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Day tripping: From low-key to full-tilt Christmas within 90 minutes

By Kristen Hackbarth
Mount rose Meadows snowshoe

Airport officials this week said they’re expecting pre-pandemic levels of travel into and out of Reno over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. For those who aren’t taking to the skies this season, there are still plenty of nearby places to explore.

Travel Nevada, most often tasked with attracting out-of-state visitors to the region, shared some travel tips for locals to enjoy the season and soak up some history.

Not strictly for fall

Colby Frey provides a tour of his Frey Ranch Distillery in Fallon, Nev. Image: Sydney Martinez / Travel Nevada

The fall festival atmosphere is Fallon, punctuated with a corn maze and pumpkin patches, gives way to more low-key events in the winter. It’s about an hours’ drive east of Reno along Interstate 80 and Highway 50.

For families, a visit to Grimes Point might be in order. Petroglyphs are viewable on the ¼-mile self-guided trail.

Afterwards, learn more about the area’s history with a visit to the Churchill County Museum. Museum curators have decorated for the holidays and hidden four Santa hats in the exhibits. On Dec. 19 the museum will also have a holiday open house with snacks, crafts and a handbell concert.

For an adults-only getaway, head to Frey Ranch Distillery on Saturdays for a bourbon tasting and tour. The distillery is part of a fifth-generation farm and was Nevada’s first commercial estate distillery.

Winter wonderland, weather permitting

Travel officials suggest South Lake Tahoe for winter snowscapes and activities—as long as the snow flies, that is. Edgewood Tahoe Resort opens up its golf course Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for guided snowshoe hikes (or nature walks, depending on weather).

For a closer snowshoeing option, check out Tahoe Meadows, just past the summit of Highway 431/Mt. Rose Highway and to the left. Bring your own hot cocoa and snowshoes.

Heavenly Mountain has also fired up its gondola, offering sightseeing from the mountain, and depending on conditions, skiing and boarding.

Also weather dependent are horse-drawn sleigh rides. Borges in Stateline offers either carriage or sleigh rides depending on snowpack.

A child mails a letter to Santa after riding the V&T Railroad's Candy Cane Express in Virginia City, Nev. I
A child mails a letter to Santa after riding the V&T Railroad’s Candy Cane Express in Virginia City, Nev. Image: Kristen Hackbarth / This Is Reno

Full-tilt Christmas

Virginia City just might be the most festive town in Nevada during the holidays. Its annual Christmas on the Comstock is a full month of holiday-themed events including two parades with fireworks—Dec. 4 and 11—and the Candy Cane Express, a ride on the V&T Railroad with Santa and his elves.

Saloon crawls, art fairs, music and theater are also planned throughout the month. More information here.

To get to Virginia City, head to south Reno and travel east up Highway 341/Geiger Grade.

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