Thursday, December 2, 2021

2021 Winter Guide: Holiday Activities, Shopping, and Events in Reno, Virginia City, Sparks, Lake Tahoe, Truckee, & Carson City

View from Palisades Aerial Tram Ride to Olympic Center

Before you travel out in wintry conditions, please check out my winter travel guide.

Reno is filled with so much holiday/seasonal action & cheer and we're pretty lucky that so many other areas surrounding us are in the same club- Lake Tahoe, Sparks, Carson City, Truckee, Virginia City, and more.

There's nothing like being on the same page with everyone else who loves enjoying the holidays- singing carols all day long, decorating their butts off, indulging in holiday treats, participating in rad, one-of-a-kind holiday events, taking care of one another, supporting local, and just being happy and spreading cheer. 

Below are events, activities, and some local places to shop in Reno and in the surrounding areas.  

With so much going on with the pandemic, businesses have all taken on some major difficulties, and supporting local businesses is more important now than ever.

Why support local businesses?   They're our neighbors and they are passionate about their businesses, creating quality products and services.  

I've met so many amazing business owners and I can say for a fact that many of them donate and help support others in the community.  They strive for bigger things, listening and connecting with us, providing value and enrichment in our lives. 

Please check back often as I will be updating this guide frequently and please have yourself a joyous holiday season.  

I realize that a lot has been left out of my guide, but I was determined to release this post as soon as possible due to the sensitivity of time for events coming up soon.  

There is limited space for many events so booking as soon as possible will be in your best interest. 

P.S. Sometimes I post about hidden gems and food on my Instagram that I don't post here on my blog.  If you don't want to miss out on any action, you can follow me at lovingreno775.

Peace, Love, & Respect,

Unique ornaments from Wilbur D. May gift shop


-November 26, 27 & 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19. 
Candy Cane Express Train in Virginia City
*Purchase Tickets (Limited tickets remaining. Call in for availability) 
*Facebook page for latest updates

A friendly elf on the Candy Cane Express in Virginia City

The Candy Cane Express is a magical 45 minute out-and-back ride to Gold Hill and includes:
-happy and kind North Pole elves 
-Elf emcee on the train singing carols and telling Christmas jokes
-candy canes at the end of the ride
-hot cocoa or apple cider
-goodie bag with cookies, kisses, pen and postcard for santa (mailbox in front of gift shop)
-The Night Before Christmas read aloud
-Beautiful views of Virginia City 
-the perfect setting and atmosphere for the holidays
-Christmas decorated train
-You will find Santa's workshop at Gold Hill (first half of ride) where the train stops and you can witness elves working and hear a special message from Santa (he calls out some kids names that are on the train)
-Gift Shop
-wild mustangs (often seen)

Enjoying views of wild mustangs on the Candy Cane Express Train

Wild Mustangs are always a treat in Virginia City, NV.

V&T puts so much thought and effort into every detail of this event.  Throughout the years, it has become a beloved tradition for many families, including mine.  

Virginia City is a short and scenic 30 minute trip up the mountains from South Reno and offers unique boutique shopping, tourist attractions, restaurants, saloons, accommodations, and tours on top of its special themed train rides throughout the year.  Its signature "wild west" look and feel, along with its festive and fun nature, attracts so many visitors yearly.  It's one of my favorite places to visit and I visit it often.  

Virginia City does the holidays justice.  Check out their activities and events throughout the month and have yourself a merry and jam-packed holiday season to your heart's content.  Visit their Forever Christmas Store, a store that represents its true holiday spirit. 

Have a great BBQ meal at Virginia City Jerky Company (please don't miss out on all of the yummy sides) and grab some kettle corn next door and maybe some fudge, ice cream, and caramel apples just a little down the way at Grandma's Fudge Factory

If you're a cowboy/cowgirl at heart and want the ultimate souvenir, check out Old Time Photos where you get to dress up and have a print out of your "wild west" self. 

Electric Holiday Train O' Lights

*They have a separate Electric Holiday Train O' Lights train that will also run in December
*Tickets are by reservation only and book fast
*The Polar Express Train is so popular that it sells out fast, so keep checking in with them from year to year to see when tickets are available for purchase
*Don't forget to check the weather the day of your ride to dress appropriately, especially when traveling with smaller children.
*Small snacks available for purchase in gift shop

Inside V&T Railroad gift shop

-November 26 through December 24
Santa's Wonderland @ Cabela's in Verdi (A little after Robb Drive 80W in Reno)
*Free 4x6 photo with Santa 
*Free giveaways while supplies last

This Santa is a hit among many moms that will not go to any other Santa.  They say that he's pretty fun.  This store is comparable to Scheel's, but a bit smaller.  It's still super and has lot to see and is worth a trip out.  

If you're looking for a fun stop right after, Boomtown is right next door with an arcade and some small rides, including a fun carousel, and Mel's Diner is next door. 

Crystal Peak Park is also in the same area for those looking for a nice walk.  Read more about this park in my post.  

-November 27- December 23. 
Thursdays - Sundays, 11am-6pm

-December 2: 10am-11:30am, December 6: 5pm-6pm
Cookies With Santa @ The Pop Up Shop/Shay Co. Shop @ Summit Mall in Reno (Next door to LUSH bath bomb store)
*Pictures with Santa and cookie kit (2 kinds to choose from) - $10

Follow along with Mr. and Mrs. Clause as they start the event with a Christmas story.  

Later, socialize and let them know your wishes while decorating (and eating) a delicious sugar cookie.

There are cute cardboard Christmas trees (one of which children can color) and a fireplace and bench ideal for picture taking with Mr. and Mrs. Claus for the perfect ending.

Afterwards, shop around the cute Shay Co boutique for local one-of-a-kind items.  Super hip, cute, and sustainable items sourced locally.  Run by a local and kind mom.  

*Shay Co Shop website (local, handmade wood toys, kid's clothing, accessories) 
Online ordering available. 

Shay Co. Shop @ Summit Mall

-December 2-5
Tahoe Film Festival @ Incline Village Cinema, Northstar Village Cinema, & Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
*Website (with descriptions of films being shown)

An impressive looking collection of films, including one called "Rescue," covering the story of 12 boys who got stuck in a cave in Thailand and were rescued by an amazing team of people, including navy seals. 

-December 2, 3,4 

*Thursday, December 2
-39 North Pole: 4-9pm

*Friday, December 3
-Tree Lighting Ceremony 6:30pm-7pm
-39 North Pole Village 4pm-9pm

*Saturday, December 4
-39 North Pole Village 11am-9pm
-Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade 1pm-2:30pm

39 North Pole Village is so fun and loaded with lots of holiday spirit.  

They have a heated tent with many local vendors offering so much for holiday shopping and there's always entertainment (last year, an amazing guitarist) and food (raclette sandwiches).  They have so many photo opportunities, including pictures with Santa and a display inspired by A Christmas Story.  

Last year they also had a face painter in their tent.  

Please check the weather so you can dress appropriately.  It can get really cold at this time of the year.

-December 3
Silver & Snowflakes Festival of Lights
*5:30pm Tree Lighting
*4:15pm Free E-Carriage Rides (get there early to avoid long lines and grab a good spot to view adorable kid carolers)
*Facebook page for the latest updates

I love walking around this event while listening to all of the action of the holidays.   Here you'll find a cheerful chorus of adorable kids singing Christmas carols, festive lighting, carriage rides full of smiling faces, and many local businesses to walk to and check out.  The holiday spirit is strong at this event. 

If you're looking for treats and food for the family, Scoups is the place to go across the street from the event).  Ice cream, sandwiches, soups, kid's plates available. 

-December 3, 4, 5 


December 3 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

December 4 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

December 4 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

December 5 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

*Tickets (start at $20)

Gather the family for a true holiday tradition. The Reno Phil, Reno Phil Chorus and conductor Jason Altieri invite you to the Spirit of the Season, a classic holiday celebration full of orchestral arrangements, jazzy numbers, traditional holiday tunes and carols. Choose from four showtimes wrapped in fantasy and fun for the whole family! (description from website)

-December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, & 12
Irving Berlin's White Christmas @ The Truckee Community Theater. Truckee. 

General Admission 
Adults $20 / Students, Military, Seniors $15
Rated G

Veteran soldiers, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, the two follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters en route to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil's former army commander. With a dazzling score featuring well-known standards including “Blue Skies,” “I Love A Piano,” “How Deep Is the Ocean” and the perennial title song, White Christmas is an uplifting musical worthy of year-round productions (description from website).

-December 3, 10, & 17
Noel Nights @ Northstar Ice Skating Rink
*Music, photos with Santa, face paint, & balloon animals

Northstar is a ski resort (about 1 hr from South Reno 80 west) that has a fun plaza with a skating rink in the center and is lined with shops and restaurants.  Pre-pandemic, they always threw fun events with free and delicious bites and fun activities.  Looks like they're coming back slowly.   

In the summer, they set up mini golf courses throughout their resort and they also have their own theater.   

They used to have a fun tubing activity in their plaza pre-pandemic.  I'm hoping they'll bring it back one day, so keep checking up on that.  

-December 4, 1pm-4pm
*Location:  12 B Street Virginia City, NV 89440

Crafts include decorating Christmas tree cookies, letters to Santa, homemade ornaments, and paper bag reindeers.

Santa will be appearing early during the event! He will be seated on Piper's original stage, so make sure to bring your camera for a great photo opportunity!

Holly Jolly Elf will be doing a book reading of her new book "Believe in YoursElf" at 3pm with a book signing to follow (description from website)

Tickets are $10 per child. Adults are free.

-December 4, 11, & 18
Breakfast with Santa @ Fire & Ice Restaurant in Heavenly Village, South Lake Tahoe
*Facebook page for the latest updates
*Parking Information (see map below on directions to their on site parking garage)

Dine, chat, & take pictures with Mr. & Mrs. Claus at one of my favorite interactive restaurants, Fire & Ice, located in a fun and cozy shopping center.  Also included: build a polar bear kit with stuffing and adventure activity book with crayons. 

Lunch Buffet at Fire & Ice
If you haven't been to Fire & Ice Restaurant at Heavenly Village, they have a fun & interactive lunch buffet where the customer picks all of the ingredients and brings their concoction(s) to the grill for a chef to cook up.  

If you're lucky, you'll run into the cook that puts on a show with plates being tossed into the air and bowls being flung into bins.

Flat rate currently $18 per person (as of 12/2021)

About Heavenly Village
If you haven't been to Heavenly Village, it's one of the most popular ski resorts in Lake Tahoe.  It's loaded with so many shops, entertainment, and restaurants and is popular to visit year-round.  

Ride their scenic gondola ride to the top where you can dine at their lodge or grab some skates and get into the holiday spirit at their rink located in the center of all the action.

I stayed at the hotel on their property, Grand Residence, and it was a treat to be able to be immersed in the middle of so much to do.  

There were so many dining options and so much to see. 

When it came time for entertainment, the theater, gondola ride, live music, and short walk to the beach made for the perfect activities. 

Although the village can be a bit more on the pricey end overall, me and my family still love visiting because of the cozy atmosphere, cool shops, priceless views, and many events offered here throughout the year.   

What You'll Find at Heavenly Village
-Ice skating rink in the winter click link for rates
-Mini golf course in the summer
-Shops and Boutiques including: Village Toy Shop, Patagonia, and Sock City
-Heavenly Village Cinemas
-Live Entertainment (frequently at Base Camp Pizza)
-Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop
-Restaurants including: Base Camp Pizza, Fire & Ice, and Driftwood Cafe
-Across the street is another plaza, including Raley's, Starbucks, Jamba Juice & more 
-vacation vibes
-13 minute walk to Lakeside Beach (playground and restaurant on site)

Turn left at Bellamy Ct. to get to South Lake Tahoe Public Parking Garage or park across the street for a flat rate.

-December 4: 10am-2pm & December 5: 1pm-4pm
Holiday Art Studio Tour with amazing local artist Nanette Oleson
*She'll be serving cider and spiced eggnog
*over 50 unique works of art to choose from for purchase
*15% off larger paintings until December 10, 2021

Please check out her work on her website.  It's so AMAZING and jaw-dropping.  The best thing is that a lot of her work is inspired by the beauty surrounding Reno.  Having her pieces up would be like having pieces of home on our walls. I feel so special to have her talent in our city and can't wait to meet her. 

Taken from Nanette Oleson's website

-December 4 & 11
Pictures with Mr. & Mrs. Santa and crafts for kids @ Christmas tree lot in front of Macy's Furniture and next door to Qdoba next to Whole Foods

-December 4, 9am-5pm & December 5, 10am-3pm
Magic of Santa Craft Faire @ Reno-Sparks Convention, Reno.

-December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19
-Three consecutive weekends. 10am-3pm, every 30 minutes

The Santa Train is shorter than the Candy Cane Express Train in Virginia City, but nevertheless fun.  They have a railroad museum that I love looking around in with my kids. 

-December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19. 
First three weekends in December. 11am-3pm 
Meet Santa @ Reno Sparks Scheels
*Pictures with Santa 
*Free ferris rides will be given out. 

If you haven't been to Scheels, it's always a fun trip.  Window shopping, ferris wheel rides, a restaurant, a rad aquarium, and so many things to buy and see.  

Everyone is always so nice at their events and most of them are free.  

-December 7
Pictures with Mr. & Mrs. Claus @ Northpointe Bank
*6502 S McCarran Blvd, Reno, NV 89509-6112, United States

-December 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, & 15
Santa's Christmas Wonderland @ Eldorado Showroom, El Dorado Casino

Santa's Christmas Wonderland will be in the Eldorado Showroom from November 23 to December 26. This is a delightful and enchanting show that's complete with glittering costumes, a dazzling cast, your favorite Christmas songs, and the highest kicking Chorus Girls this side of the North Pole. (Description from website)

-December 9, 6-8pm
Cookies with Santa @ GSR, Reno.

GSR is the most family-friendly casino in town, with a smoke-free section perfect for families. Park next to the golf course/swimming pool  to get to this area, the same area where the Cookies with Santa event will be held.  

In the family-friendly section you'll find:
-Yogurt Beach
-Johnny Rockets
-Round Table
-Virtual Reality Games
-Break through Escape Room  

-December 9-12, 5pm-8pm

$5/vehical for Nevada residents, $10/vehical non- Nevada residents
cash, cards, checks accepted
*Facebook for the latest updates
*Visit the Chocolate Nugget Factory (closes 6:30pm everyday) right next to Washoe Lake and pick up some goodies before your holiday drive through. 
*If you're looking for something to do nearby before the event starts, visit Bower's Mansion (no dogs allowed) for a scenic stroll or Davis Creek Regional Park for a short hike around a lake. 
*Listen to your favorite holiday songs as you drive along and enjoy a festive display of lights at the Washoe Lake Campground.  Don't forget to bring holiday treats and drinks to complete the experience.

-December 10, 11, 12

-December 11 
Santa's Pizza Shop@ Noble Pie in Summit Mall, Reno

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry as Mr. & Mrs. Claus teaches your little elves how to make their own pizzas with their favorite toppings. Tickets include (1) Personal Pizza + Beverage for (1) Child + (1) Adult. Additional tickets may be purchased at a discount for a 2nd Parent or Adult Chaperone. Complimentary Milk & Cookies will be included to enjoy with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Noble Pie Parlor ownership and staff will be on site for these private events as we ring in the holiday season with our pizza workshops.

We have different tiered pricing and levels of privacy available for those wanting to work in family/friends groups or looking to mingle with others!

We will also have some holiday specials for our Mommies, Daddies, and Chaperones who are looking to take the edge off the holiday stress ;)

  • $2 Off All Drafts
  • $10 Crystal Basin Bubbles or Mimosas
  • $10 About Town Debb Red Blend
  • $10 "The Apple Of My Pie" - Salted Caramel, Apple Pie Sangria
  • $36 Gift Bags featuring About Town Debb, Crystal Basin, and Dorinda's Chocolates!

Full Menu available for lunches for our Parent Chaperones to enjoy during the event or for food to take home to the rest of the family (description taken from website)!

Picture from website

-Reno Santa Pub Crawl
December 11, 2021 @ All around Downtown Reno 

-December 11, 11am-2pm
Reading with Mrs. Claus @ Scheels, Sparks.
*Kids will be sent home with a new age-appropriate book (while supplies last)

-December 11 
Festive AF! Potty Mouth Pottery Night @ Color Me Mine in South Reno, Summit Mall

This is an ADULT ONLY (21+) event where you can paint whatever the $#%& you want. Maybe a mug that will tell the world how you really feel? Do you have a friend who could use a real fu@*%$g life inspirational message on it? Our Potty Mouth Pottery Night is the night to get your paint on and tell us what is really on your mind.

We have potty mouth templates to help you out, or paint your own ducking design!

$10 reserves your spot and covers your studio fee for the night along with some snacks, and a ticket for a chance to win one of our prizes. Ceramic piece will be paid for the night of the event.

(Description from website)

-December 12
Holiday Sip & Shop @ The Village at Rancharrah in Reno
*Wine Tastings ($35) (tickets)
*Live Music
*Food & Drink Specials
*Instagram for the latest updates
For those who haven't visited The Village at Rancharrah, it's our most beautiful shopping center in Reno, with farmhouse style buildings and charming boutique stores.  

The Village is home to the best bakery, Perenn (everything I've tried here is sooo good and I've tried almost everything) and one of my favorite ice cream joints, Rolled Mountain Creamery

Bring the family along and play Harry Potter style chess, sit in a silly chair, play Bocce ball, and/or enjoy the scenery while sitting next to a fireplace. 

Head toward the spa and cross the fun bridge to the grass and marvel at the views of the creek and Village at night when lit with holiday spirit.  

-December 15
Cowboy Christmas Sing-A-Long @Moutain Music Parlor

This Wednesday! An enjoyable ride down the musical trail of the Cowboy with Tex Weir, one of the last remaining Singing Cowboys! 🎶✨🎶✨ Great for the whole family and you’re invited to play along. Bring your acoustic instruments, voices and friends! (Description from Instagram)

-December 18-19 
Filmstream Festival @ Heavenly Village
*Website (With trailers and descriptions of films)
*Heavenly Village Facebook Page for the latest updates
*3 Hour validated parking with purchase of cinema ticket (don't forget to ask)

An amazing local organization that connects filmmakers to film lovers.  They have a sweet lineup of films to show.  Please check out their site for trailers and descriptions. 

Watch these films at one of my favorite places in South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Village, that has so much shopping, entertainment, bars, lodging, restaurants, and more. 

-December 18 through January 1. Daily.
Holiday Dreams: A Spectacular Holiday Cirque @ GSR Theater. Reno.
* Multiple shows 3pm (Matinee) & 7pm

This is a circus-style, Christmas-themed show, with Christmas costumes and a story to tie everything together.  

Me and my family saw the original version of the show and had lots of fun.  

There were acrobats, couples dancing and swinging from the ceiling, scooters, clowns, and so much more.  

Our 3, 5, and 7 year old had no problem sitting through the show because it was so entertaining. 

Intermission midway and bar open for adult drinks. Eat at one of the many restaurants available on the same level or go down one level to the non-smoking section for more food options and entertainment (bowling, theater, VR).

Picture from GSR website

-December 18
*Event will be next to the bridge (facing the playground, walk towards the left and you'll run into it after about 10 minutes of walking).
*Live music, food, Santa Claus

-December 18
Elf Night at The Elf House4018 White Rock Ct, Reno, NV 89508-6013 in Cold Springs
*Beautifully decorated house giving out cookies and milk.  
*Meet Santa, The Grinch, and some elves.
*Toy drive
*Tour of lights 

-December 25 
Santa Party @ The Polo Lounge

-December 27
Village Ice Sculpture Contest @ Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe
*Facebook page for the latest updates

-December 27, 28, 29, 30, 31

-December 27-31
Ferris Wheel @ Heavenly Village.  Base of Gondola ride. South Lake Tahoe
*Have a fun experience with priceless views.  Lakes in the day and lights at night.
*Must pay for parking if parking in Heavenly's garage and the parking lot across the street (cash only) next to Raley's.  See "P" on map below.   

-December 30 & 31
Heavenly Holidays with live music and fireworks @ Heavenly village, South Lake Tahoe
*Fireworks start 9pm on Friday

*Champagne New Year's Toast @ The Polo Lounge
-Doors open at 9pm

All Throughout December
-Friday & Saturday 5pm-9pm
-Sunday 5pm-8pm

The Sierra Nevada Zoological Park has come a long way with new ownership by someone that's passionate about connecting with the animals and community.

Their holiday events are always fun, with holiday decorations, a petting zoo, and games tailored for children.  

All Throughout December 
*A comprehensive list of events and happenings held throughout December, including concerts, crafts, saloon crawl, Holiday shopping, parade of lights, fireworks, V&T Railway Festive Trains, and A Comstock Christmas Carol Play

Christmas Lights and Displays
Reno goes all out with Christmas decorations.  Here's a comprehensive list of where to see the best in town. 

Don't forget to dress warm (sometimes you may find yourself wanting to get out of your vehicle to get closer to the holiday action) and don't forget to bring your favorite warm drinks and snacks for the full experience. 

Tune into a Christmas radio station for further enjoyment. 

My Favorite house in Hidden Valley 7115 Pebble Beach Drive

*I love Hidden Valley's Parade of Lights.  This neighborhood throws an annual competition, which results in some of the best decorated houses in town.  Check out their archive to see lists of winners from past competitions.

Please drive slowly and watch out for children.  This is a popular attraction and their roads can easily get congested. 

2019 Winners
  • 1st place          7155 Pebble Beach Dr (My favorite house)
  • 2nd place        113 Mia Vista Ct.
  • 3rd place          3735 Jagged Rock Road
  • 4th place          2960 Man of War Drive
  • 5th place          5665 E. Hidden Valley Dr.
  • 6th place          6012 Clear Creek Drive
  • 7th place          5690 Still Meadows Dr.
  • 8th place          6017 Clear Creek Dr.
  • 9th place          2308 Tamarisk Dr.
  • 10th place        3425 Shawnee Cir.

*The Lights of Tanea is especially fun since it's one of the only houses in Reno that has its lights synchronized to music on the radio.  It's been on break for the past few years and has recently come back.  Though on a smaller scale, it's still very entertaining and magical for many (especially kids).

Ice Skating

Skiing and Snowboarding 

Mt. Rose
Heavenly South Lake Tahoe
Diamond Peak
Tahoe Donner
Sugar Bowl 

More Winter Activities

*Scenic Gondola Ride @ Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe
*Scenic Aerial Tram Ride @ Palisades in Olympic Valley

*Snow Tubing @ Adventure Mountain 
*Tentative opening date December 17, but may be pushed back a day or two due to a forcasted snow storm. Updated 12.12.2021

*Snow Tubing @ Tube Tahoe  (Opening date: December 18: 9am-4pm)(sign liability waiver online)

*Cut your own Christmas Tree with a permit.  If you want to go to designated sustainable tree farms, the ones at Apple Hill are amazing. 
*Moana Nursery is selling trees
*Stone House Nursery has trees for sale in the lot in front of Macy's Furniture. Same shopping center as Whole Foods
*Sparks Family Christmas Trees- Recommended by Andelin Farm, one of Reno's beloved farms. 
"Our friends started a Christmas tree lot at their u-haul business on Rock Blvd near Glendale. Beautiful fresh cut trees that they picked up in Oregon from a sustainable grower. If you are looking for a beautiful fresh cut tree stop by and find your perfect Christmas tree!" - Andelin Farm
*If you're missing some fall action, BOA Vista Orchard in Apple Hill (2 hrs. from Reno) is open year-round and offers apple good and pantry items yearly. Don't forget a cooler to bring back frozen pies and fresh pressed  apple cider.  I've started a guide on Apple Hill.  If someone is looking to plan a trip for next fall and would like more insight and details, you can visit my guide on Apple Hill here

*Photo Session 
January-April are the months photographers consider off peak times for work.  

If you've been meaning to catch up with a photo session, this time might be ideal to book and not have to fight the crowds.  

Kate Stapleton is an amazing local friend photographer that will capture more than just photos, but also personality, beauty, memories, and class.  She specializes in wedding photography and shoots passionately with a goal of making clients happy.    

You can also purchase a package from her to give as a gift.

*Elf Yourself
Upload pictures of you and your family into this amazing app and watch yours"elves" transform into hip dancing elves.  

I cannot recommend this activity enough.  It's become a tradition for me and my family.  I remember crying from cracking up the first time me and my family did it. 

Local Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts

An online service that provides a platform for people to shop local online and conveniently offers same day deliveries straight to your door.  

This amazing startup company was inspired by the need to help local business owners during a pandemic that stripped them of everything.  

-Follow them on Instagram for the latest updates

Musical instruments, lessons, and plenty of cool stocking stuffer-worthy items.  

I recently bought a clown whistle, mini ocarina, and penny whistles for myself and even a kalimba for myself.  

Renee, the owner is so nice and you'll feel like you're in Frontierland at Disneyland with the western decor and folk music playing in the background. 

A really fun place to shop at Mountain Music Parlor

-Follow their Facebook for the latest updates
Their store is loaded with so many unique toys and gadgets, both educational and fun.  Purchasing from our beloved museum helps support efforts in keeping it open for generations to come.  

If you haven't already been to the museum, it's an amazing place for people of all ages to learn and grow.  Check out their website and keep up to date with the latest events, camps, and workshops.  

During the winter (and all throughout the year), they set up so many kinds of holiday-themed crafts that's included in admission. 

One of my favorite places to get unique gifts from around the world.  Instruments, music, bags, clothes, books, figurines, and other rad items for sale.  You can access the gift shop without purchasing admission to their museum.  

The Wilbur D. May Museum has so many amazing artifacts to look at from around the world and there are usually traveling exhibits throughout the year that are always fun and educational.  

*Last year, they had a fun "12 days of Christmas" discounts event where they gave out different discounts each day for 12 days straight for certain items.

-Jewelry, antiques, accessories, table settings, holiday decorations, furniture, plates, drinkware, kid's decor, home accessories, realistic artificial flower arrangements, and so much more.
-Friendly service 

The freckled frog is a local shop located in Summit Mall in South Reno.  

It's without a doubt, the most whimsical shop I've seen in Reno to date.  

They change up their scene with every holiday and have everything needed to make your house magical. 

Picture from website

Amazing dishes

Location (Midtown)

739 South Center St.

Reno NV,  89501


This photo lab in midtown is amazing. I had ten photos printed out for an exhibit and was impressed with how beautiful my prints were.  If you're looking to print some photos out for some DIY gifts, this is definitely the place to get them.

The owner, David & his son helped squeeze in my prints the same day I asked for them despite them being busy, just like all of the other local photo labs that couldn't accommodate me. 

David heard the desperation in my voice and even offered to sell ten frames to me that he handpicked himself througout the years.

If you're a photographer, you'll probably recognize the red stripe on Canon lens (or better known as the "L Series"), which implies a higher quality of glass.  David has the equivalent of, but in printer format.  Yes, he has a red stripe on his printer. Yes, mind-blowing. 

 If you're looking to print out photos for albums or to hang on walls, this is definitely the place to go.  They have top notch quality inks that will last for a long time.

Friendly service and the best quality prints.  They restore photos and do large format prints. They don't crop photos like commercial print shops do like Walmart and Walgreens. 

*Fleischmann Planetarium @ The University of Nevada in Reno
Our planetarium has a cool space exhibit and an awesome store that has so many space- themed items for sale (toys, gadgets, clothing, stuffed animals, astronaut food), including lots of stocking-worthy stuffers. 

They show cool and educational documentaries in their dome on the daily.
(stadium garage parking in designated marked spaces)

-Winter hours (October-May)
-Every Saturday 9am-12pm
-Location: Mc Kinley Arts Center
-Facebook for the latest updates

Riverside Farmer's Market is the only year-round market in Reno and is filled with so many passionate and talented farmers and vendors that provide fresh food and unique items. 

Get your holiday shopping done and enjoy some tasty local food.  
Subject to change week to week.  List from website. 

-Home Means Nevada
*Clothes and accessories with Nevada logos

*Bumblebee Blooms Flower Boutique (downtown Reno) 
Online ordering and delivery available
-Flower arrangements, gift baskets, chocolates, seasonal decor, candles, personal care items, and other items from local vendors, balloons, wines, stuffed animals for every occasion. 
-135 N. Sierra St. Ste. A2
Reno Nevada, 89501
-(775) 348-2799

*National Automobile Museum
-My post about this museum

We are so lucky to have this museum in our town as it is one of the best.  It's filled with so much history, cool cars, and so much charm.  I don't consider myself a car person, but I'm absolutely in love with it.  

This museum has a sweet gift shop with out-of-print books, vintage toy cars, kid's toys, clothing for adults, dishes, and so much more. 

*Nevada Museum of Art
-Holiday sale December 2-5
-Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm,  Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm
-Facebook page for the latest updates
-Shop online
-To contact the shop directly @ (775) 398-7207
-Dining in the museum

We are so lucky to have the Nevada Museum of Art.  This multi-level museum (with access to the roof) is beautiful and their exhibits are amazing (some change from time to time). 

I remember buying my kid's first watch kit at their gift shop.  It included a cute watch and an instructional booklet nicely packaged in a box.  This is only one of many items you will find here. 

Other handmade items include: jewelry, clothing, bags, puzzles, books, stationery, and more one-of-a-kind items. 

Buy Nevada First @ The Reno Town Mall
-A shop 20,000 square feet supporting over 250+ local mechants. 

This nice owner was so kind to teach my kids about air plants.  She hunts down unique pieces to grow them in.  Air plants are low maintenance and look beautiful.  I'm so glad that the one we got from her last year is alive and thriving. 

I remember the days when Buy First Nevada was in a much smaller location.  It's grown so much and is filled with so many treasures.  I can honestly spend a whole day here looking at all of the items (both edible and non-edible) produced by many of our talented locals.  If you're lucky, you can even run into some of them and ask them about their story. 

I am happy to learn that they just opened a locally owned grocery store next door, Sierra Foods.  I can't wait to check it out.  

Local Toy Shops
Learning Toys Express has a wide selection of fun and educational toys and is dedicated to serving the community, helping customers find the perfect gift for any occasion. Gift wrapping is included for those short on time and online ordering is available. 
-gift cards
-They have plenty of hands-on toys and activities that stimulate growth and foster creativity.
-Toy Shop in the same shopping center as walmart in Reno 

This toy shop is run by an incredibly helpful owner, who is also eager to help customers find the right gift for any occasion. 
-Toys geared toward fostering creativity and learning.
-gift wrapping available upon request with purchase
-shop located next to Franz Bakery, Yogurt Beach, and Eclipse Pizza  

Clutter-Free Gifts

There's so much Reno has to offer and tangible gifts aren't the only option.  For those looking for more experience type gifts, I came across this rad list of alternatives.  Below I will link up to local spots where you can get some of these types of gifts.

If you ask around on Nextdoor and Facebook Groups, I'm sure you can find someone with specific recommendations on where to find  anything from the above list locally. 

*Buy a gift card from a comprehensive list of amazing local restaurants 

Some of my personal recommendations that come to mind:

*The Chocolate Shoppe (online ordering available) Gardnerville (45 mins. from South Reno)
-Bordeoux, roka, turtles, truffles, gift baskets, toffee, caramels, printed cookies, holiday- themed treats, chocolate-dipped rice krispies, marshmallows, peppermint barks, ice cream sauces, peanut butter cups, old fashioned peanut brittle, sugar-free, alcohol truffles, and custom orders.
-Made from scratch in house

-Next to Washoe Lake, 15 minutes from South Reno.  They also have a stand at Meadowood Mall and a second location near Virginia City/Carson City.
-Offers brittles, a wide assortment of chocolates, fudge, taffy and hard candy, sugar-free, gift boxes, and so much more.  
-Follow them on Instagram for behind-the-scenes concoctions and updates.  They pride themselves on making quality chocolates made with the freshest ingredients.

*Bouchee Confections (online ordering available)
-fine quality chocolates and desserts
-Natalie's chocolates are works of art and the best thing is that they're also delicious. 

*Tandem Chocolates (online ordering available)
-fine quality chocolates
-new shop

*Pangolin Cafe (Online ordering and pickup)
-Turkish delights and toffee tins perfect for special occasions
-high quality bags of coffees and loose leaf teas

-fine bags of coffees & teas and merchandise

This is hands down my favorite pasta spot in Reno.  They hand make their noodles daily and use organic ingredients.  

Not only is their food simply delicious, this local business is run by passionate people, including Paolo, Alex, and their hardworking and kind team.  

Follow them on Facebook for updates on their latest concoctions. 

You can find them at the Riverside farmer's market at the McKinley Arts Center every Saturday 9am-12pm, or visit them at their restaurant @ The Shops at Bartley Ranch.

Fausta is the owner of this business and throughout the years I've been buying from her from all of our farmer's markets, she's been the sweetest and most giving lady.  

She is one of the most talented bakers/cooks and can cook up storms of any and everything.  Place an order to give as gifts (like her delicious cookies) or go big and get her to cater a special event.  

She knows her spices and can cook African style food (she's from Ghana in Africa).  

She also caters to different dietary needs (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free). 

You can find Fausta at the Riverside farmer's market at the McKinley Arts Center every Saturday 9am-12pm through May for the winter.

*Music lessons at our very own local music shop, Mountain Music Parlor 
-Guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, accordion, harmonica, bluegrass harmony, celtic flute & bodhran, folk harp, voice, folk dance, ukulele, songwriting, mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, & more. 

I met the owner, Renee, of Mountain Music Parlor, who I learned poured her heart and soul into the creation of a place that would later become a pillar of the community used for gathering, learning, and sharing in the joy of everything to do with music.

I was so moved by the story of how the whole community came together many years ago to throw numerous fundraisers to raise money to fuel Rene's dream of giving the gift of music to the community.  

She would use funds to build suitable rooms for music, a stage for performers to express their creativity, hire staff, and help make the place feel welcoming.  

Up until the pandemic, Mountain Music Parlor was doing great.  Sadly, it lost 90% of its students and 50% of its teachers.  As Rene told me this, I could see and hear the pain being expressed.  

I am determined to help Rene and will make every effort to help keep this precious gem open.  If you're interested in joining me on this mission, please read on to find out how you can help. 

How to Support & Help Keep our Amazing Local Music Shop Open:
*Purchase a lesson for yourself or as a gift for someone else
*Purchase an item from the store (instruments, gadgets, song books, and other fun things)
*Spread the word about the shop
*If you're a passionate music teacher, consider working for this shop.  They're currently looking for teachers
*Organize a jam session to have in their amazing back room (pay a minimal fee)
*Pass by to say hi.  A friendly face is always refreshing.
*If you're a creative person that loves planning events, you can brainstorm some ideas of how to get the business back on its feet.
*Talk to like-minded parents and gather a group of adults or kids for lessons

Mountain Parlor Music

*Learn how to make pizza at my favorite local pizza joint, South Creek Pizza
*Bread making class @ Perenn Bakery (Gift Cards) (Website)
*Axe Throwing Lessons @ Reno Axe
*Music Lessons @ Jampro (My kids are currently enrolled and love it here)

Jampro in South Reno

*Sewing lessons at Sierra Sewing, Quilting & Vacuums
*Sewing lessons at A-1 Vacuums & Sewing
*Canvas Painting Classes @ The Crafted Palette. Downtown Reno. (gift cards)

*Tickets to Broadway Plays @ The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts
*Tickets/Gift Cards to Movies @ Century Summit Theater in South Reno
*Tickets/Gift Cards to Movies @ Century Riverside 12
*Treetop Adventure in Lake Tahoe (gift card option available on website)
*Escape Rooms

Ceramic Painting  
*The Playful Potter in Sparks
*Color Me Mine in South Reno
*The Clay Canvas in Reno


*Moana Nursery (Gift cards South Virginia location) (Custom floral and plant arrangements with delivery)

*Our Local Basket meal kits are sourced from local farms

Local Bookstores

Categorized Under "Seasonal/Holidays"---->"Yearly Seasonal Guides"