Couple Glamping Near a Lake in the Fall

5 ways to create the staycation of your dreams in and around Atlanta

Get the rest and relaxation you want right here in your own backyard.

Want a getaway without actually having to get away? If you’ve got some PTO to burn or simply want a long weekend to escape the grind, there are plenty of ways to simulate the vacation experience in and around Atlanta. From spa days to road trips to idyllic areas nearby, toss your to-do list aside and get out of your element while saving some time and money.

Find incredible nature nearby

If you feel like a dose of nature, Georgia offers an abundance of National Parks, nature reserves, trails, and bodies of water to peruse. 

Take a trip to Vogel State Park, located at the base of the Blood Mountain, and travel through Neel Gap to Brasstown Bald—the highest point in the beautiful state of Georgia. If you’re looking for an impressive water feature, see a stunning 729-foot waterfall at Amicalola Falls State Park, where you can also enjoy a rustic cabin stay or luxe hotel resort, many with incredible scenic views. It’s even possible to sample something close to home in Sweetwater Creek National Park, offering miles of serene wilderness (and excellent fishing spots) just miles away from the city. 

In fact, you don’t even need to leave Atlanta — it’s known as the “city in the forest” for a reason, with trees providing a canopy throughout the greater metro area. Wildlife enthusiasts, grab your binoculars and visit Blue Heron Nature Preserve in North Buckhead, where three miles of distinct habitats are home to a stunning mix of creatures, from butterflies to turtles and, of course, the Great Blue Heron. Nestled in Atlanta’s Cascade Heights, the Cascade Springs Nature Conservancy features springs, waterfalls, and 250-million-year-old rock formations. Constitution Lakes is a decidedly unique experience, thanks to the playful (or creepy, depending on your thoughts) Doll Head Trail, where found items, including abandoned doll parts, dot the scenery. 

Relax at the spa or create an experience at home

Is your perfect idea of a vacation to pamper yourself? Jeju Sauna is a Korean bathhouse with various kinds of dry and wet saunas including rooms that utilize crystal, clay, charcoal and pink Himalayan Sea salt rooms, each offering their own healing purpose. Open 24/7, Jeju also has a restaurant and services such as massages, manicures and pedicures for an extra fee. 

If your perfect getaway isn’t getting away at all, why not try a full spa day at home? Visit the beehive to find handmade-in-Atlanta soap, candles, linen sprays, and bath bombs from North/South Soap Company, or find one-of-a-kind candles from A Bearden Project with scents like Rose Garden, Moroccan Cashmere, and Nature Walk. You can also stop by Atlo at Lee + White in the West End — a refill station where you can embrace the low-waste lifestyle with natural home and body products like shampoos, conditioners, body oils, and more. Many of the products are produced by local Atlantans. 

Take an easy road trip

If a pricey plane trip isn’t on your agenda, you can still travel a few hours out of the city to explore something new while not venturing too far. Helen, Georgia will transport you with scenic outdoor views and Bavarian-style architecture, where among the quaint buildings you’ll find beer crawls, candy and fudge shops, and plenty of boutiques. If your tastes run a bit more gothic, try Savannah, Georgia with pristine parks and centuries-old live oaks that frame hip eateries, moody speakeasies, and trendy shops. Or, visit any number of quaint centers close to Atlanta, like Marietta Square, where you’ll find a theater with films and live theater, a record shop, antique stores, boutiques, restaurants, and farmers and artist markets to explore on weekends. 

Stay among the trees 

Take your glamping and camping up a notch by visiting one of the many spectacular rentals close to the city — with some that will quite literally elevate your overnight experience. A three-story treehouse retreat in Kennesaw is situated among the canopy and even offers a treasure hunt so you can embrace your inner thrill seeker. For those seeking an adult summer camp experience, enjoy a treehouse in Suches featuring river-front views, an outdoor kitchen, private, spacious balconies, and nearby trails to truly immerse yourself in nature. If “roughing it” isn’t in your vocabulary, there are plenty of options for upscale cabins that fuse hygge and modern amenities, like this gem in Tiger in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains — though you may feel like you’re in another country altogether. 

Stay and play right here in ATL

Atlanta is expansive, but you can cover more ground with a guided bike or scooter tour. Atlanta Street Art Tours is an excellent way to gain a new appreciation for the public art around the city, where you’ll hit notable murals while hearing details about the artists themselves and interesting details about the area. For those with a heart for history, Civil Bike Tours makes stops at Atlanta’s iconic civil rights locations. 

After you’re done touring the city, indulge in a stay at one of the many luxury and boutique hotels, from nationally acclaimed brands like the Ritz Carlton Atlanta, The St. Regis Atlanta, Waldorf Astoria Atlanta, or the Four Seasons Atlanta to enjoy fine dining and plush amenities for a VIP experience. Or, if you’re looking for more Atlanta-specific stays, consider the Stonehurst Place, where “SoHo meets sweet tea” or The Kimpton Sylvan for beautiful views and a heavenly pool. 


Patrons exploring an art museum

Take a tour of Atlanta’s dynamic creative scene via these incredible options

No matter if you’re into art history, contemporary art or classic films, find something to love in ATL’s ever-expanding arts and culture ecosystem.

As Atlanta’s cultural influence continues to grow, it’s no longer a city that gets overlooked — especially when it comes to the arts. With prominent institutions like The High Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia and the The Museum of Design Atlanta, it’s easy to get cultured in the city that’s “got something to say” in every art form from visual art, film, design, fashion and more. 

Yet peek a little further and in every corner of the city, you’ll find ways to engage with new creators, big ideas, and emerging centers of art and culture that are putting ATL on the map in a whole new way. Here are a few ways to enjoy your city through a new lens.

Sample new frontiers in the visual arts

Atlanta Contemporary

Aiming to “change the way we all see art,” the Atlanta Contemporary hosts programs, exhibitions and project spaces for emerging artists in an intimate open gallery. They also offer community-engaging events like Contemporary Talks, the organization’s annual Art Party and Open Studios, where visitors can meet and greet artists working in their onsite studios. Although Atlanta Contemporary’s gallery is always free, donations are always appreciated and help the space thrive. (535 Means Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30318)

The Bakery Atlanta

Are you craving an artistic experience, where you can engage with your community in unique ways? The Bakery Atlanta is a collective of artists, curators, and artistically minded people who help coordinate and host experiences like gallery exhibitions, events, workshops, and more. Every month, you can create yourself with engaging events like collage nights and figure drawing sessions, perfect for gathering friends for a night of creation. (92 Peachtree St SW Atlanta, GA 30303)

Experience the fusion between art, music, entertainment and new media

eyedrum

Featuring artists at every stage of their careers and spanning multiple mediums, eyedrum is an artistic space featuring local and international music, film, literature, contemporary art and more. Its focus is on experimentation, and that goes for its visitors, too. Its monthly Atlanta Monthly Players Session every first Tuesday includes a house band and an open session for “talented players to join in on the fun.” (515 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard Southwest Atlanta, GA, 30312)

Mom Said It’s Fine

Located in Underground Atlanta, which is becoming a hotbed for the new wave of Atlanta’s DIY creative scene, Mom Said It’s Fine is a venue hosting performances, parties and musicians spanning a wide array of genres and styles — it’s a perfect outing for people who are into the gritty underground scene.

The Met Atlanta Complex (Mint Gallery)

Capitalizing on the kinetic buzz of Atlanta’s innovative energy, this space cultivates a variety of creators, from restaurants to retail to production. The space is also home to galleries like Mint Gallery, founded by undergraduate art students in Atlanta, and features paintings, sculpture, film, photography, and performance in traditional and alternative media.

Bring the past and the future together

Hammonds House Museum

Hammonds House Museum, located in Atlanta’s historic West End, features a permanent collection showcasing the extensive collection of Dr. Otis Thrash Hammonds, an Atlanta physician who amassed hundreds of artistic works during his lifetime. Hammonds House carries on that tradition through rotating exhibitions featuring new and emerging artists, helping to advance the organization’s mission to “to preserve, exhibit, interpret and increase public awareness about the contributions that visual artists of African descent have made to world culture.”

Wren’s Nest

Also located in Southwest Atlanta, the Wren’s Nest is Atlanta’s oldest house museum, with a focus on preserving storytelling traditions and developing the next generations of readers, writers, and listeners through their programming and events. They feature live performances by professional storytellers followed by house tours every Saturday, and offer tours by appointment.

Moviegoers enjoying a film in a full theater

Take a trip with the right story

Plaza Theatre

Reigning as Atlanta’s oldest independent cinema, Plaza Theatre, offers cult classic and new release films. It also hosts many of the annual Atlanta Film Festival screenings. Visit Plaza Theatre to support a local theater for a matinee, indie film screenings, and blockbusters alike.

Videodrome

Can’t get enough screen time? Just up the street from Plaza Theatre is Videodrome; Atlanta’s last standing video store. In a digital age, stores like this are a relic and a rare experience. Explore their collection of small, niche, and cult-classic films from a wide array of categories, and watch something you might not watch from your regular streaming platforms.

For Keeps Books

If you’re more of a reader, For Keeps Books, located on the historic Auburn Avenue in Downtown Atlanta, contains an archive of rare and classic books. Check out their collection to get a unique experience of literature, art, and history. 

Whether you’re into the classic big museums, catching a live show, or seeing art from everyday locals, there’s no doubt the culture in Atlanta has a strong artistic pulse. So, get out there, and let your curiosity drive you to explore.


Fans at a Dallas Cowboys game

9 traditions that define the holidays in DFW

Some of these events are old enough to be passed down among generations.

Some holiday events in DFW come and go, while others become so entrenched in the culture that we can’t imagine the season without them. Whether you’re a lifelong resident or a newcomer to North Texas, these defining events are something to experience at least once. Take a scroll through some of the performances, destinations, and attractions that have endured through time to create some magic for people of all ages and proclivities.

Turtle Creek Chorale’s annual holiday concert

For most of its 40-year history, the Turtle Creek Chorale has created some of the most imaginative holiday performances in DFW. The “most recorded male chorus in the world” has perfected its over-the-top holiday show, and this year’s Celtic theme continues the tradition, featuring a full orchestra and muse Chloe Agnew (of the Celtic Woman). The TCCC website promises a concert “that will have you leaping from your seat with joy” — which is something we can probably all use. Buy your tickets and add this event to your list of things to do in DFW during the holidays.

Holidays at NorthPark Center

NorthPark Center has transformed into a holiday destination for kids and families for more than five decades. The most enduring display dates back to 1965: A candy Santa helming his team of pecan reindeer, “flying” near the Neiman Marcus on Level One. This year, visit the adorable miniature train exhibition, visit Santa Claus himself, hear stories from the Children’s Puppet Theatre, and more. See a full list of activities if you want a shopping experience that’s heavy on the experience. 

The Gaylord Texan

For kids and the young-at-heart, Christmas the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center is a monument to holiday chaos in the best way possible. Located in Grapevine – the self-proclaimed “Christmas Capital of Texas,” — the showplace features a dizzying array of activities, from snow tubing, ice sliding, gingerbread decorating, and even a brunch alongside The Grinch himself. (No word on if green eggs and ham will be served to stay on the Seussian theme.) Take in the eye-popping Christmas decorations and larger-than-life ice sculptures during your stay — you can choose from plenty of packages that allow you to get the most out of this memorable DFW Christmas tradition.

Dallas Cowboys Games

Fun fact: Did you know that The Dallas Cowboys have played more games on Christmas than any other team in the NFL? While best known for their annual Thanksgiving game, The Cowboys typically have a busy schedule during the entire holiday season, and many fans have created special traditions to support the ‘Boys.

Dallas Holiday Parade

Dating back to 1988, the Dallas Holiday Parade is Dallas’ largest one-day outdoor event, aired in more than 100 markets and attended by tens of thousands of visitors. This holiday spectacle offers elaborate floats and giant balloons (including a 45-foot-tall inflatable nutcracker), oversized character costumes like Curious George and the Berenstain Bears, plus numerous community groups, performers, and more. While it’s free to the public, you can purchase tickets to reserve a seat.

Christmas in the Stockyards

If you like your Christmas with a little bit of country, look no further than Fort Worth, where Christmas in the Stockyards riffs on the standard holiday offerings. Enjoy classics like ice skating on the Stockyards Rodeo Rink, photos with Santa, and story-time with his better-half Mrs. Claus. But look for distinctive draws, like horse-drawn wagons, cowboy poetry, strolling Dickens Carolers, and reindeer games. Stroll through the many shops and eateries to grab some gifts while you enjoy the festivities, or take advantage of Hotel Drover’s 12 Days of Drover, where guests can enjoy spirited experiences at the resort.

Holiday at the Arboretum

Called “Texas’ best Christmas event” by Southern Living Magazine, this annual extravaganza hosted at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden has been a family favorite for years. Visit the Christmas Village and be transported to a “quaint European hamlet” by way of large, themed houses and charming shops offering candy, baked goods, flowers, books and more. It also includes the beloved 12 Days of Christmas, an exhibit with (you guessed it) 12 Victorian style gazebos, decorated with twinkling lights, mechanical parts and music.

“Santa House”

For many years, one home in University Park created an eye-popping experience that outmatched even professional Christmas light exhibits. The homeowner — who suffered a major health episode in 2021 — erected more than 500 Santa figurines and the original head of The State Fair of Texas’ beloved Big Tex. Though details are scant on whether or not this tradition will continue, drive by the 3700 block of Southwestern Boulevard to check out the best holiday lights in DFW. This is the one that started the go-big residential home decorations you might notice in your own neighborhood.

A Christmas Carol

The Dallas Arts District offers plenty of holiday-themed events and performances, from perennial fan-favorite performances of The Nutcracker to Reliant Lights Your Holidays and Klyde Warren Park’s Tree Lighting Celebration. But the Dallas Theater Center’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens play has become a holiday must for theater lovers and Christmas enthusiasts. Witness the change of heart for miserly, miserable Ebenezer Scrooge as he becomes generous captain-Christmas and just try not to feel merry — especially if you’ve got that “bah humbug” spirit. Get your tickets here.