By guest blogger Marina Yoveva
Carson City, Nevada, is the capital city of Nevada and an often-overlooked alternative to the ever-busy Las Vegas. With a plethora of activities that include outdoor escapes, historical highlights, gaming opportunities, and fine dining, Carson City is a great choice when looking for a travel destination that is domestic. Only forty minutes to Reno and a half hour from Lake Tahoe, Carson City is perfect for day trips and local exploration. Recently I visited Carson City for the first time and had an incredible time experiencing all that this Western city has to offer. Here are the five things I wish I knew before visiting Carson City.
1) Get outside!
Carson City is situated in the perfect locale for outdoor excursions, close to the hills of the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin. With a high alpine, high desert ecosystem, Carson City offers the opportunity to hit up mountain biking, horseback riding, white water rafting, and hot air ballooning, to name just a few, all within a close proximity. Whether you prefer the fast pace of extreme adventure, or simply want to take a few pictures outside, there is something for every personality in Carson City. One of the most magical things I witnessed while in the Carson City area was viewing wild horses heading east on 50 towards Dayton. Other highlights I highly recommend are the hot springs in Carson City. Lastly, a hike at Ash to Kings Canyon Trail, a 7-mile trail that passes a 25-foot waterfall, is a perfect way to escape the city.
2) Try your luck, at least once
Although I’m not historically a gambler, when you’re in Nevada, it’s worth rolling the dice at least once. I see it as a cultural adventure, but whatever your impetus for gambling in Carson City, you’ll find your fill at one of Carson City’s 16+ casinos. I think the most iconic casino to visit is Carson City Nugget, a casino that has been in operation for more than 60 years. With 30,000 square feet of hotel and casino, as well as an onsite comedy club, Carson City Nugget will have you feeling like you stepped into the Wild West. Additional casinos to put on your list should include: Casino Fandango, Max Casino, and the Gold Dust West.
3) Hit up the museums
Carson City has a great wealth of choices when it comes to exploring museums. Perhaps the best place to start when orienting yourself in Carson City is at the Nevada State Museum, which gives an overview of the natural and cultural background of the state. As Nevada is one of the main places dinosaur bones have been located, check out the bones of prehistoric creatures dug from Nevada soil. Another great option for museums is the Nevada State Railroad Museum, a sure bet for train lovers. With a welcoming and knowledgeable staff, Nevada State Railroad Museum is perfect in any season. Last but not least is an important if off-the-beaten-path resource, the Stewart Indian School, once a boarding school for American Indian students with the goal of assimilation into white culture. Now a living museum, Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum serves as a museum as well as a community space for such events as the Father’s Day Powwow. With a walking trail that includes a Guide By Cell Audio Tour, you are sure to come away more enlightened about the Nevada people’s past.
4) Carson City is only a thirty minute drive from beautiful Lake Tahoe
Stunning and picturesque in every way, Lake Tahoe is worth the adventure from Carson City, Nevada. In fact, parts of Tahoe are still in Carson City limits. With deep blue colors, world-class hiking and downhill skiing, as well as an all-round laid-back vibe, Lake Tahoe is sure to woo any visitor. Set in the Sierra Nevada range, experience a slice of this Western gem’s active lifestyle in any season. Head from Carson City to South Lake Tahoe via US 50, for a day trip or overnight. The 72-mile round trip journey circumnavigating Lake Tahoe is also worth the drive and is marked as one of the most beautiful scenic routes in all of the US. Highlights along the route include iconic Emerald Bay, Vikingsholm (a replica of a Viking home well worth the visit), and the almost entirely public beachfront that can be accessed at multiple points along the way. If you desire a soundtrack to your journey, download the app, Around Tahoe, a self-guided tour that offers both a skiing or a driving tour. Do note, if you chose to travel to Tahoe in the winter months, Lake Tahoe is famous for heavy snows which can make the route much more treacherous.
5) Come for an event in Carson City, Nevada!
Though Carson City is delightful in every season, special events in the area help to make the city celebratory. Winter events include a trail running series on their stunning trails, theater performances, and a monthly downtown Wine Walk held the first Saturday of every month keeps the local businesses thriving and patrons a-buzz. Weekly evening hikes punctuate the healthy side of Carson City, and last about one-and-a-half hours. The Levitt Amp Concert Series runs for ten weeks in the summer months, providing free live music every Saturday night. Additionally, the last weekend in October is the Nevada Day Parade, the biggest and wildest celebration of statehood in the country.
Carson City, Nevada, is easy to access just a 40 minute drive from Reno-Tahoe International Airport, and offers a spectrum of fun. Whether you’re ready to ski and hike your way through Carson City, or would prefer to be at the blackjack table, Carson City is awaiting your arrival. With seasoned advice of a traveler who’s been to Carson City, these five tips will help point you in the right direction when visiting beautiful Carson City, Nevada!
Marina is originally from Bulgaria but she considers herself a citizen of the world. Having traveled to over 20 countries, she loves writing about her adventures, experiences, and tips on Exploreist.