Above: photo courtesy of Children’s Museum of Atlanta

The holidays are here, which means it’s time for family visits. Wondering what to do when the grandkids arrive? Here are five places in metro Atlanta you could take them to get them out of the house and away from their phones.

Children’s Museum of Atlanta

The museum offers hands-on exhibits designed to promote problem-solving, creative thinking and artistic expression. Kids can launch rockets, visit a magical forest or climb through layers of the Earth. Most exhibits are aimed at ages 6 months to 9 years, although some are intended just for toddlers.

On Sunday, Dec. 17, two Hanukkah performances will be presented at the museum. There’ll be activities, songs and stories; tickets are $15.95.

Location: 275 Centennial Olympic Park Dr. NW, Atlanta 30313

Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Wednesdays and Christmas Day.

Tickets: $15.95 plus tax. Last ticket sold 30 minutes prior to closing.

More information: childrensmuseumatlanta.org

Center for Puppetry Arts

Rudolph and friends; photo courtesy of Center of Puppetry Arts

Meet the Muppets! The center’s museum is home to Kermit and other Jim Henson creations as well as puppets from around the world. The center also offers regular puppet shows.

Performances of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, adapted from the holiday TV show, are scheduled on various days in December, including Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. Check the center’s webpage for performance dates and times.

Location: 1401 Spring St. NW, Atlanta 30309

Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday: noon to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays.

Tickets: For museum admission: $12.50. For museum admission and guided tours of the World of Puppetry collection: $16.50. For performances of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and museum entry: $19.50.

More information: puppet.org

Fernbank Museum of Natural History

photo courtesy of Fernbank Museum

Fernbank is a place to turn back time. Learn about dinosaurs, take a stroll through time in Georgia and see sea shells from around the world. The museum’s Great Hall features casts of the skeletons of some of the largest known dinosaurs. Special “Holly Jolly Film Fest” shows “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and other holiday favorites on Dec. 2, 9 and 16. Film showings are included in the price of a museum ticket.

The 8th annual Winter Wonderland: Celebrations & Traditions Around the World features trees and other displays that recognize Christmas and Hanukkah; the exhibit runs through Jan. 7.

Location: 767 Clifton Rd. NE, Atlanta 30307

Hours: Museum open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Christmas Day.

Tickets: For special exhibits and museum entry: adults, $33; seniors, $30; children aged 3 to 12, $27; members $13. For museum entry only: adults, $18; seniors, $17; children aged 3 to 12, $16; members, free.

More information: fernbankmuseum.org

Georgia Aquarium

photo courtesy of Georgia Aquarium

The aquarium provides a place to view up close all manner of sea creatures, from penguins to dolphins to whale sharks. The facility also offers special programs, such as breakfast with Santa on Dec. 16, and celebrates its Festival of the SEAson with a spectacular light and music show, and events that include tree lightings and “The Polar Express” 4-D Experience in the 4-D Funbelievable Theater.

Location: 225 Baker St., Atlanta 30313

Hours: vary daily, but generally are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Last entry of the day is 30 minutes prior to closing time.

Tickets: Seniors: $36.95; adult: $39.95; child: $33.95. Tax is added to ticket price. Discounts may be available when tickets are purchased online, or early or late in the day. Tickets for Breakfast with Santa alone: $24.95 for non-members, $19.95 for members and free for children younger than a year.

More information: georgiaaquarium.org

Zoo Atlanta

photo courtesy of Zoo Atlanta

See lions, tigers and pandas, oh my! And giraffes and gorillas and even an elephant or two. You can walk a treetop trail to get a bird’s-eye view of the zoo. Or, on Dec. 2 or Dec. 3, share a cookie with Santa. A separate event, Jungle Bells on Dec. 2, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., includes Christmas songs and hot cocoa.

Location: 800 Cherokee Ave. SE, Atlanta 30315

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with last admission at 4:30 p.m.

Tickets $21.99 for seniors aged 65 or older; $25.99 for people aged 12 to 64; $17.99 for children aged 3 to 11; free for children younger than 3. Add $13.95 for treetop trail; $33 for zoo admission and Cookies with Santa admission; $17 for Cookies with Santa ticket only. RSVP required for Cookies with Santa.

More information: zooatlanta.org 

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.