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Florida beach named nation's best in TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice awards

A Florida beach has been named the nation's best in TripAdvisor's annual Travelers' Choice awards.

>> See the full rankings here

The travel website announced Tuesday that Clearwater Beach was the best in the U.S. in 2018, climbing from No. 4 in 2017. The beach also topped the national list in 2016. 

>> Read more trending news 

Meanwhile, Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, took the award for the best beach worldwide.

>> Click here or scroll down to see which other beaches made the lists

The top 7 rides you must try at Six Flags Over Georgia

Six Flags Over Georgia turned 50 in June 2017, but the only talk about being over the hill involves screaming along at 70 mph with your stomach floating in your chest.

Georgia’s best-known amusement park, sits west of Atlanta in Cobb County and spans 290 acres. It features 40 rides and attractions and 12 roller coasters, including two top-ranked rides, Mind Bender and Goliath, which have been recognized by Amusement Today magazine. 

For more on Six Flags Over Georgia tickets, hours and schedule, click here.

More on Six Flags Over Georgia rides and more: Photos: Six Flags Over Georgia through the years Six Flags Over Georgia: Decades of thrills 7 things you didn't know about Six Flags Over Georgia

The park's theme is based on Warner Bros. characters like Batman and animated series such as Looney Tunes and DC Comics.

In that DC Comics’ spirit, the park offers JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle for Metropolis. The fully immersive, 4D ride puts you to work in a 22,000-square foot Hall of Justice, partnering with Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League to defeat Lex Luthor, the Joker and the villains' henchmen.

MORE: Six Flags will uphold bet with Alabaa water park after UGA loss

But older rides are good, too. The experts on staff recommend these 7 must-try rides (in alphabetical order):

1. Acrophobia

Park location: Peachtree Square

Why it's a must: Strap into a special harness that looks a bit like a bicycle seat, let your feet dangle and shoot 20 stories up. And that's just the beginning of the ride named for the abnormal fear of heights. Once you're at the peak, every seat tilts 15 degrees – giving you no choice but to look straight down. Take a second to catch your breath if you want to holler as you plummet back to the ground in a pure free-fall.

2. Batman: The Ride.

Park location: Gotham City

Why it's a must: Any roller coaster based on a trip from an eccentric billionaire's underground cave is bound to be a twisted experience. Batman delivers the goods, with furious loops, twists and drops – all from your seat hanging from an overhead track. An inverted steel coaster, Batman reaches speeds of 50 mph, and before that zero-G roll, it rises 10 stories above the park.

3. Dare Devil Dive

Park location: USA

Why it's a must: You can feel like a top gun in this fighter-jet themed coaster that starts out with a straight-up 95-foot climb to the sky. From there, it's a free fall back down through a ring of fire, multiple banks, dives and inversions (including a half loop followed by a half twist) and one 360-degree roll, all before you come back in for landing.

4.Goliath

Park location: USA

Why it's a must: This steel hyper coaster reaches speeds of 70 mph as it plunges you up and down a series of camelback hills – including one 175-foot drop. Over the course of three minutes you hit a 540-degree downward helix, essentially a spiral in the middle of all those hills, and pulls a whopping 4Gs – that's four times the force of gravity.

»RELATED: Watch Six Flags install Twisted Cyclone’s highest track

5. Mind Bender

Park location: Gotham City

Why it's a must: Ranked the 15th best coaster by Amusement Today for its 30th anniversary in 2008, Mind Bender is a true classic. To the uninitiated, it appears a simple triple loop ride. Climb on board, though, and you'll learn how lowering one side of the rail more steeply than the other creates sideways loops – and how those G-forces keep you in your seat with nothing else holding you but a lap bar.

6. Superman: Ultimate Fight

Park location: Gotham City

Why it's a must: Parallel to the track, facing the track and zipping along at 60 mph? Only Lois Lane before you has known what it's like to fly like Superman. Or, at least what it would be like on a head-first adventure with the Man of Steel as he swoops down 10 stories and pivots into a pretzel loop (yes, that means two inversions in one) on a surprisingly silky flight.

7. Tsunami Surge

Park location: Hurricane Harbor

Why it's a must: Rollercoasters aren't the only way to go weightless. Billed as the world's first "Hybrid Zero-Gravity Slide," the Tsunami Surge shoots you and three other riders on a raft down an enclosed five-story drop. The watery mayhem with a 360-degree spill in a whirlpool and down a 45-foot wave wall that gives you a moment of zero-gravity excitement, just before you barrel down into the waiting splash pool.

Six Flags Over Georgia hours and tickets:

Six Flags Over Georgia opens on weekends starting March 10. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. The park will be open daily on March 31 to April 8 for Spring Break, and will open daily for the season on May 21. The park will be open daily for summer hours between May 21 and Aug. 5, when it returns to weekend hours. Weekend hours last through the rest of the year, then the park hibernates from early January til March rolls around again. Here’s the calendar.

Daily tickets are $69.99 for adults and $48.99 for children. Buy in advance and you can save many hard earned dollars. The park also offers season passes and memberships with a variety of bonus benefits. Parking isn’t free.

How to get there

Six Flags Over Georgia is located at 275 Riverside Pkwy, SW, Austell, Georgia 30168.

By car: Take exit 46A or 47 to reach the park just off Interstate 20 west of Atlanta from.

On MARTA: Take MARTA rail to H.E. Holmes station on the Blue Line. From there, it's a 12-minute bus ride on a shuttle that runs on weekends starting in March and daily in the summer.

Other public transportation: Cobb County Transit (CCT) offers a shuttle service to the park. For a detailed, up-to-date route schedule, please visit the CobbLinc section of the Cobb County’s website. Route 30 serves the park Monday through Saturday, NOT Sunday.

More places to visit in and near Atlanta

RECOMMENDED VIDEO: The 4 most thrilling rides at Six Flags Over Georgia

13 events celebrating Black History Month in Atlanta

The contributions of African-Americans throughout U.S. history have been unrelenting, unforgettable and oftentimes unbelievable.

 »RELATED: Black History Month in Atlanta

During 2018, the country has themed Black History Month "African Americans in Times of War." Across the nation, this year's February celebration honors the 100th anniversary of World War I's end and the significant roles blacks have played in battle as far back as the American Revolution.

Black warfare achievements on and off American soil are far and wide. A few history-making combat heroes and heroines include:
  • Robert Smalls was born into slavery and still became the first black naval captain of the Civil War;
  • Alexander Thomas Augusta enrolled into the Civil War as the first African-American out of eight to sign up for duty;
  • Aileen Cole Stewart became one of World War I's first black Army Nursing Corps nurses; and
  • the Tuskegee Airmen formed America's first black military aviators in the U.S. armed forces who flew with distinction during World War II.
To ensure their trailblazing legacies and others continue to live on both home and abroad, here are upcoming opportunities in Atlanta for city dwellers and tourists to learn more about African-American triumphs despite some of history's most challenging circumstances:

APEX Museum: "Blacks on Stamps" Digital Exhibit:

135 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta

Known for celebrating Black History Month every month, the African American Panoramic Experience (APEX) Museum is the only museum in metro Atlanta solely dedicated to sharing the rich, untold story of the African Diaspora. APEX currently has an online exhibit titled "Blacks on Stamps: A Celebration of Black History Makers" to view digitally of distinguished African-American groundbreakers and icons the U.S. Postal Service has honored in virtually every career field via its signature stamp designs.

Atlanta History Center: African-American History:                                                                  

130 West Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta.

Dig into the center's extensive collection of papers, pictures and recordings to uncover the true stories behind African-American's impact on segregation/racial justice, employment, academia, neighborhood development and the law in Atlanta. This research/archival collection shares the lives of prominent African-American civic, political and business leaders of the mid-20th century as well. Call 404-814-4040 to experience this collection. 

Black History Month Parade:      

The Atlanta community will observe African-American heritage through high-spirited marching band performances, engaging guest speakers and culturally creative floats at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. The parade begins at Hurt Park and ends at Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Baker Street.

Children's Museum of Atlanta: Black History Month Programming: 

275 Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW, Atlanta

Discover the powerful stories of influential African-American leaders with your little ones through monthlong shows, art, books and dance. Kids can learn the sounds and moves of the Harlem Renaissance on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sundays at 11 a.m. and weekdays at 2 p.m.; take train adventures in literature to experience great paths African-Americans have traveled weekends from noon to 2 p.m. and weekdays from 11 a.m. to noon; explore the art of world-renowned African-American artists weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; and try traditional East African dances that honor the roots of African-American culture Saturday, Feb. 17 from noon to 1 p.m. 

Constance Baker Motley: One Woman's Fight for Civil Rights:   

National Center for Civil and Human Rights, 100 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW, Atlanta

Join author Gary Ford Jr.'s free discussion about his book and Motley's life as the only female lawyer on the Brown v. Board case, first African-American federal judge and first African-American woman to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court. The event takes place Sunday, Feb. 18, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Dr. King's Birth Home Tours:    

501 Auburn Ave., Atlanta

Learn what life was like for iconic civil rights figure Martin Luther King Jr. in his Queen Anne-style birth home to his adolescent years. Located on 501 Auburn Ave., the 1895-built, two-story historic home offers free, ranger-led tours of its storytelling interior. Except for national holidays, the home is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for up to 15 people per tour.

Herndon Home Museum Tours:  

587 University Place NW, Atlanta

Visit the home of one of most prominent black families in Atlanta's history who persevered through slavery to leadership in the African-American business community. General tours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Active duty military, students and seniors: $7; adults: $10.

My Superheroes are Black: Pop up Exhibit: 

Acknowledging Black History Month and Marvel Comics' much-anticipated "Black Panther" movie slated to open Friday, Feb. 16, this digital art exhibit will feature a free open discussion about black representation and identity in media with Atlanta creators and artists. The event takes place from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, at 249 Peters St. in the Castleberry Art District.

Oakland Cemetery's African-American History Tours: The Historic Oakland Foundation and City of Atlanta are hosting free, guided walking tours of its African-American grounds from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, through Thursday, Feb. 22. Selling out fast, the public tours take guests to the final resting places of Atlanta black history pioneers like Carrie Steele Logan, founder of the city's first orphanage for African-American kids, and Maynard Jackson, Atlanta's first African-American mayor.

»RELATED: ‘Roswell Roots’ celebrates Black History Month with food, education



Roswell Roots: A Festival of Black History and Culture: 

Paying tribute to Roswell's African-American culture and history, this festival is one of the largest and most comprehensive observances in its community. Connecting to national Black History Month celebrations, the events last through Wednesday, Feb. 28 and features original art/history exhibitions; guest artists and cooking experts; and live musical performances and spoken word. Click here for the complete calendar of events.

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power:  

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, 350 Spelman Lane SW, Atlanta

Showcasing more than 150 artworks by more than 60 artists inside Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, the "Soul of a Nation" lecture and exhibition will take place 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 5.The event's art and Q&A session will examine how American cultural identity was reshaped during the Civil Rights Movement.

The King Center Visits:   

449 Auburn Ave., Atlanta

Coretta Scott King, wife of MLK Jr., established the now National Historic Site in 1968. An international resource center, the grounds serve as the final resting place of the couple and international tourist destination to explore the Kings' strategies to social change and collections of memorabilia and artifacts. The site is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 449 Auburn Ave.

»RELATED: Black History Month bucket list: 6 must-see Atlanta landmarks

TSOPATL Presents: The Gift Beyond Sunday Morning:

Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, 3180 Peachtree Road, Atlanta

The Soul of Philanthropy Atlanta and The National Christian Foundation will partner to honor Black History Month with Atlanta's top fundraising and faith thought leaders. During this three-session workshop, pastors, nonprofit professionals and business representatives will share experiences and expertise to gain meaningful community support and discuss the importance of volunteers. The event takes place from 8:30 a.m. to noon Thursday, Feb. 22, at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.

Must-see: Niagara Falls is a winter wonderland in these stunning photos

A cold wave is sweeping almost all of North America, and as temperatures have dwindled, we’ve seen some pretty bizarre things. But one of the coolest and most beautiful sights right now has to be Niagara Falls, where Jack Frost painted a spectacular scene that looks like something straight out of Narnia.

>> RELATED STORY: Could Niagara Falls completely freeze? 

>> Click here or scroll down for more

>> Read more trending news 

Christmas display in California sets world record

The executive director of a California holiday display said San Jose's Christmas in the Park has set a Guinness world record, KGO reported.

>> Read more trending news

Jason Minsky said the 600 illuminated Christmas trees in one location set the world record. The paperwork has been accepted by Guinness, KGO reported. It will become official after Christmas in the Park documents all of the trees on video.

According to the Guinness World Records website, the previous record was 559, held by the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas tree maze at Herald Square in New York City.

The official lighting of the 38th annual Christmas in the Park tree display in San Jose occurred Friday night. The display will remain open through Jan. 7, KGO reported.

Goodbye, Georgia Dome – thanks for the memories!

As we say goodbye to the Georgia Dome after a quarter-century, it’s only fitting we look back at some it its most memorable moments.

The Atlanta landmark was demolished at 7:30 a.m. Monday. The last event was held in the 25-year-old building in March, and the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened next door in August.

>> Watch a video of the implosion here

>> Head to WSBTV.com for complete coverage of the implosion 

From Super Bowls, to NCAA Men’s Final Fours, to the Summer Olympics, the dome has hosted some incredible sporting events

1996 Summer Olympics

The 70,000-seat Georgia Dome was basically divided into two separate arenas.

On one side, “The Magnificent Seven” captured America’s first victory ever in women’s team gymnastics.

The team – made up of Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Dominique Dawes, Kerri Strug, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden and Jaycie Phelps – is probably best known for Strug landing a vault on one foot to clinch the gold medal. She was famously helped off by coach Bela Karolyi.

>> On WSBTV.com: Crews make last-minute preps for Georgia Dome implosion

On the other side, “The Dream Team” won its second gold medal in men’s basketball.

The team – coached by Lenny Wilkens – defeated Yugoslavia 95-69 in the gold medal game.

Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton and David Robinson played on this team and the original 1992 Dream Team.

Super Bowl XXVIII

The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-13, earning their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.

After trailing 13-6 at halftime, the Cowboys closed the game with 24 unanswered points. Emmitt Smith scored twice and was named the game’s MVP.

The crowd of 72,817 saw Natalie Cole sing the national anthem, Joe Namath do the coin toss and a halftime show featuring The Judds, Clint Black, Travis Tritt and Tanya Tucker.

Super Bowl XXXIV

The second Super Bowl hosted by the Georgia Dome was one of the most memorable in history.

The St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-16 when Mike Jones stopped Kevin Dyson just short of the goal-line on the game’s final play.Quarterback Kurt Warned threw for 414 yards and 2 touchdowns, and was named the game’s MVP.

>> Read more trending news 

The crowd of 72,625 saw Faith Hill sing the National Anthem and a halftime show featuring Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton and Edward James Olmos.

An ice storm hit Atlanta during the week of the game and many doubted the city’s ability to host the event. Despite the concerns, the Super Bowl will return to Atlanta in 2019.

Tornado hits downtown Atlanta

Thousands of basketball fans were inside the Georgia Dome when an EF-2 tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta in March 2008.

The 130 mph tornado killed one person near downtown, blew out dozens of windows from high-rise buildings, tossed trees and cars and damaged homes in the area.

Inside the Georgia Dome, fans were watching the Southeastern Conference college basketball tournament. The game between Mississippi State and Alabama was in overtime when the tornado struck around 9:40 p.m.

The storm ripped open a panel on the side of the dome, shearing bolts and causing insulation to fall into the arena.

The game was completed after the storm moved through. The rest of the tournament was postponed.

The dome, along with several other downtown buildings, underwent repairs while staying open for business in the years after the tornado.

Sugar Bowl moved to Georgia Dome

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the Sugar Bowl between the Georgia Bulldogs and the West Virginia Mountaineers was played at the Georgia dome in January 2006. It was the first time the “South’s Biggest Bowl Game” was played outside of the state of Louisiana.

That week, within a four day period, the dome hosted three games. Along with the Sugar Bowl, the dome also hosted the Peach Bowl between LSU and Miami and an NFL game between the Falcons and the Panthers.

2012 NFC Championship game

The Georgia Dome has seen its share of Falcons successes and frustrations. The 2012 NFC Championship was one of the franchise's biggest accomplishments and toughest defeats. It was the first-ever NFC championship game in Atlanta. The Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 second-quarter lead over the San Francisco 49ers. The lead wouldn't last, and after failing to make a play at the end, the Falcons lost 28-24 and missed the Super Bowl. 

2017 NFC Championship game

In 2017, the Falcons would not squander a chance to return to the Super Bowl. In their final game at the Georgia Dome, the Falcons beat the Packers 44-21 to advance to their second Super Bowl in franchise history.

In this game, the Falcons again jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but this time they never looked back. They took a 24-0 at halftime and held on for a convincing win to close out their time at the Dome. 

NCAA Tournaments

Atlanta has hosted 85 NCAA men's tournament games, fifth most of any city. Thirty of those games were played at the Georgia Dome. Six NCAA Regionals, three men's Final Fours (2002, 2007 and 2013) and one women's Final Four were played at the Dome. The Dome's final tournament in 2013 set records. A crowd of 74,326 beat the record for the largest ever for a final game. 

State Championships

The Dome has been home to the finals since 2008, but the stadium's 25-year history with Georgia high school football dates back to the building's opening in 1992. On Sept. 5, 1992, the Corky Kell Classic matchup between Brookwood and McEachern was the first regular season football game in the Dome. Until then, Georgia high school football rarely was played on such a big stage. 

In the 25 seasons, 169 Georgia high schools have participated in the Dome's 298 high school football games, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. 

Soccer at the dome

Eleven soccer games were played at the Georgia Dome since 2009. The first competitive soccer games were held during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The U.S. men's national team made its first appearance in Atlanta since 1977 in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals at the Dome. 

In all, the Dome hosted Mexico's "El Tri" four times, Mexico's Club America twice and the U.S. men's and women's national teams once each. Notable visitors also include European clubs A.C. Milan and Manchester City.

15-acre crystal-clear lagoon to be built in Orlando

A resort and 15-acre crystal-clear lagoon is being planned for Orlando's Lake Nona development, officials with the Tavistock Development Company said Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news

Company officials said crews will break ground on the Lake Nona Resort on Lake Nona's southern shore next year. It's expected to open in 2020.

The eight-story resort will feature 250 rooms, 80 condominium units, a spa and a beach volleyball venue.

The resort's lagoon -- one the nation’s largest man-made crystal-clear lagoons -- will be lined with sandy beaches and have the potential to be expanded to more than 20 acres. Visitors will be able to enjoy swimming, sailing and paddle boarding.

The lagoon will be accessible by resort guests and members of the Lake Nona Golf and Country Club, company officials said.

Expansion plans include luxury condominiums, single-family homes and a beach club along the lagoon, officials said.

The wellness resort will also feature an expansive rooftop lounge and ballroom and several restaurants.

Company officials announced Monday that a water sports park will be built near the Orlando VA Medical Center.

Read more here.

>> Related: Amazon to build mega warehouse in Orlando

Disneyland Legionnaires' disease outbreak: 5 things to know

The unfortunate common thread between people experiencing an outbreak of a bacterial illness called Legionnaires’ disease in Anaheim, California, is that nine of the 12 visited Disneyland in September, The Associated Press reports. The remaining three live in or traveled to Anaheim.

Here's what you need to know about the disease and the latest outbreak:

>> Disneyland shuts cooling towers after Legionnaires’ outbreak

When were the cases discovered? The Orange County Health Care Agency said the cases of the bacterial illness were discovered about three weeks ago.

One patient, who hadn’t visited the park, has died.

The health agency said there haven’t been any new cases reported.

>> On Rare.us: School cracks down after skin condition infects more than 20 students

How did Disneyland respond? Disneyland said it learned about the Legionnaires’ cases on Oct. 27 and shut down and disinfected two cooling towers that had high levels of the bacteria. The towers will reopen after it’s confirmed they are no longer contaminated.

>> Read more trending news 

What is Legionnaires' disease? The Mayo Clinic describes the illness as “a severe form of pneumonia” caused by a bacterium known as legionella. 

How did it get its name? Legionnaires' disease got its name in 1976 from an outbreak that caused 182 people attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia to fall ill, Deadline reported. Twenty-nine people died.

“The outbreak was traced to the convention hotel’s air conditioning system, and Legionnaires’ disease has since been sourced to contaminated water or mist,” Deadline added.

What causes it and how does it spread? Legionnaires’ is spread by mist from contaminated water. While Legionnaires’ does not spread person to person, it does spread easily by inhalation. 

The Mayo Clinic also lists the following common sources of outbreak:

  • Hot tubs and whirlpools on cruise ships
  • Grocery store mist machines
  • Cooling towers in air conditioning systems
  • Decorative fountains
  • Swimming pools
  • Physical therapy equipment
  • Water systems in hotels, hospitals and nursing homes

>> On Rare.us: A puppy-borne illness has made almost 40 people seriously ill

– The Associated Press and the Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

7 best holiday light shows in metro Atlanta and beyond 

The weather this season may say differently, but the holiday season is fast approaching, and, with it, comes annual holiday lights shows all across Georgia and metro Atlanta.

RELATED: Feel the chill: 7 of Atlanta's best places to ice skate

Here is a quick guide to several popular holiday light shows and tours in the Atlanta area, as well as one or two a little farther out.

1. Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens

Celebrating its 26th anniversary, Callaway Gardens award-winning light show returns bigger than ever. Featuring over 8 million lights and a second season for Snow Day in addition to old favorites such as Snowflake Valley and Magical Christmas Garden, there are plenty of reasons to make the roughly 70-mile trip south from Atlanta to Pine Mountain. Check out the specialty night and special event listings too. Visitors can ride in an open-air trolley or in their own vehicle.

Starts at 6 p.m., closing time varies. Trolley runs on the hour, personal vehicle tickets sold in half-hour slots. Nov. 17-Jan. 6. $21-$28 for adults; $10.50-$14.00 for kids 6-12; children 5 and under get in for free. If you’re ordering in advance, ask for “free child tickets” for your 5-and-unders. 17800 U.S. 27, Pine Mountain. 1-855-923-7299, www.callawaygardens.com.

2. Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden

The Walk of Flames, Tunnel of Light and a lot more are waiting for you in Midtown. The 30-acre garden will be glistening through the holidays. New this year is Nature’s Wonders, sparkling in the treetops of Storza Woods. This will be the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s seventh season hosting this event.

5-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 5-10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. Nov. 11-Jan. 7. $19.95-$39.95 for adults; $14.95-$34.95 for kids 3-12; children under 3 get in for free. $5 off for members. Night light tickets, for admission starting at 9 p.m. are $13.95. 1345 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. 404-876-5859, www.atlantabg.org

RELATED: 5 reasons Atlantans love Macy’s Pink Pig

3. Lights of Life at Life University

Introduced in 1989, Life University’s annual holiday light show is a dazzler and a great value. In addition to lights, lights, lights there will be train rides, concessions, pony rides and a petting zoo.

6-10 p.m. Nov. 23-Dec. 31. $10 per car Fridays-Sundays and Nov. 23-26 and Dec. 15-31; $5 per car Mondays-Thursdays except for the above dates; $20 per bus on all dates. 1269 Barclay Circle, Marietta. 770-426-2600, www.life.edu.

4. Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Over Georgia

What’s better than Christmas lights and getting your brain scrambled by the Joker, the Scorcher and the Dare Devil Dive? Roller coasters, more than a million lights and a Monster Mansion go up against an antique carousel, S’mores and a stained glass nativity scene at Six Flags. You want tradition, and a visit to the North Pole? You got it. Caped Crusader? He’s there too. And so much more.

Hours vary depending on the day. Select days Nov. 18-Jan. 3. $48.99-$58.99; 2 and under free; parking $25. 275 Riverside Parkway, SW, Austell. 770-739-3400, www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia

5. Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands

Lake Lanier will be extra illuminated this winter. For the 25th anniversary Santa’s elves dragged some extra lights out of the attic. Patrons will drive past 7 miles of lights passing by all twelve days of Christmas, a Poinsettia Candelabra, through an Icicle Tunnel all the way to Santa’s Workshop in Holiday Village.

5-10 p.m. Nov. 17-Jan. 3. $45 per car. 7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford. 770-945-8787, www.lanierislands.com.

6. Stone Mountain Christmas

Stone Mountain Park will glow with over 2 million lights this holiday season. For a new thrill this year you can help the Snow Angel light the tree and the town. The musical walk-through experience Skylights Spectacular is back with new music as well as a 4-D showing of the Christmas classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” There are other walking light tours around the park such as Wonderland Walkway or Snow Angel Palace.

Times vary. Nov. 11-Jan. 3. Adults $31.95-$54.95; children 29.95-$54.95; buy online to get the lowest price, children under 2 get in for free. 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. 1-800-401-2407, www.stonemountainpark.com.

More things to do at Stone Mountain: Snow Mountain on the Memorial Lawn.

7. Holiday Lights of Hope at Hobgood Park

This is another great seasonal value, plus, yule be helping out the Anna Crawford Children’s Center. This is a walk-through venue so it’s especially good for the young ones, most of whom will get in free. More than 2 million lights, food, unique gifts, the big guy in the red suit and more.

6-10 p.m. Dec. 7-23. Adults $10; 14 and under free. Hobgood Park, 6688 Bells Ferry Road, Woodstock, holidaylightsofhope.com.

8. One bit of bad news: No lights at Centennial Olympic Park

We must pause from our presentation of holiday cheer to let you know that there won’t be an ice rink or holiday lights at Centennial Olympic Park this season. 

The park is undergoing a  major expansion and renovation that should be completed by January 2019. Different parts of the park will be temporarily closed at different times. Be sure and check out the park’s web site if you plan to go there between now and then.

RELATED

Atlanta Christmas Guide: Events, Gift Ideas, Recipes

New Year’s Eve in Atlanta

Biltmore Estate owner dies at his North Carolina home

The owner of the iconic Biltmore Estate in North Carolina has died at his home.

>> Watch the news report here

Officials at the Biltmore Co. said William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil died Tuesday in Asheville. He was 89.

Cecil had a career in finance before returning to Asheville in 1960 in hopes of preserving his childhood home, which was the private estate of his grandfather, George Washington Vanderbilt III.

>> Read more trending news

Local media outlets reported that Cecil's parents opened the Biltmore house to the public in 1930, but it didn't make a profit until 1969, and then it was only $17. Cecil said, "My dad was very proud of that."

Today, the 8,000-acre (3,238-hectare) estate, French-style chateau and attractions draw more than 1.4 million people annually.

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