They say there’s no place like home for the holidays, but if you’re looking for an extra dose of Christmas spirit, then we say there’s no place like Warm Springs, Georgia. Just an hour south of Atlanta and 30 minutes east of Callaway Gardens, the tiny Victorian-era town has long been known for two things: its healing mineral springs and the Little White House that served as a private retreat for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his four terms in office.
Warm Springs is a joy to visit any time of year, but the community of just over 500 people is extra delightful around Christmastime. When November and December roll around, Warm Springs transforms into a certifiable Whoville, complete with all-out window displays, Christmas parades, visits from Santa, and twinkling lights as far as the eye can see. If the greatest gift you can receive this season is a heavy helping of Christmas spirit, jump in the car, head to Warm Springs, and check out these holly jolly recommendations.
Shop and Stroll on Main Street
We already mentioned that Warm Springs was postage stamp-sized, so it’s only fitting that their charming main street is roughly the length of a city block. But the beauty in that is that every square inch of downtown Warm Springs explodes with Christmas cheer. Take an afternoon stroll, and you’ll see it all—brick-lined streets, historic building, balconies wrapped in garland, and streetlights adorned with red bows. Storefronts are awash in red and green, and what you’ll find inside is even more spectacular. Check out places like The Veranda on Broad for antiques, Gift Tree for Christmas décor and gifts, and Lightnin’ Bugs Café for baked goods and sweet treats.
Attend a Candlelight Weekend
If you think main street Warm Springs is magical during the daytime, you’ll have to come back and visit when the sun goes down during a Candlelight Weekend. Held every Friday and Saturday night from November 17 through December 23, Candlelight Weekends take Warm Springs natural Hallmark movie appeal and crank it up a couple hundred notches. The entire area, including city park, becomes aglow with thousands of warm white lights, and stores stay open late so you can check off gifts for everyone on your nice list. If that wasn’t enough, look out for entertainment from carolers in old-fashioned costumes and maybe even a visit from Old Saint Nick or the Grinch.
Listen to a Reading of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”
For some, Christmas just wouldn’t be complete without listening to a recitation of the classic Christmas poem. And there’s no better way to hear it than via a cozy fireside chat with FDR himself—or at least a talented impersonator. FDR portrayer James Fowler carries on the longstanding family tradition of Franklin D. Roosevelt reading the poem to his family with readings at the Little White House State Historic Site. Head to the museum and national landmark on December 16 for a chance to hear one of three readings at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. Little ones will especially love the added visit and photos with Santa Claus.
Have Dinner at the Festive Bulloch House Restaurant
Southerners adore comfort foods 365 days a year, but if there were ever a time we treasure our mac and cheese and sweet potato casserole just a little bit more, it would be at the holidays. A Warm Springs favorite since 1990, Bulloch House Restaurant is beloved among locals and visitors alike for its excellent all-you-can-eat Southern buffet. The meat ‘n’ three-style offerings change daily, but expect crowd-pleasers like fried chicken, beef stroganoff, turnip greens, biscuits, and squash casserole. Around the holidays, the restaurant gets extra merry with whimsical decorations, and you may even notice some seasonal Christmas dinner dishes on the buffet. Be sure to save room for a homemade dessert. Options range from strawberry cheesecake to pecan pie to all types of cake including coconut, red velvet, six-layer chocolate, and caramel. Now that’s cause for celebration!