Where to Eat
-Adele’s Restaurant: Creative dishes and great ambiance
-The Basil: Flavorful Thai entrees presented with a flair
-High Sierra Brewing Company: Tasty deep-dish pizza, multiple micro-brewed beers
-Red’s Old 395 Grill: Great choice in BBQ ribs, hand-cut steaks
Where to Stay
-Holiday Inn Express: Quiet hotel on edge of downtown, breakfast included; pet friendly
-Hardman House: Ideal location for walking to casinos, restaurants, downtown attractions
-Carson Station: Has it all, casino, sports book, restaurant, entertainment lounge
-Bliss Bungalow: Restored 1914 home, private bath, refrigerator, 24-hour continental breakfast
Anyone looking for a weekend getaway or vacation locale that offers a variety of family activities and provides some unique historical places to explore should consider a trip to Carson City.
Typically overshadowed by Reno and the heralded Lake Tahoe region, the small-town charm of Carson City can quickly enamor first-time visitors. Situated in Nevada’s picturesque high desert (4,600 foot elevation), south of Reno off the Highway 395 corridor, and less than a half hour from South Lake Tahoe, Carson City is carving out its own niche as a very affordable vacation spot for both families and couples.
A lengthy list of activities awaits tourists this time of year in Carson City, which ranks among the smallest capitol cities in the United States. One “cool” option is whitewater kayaking or rafting down the Carson River with the high desert scenery providing a gorgeous backdrop. The city’s water trails are meant for novice, but experts can locate some challenging stretches as well.
If water is not your thing, there are many other recreational choices to consider, including: numerous hiking and biking trails; variety of fishing locations; horseback riding (with a moonlight option); and nine golf courses that accommodate all skill levels. In winter months, skiing is a mere 35 minutes away at Heavenly and Mount Rose ski resorts.
Add one more item to the activity list – gambling. There are 10 casinos to test your gaming skills. And like most small casino towns, Carson City offers plenty of deals on affordable lodging and food. It also features some very unique restaurants and various lodging options (see list below).
There’s a certain enchantment about Carson City thanks to its proud historical past. American author and humorist Mark Twain spent three years (1861-64) in Carson City and nearby Virginia City. Back then locals probably knew him as Samuel Clemens — he was among the many who were trying to gain riches through gold and silver mining.
There are plenty of stories circulating around town about Twain and also some quirky tales regarding Carson City’s famed ghosts. The stories have become so popular that evening walking tours are provided, ushering groups of people around the quaint city streets where some colorful tales are told of ghosts inhabiting homes, including the Governor’s Mansion.
Young or old, any visitor shouldn’t depart Carson City without taking in some of the interesting local historical spots. Below are a few options.
• Virginia & Truckee Railroad: Taking this vintage steam and diesel-powered train on the 16-mile mining route that starts at Carson City and concludes in historic Virginia City should be high on the priority list. Stories of the somewhat raucous silver era are revealed on the trek that passes through two tunnels, and features views of abandoned mine shafts, old cemeteries, and perhaps a
bald eagle or other wildlife sightings.
• Virginia City: At least a few hours should be spent in this eccentric town, one of the largest historically preserved districts in the U.S., where grimy prospectors became instant millionaires. Many people walk around in 1860s-period dress, one of the many eye-appealing facets while taking a stroll down the boarded sidewalks of its main street. For history buffs, there are 150-year-old churches, 19th century mansions, and various museums. Take the kids through the old Fourth Ward School and have them sit in an old school desk and learn how strict a classroom was run in this authentically preserved 1876 Victorian school building. And adults must visit at least a couple of the Old West saloons, where some tall tales are revealed through memorabilia.
• Nevada State Museum: Too much to see in one visit, but give it a shot. There’s a life-size Columbian Mammoth and a fascinating walk-through silver mine that feels eerily authentic. Also take a peek at the old Carson City Mint. Overall, there are 20 galleries and exhibits that reveal the “Silver State’s story.”