Celebrate the Season With Your Family: Holiday Day Trips Near Upstate, SC

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Searching for “Christmas day trips near me”? Or maybe you’re interested in taking a trip out of Greenville to enjoy the holiday spirit? There are a bunch of places you can head for the weekend or just the day to enjoy some holiday fun away from the Upstate.

Check out our list of popular destinations for day trips during the holiday season. From train rides to giant light displays and towns all decked out for Christmas, there are some fantastic ideas on this list!

Christmas Day Trips from Greenville

  • If you’re looking for a longer holiday trip, check out our list of Holiday Getaways perfect for a festive family weekend or vacation.
  • Want to know what’s going on in Greenville over Christmas? Just check our List of Greenville Holiday Events and Things to Do, where you can find over 75+ Holiday Events in addition to links to all of our holiday content!
  • Still, looking for Christmas Things to Do? Gifts to give? Ways to give back? You can find all our best Christmas content in our Holiday Guide to Greenville

Holiday Day Trips Near Upstate, SC

Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC 

(November 17th, 2023 to January 7th, 2024)
More than 3,000,000 lights displayed on the infield of Charlotte Speedway. Every Thursday-Sunday a Christmas Village with fire pits for roasting s’mores, a new illuminated walking trail, and Santa will be available in addition to an outdoor movie showing. Tickets are $45 for a family car.

Check out Kidding Around’s Review of The Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas Light Display

Christmas Town, USA in McAdenville, NC

(December 1, 2023 – December 26, 2023)
This nearby town decks out completely for Christmas. The display is from 5:30-10 pm nightly.

Check out Kidding Around’s Review of Christmas Town, USA

Holiday Lights on the River in Columbia, SC

(November 23rd, 2023 to December 31st, 2023)
Over a million lights on the 2-mile loop of the park. Includes a laser light show, hayrides, zip-line, Santa, and even a Winter Wonder Ride. The cost is $25 per car / $50 per 12-15 passenger van / $75 for 15+ passenger vans. Additional fees apply for activities.

Speaking of Columbia, if you’re headed down to the Midlands, you’ll want to check out the rest of the holiday adventures waiting for you in Columbia, SC.

Festive Holiday Day Trips in Western North Carolina

The Polar Express Train Ride in Spencer, NC 

Check out the Kidding Around Review of The Spencer, NC Polar Express

Craggy Mountain Rail Jingle Bell Trolley

An open-air decked-out trolley in Asheville that rides a historic railroad line. Meet Santa and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies afterward.

Check out Kidding Around’s Review of the Craggy Mountain Trolley

The Polar Express Train Ride in Bryson City, NC 

(November 9, 2023 – December 31, 2023)
A 1 1/4 hour train ride to the North Pole. Santa himself will board the train and present the kids with a silver bell.

Check out Kidding Around’s Review of The Bryson City, NC Polar Express

Christmas in Asheville, NC

There’s so much to see and do during Christmas in Asheville, NC! Don’t miss our huge list of things to do!

Christmas at Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC

(November 3, 2023 – January 7, 2024) – See the magnificent Biltmore Estate decorated for the holidays

Check out Kidding Around’s Review of Christmas at the Biltmore

Annual Gingerbread House Competition at The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.

View the gingerbread houses at The Grove Park Inn November 27th, 2023 through January 2nd, 2024. Guests not staying at The Grove Park Inn can visit after 4 pm on Sundays or anytime Monday through Thursday.

North Carolina Arboretum Winter Lights 

(November 17, 2023 – December 31st, 2023)
Nearly half a million LED lights make up this amazing display at the North Carolina Arboretum.

Check out Kidding Around’s Review of The NC Arboretum’s Winter Lights Display

NC Arboretum Christmas lights

Christmas Tweetsie Railroad

(November 24, 25, 26, and December 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, & 30, 2023)
Enjoy a magical mountain train ride through lights and a winter wonderland. Tickets are $60/adults, $40/ages 3-12, free/kids under 2. Santa will be there and guests can ride some of the attractions at the park.

Cashiers Christmas Parade

December 2, 2023 at 3 pm. 

Kidding Around loves Cashiers. Here’s our parent review of the Cashiers Christmas Parade.

Santa on the Chimney in Chimney Rock, NC
(Saturday, December 2nd & 9th, 2023 – 11 am to 2 pm)
Watch Santa Claus climb Chimney Rock. Santa will also be available after each climb to greet guests and take photos. This event has placed as one of the top Santa sightings in the USA.

Georgia Day Trips to Celebrate the Holidays

Holiday Haven in Dunwoody, Georgia
Dunwoody’s destination partners also offer various events ranging from virtual activities that can be enjoyed in the comfort of your hotel room – to safe, in-person events honoring time-tested holiday traditions.

Check out Kidding Around’s Review of Dunwoody, GA, and Holiday Haven

Athens, GA
Winter Wonderlights (November 22, 2023 – December 30, 2024) at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. The half-mile fully accessible trail weaves through Candy Cane Lane, through a tunnel of lights and in between tree forest ultimately ending at the holiday market. Visitors can purchase hot coffee, cocoa and even marshmallows for roasting at specific locations along the trail. The cost is $15/person and free for kids under 3. Also, you can go Ice Skating at Akins Ford Arena .

State Botanical Garden, Courtesy of Visit Athens

Stone Mountain Christmas in Atlanta Area of Georgia
(select dates November 11, 2023 – January 2, 2024)
Enjoy a scenic train ride, Christmas parade, shows, Christmas lights, and lots more.

Check out Kidding Around’s Review of Stone Mountain Christmas

Garden Lights at Atlanta Botanical Garden
(November 18, 2023 – January 14, 2024)
This massive light display includes colored orbs, model trains, and a glittery rainforest.

Plan a Holiday Day Trip to Pigeon Forge, TN

Winterfest in Pigeon Forge, TN
(November 9 2023 – February 18, 2024)
This could be a great weekend trip or a really long day trip out to Pigeon Forge, TN. There are lots of Christmas lights and shows plus Dollywood is decked out in gorgeous lights for the season.

Check out Kidding Around’s Review of Pigeon Forges’ Winterfest

For more holiday fun, make sure you check out our guides to the holidays, for both Greenville and Spartanburg.

About the Author
Bethany Winston is the owner and editor-in-chief of Kidding Around Greenville & Kidding Around Spartanburg. She enjoys exploring parks, discovering local events, and meeting the people who make Greenville an amazing place to live. You can contact her directly at bethany@kiddingaroundgreenville.com.

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Lindsey L.
8 years ago

Bethany, I wanted to thank you SO much for running this blog and compiling and writing out all this helpful information every single day, It used to be a nightmare trying to figure out what is available in and around the Upstate, but we’ve had the BEST year putting together family activities, and found some really great places and events going on, thanks to your hard work! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving; my husband and I are SO thankful for your blog! Bless you!

3 years ago

Thank you Bethany and all of Kidding around greenville! Love your articles and info. I read everything you send! And take advantage of many of your suggestions! Thank you again! #yeahthatgreenville