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Things to Do in December: Attractions in Las Vegas

Things to Do in December: Attractions in Las Vegas

In December, Las Vegas offers plenty of seasonal cheer. With the holidays approaching, it’s the time to enjoy all of the city’s elaborate holiday display, especially on the Strip. Las Vegas loves anything bright and sparkly, and in December the city gets in the spirit with plenty of larger-than-life decorations.

The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens turns itself into a winter wonderland for the holiday season. A team of dedicated horticulturists and design staff create amazing scenes, with plants and flowers turned into amazing creations like polar bears.

For those who are shopping in December, Las Vegas has a wealth of stores. The Grand Canal Shoppes is filled not only with shops, but also features wandering entertainers, gondola rides and many wonderful restaurants.

December in Las Vegas also ushers in pleasantly mild temperatures, and in the desert that means generally sunny skies as well. With daily highs averaging in the 50s and 60s °F, it’s a great time to do things outdoors, like taking a drive through Red Rock Canyon.

If you’re in the mood for more wintry (and colder) weather, Mt. Charleston is only a short drive from the Strip. Two lodges and a ski resort provide everything you need to play in the snow, or just look at it from beside a roaring fire.

Scroll down to check out all our recommendations on what to do in Las Vegas in December.

The LINQ Promenade

One of Las Vegas’ coolest new places to shop and hang out, The Linq features more than 30 unique retail, dining, nightlife and entertainment venues as well as the world’s tallest observation wheel, the High Roller. The Linq Promenade is home to a small selection of boutique-style stores, restaurants and entertainment. When it’s time to refuel, you’ll find plenty of restaurants along the Promenade, like Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips and Virgil’s’ Real Barbecue. If you feel like bowling and listening to music, head over to the Brooklyn Bowl. During any holiday, the Linq Promenade embraces the spirit of the season with plenty of decorations and events.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: During December, the Linq Promenade gets in the spirit of the season with loads of holiday decorations and entertainment.

Terrisa’s expert tip: One of the best features of The Linq Promenade is an abundance of restaurants in every style, from casual burger places to sit-down restaurants with bars.

Read more about The LINQ Promenade →

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

The National Finals Rodeo is the rodeo world’s biggest event, and each year it comes to Las Vegas in early December. The city fills with fans decked out in cowboy boots and hats. For over a week, rodeo’s star athletes – both human and four-legged – test their skills each evening. Held at the Thomas and Mack Center at UNLV, the NFR is the place to see the absolute best compete in standard rodeo events: bareback riding, roping, barrel racing and everyone’s favorite event, bull riding. Tickets can be hard to come by, so if you’d like to attend, check into tickets as early as possible.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The National Finals Rodeo is the rodeo world’s biggest event and features over a week of competition.

Terrisa’s expert tip: The NFR’s Cowboy Christmas features some of the best-known Western wear and rodeo brands. The event is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the days the rodeo is in town.

Read more about Wrangler National Finals Rodeo →

Nevada State Railroad Museum Boulder City

Nevada has a history rich with the stories of trains, and the Nevada State Railroad Museum is dedicated to preserving that heritage. In Southern Nevada, the Railroad Museum is just outside of Boulder City. Visitors can explore the grounds and the static displays, but the real fun is taking a ride on one of the historic trains. Trains run on the weekends from 10 a.m. every hour and a half until the last train leaves at 2:30 p.m. The ride lasts 40 minutes and riders can sit in the climate-controlled Pullman coaches or in open air seating. During the holidays, Santa and the elves are also passengers. A stop at the Railroad Museum in Boulder City is a great addition to trip out to see Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, or to explore the historic district in downtown Boulder City.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Visitors can rid the historic trains at the Nevada State Railroad Museum and in December the weekend trips include Santa.

Terrisa’s expert tip: From Thanksgiving through the end of December, the Railroad Museum hosts Pajama Trains with Santa and his elves on Friday and Saturday nights at 6 and 8 p.m. Tickets are available online.

Read more about Nevada State Railroad Museum Boulder City →

Las Vegas Great Santa Run

Every year, thousands of participants dress up like Santa and run or walk through Downtown Las Vegas to raise money for a local charity, Opportunity Village. The Las Vegas Great Santa Run says it’s the largest gathering of Santas in the world, which is easy to believe since the race features thousands of Santas every year – it’s an event that attracts wide-spread attention even outside of Las Vegas. Participants can run (or walk) in the 5K or one mile. Every year in early December, the race kicks off in Downtown Las Vegas with entertainment beginning at 8 a.m. and the races start at 10 and 10:30 a.m. Registration includes a five-piece Santa suit and is $45 for adults on the day of the race. Participants can register online ahead of race day for discounted pricing.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Run or walk in Las Vegas’ Great Santa Run to benefit a local charity and get a Santa suit.

Terrisa’s expert tip: The after party for the Great Santa Run is from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and takes place at the corner of Ogden Street and 9th Street.

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The Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Las Vegas may be in the desert, but that hasn’t stopped the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas from putting in an ice skating rink from late November through early January. You’ll find fire pits, plenty of places to sit, a menu of seasonal food, s’mores, and hot chocolate. The Cosmopolitan promises skaters snow showers throughout the evening to complete this wintery holiday atmosphere, which also comes with a great view of the Las Vegas Strip. The cost for ice skating admission is $10-$20 and includes all-day skating access and skate rentals. Entry into the area is free. Children under 18 must have an adult with them.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Ice Rink at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is the place for ice skating, snow showers and a great view of the Strip.

Terrisa’s expert tip: In 2019, The Ice Rink will host Date Skate on Mondays and Tuesdays from November 25 – December 30. Films include classics like “Jack Frost” and “Elf.”

Read more about The Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas →

Springs Preserve

Photo courtesy of Springs Preserve

Located just three miles from the famed Las Vegas Strip, the Springs Preserve is an award-winning 180-acre family destination dedicated to exploring green-living, desert life and Las Vegas’ vibrant history through botanical gardens, interactive science and nature exhibits, animal shows and trails. Comprising 110 acres of display gardens, natural gardens, wildlife habitat, walking and biking trails and educational resources, the Springs Preserve’s Botanical Gardens feature more than 1,200 species of native and desert-adapted plants housed in several themed areas. Indoor experiences include exhibition galleries dedicated to showcasing art and traveling exhibitions of local and national significance, learning centers and the Nevada State Museum.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Springs Preserve is a family-friendly destination with trails and museums, plus fun holiday activities for kids.

Terrisa’s expert tip: Every weekend in December, the Springs Preserve offers the Holiday Express train ride to Santa’s village, where children can visit Santa, listen to stories and enjoy snow. Reservations are required for the train and tickets can be purchased on the Preserve’s website after early November.

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Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Part of the Mojave Desert, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located just past the western edge of Las Vegas, about 17 miles from downtown Las Vegas. The area is home to spectacular scenery, mostly notably the colorful rocks and dramatic cliffs that give a backdrop to the 13-mile one-way scenic drive known as “The Loop.” Numerous hiking trails and scenic overlooks are located along The Loop, so even visitors who don’t want to hike can easily enjoy the area’s scenery. Stop at the visitor center to get a full history of the area, from its geologic origins to the animals that live there. Picnic areas are located at the visitor center and at Willow Springs, and outside the scenic drive at the Red Rock Overlook and in Calico Basin at Red Springs.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Fall and winter are both great times to visit Red Rock Canyon, which enjoys generally moderate temperatures during those seasons.

Terrisa’s expert tip: In Las Vegas, winter is one of the best times to go explore Red Rock since temperatures are usually pleasant (around 60F), but be sure to start your day early. By 5 p.m. in winter, night has fallen.

Read more about Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area →

Mount Charleston

The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area is part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Better known to locals as Mount Charleston, it is located just 30 minutes from downtown Las Vegas and encompasses more than 316,000 acres of remarkable beauty and surprising diversity. During the winter months, skiing is a top draw; when the weather warms in the valley, hiking trails here become incredibly popular. Other activities include horseback riding, mountain biking and rock climbing, camping and picnicking. You might encounter all kinds of wildlife, but some of the most sighted animals are mountain blue birds, deer and wild horses. The area is home to more than 50 sensitive plants and animals, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. Two lodges with restaurants and rooms are in Kyle Canyon, and a ski resort and snow play areas are in Lee Canyon.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Mt. Charleston area is the closest place to Las Vegas to enjoy snow, skiing and truly wintry weather.

Terrisa’s expert tip: Although Mt. Charleston is home to hotels, residences and even a ski resort, you won’t find a gas station or any type of grocery/convenience store on the mountain. Be sure to fill up your tank before you go.

Read more about Mount Charleston →

Grand Canal Shoppes

Cobblestone walkways, an illuminated painted ceiling, and a quarter-mile-long Grand Canal combine to make a beautiful backdrop to shopping at Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian | The Palazzo. The picturesque retail center features more than 160 signature stores with dozens of the world’s premier luxury brands, including Diane von Furstenberg, Tory Burch, Burberry, Dooney & Bourke, Guerlain, Harley Davidson, White House Black Market and Michael Kors. It’s also home to more than a dozen restaurants, many led by award-winning chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse. Wandering street performers entertain the crowds and you can even get ride on a gondola through the Grand Canal, complete with singing gondolier. The Palazzo Atrium area at the Grand Canal Shoppes is also a worthwhile stop to see the holiday decorations and Instagram-worthy waterfall. The atrium is near the Palazzo-side entrance to the shops.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Grand Canal Shoppes treat visitors to loads of winter and holiday decorations and entertainment.

Terrisa’s expert tip: Despite the rise of paid parking at many Strip hotels and attractions, parking at Grand Canal Shoppes is free, as it is throughout the entire Venetian | Palazzo complex.

Read more about Grand Canal Shoppes →

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International

Before the Bellagio, not many people in Las Vegas really knew what a conservatory was. Then everyone learned that “conservatory” is another way to say “fascinating indoor garden display,” and the Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens have been captivating visitors ever since. As the seasons and holidays change, the staff of the Conservatory swoops in and adds things like gigantic polar bears made out of carnations for Christmas, or lanterns and the year’s animal for the Chinese New Year. This area of the Bellagio, which is directly off of the front desk, is frequently choked with visitors snapping pictures from every angle, especially during the holiday season. It’s also one of the few areas of the Bellagio receptive to visiting children. Arrive early in the day to encounter the fewest people and get the best pictures. Open 24/7.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens creates a dazzling displays for every season and in December visitors can count on spectacular winter and holiday scenes.

Terrisa’s expert tip: The parking garage is conveniently located quite close to the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, giving guests easy access that doesn’t require walking through the casino.

Read more about Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens →

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