Written by David Rice
Uncovering hidden local treasures doesn’t have to cost a king’s ransom. These wallet-friendly locales will give you a feeling of discovery on the cheap. The best part? These destinations are only a tank of gas (or less) away.
325 Gray St.
Why Go? Celebrate the arrival of the season with ice skating, shopping and enjoying beautiful mountain views.
Insider Tip: If you can’t skate, don’t worry. Stands will be set up around the rink at Blue Ridge City Park and downtown Blue Ridge has plenty of restaurants and shopping.
Must Do: Enjoy some hot chocolate and snacks while you skate by visiting on-site vendors.
The Fine Print: It costs $10 to skate, but parking is free at Blue Ridge City Park.
133 S. Marble St.
Why Go? The Rockmart Historical Museum’s first-ever Christmas Tree Festival will have Welsh cards, baked goods and cider on sale until the end of the year. “We have a great Welsh influence in Rockmart so this event will benefit our WELSHfest in the spring,” Volunteer Director Pat Sampson said. “This is our first year, so we’re featuring some different kinds of trees from different times in history. We have one that is Welsh-influenced and we have some that have all homemade ornaments.”
Insider Tip: Don't just go for the Christmas trees, check out other historical artifacts at the museum, including a section on the Goodyear Mill, that capture the history of the town.
Must Do: Be sure to bring the little ones, who can choose from such activities as making memory ornaments, guessing how many candies are in a jar, a coloring contest and more.
The Fine Print: The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
1400 Patten Rd.
Why Go? With more than 30 holiday scenes transforming the Rock City gardens' natural daytime splendor into a nocturnal fantasyland, this award-winning light show promises to brighten up your day.
Insider Tip: Nightly entertainment will be take place in the pavilion. Check out the schedule through January here.
Must Do: See snow and visit with St. Nick and his elves. Enjoy gingerbread cookie decorating, hot cocoa, sugar plum fairy makeovers and nightly entertainment. Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. are Starbucks Winter Weekend nights, featuring live instrumental music and drinks by a warm fire.
The Fine Print: The garden opens every day at 6 p.m. and closes at 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, admission for adults is $21.95; kids, $12.95; and under 3, free. Sunday through Wednesday, prices drop to $19.95/$11.95. Closes on Jan. 4.