Holiday lights in downtown Athens, Georgia

Holiday lights in downtown Athens, Georgia

Holiday Must-Sees on Georgia's Antebellum Trail

Explore the wonder and the beauty of the South this Christmas season with a round-up of historic Georgia towns outfitted in their Christmas finery. Georgia's Antebellum Trail links seven historic communities, each boasting their own 19th-century sites, that will be adorned in Christmas splendor. Take a journey back in time and experience Christmases past in Macon, Gray/Old Clinton, Milledgeville, Eatonton, Madison, Watkinsville and Athens.

Hay House in Macon, Georgia, decorated for the holidays

Macon: Hay House

Built in 1859 in Macon as the Palace of the South, the Hay House welcomes this festive season in grand holiday fashion. Celebrate Christmas at Hay House by snapping a photo during Santa Days on Dec. 5 and 6, 2020. Let your heart be light as you compete in the “Elves at Hay House” Scavenger Hunt during your museum tour. Or, reserve the marvelous Music Room for your holiday luncheon or dinner, making it an evening to remember. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, the home is a lovely example of 19th century architecture. Enjoy the splendor of the holiday season with elaborate period furnishing and merry seasonal décor. Before your trip, review the house's COVID-19 precautions.

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Jarrell Plantation in Gray, Georgia

Gray/Old Clinton: Jarrell Plantation

Take a guided Holiday Traditions Tour of the circa 1847 Jarrell Plantation decorated for the holidays with authentic décor inspired by traditions of the late 19th and early 20th century, and learn how families from the period celebrated the season. Through generations of family members, Jarrell Plantation Historic Site in Gray is one of the last remaining examples of a vanishing culture with its authentic 19th and early 20th century plantation buildings typical to Middle Georgia, representing the change from an agricultural to an industrial-based economy. Tours run Dec 3-22, 2020, and are offered by reservation only and included with regular day admission: $4-$6.50. Before your trip, review the park's COVID-19 precautions.

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Christmas tree at the Old Governor's Mansion in Milledgeville, Georgia

Milledgeville: Old Governor's Mansion

There's nothing quite like the magic of Christmas in Milledgeville. Historic homes are dressed in their holiday style as the town is a classic postcard-worthy location filled with lights, nutcrackers and garland. Immerse yourself in the spirit of the season as you tour Georgia's Old Governor's Mansion outfitted in Christmas finery. Take a step back in time and discover holiday traditions passed down from the city's earliest families. The mansion will be fully decorated for the holidays and open for tours Saturday, Nov. 21 until Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. The mansion will be closed for Thanksgiving, Wednesday, Nov. 25 - Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. Candlelight and live music bring holiday warmth to the grandiose décor during the evening tours at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. Before your trip, review the mansion's COVID-19 precautions.

For more Christmas activities in the area, click here.

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Magnum House in Eatonton, Georgia, decorated for the holidays

Eatonton: Mangum House

The beauty of the season is abundant in downtown Eatonton's historic district. Visitors strolling the historic district should take special note of the Mangum House, a c. 1856 example of Greek Revival Cottage architecture. Garland-wrapped porches and gently glowing lights welcome visitors to learn more about the original home of Jefferson Adams. In the early 2000s, a complete interior and exterior renovation, including the carriage house, was completed by the current owners, the Mangums. Today, the intricate detailing in the cornice and portico are an unequaled delight to all architecture lovers.

For more Christmas activities in the area, click here.

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Holiday decorations inside Heritage Hall in Madison, Georgia

Madison: Heritage Hall

Festive evergreen wreaths adorn every window of the c. 1811 Greek Revival home Heritage Hall. Originally constructed 200 feet from its current location in Madison, the home was moved in 1909 when the owner at the time, Mr. Stephen Turnell, sold a portion of the home's acreage for the construction of a new Methodist church. Heritage Hall was a private residence until 1977. The last private owner was Mrs. Sue Reid Walton Manley, known as "Madison's First Lady" for her gracious financial support of churches, education, the city and numerous weddings, receptions and parties hosted at the home. During the holiday season, visitors will be delighted to discover an exquisite array of period furnishings and antique treasures dressed in Yuletide finery.

For more Christmas activities in the area, click here. Before your trip, review the city's COVID-19 precautions.

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Elder Mill Covered Bridge holiday lights in Watkinsville, Georgia


This holiday season, take the scenic route through Oconee County to experience must-see attractions like the Classic City Clydesdales or Oconee Cultural Art Foundation's Holiday Market. After a day of shopping at unique boutique stores and tasting the local cuisine, take the picturesque drive to Elder Mill Covered Bridge built in 1897 in Watkinsville. The bridge is one of 13 functioning covered bridges in Georgia and the only covered bridge along Georgia's Antebellum Trail. During the holiday season, the bridge is draped with dazzling, colorful lights, making you feel like you stepped into a holiday movie.

For more Christmas activities in the area, click here.

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Holiday lights in downtown Athens, Georgia


Athens introduces a new holiday tradition in 2020: the inaugural Light Up Athens in downtown this December. Visitors will enjoy the twinkling lights throughout the historic downtown district, along with festively decorated storefronts and the community Christmas Tree on the grounds of City Hall. Weekend evenings will be full of outdoor activities, including holiday character appearances, an official Santa's mailbox for children to drop off their wish lists, holiday music, and S"elfie" Spots. Lights will be illuminated each night, including outdoors at the historic Ware-Lyndon House Museum (ca. 1840s). Event activities will take place Fridays and Saturdays in December from 6 – 9 p.m.

For more Christmas activities in the area, click here. Before your trip, review the city's COVID-19 precautions.

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Published: November 2020
Written by: Bonnie Simmons