf and bundle up your kiddos, it’s time for a Christmas adventure as you celebrate 12 days of Christmas around Atlanta!

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Christmas is in Atlanta is a time for family holiday traditions. Our family’s holiday traditions include building a fire in the fireplace, roasting marshmallows for s’mores, decorating the house, trimming the tree, and visiting several Atlanta Christmas events and attractions to celebrate the season. 

I hope these 12 Christmas festivities in and around Atlanta bring your family as much joy as they have brought my family over the years.

Throw on a scarf and bundle up your kiddos, it’s time for an adventure as we celebrate 12 days of Christmas events in Atlanta! Updated for the 2021 holiday season.

 Christmas in Atlanta 2021

1. Ride the Santa Express on the Blue Ridge Railway

christmas in Atlanta includes the blue-ridge-scenic-railroad
Photo by flickr/Olin Gilbert

Ninety minutes north of Atlanta in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Santa takes a break from his holiday duties to spend a little time with the kids on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.

Holiday Express rides are only one hour and ideal for younger kids. Listen to “The Night Before Christmas” while drinking hot chocolate and visiting with Santa himself. Each child receives a jingle bell, candy cane, and activity packet. Book tickets early because this is a sell-out event!

Holiday Express 2021 runs November 26 – December 23, 2021.

Want more train-based fun in Atlanta metro? Check out the Candy Cane Express Train Ride on the SAM Shortline Train December 4 -5, 2021. Santa will be aboard!

2. Enjoy Thousands of Lights at Bouckaert Farm’s Holiday Road

Holiday Road in Fairburn is a great way to enjoy Christmas in Atlanta
Photo via Holiday Road

New for Christmas in Atlanta in 2021 is Holiday Road, a half-mile walking trail of lights and holiday vignettes that is sure to get everyone in your family in the holiday spirit. The display is a Bouckaert Farm in Fairburn.

In addition to the thousands of lights to enjoy there will also be visit with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and his elves as well as plenty of food drunks and seasonal cocktails to keep spirits bright.

Holiday Road takes place November 26, 2021 – January 2, 2022. It take places on evenings from 5-11pm. Advance purchase tickets are required.

See more of the city. Here are the 10 best things to do in Atlanta with kids.

3. Enchanted Garden of Lights at Rock City

Photo courtesy of Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau

If you have been to Rocky City before then imagiine Rock City’s gorgeous gardens and 200 million year old rock formations lit with hundreds of thousands of lights during Enchanted Garden of Lights November 19 – January 2, 2022.

Walk through at 43-foot tree of light into glittering holiday scenes. Santa visits are available nightly and live entertainment will happen on select nights.

Also at Enchanted Garden of Lights, families get some holiday shopping done in North Pole Village or dine with Santa for dinner and enter the garden VIP style.

All guests must reserve an entry time in advance onlines.

4. Celebrate at the Festival of Trees

Christmas in Atlanta- 12 Days of Christmas Events In Atlanta for 2021 3

Head to the Georgia World Congress Center for the Georgia Festival of Trees November 30 – December 4, 2021. In addition to all the magicificent trees there will be visits with Santa, games and crafts, holiday shopping, and plenty of live entertainment.

Trees are donated and decorated and then auctioned off. The proceeds benefit Wellspring Living, which is committed to serving survivors of sex trafficking and those at risk.

Save 33% when buying tickets online using the code: 33off.

5. Visit Snow Island at Lanier Islands

Photo courtesy of Hemsworth Communications

Lanier Islands take the Christmas and winter season seriously. If you are looking for a festive holiday getaway, look no further.

Hightlights include Margaritaville’s Lakeside Lights Spectacular, Reindeer Dash Scavenger Hunt, giingerbread house building, holiday crafts, Elf Story Time PJ party, a breakfast buffet with Santa, ice skating, carnival rides, and the only snow subing hill in Georgia.

Interested in finding the best ice skating rinks in Atlanta? Our friends at 365 Atlanta Traveler have the inside scoop!

Explore Georgia with our Top 10 Things to do in Georgia with kids.

6. Garden Lights Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Photo by flickr/Counse

One of the best destinations to visit to enjoy Christmas in Atlanta is the Atlanta Botanical Garden. During the day families can ride the Botanical Express holiday train around the grounds.

Kids will especially love the outdoor holiday model train, a magical display with seven tracks and a mountainside landscape.

Saint Nick stands in the garden with a green velvet robe and a botanical head wreath. His nature-inspired dress combined with the garden backdrop makes a magnificent family photo, so be sure to bring your camera.

The highlight of the holiday festivities is Garden Lights Holiday Nights, a spectacular nighttime light show November 13, 2021 – January 15, 2022

Millions of lights outline the trees, shrubs, and decor, turn the garden into a winter wonderland. You will definitely want to walk through the colorful Glowing Grove filled with oversized flowers which lead you to the Ice Goddess.

Grab a s’more kit for the kids and a holiday cocktail for yourself and don’t miss this stunning show. Tickets must be purchased online.

7. Experience a Stone Mountain Christmas

Photo by flickr/Derek Jensen

Visiting Stone Mountain Christmas, with its millions of twinkling lights, is a wonderful family holiday tradition. It runs now through January 2, 2022.

This is the perfect backdrop for a night of exciting events including live holiday performances, stories from Mrs. Claus, and greetings from Rudolph, Bumble, and the dazzling Snow Angel. Be sure to make time for the Singalong Train, which circles the base of Stone Mountain.

There are plenty of shopping opportunities and fun places to eat. At evening’s end, grab a seat for the nightly Christmas Parade with festive floats, and Santa and Mrs. Claus.

You also won’t want to miss 20-minute “World’s Largest Christmas Light Show“, journeying through the Musical Frosted Forest, and catching Santa flying overhead in his sleigh during the tree lighitng.

Tickets can be purchased online.

8. ATL Holiday Lights at Atlantic Station

Atlantic Station ATL Holiday Nights
Photo via Atlantic Station

If you are looking for a drive thru holiday light experience, head to Atlantic Station for ATL Holiday Lights. There will be light displays from classic holiday movies and a miniature neighborhood with some of your favorite local Atlanta businesses featured.

On Thursdays, the driving course becomes a walk course and carolers join in on the fun. This Atlanta Christmas event runs November 11, 2021 through January 2, 2022. Timed tickets must be purchased online for entry.

9. Watch the Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker

Photo by flickr/BurnAway

Older children will treasure a visit to the Fabulous Fox Theater for a memorable live performance of Nutcracker from Atlanta Ballet, a tradition that has been in Atlanta for over 55 years.

The Atlanta Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker is the only performance in the metro area with a live orchestra and choir. The Nutcracker will be performed December 4 – 29, 2021.

10. Contribute to a Great Cause at Colony Square’s Season on the Square

Atlanta Christmas events

The Macy’s Pink Pig ride which benefited had been a tradition in Atlanta for over 50 years but was retired after 2019. And the Children’s Christmas Parade, another beloved Atlanta tradition, has been cancelled due to Covid-19. Thankfully, now we have Colony Square’s Season on the Square on December 4, 2021.

Bands and dance groups that normally take part in the parade will join the Street Extravaganza performance on the Main Stage. There will also be helium balloons with favorite holiday characters on Peachtree Street. Breakfast with Santa and Colony Square ice skating will also be a part of the fun and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

During the evening, in place of a Parade Grand Marshall, a Children’s patient will now light the Christmas Tree at Colony Square.

11. Rudolph at the Center for Puppetry Arts

Photo by Rankin Bass via WikimediaCommons

You’ve seen the TV classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; now you can watch it come to life. This puppet show adaptation mirrors the 1964 television classic. It is a special time to spend with your kids enjoying a beloved holiday tradition.

The Center for Puppetry Art’s theater is cozy and intimate and allows you to get lost in the story. After the show, head upstairs to make a Bumble Snow Monster hand puppet to take home.

This year’s shows will be performed November 10, 2021-January 2, 2022.

12. Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens

Photo courtesy of Callaway Resort and Gardens

Whether by car or Jolly Trolley, this spectacular light show is nothing short of amazing. Ride through Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights to take in over eight million lights that National Geographic Traveler has called one of the top 10 light shows in the world.

This year’s event will take place November 19, 2021 – January 3, 2022.

Snowflake Valley is our family’s favorite display, with its twinkling lights raining down, offering a “White Christmas” rarely seen in Georgia. One of the highlights in this seven-mile journey is the popular Tunnel of Lights.

The Christmas Village offers shopping and snacking options including Christmas spirits for adults. Bed and Breakfast packages are available, which include admission to Fantasy in Lights as well as the Garden.

For even more holiday fun in Atlanta, check out 25 sparkling Christmas light displays near Atlanta.

Find more Christmas events near you! Trekaroo has guides for dozens of cities across the country.

Pin this to bookmark all the holiday fun; we update it yearly:

Christmas and Holiday fun for families in Atlanta

 Featured photo by: Shutterstock

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Over 15 Las Vegas Christmas Events for 2021 Wed, 10 Nov 2021 19:07:05 +0000 Every year, thousands of locals and visitors enjoy a Las Vegas Christmas. There are so many Las Vegas Christmas events and experiences to enjoy, both off and on The Strip, …

The post Over 15 Las Vegas Christmas Events for 2021 appeared first on Trekaroo Family Travel Blog.

Every year, thousands of locals and visitors enjoy a Las Vegas Christmas. There are so many Las Vegas Christmas events and experiences to enjoy, both off and on The Strip, that it is no wonder that Vegas is a top holiday destination.

The weather in Las Vegas during the holiday season is quite chilly, and I have visited on a couple occassions when it has snowed! So bundle up and enjoy some our favorite Christmas Events in Las Vegas for 2021.

Las Vegas Christmas Events in 2021 Off the Strip

Enchant Christmas

Las Vegas Christmas events include Enchant Christmas

Enchant Christmas is a new attraction in Las Vegas this Christmas season. It will be open November 26, 2021 – January 2, 2022. It will be located at the Las Vegas Ballpark.

These type of immersive holiday light experiences are popping up all over the country and we are all in!

There is a Christmas Light Maze (perfect for great Instagram photos), an ice skating trail, meet and greets with Santa, A Children’s Play Place, and plenty of gourmet holiday treats to enjoy. This is sure to be a popular Las Vegas Christmas attraction, so purchase your tickets in advance.

Glittering Lights at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Las Vegas Christmas fun can be had at Glittering Lights at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Glittering Lights is a drive-through holiday light experience on 2.5-mile course at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway running November 12, 2021 through January 9, 2022 from 5:30-10pm.

There are over five million twinkling lights, 600 animated displays, nearly 200 lights trees, and even a live nativity to enjoy. Drive in your own vehicle or purchase a ticket for the Santa Tram and skip the lines and view them from an open-air vehicle.

Best of all, a portion of your admission fee goes to help fund over 50 children’s charities around Southern Nevada. As a matter of fact, the money raised makes up a large portion of these charities’ annual donations.

You can purchase your tickets in advance, and even buy a Fastpass if you want to skip the line. This is an extremely popular Las Vegas Christmas attraction with over 250,000 visitors annually.

Ethel M Chocolate Factory Holiday Cactus Garden

Ehtel M Cactus Garden for the holidays in Las Vegas

Only in Las vegas will you find a chocolate factory that also has an impressive cactus garden!

From November 5, 2021 through January 2, 2022, The Ethel M Chocolate Factory Cactus Garden will be decked out with 500,000 lights, animated figures, and other holiday decor.

Wandering through the gardens costs only $5 per group of six, so come for the chocolate and stay for the barrel cactus, yuccas, and prickly pears covered in lights. Just remember to look but don’t touch- ouch! Don’t forget to keep your eyes out for Santa.

The lights are on from 5 to 10pm every night. Reservations are required to limit crowds.

Winter is a great time to get outside in Las Vegas. Here are 8 Great Outdoor Activities in Las Vegas!

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops

Christmas events in Las Vegas

Bass Pro Shops always get in the holiday spirit and it is no different at the Las Vegas location near the Silverton Casino.

You can get a free photo with Santa November 6 – December 24, 2021. Be sure to make your free reservation online before you go.

There are also holiday crafts for the kids to enjoy. During your visit, families can mail their letter to Santa and receive free giveaways while supplies last. There is also a toy shop where kids can point out all the things they want for Christmas.

Of course, kids always love checking out the aqauriums and wildlife displays inside the store. If you visit on a weekend in December, be sure to stop by the Silverton Casino to check out the Underwater Scuba Santa from 12 – 1:15pm or 2 – 3:15pm.

Magical Forest at Opportunity Village

Magical Forest in Las Vegas
InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Another wildly popular Las Vegas Christmas event that is now in its 30th year is the Magical Forest. Over three million lights sparkle on hundreds of trees.

There will be an Avalanche Slide, carousel, a train, escape rooms, games, mini golf, and plenty of food, drink, and photo ops including pictures with Santa.

All the money raised at the Magical Forest goes towards programs at Opportunity Village wich help over 3,000 people with disabilites. This year’s event runs on evenings November 26, 2021 – January 2, 2022.

Tickets can be purchased online.

Summerlin Rock Rink

Summerlin Rock Rink
Photo by: Kenny Utler (Howard Hughes)

Summerlin’s Rock Rink ice skating rink returns for another year November 12, 2021 – January 20, 2022. It is a festive open-air ice skating scene with a 40-foot Christmas tree next to the rink and plenty of lights overhead.

There is also a holiday train that circles the rink until January 17th, and plenty of festive holiday music to keep spirits jolly.

Summerlin Holiday Parade

Summerlin Holiday parade
Photo by: Kenny Utler (Howard Hughes)

Why should a parade last just one day? Downtown Summerlin’s Holiday Parade runs Fridays and Saturdays at 5:30pm from November 19 – December 18, 2021.

The show is performed by local kids from various local high schools, dance teams, and theater troupes and includes floats, characters, dancers and so much more! All shows are free and open to the general public. The parade takes place on Park Centre Drive.

Mystic Falls Park Winter Wonderland at Sam’s Town

Mystic Falls Winter Wonderlqand at Sams Town

Sam’s Town has long been a favorite casino among locals and their Mystic Falls Park is always a crowd pleaser but come the holiday season, it gets even better!

Mystic Falls Park’s Winter Wonderland display is a holiday laser show with more than 26,000 points of light.

Classic holiday songs, including Let It Snow, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman play during the nine-minute show which runs on the hour from 2-10pm November 24, 2021 through January 1, 2022.

Las Vegas Christmas Events and Attractions on The Strip

The Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

The Ice rink at the Cosmopolitan is one of the most popular Las Vegas Christmas attractions.

For the 10th year, the roof top of The Cosmopolitan will have an outdoor ice rink! The Boulevard Pool is iced over and the ice skating can’t be beat!

There will also be fire pits for roasting s’mores, food and drink (including seasonal cocktails for mom and dad), the occasional “snowfall”, and even holiday movies playing the background.

The ice rink is open November 16, 2021 – January 2, 2022. Hours vary. All-day skating access (including skate rentals) is $20 for locals, military, and first responders (Monday through Thursday). It is $30 for everyone else.

Here are our 10 favorite things to do in Las Vegas with kids, no matter the season.

Winter Wonderland at the LINQ Promenade

Over 15 Las Vegas Christmas Events for 2021 4

The LINQ Promenade is already a wildly popular attraction on the Las Vegas Strip, thans to the 550-feet tall High Roller observation wheel.

But during the holiday season, the Promenade is transformed into a winter wonderland with fetive lights and decor and a sparkling holiday light show on the High Roller.

 featuring more than 2,000 LED lights synchronized to popular holiday music during the nightly “Lights at The LINQ” show.
Showtime: The show runs every hour on the half hour from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. through Dec. 28. 

Deal alert: Guests can enjoy 25% off admission tickets for High Roller Observation Wheel and Fly LINQ Zipline in 2022 using code “CYBER” from Monday, Nov. 22 to Monday, Nov. 29.

Flamingo Holiday Festival

Flamingo Wildlife Habitat in Las Vegas

For the first time ever, Flamingo Las Vegas will be hosting the Flamingo Holiday Festival. The famed Flamingo Wildlife Habitat will be covered in thousands of pink twinkling lights and adorned with a life-size snow globe, oversized presents, pink candy canes and Christmas trees.

Mom and dad might want to stop by the Wildlife Habitat’s Patio Bar which will become the Festive Flamingo Bar and be serving up all sorts of seasonal beverages like cranberry mimosas and tequila toddys.

The kids will appreciate that there is going to be a pop-up location of Sweet Sin onsite (weekends only) serving up treats like caramel popcorn, macarons, madeleines, cookies, and brownies

This attraction runs November 19, 2021 through January 2, 2022.

Aria Resort’s Giant Gingerbread House

Over 15 Las Vegas Christmas Events for 2021 5

In what has quickly become a holiday tradition, the Aria Resort & Casino will be once again be creating a giant gingergbread house display. It will be on display in the main lobby through January 8, 2022.

Expect it to be massive in size (think 15 feet high and seven feet wide!) and made from an obscene amount of sugar. More than 400lbs of gingerbread goes into this heavenly creation as does 200lbs of icing and a thousand pounds of candy!

If looking at the gingerbread masterpiece makes you crave something sweet, you will be happy to know sweet treats and warm beverages will be on sale onsite.

Bellagio Conservatory and Fountains Holiday Displays

Christmas in Las Vegas must include a stop in the Bellagio Conservatory
Polar Bear Made of Carnations, Photo via Flickr

Every year we all look forward to the Bellagio going all out with their impressive and beautiful holiday display inside the Bellagio Conservatory.

Highlights include a 40-foot tree, polar bears made from carnations, a train and penguins both made from red and white roses, and a massive snow globe.

The entire scene is truly a work of art and each year it changes. The holiday display will be availabel for viewing from November 20, 2021 – January 1, 2022. The Conservatory is open 24 hours a day.

Don’t forget to make time to watch the Bellagio Fountains put on a choreographed water show to the tune of your favorite holiday songs. The holiday water shows play December 5, 2021 – January 3, 2022. I think it is most magical to experience it in the evening.

Winter Wonderland at Fashion Show Las Vegas

Over 15 Las Vegas Christmas Events for 2021 6

Get your holiday shopping done and take in the holiday scene at Winter Wonderland at Fashion Show Las Vegas.

Winter Wonderland features plenty of white trees, falling snow, and ice sculptures. It takes place from 3-7pm on weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) leading up to Christmas beginning November 26, 2021.

There will also be pictures with Santa near Neiman Marcus and Holiday Glow Live, a high-fashion musical showcase featuring your favorite holiday characters.

Christmas Shows in Las Vegas

This Is Christmas Show at The Palazzo

If you are looking for a Vegas show to get you in the holiday spirit, look not further than “This is Christmas” at the Palazzo Resort & Casino. The show runs November 26 – December 26, 2021.

Several former American Idol contestants (Diana Degarmo, Ace Young, and Jasmine Trias to name a few) along with Broadway performers will be singing and dancing and making spirits bright during this 80 minute show that is fun for the whole family.

While at the Palazzo be sure to check out the Palzzo Waterfall Atrium and Gardens which are always decked out for the holidays.

A Very Terry Christmas at New York New York Hotel and Casino

Another family-friendly show playing on The Strip this holiday season is A Very Terry Christmas at the New York New York November 26, 2021 through January 1, 2022.

Terry Fator is a well known for winning America’s Got Talent with his family-friendly comedy and ventriloquism. Popular puppets like Winston, the Impersonating Turtle and several other favorites will make appearances. Children must be at least 5 or older to enter the theater.

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Christmas in Hawaii- Hawaii Christmas Events for 2021 Wed, 10 Nov 2021 09:01:00 +0000 Christmas events in Hawaii are an eclectic mix of concerts, events, and activities that have those in the Aloha State exclaiming, “Mele Kalikimaka"!

The post Christmas in Hawaii- Hawaii Christmas Events for 2021 appeared first on Trekaroo Family Travel Blog.

Unless you’re headed to the summit of Mauna Kea, Christmas in Hawaii is not a white one. Santa sheds his red suit in favor of flip-flops and a loud Christmas-colored Hawaiian shirt.

While there may be a lack of wintry cold in a Hawaiian Christmas, there is no lack of holiday spirit and fun.

Here are our picks for kid-friendly Hawaii Christmas events that has everyone in the Aloha State exclaiming, “Mele Kalikimaka”! That’s Merry Christmas in Hawaiian, folks!  Updated for 2021!

Hawaii Christmas Events on the Big Island

Hawaii Christmas events Big Island
Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade, Photo courtesy of Hawaii County

There will be no shortage of music and lights at Hawaii Christmas events on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The annual Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade is a colorful spectacle as it travels along the town’s main drag of Ali’l Drive. Be sure to  stay for the fireworks! This year’s parade kicks off at 5PM on December 11, 2021. 

Do you need to finish up some Christmas shopping? Head to Kailua Village for a holiday stroll through the area and get special pricing at participating restaurants and retailers.

Then unfold a beach chair or mat for a free holiday concert under the monkey pod tree at Emma’s Square. Note: Plans for 2021 have not yet been announced. We will update as soon as we have info.

Kalikimaka Boat Parade is one of Kona’s newer traditions. Great viewing spots for viewing this spectacular Hawaii Christmas event can be found at the Kailua Pier or any of the village’s many restaurants. Note: Plans for 2021 have not been announced. We will update as soon as we have info.

Just because you’re traveling during Christmas time does not mean your family has to miss out on classic traditions like the Nutcracker or Christmas Eve services.

The West Hawaii Dance Theatre & Academy will perform the Nutcracker at the Kahilu Theatre on December 23, 2021. The performance will occur via live stream with limited in-person seating available. 

This visually stunning family-friendly holiday production includes more than 70 local dancers, and guest dancers from Bolshoi Ballet, Matsuyama Ballet, and Carolina Ballet. 

Don’t miss Christmas Eve services at Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii’s first Christian church.  It features the annual “Silent Night” hula during the candlelight portion of the service.

Did your favorite activity make our list of the best things to do on the Big Island with kids

Find amazing deals on family-friendly hotels on the Big Island.

Hawaii Christmas Events on Oahu

Hawaii Christmas
Honolulu City Lights, Photo by Flickr/Daniel Ramirez

On the island of Oahu, Hawaii Christmas events include an array of colorful parades like the Festival of Lights Boat Parade at the Hawaii Kai Town Center.

The event will take place on Saturday, December 11, 2021 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The parade will start by the three shopping centers and will travel throughout the marina. 

The biggest Hawaii Christmas celebration on the island is Honolulu City Lights. The month-long festivities kick off with the lighting of the 50-foot Norfolk Pine Christmas tree on the front lawn of Honolulu Hale triggers the “corridor of lights” down King and Punchbowl streets.

The Honolulu City Lights tree lighting ceremony is set for December 4, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.

Santa arrives at the Outrigger Waikiki via an outrigger canoe at 9 a.m. on December 11th. He’ll greet resort guests on Waikiki Beach in front of the resort.

Throughout the month guests can enjoy Hawaii Christmas events that include a Keiki Ukulele show, Hawaiian storytelling, and hula lessons as well as the traditional ornament making, eggnog, and Christmas cookies.

At the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore, be sure to experience the annual Christmas at the Hukilau Marketplace.

There are Keiki Train Rides, light displays, musical performances, selfies with Santa, and even snow days! Best of all, it’s all free!  Note: An event date for 2021 has yet to be announced. Please check back soon for updates!

Holiday Hint: In this part of the world, Santa hopes you leave him Malasadas, not cookies. A Portuguese doughnut without a hole, a malasada is golden brown outside, light and fluffy inside.

They are filled with the gooey goodness of custard, chocolate, or coconut and dusted with sugar. They are in fact so amazing, that there is a designated Malasada Day to celebrate them. Stop by Leonard’s Bakery to get acquainted with this local favorite.

Check for great family-friendly hotels on Oahu.

Christmas Events on Maui

Hawaiii Christmas
Maui . Photo by Flickr/Jim Larrison

Christmas celebrations on Maui kick off with the Banyan Tree Lighting in Lahaina Town. The massive tree and its tangle of branches are illuminated with thousands of lights.

Santa also arrives on a Hawaiian voyaging canoe at Maui’s Grand Wailea. The resort kicks off “Tis the Season of Aloha,” with a month of activities and programs, many of them benefiting local charities.

Guests might find carolers strolling the lobby singing traditional and Hawaiian holiday songs. Note: The Grand Wailea has not yet announced plans for holidays 2021. Please check back soon for updates!

Special ukulele and hula performances are also part of the holiday season. Santa returns to the resort on Christmas Eve, and hundreds of children are expected to turn out to see him sail in on his voyaging canoe.

At the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, families can celebrate Christmas Eve “Hawaiian style” at the resort’s oceanfront Maui Nui Lu’au.

The entire family will delight in remarkable stories, history, and culture of the Valley Isle and Kaanapali luaus. Note: The Sheraton has not yet announced plans for holidays 2021. Please check back soon for updates!

See what made our list of the top things to do in Maui with kids.

Check for availability at family-friendly hotels on Maui.

Christmas in Hawaii on Kauai

Christmas in Hawaii on Kauai
Kauai, Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

If you find yourself on Hawaii’s Garden Isle during the holidays, the Festival of Lights is a Hawaii Christmas event not to be missed! For more than two decades, Josie Chansky known to many locals as “Aunt Josie,” has filled the building in Historic Country Building Park with unique holiday-themed decorations. 

How unique, you ask? Have you ever seen a tree made of 7500 green toothpicks or wreaths made of plastic egg cartons? Referring to the old adage, many of the amazing displays here became another man’s treasure after being another man’s trash.

It won’t be possible to enter the building this year but the park lights will be lit from 6 p.m. to 11p.m. nightly from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be seeing visitors on the Historic County Building Porch from 6p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, December 3, 10, and 17th. 

The Waimea Lighted Christmas Parade is a great way to kick off an island holiday break. The parade begins at Waimea Canyon Park and heads down Kaumualii Highway to Ala Wai Road, turning inland then back west to end in the center of town.

After-parade festivities at Hofgaard Park include live music and baked goods. Note: Plans for 2021 have not been announced. Please check back soon for updates!

Discover the best things to do in Kauai with kids

Find the best deals on hotels on Kauai.

Christmas in Lana’i

Hawaii Christmas
Lāna’i, Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

Note: Christmas 2021 have not yet been announced. Please check back soon for updates!

Many think of Lana’i as the Hawaii of yesterday: unspoiled, unhurried, and unequaled. And that’s what visitors will find whether staying at the tranquil and lovely Four Seasons Resort Lāna’i at Manele Bay or at the upcountry escape of Four Seasons Resort Lāna’i, The Lodge at Koele.

Daily sports, spa, cultural activities, and fantastic evening events, will make holiday on Lāna’i one to remember. With kite flying, Kids Yoga, Junior Golf, Keiki Spa Party, and hula, the kids will never be bored.

Other options this time of year include cookie decorating and ornament making. If you’re visiting the island from a snowbound region, imagine making your friends and relatives jealous when you let them know that your Christmas included a Dive in Movie! (That’s a movie you watch while in the pool!)

Find more Christmas events near you! Trekaroo has guides for dozens of cities across the country.

Pin this to bookmark all the holiday fun; we update it yearly:

Christmas in Hawaii- Hawaii Christmas Events for 2021 7

Featured photo by: Shutterstock

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The 10 Best Things to do in Chattanooga with Kids Thu, 04 Nov 2021 07:01:00 +0000 Chattanooga is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on the banks of the Tennessee River. With natural beauty as one of its greatest assets, it’s dubbed the “Scenic …

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Chattanooga is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on the banks of the Tennessee River. With natural beauty as one of its greatest assets, it’s dubbed the “Scenic City” and there are so many things to do in Chattanooga with kids indoors and outside!

From the depths of Ruby Falls to the top of Lookout Mountain, a family vacation in Chattanooga will be filled with adventure. Here are our favorite things to do in Chattanooga with kids.

Explore more of the state! Here are our favorite things to do in Tennessee with kids.

Things to do in Chattanooga with Kids

1. Tennessee Aquarium

One of the best thigns to do in Chattanooga with kids is visit the Tennessee Aquarium
River Journey at the Tennessee Aquarium, Photo by Tarlie Harris

The Tennessee Aquarium sits directly on the waterfront in downtown Chattanooga. Journey through rivers and oceans to learn about a huge variety of aquatic species local to the area and beyond.

Don’t miss the river otters (because they wrestle just like little boys!) and the penguins (because who doesn’t love a cute waddle?). 

There are plenty of interactive elements throughout the aquarium to keep the kids engaged. They will love getting hands-on in the stingray touch tank and the butterfly garden, lounging on their backs as they gaze into the tanks directly above them, and pretending to be a baby turtle hatching from its egg.

You could spend several hours in the aquarium, especially if you catch an IMAX movie and let the kids explore the play area in front of the aquarium centered around a man-made stream.

2. Ruby Falls Cave Tour

Ruby Fall in Chattanooga
Ruby Falls, Photo by Tarlie Harris

Ruby Falls is a thundering 145-foot waterfall located inside Lookout Mountain. This is a very popular attraction so we recommend booking the very first tour of the day if you are looking to minimize crowds.

The 60-minute cave tour begins with a descent via elevator to the cave entrance. From there, a walk along narrow pathways lined with beautiful cave formations leads to Ruby Falls.

Once you are at the falls, a light show plays so that you can appreciate the waterfall and the monstrous cavern it sits in from all angles before heading back to the cave entrance.

In the spring and summer, the zipline course is open. During October, there are lantern tours and spooky lantern tours for families with teenagers looking for some scary thrills.

Best of all, during the holidays the lobby is completely decked out with Christmas decorations and kids can visit with Santa and put a special wish on the Garden of Wishes wishing tree.

3. Tennessee Valley Railroad

Tennessee Valley Railroad is one of the best things to do in Chattanooga withkids
Tennessee Valley Railroad, Photo by Flickr/nigelmenzies

Attention train lovers, this is where you board! The Tennessee Valley Railroad is the only regularly scheduled, full-sized train ride in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Valley Railroad collects, restores, and operates vintage railcars from the “Golden Age” of train transportation in America. You can see several restored cars in the train yard, but the real highlight of a visit is going for a train ride.

The passenger trains run on historic routes dating back to the 1850s. The best bet for a family excursion is the Missionary Ridge Local route. This experience is only about an hour, goes across four bridges and through the Missionary Ridge Tunnel, and is narrated for the history buffs.

If your timing is right, you could go for the Day Out with Thomas ride, the North Pole Limited, or the Holiday Lights Train. Of course, any of the rides would be spectacular for seeing fall foliage as well.

4. High Point Climbing

High Point Climbing in Chattanooga
Kids Zone at High Point Climbing, Photo by Jordyn Coffin

Sometimes called the “Boulder of the East”, Chattanooga is well known for having excellent rock climbing sites like Foster Falls and Sunset Rock within close reach.

To bring that experience into downtown Chattanooga, the city welcomed a massive urban redevelopment project called The Block. It includes High Point Climbing, a coffee/wine bar, and an outdoor gear store.

High Point Climbing has over 30,000 square feet of unique indoor and outdoor climbing space. The outdoor transparent climbing wall towers over Broad Street and provides great entertainment even if you don’t want to climb.

Kids will enjoy scaling dinosaur bones and jumping off 20-foot buildings in the Kids Zone, which enables kids as young as three years old to participate in a climbing adventure.

5. Creative Discovery Museum

Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga
Creative Discovery Museum, Photo by Flickr/J. Stephen Conn

Chattanooga’s children’s museum, The Creative Discovery Museum, allows kids to fully immerse themselves in art, history, and science through play.

The whole family can climb the spiral staircase of The Tower for an expansive view of Chattanooga and get some fresh air on the rooftop garden. 

Kids will love making a human-sized bubble, buzzing around an oversize beehive, excavating dinosaur bones in a large sandpit, operating simple machines, and creating in the maker space and performing arts gallery.

6. Incline Railway

Incline Railway at Lookout Mountain
The Incline Railway on Lookout Mountain, Photo by Tarlie Harris

This turn-of-the-century Incline Railway takes riders up “America’s Most Amazing Mile” to the top of Lookout Mountain.

The train car is pulled up the 70% incline by a cable and the counterweight of the other train car descending the mountain at the same time. Little engineers may get a kick out of the huge pulley system operating the cable at the top of track.

The views from the train car and the viewing stations at the top are magnificent! There is a gift shop at the top that happens to have a very tempting selection of fudge available. 

Oh, and did we mention Clumpies Ice Cream is at the base station? Clumpies is Chattanooga’s reigning king of ice cream, adored for their handmade, micro-batched ice cream and unique flavors.

Don’t skip the five minute walk over to Point Park from the incline station. It’s a 10-acre Civil War Memorial Park where kids can learn about the 1863 “Battle Above the Clouds.” 

Memorials and strategically placed canons line the park’s pathways and the view of Moccasin Bend is unforgettable. For history buffs, The Battles for Chattanooga Museum at the entrance of the park features a digital map display telling the story of the Civil War battles in the area.

7. The Tennessee River Walk

Tennessee River Walk in Chattanooga
View of Coolidge Park from the Walnut Street Bridge, Photo by Flickr/Klobetime

The Tennessee River Walk is a 16-mile paved path along the southern bank of the Tennessee River. It’s easy to access from downtown and is the perfect place for a scenic stroll along the water, providing ample chill time outside.

Start at the Riverfront Playground, which is just north of AT&T Field (home of the Chattanooga Lookouts minor league baseball team). From there, walk east along the water until you reach the Walnut Street Bridge.

The bridge is a pedestrian only and leads to the north bank of the river. It provides great views of the river and downtown Chattanooga. On the north bank, you will arrive at Coolidge Park, featuring a sprayground and restored 100 year old carousel. 

When it’s time for lunch, there are lots of places to grab food just outside the park. Our top pick is Edley’s BBQ.

Up for more outdoor adventure? Rent kayaks from L2 Outside. Their rental office is on the northern edge of Coolidge Park and they launch from this side of the river under the Market Street Bridge.

8. Rock City

Rock City Suspension in Chatanooga
Rock City Suspension Bridge, Photo by Tarlie Harris

While Rock City is famous for its view of seven states from Lover’s Leap, it is so much more than that! The walking trail between massive, moss-covered boulders, over little creeks, and through whimsical red doors feels like an enchanted adventure from start to finish.

Even on a foggy day, the magic of Rock City does not falter, so don’t let that deter you from a visit. With passages like “Fat Man’s Squeeze” and “Goblins Underpass”, your family will eagerly anticipate every step along the way.

Kids can test their mettle on the suspension bridge (there’s an alternate path for the cautious) and dream their way through the colorful dioramas of FairyLand Caverns.

The beauty of mother nature is on full display at every turn in Rock City, and in the winter, she gets a little help from thousands of lights for Enchanted Garden of Lights.

While there is quick service food available just inside the main entrance at Big Rock Grill, you might want to hold out for Café 7 near Lover’s Leap for some excellent Southern cuisine.

9. Southern Belle Riverboat

Southern Belle Riverboat
Photo via Flickr

To see the city from the river, book the sightseeing or sunset cruise on the Southern Belle Riverboat. Both of these cruises are an hour and a half long, with narration on the sightseeing cruise and live music on the sunset cruise. Both cruises treat passengers to fresh air, great views, and a MoonPie.

Yep, you read that right, a MoonPie. They were invented in Chattanooga in 1917 at the Chattanooga Bakery as a snack for coal miners. They then became world famous when they travelled with soldiers abroad during World War II. Today, about a million MoonPies a day are made in Chattanooga. 

If you want to spend more time on the riverboat, there are three hour fall foliage cruises and a cruise to the Chickamauga Dam where the boat actually goes through the lock system.

10. The Bluff View Arts District and the Hunter Museum of Art

Bluff View Sculpture Garden in Chatanooga
View from the Bluff View Sculpture Garden, Photo by Tarlie Harris

The Bluff View Arts District is a meticulously revitalized area on the east side of downtown. It sits directly on bluffs high above the river, affording amazing views, and is anchored by the Bluff View Sculpture Garden. It’s a small area, but could be the perfect mid-day break between visiting larger, more bustling attractions.

Grab some coffee and chocolate from Rembrandt’s Coffee House and explore the quiet streets and sculpture garden. You will love the extensively landscaped streets and architecture of the restored homes, while the kids will love the treats.

The Hunter Museum of Art is within easy walking distance. The museum has done a great job incorporating modern pieces into its exhibits, so that kids can see art reflecting the world they know alongside historical pieces. There is a small drawing gallery and an art lounge for kids if their creative juices start flowing.

Where to Stay in Chattanooga with Kids

Edwin Hotel in Chattanooga
The Edwin Hotel, Photo by Tarlie Harris

The Edwin Hotel is a luxury, boutique hotel right in the middle of all the action. It’s our top pick because the prime location will allow you to fit in as much as possible into your time in Chattanooga. It’s got a rooftop bar, a fine dining restaurant, and a spa.

However, if the price point of the Edwin is too high (or your worried your little ones will wreck the vibe), the SpringHill Suites Chattanooga Downtown/Cameron Harbor is a more affordable option.

It’s located directly on the Tennessee River. Suites include a pull out sofa, microwave, and mini fridge. On the property, Scottie’s on the River is a steak and seafood restaurant loved by the locals. Complimentary breakfast, modern rooms, and river views make this hotel an excellent choice.

For a unique stay, book a room at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. The Choo Choo’s motto is “More That a Hotel” because it’s a pedestrian friendly development project home to the hotel in addition to restaurants, bars, a comedy club, an escape room, and gardens.

The hotel stands in what was Terminal Station, built in the early 1900s. It is further from the river than our other hotel picks, but the kids will have plenty of space to play with direct access to the Glen Miller Gardens from the hotel.

Where to Eat in Chattanooga with Kids

Meat and Two
The “Meat & Two” at Puckett’s, Photo by Tarlie Harris

Head to Puckett’s Grocery for the classic Southern plate people in these parts grew up on. Pick your meat and sides and await the kind of home cooking hard to come by in a restaurant. The atmosphere is big and loud, just like your family, so no best-behavior required here.

For breakfast, there is no better place in Chattanooga than the Bluegrass Grill. All they do is breakfast and boy do they do it right! Family favorites include the cheesy grits (a must try!), jalapeno bacon, and Joan Marie’s special omelet.

For some Mexican flare, head to Taco Mamacita for delicious, inventive tacos. Tacos run the gamut from a Californian Club to the Korean BBQ Taco with a little of everything in between.

Another quick lunch spot is the Chicago-style hoagie shop, Lil’ Mamas. It’s got a ’90’s graffiti thing going on and the sandwiches and homemade parmesan chips are delicious!

The Frothy Monkey is an all day café/bakery serving coffee and three meals a day. It sources its food locally as much as possible and has a fun atmosphere.

We’ve already mentioned the coffee shop in the Bluff Arts District, but Tony’s Pasta Shop and Trattoria is well worth a visit as well. Sometimes there is simply no substitute for fresh, hand-made pasta, especially after a long day of sightseeing.

Day Trips from Chattanooga with Kids

The Ocoee River Valley

Ocoee River Valley
View from Morris Vineyard, Photo by Tarlie Harris

To soak up the beautiful scenery of east Tennessee, head 30 minutes northeast of Chattanooga into the rolling hills of the Ocoee River Valley.

The Ocoee River was the site of the whitewater river rafting competition for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and is very popular with families looking to spend a day on Class II-IV rapids.

The Lake Ocoee Inn and Marina rents boats, leads whitewater rafting tours, and has cabins right on the water. The rafting guides are full time local residents, offering the best expertise around.

Not up for the adrenaline rush? The small town of Cleveland makes a great base for exploring the quieter side of the area. It’s got a cute little downtown with several restaurants and a history museum with an exhibit on the Cherokee Nation.

Just outside of town, you can visit Apple Valley Orchard for some homemade apple pie (June through October), take a ride through the woods on horseback with Ocoee Horseride, or simply enjoy the stunning view from Morris Vineyard.

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Cloud Canyon State Park
Cloudland Canyon State Park, Photo by Flickr/Jeff Gunn

Venture 30 minutes southwest of Chattanooga to spend a day in Cloudland Canyon State Park. As one of the largest state parks in Georgia, this park is a dream for families that love to hike or bike together.

The Waterfalls Trail is a steep descent into the canyon to both of the park’s waterfalls, Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls. The Overlook Trail is a short, paved trail offering a great view from above the canyon. 

Special thanks to Jordyn Coffin who authored the original version of the article.

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