5 Ways to Cool Off This Summer in Carson City

Everyone thinks Lake Tahoe should be their first summer destination. But why sit in a multi-hour-long line just to get into the parking lot if you don’t have to? Save yourself the hassle of waiting and trying to find a spot at overcrowded beaches. Instead, dive into this summer in Carson City. From delicious food and drinks to sightseeing and outdoor recreation, we’ve got everything you need to make the most of the sunshine while staying cool. 

Make a splash at the Aquatic Facility or McFadden’s Splash Pad

When we said “dive into summer”, we meant it. Cool off at the Carson City Aquatic Facility by taking a few laps around the pool, playing diving games with your kids, or just lounging poolside. This venue offers an Olympic-sized indoor pool, a parent-and-tot pool, therapy pool, exercise room and a 25-yard outdoor pool that is open May through September (weather permitting). 

If you’re a local, you can even attend swimming lessons during the summer or participate in a program, such as Aquacize, Underwater Egg Hunt, or Grown Up & Guppies. 

For hours of operation and rates, please visit the Carson City Aquatic Facility’s website

If you’re looking for a great splash pad with a view, check out the McFadden Plaza Splash Pad to cool off. If that’s not enough to beat the heat, head next door to Scoups for the best ice cream in town.

Beat the heat inside Carson City museums 

You can have a great summer without stepping outside! (Well, for too long—you have to walk into the museum, of course). Inside local museums, you can soak up the history of our state capital instead of the sun.

Carson City has witnessed remarkable advancements. Our museums serve as reminders of how far we’ve come. From fascinating exhibits to intriguing collections, each museum offers a unique lens into a specific aspect of our past and the people who lived here. Step back in time at the State Capitol’s Battle Born Hall Museum, where the corridors echo with the footsteps of our state’s leaders. Marvel at the historic locomotives and vintage rail cars that once powered the silver mining industry at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, dive into the beloved Nevada State Museum or immerse yourself in rich cultural history unique to the Stewart Indian School. There is a wide array of possibilities!

Enjoy all of these displays and some AC before moving onto the next part of your day.

Skunk Harbor: Hike to a hidden gem

Skunk HarborStill want to make it a point to visit Lake Tahoe? We got you. Enjoy a beautiful, moderate hike from Carson City to one of our area’s hidden gems: Skunk Harbor. The East Shore beach offers seclusion from larger crowds and expansive views of the lake. 

It’s a 3-mile round trip to get there, one that older children can conquer and that dogs are welcome on. (You can bring a stroller, but keep in mind that there are sections where you’ll be pushing uphill.) Journeying through the enchanting Carson Range—surrounded by ponderosa pines and filled with manzanitas—you’ll encounter a trail that eventually splits into three separate directions. If your desired destination is Skunk Harbor, stay on the straight path, as the right turn leads to a captivating railroad trestle. On the other hand, the left fork takes you to Slaughterhouse Canyon, a delightful alternative destination that winds up at a crystal-clear creek winding its way through Prey Meadows (an ideal spot for wildflower lovers).

The Lake Tahoe hiking route also has historical significance. If you look closely, you can see evidence of an old railroad ramp used to supply timber to Virginia City after the Comstock Lode.

The Carson River: Rapids of adventure

Water sports enthusiasts are going to love this one. Flowing all the way from the majestic Sierra Nevada in California to Carson City and finally converging with the Lahontan Reservoir, the Carson River boasts an impressive span of 180 miles. Convenient amenities—including well-maintained paved parking areas, restrooms, picnic tables, benches and concrete launching ramps—offer a comfortable start and end to your adventure.

Carson River has several routes for kayakers, canoers and rafters of all levels. Ideal for beginners, the Upper River Class I-II offers a 3.3-mile, 1.5 hour float that starts at Carson River Park and ends at Morgan Mill Road River Access. For those looking for a longer ride, we recommend the Carson River Aquatic Trail, a captivating 12.6-mile passage that treats boaters to mesmerizing canyons and glimpses of the region’s rich Comstock mining heritage. Take in the beauty of northern Nevada while riding the rapids. 

Because of the heavy snowfall our region saw this past winter, the Carson River’s volume flow is about four times higher than past seasons. We suggest that only advanced kayakers, canoers and rafters take on the river at this time. Remember to always bring safety gear (such as a helmet and life jacket), know your limits on the water and listen to your instincts.

Get your foodie on

After all your exploring—whether it’s inside museums, on hiking trails or while river rafting—you’re definitely going to want to replenish your energy. Stop by a local bar or ice cream shop to take a break from the sun. 

Bank Saloon

What better way to cool off after a hot day than with an icy, refreshing beverage? In the heart of downtown Carson City, you’ll find Bank Saloon, known for their handcrafted classic cocktails. Those looking for a summery drink are sure to find that this establishment’s Bank Margarita, Bourbon Citrus Spritz, and Classic Daiquiri will quench your thirst. 

Check out their cocktail menu here

The Tap Shack

Discover the perfect blend of cold craft beer and good vibes at The Tap Shack. They pride themselves on having 14 taps and more than 30 bottles and cans for you to choose from. While you’re sipping on a cold brew, you can enjoy live music or karaoke—the perfect activity to wrap up a summer day.

See what’s on tap, in their fridge, or what they can make for you on their website.  

Scoups Ice Cream & Soups Bar

Sure, they have savory dishes and hot soups, but we’d recommend filling up on some ice cream! They offer 16 delicious flavors that you can get in a cup, stacked on a cone, or in one of their many desserts, like a banana split. Taking an ice cream treat on the go is a surefire way to stay cool. 

During the summer, they are open every day, starting at 11 a.m. Please be sure to check their Facebook page to keep up with their hours as they may change due to local events.

Spend your summer days in Carson City

As you can see, Carson City offers a wide range of options to beat the summer heat and have a wonderful time. There’s no shortage of cool experiences! This summer, make Nevada’s state capital your go-to destination for staying cool while enjoying a trip itinerary that has something for everyone.