As far as many people are concerned, the capital of Nevada is Vegas. But the truth it, that distinction goes to Carson City.
Carson City was named after the mountain man Kit Carson. It is characterized by warm summers and cold winters. It is home to several museums and has tons of open land that’s great for exploring.
If you are planning on visiting Carson City for your Christmas vacations, here are some attractions you won’t want to miss.
Polar Express Train Ride
Every year around Christmas, the Polar Express train leaves from the East Gate Depot providing all riders with a magical holiday experience.
Guests can expect to meet Santa and other holiday characters as they bring the story of Christmas to life. The journey is one hour long, and everyone leaves with a souvenir silver sleigh bell.
VIP parlor car tickets are available for purchase.
Carson Mall Breakfast with Santa
Carson Mall kicks off the Christmas season with a Breakfast with Santa event. Children and their families can come by to enjoy pancakes, bacon, orange juice, apple juice and coffee while dining with the man himself. Admission is $10 but you can get in for half price if you bring a Toys for Tots donation.
Once you have gotten your fill, stroll around the mall for some terrific holiday shopping.
And if you miss out on the breakfast, you will still have the opportunity to meet Santa in the Carson mall on another date. Santa visits are hosted on the South Side of the facility and each child will get a small gift and candy cane. The visits are free, but pictures are an additional fee.
The Silver & Snowflakes Festival of Lights
The Silver & Snowflakes Festival of Lights has been a Carson City tradition since 1988. It started as a simple tree lighting but has grown into an event that attracts hundreds.
The festival features carols sung by local school children. Santa and the Grinch are in attendance as well as the governor, mayor and their respective first ladies (or men as the case may be some years.) Sleigh rides are available as well.
The downtown area is lit up and remains that way through to the new year.
Once the event is over, guests are welcome to stay in the area for dinner. Local restaurants will be providing specials, discounts and giveaways to their customers and will receive visits from the various characters that participated in the event.
The Festival typically takes place on a Friday in early December and continues into the next Saturday when train rides on the Carson & Mills Park Railroad will be available for children.
Santa Visits at the Brewery Arts Center
The Brewery Arts Center has been called the best venue in Carson City. Every year they host a Visit with Santa event.
Santa sits in his sleigh and lights, music and magic complete the scene. Guests can come by on weekends from 12-5 or make appointments for Thursdays and Fridays in December.
Pet Pictures with Santa at Benson’s Feed & Tack
Give your pets an opportunity to enjoy the holiday season by bringing them along to this special event.
Your furry friends will have their pictures taken with Santa and children are welcome too. You can even have a family photo taken for $15. If you go that route, you will get a framed copy of the picture as well as 4x6’s that are perfect for sharing.
Christmas at the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada
The Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada is a festive facility with several interactive exhibits children can enjoy. Every year they have a Christmas event that includes visits with Santa, story time, craft making and other holiday themed activities. Be sure to come by with your family.
Visit St. Nick’s Village at Casino Fandango
Families are welcome to visit St. Nick’s Village at Casino Fandango between the Sky Bridge and Galaxy Theater every Saturday and Sunday during the holiday season from 10 AM to 2 PM. The visit is free and comes with a complementary 4x6” photo with suggested donations being collected for The Greenhouse Project.
The Greenhouse Project is a nonprofit with a mission of growing, giving and teaching for a healthier, greener and sustainable community.
Homestead Holidays at Silver Saddle Ranch
Silver Saddle Ranch is a working ranch that is also part of Carson City Parks, Recreation & Open Space’s Open Space Program. In recent years, they have begun hosting a Homestead Holiday free family event.
The event brings old school holiday charm with visits from Santa, a Letters to Santa table, live music, crafts, food and more. Lights will be strewn across the historic barns, houses, fences and cottonwood trees on the property.
Pancakes with Santa Fundraiser
The Pancakes with Santa event doubles as a fundraiser with donations going towards Miss Carson City, Miss Douglas County and the Outstanding Teen Scholarship Program to further their educations. A $10 donation gets you three large pancakes, butter syrup and milk or juice. Santa will be there walking around and taking photos.
There is also a Christmas ornament decorating table. You can participate in creating these crafts for just $2.
Cookies with Santa
During Christmastime, Gather restaurant hosts a Cookies with Santa event. Guests can come by for a photo with Santa and enjoy the complementary cookies served care of Dana’s Desserts. The kitchen will be closed but a full bar will be available.
Admission is $5 for adults that bring an unwrapped toy. Children are free.
Carson City may not have the bright lights of Vegas, but it has a down home feel that is perfect for the holiday season. What will you be doing when you’re in town?