A Kid’s Guide to the State Capital

 When you’re a kid, there’s something intriguing about a state capital. And, not just because you’re forced to memorize its name and learn about it in school. What’s alluring is the connection a state capital has to the culture, history and people of the state. It’s connecting the dots between what you may learn about in school and then seeing it in real life.

With so much to explore, see and do, Nevada’s state capital is a tried and true hit with those who are young – and young at heart. So pack up the kids and get geared up for an unforgettable experience in Carson City, NV.

Family-friendly accommodations

Gone are the days of two queen beds or expensive adjoining hotel rooms. The modern-day, kid-friendly vacation requires accommodations that can sleep everyone comfortably and for a price that won’t break the bank. And, when kids are along for the ride, a pool and free Wi-Fi doesn’t hurt either.

Carson City offers a number of lodging accommodations including a brand new Staybridge Suites, equipped with full kitchens, an outdoor pool, free laundry service and complimentary breakfast. Other kid favorites include the Hampton Inn & Suites and Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, and the Gold Dust West also featuring a pool, complimentary breakfast and in-room microwaves and refrigerators. Bonus, the Gold Dust West has an on site bowling alley.

Now that a great night’s sleep is practically guaranteed, the kids will be ready to explore Nevada’s state capital without missing a beat.

Kid-friendly dining

Second only to a poor night’s sleep, is not finding food that will meet your little one’s liking. Thankfully, Carson City has plenty of restaurants that will satisfy even the pickiest tyke’s pallet. From Squeeze In, where your kids can write on the walls while they wait for their food, to L.A. Bakery Cafe & Eatery, offering a kid-friendly menu with all of their favorite staples, the toughest decision you’ll have is deciding where to go.


Kids with a more refined palette won’t want to miss Sassafras Eclectic Food Joint. In fact, the expression on their faces may make a memorable photo-op when they see the Peanut Butter & Bacon Burger listed on the menu. Red’s Old 395 Grill is another guaranteed hit for the kids – offering crayons and coloring for the littles and a menu of quality food choices from Iron Chef Jose. Great Basin Brewery can accommodate larger parties, and with a kids menu and wood-fired pizza options it never disappoints.

Wide-open spaces

Well-fed and rested, it’s time to get the wiggles out. Thankfully, Carson City has wide open spaces where kids can explore and run a muck. From hiking to mountain biking, trails surround Carson City offering varying degrees of difficulty. The Kings Canyon Waterfall Trailhead is a family favorite and is an easy hike for all ages and ability levels. Make note though the trail is only open on the weekends due to trailhead construction. An alternative trail is the Mexican Dam Trail starting at Carson River Park. Those visiting from April through October are encouraged to check out the Carson Canyon Railbike tours. The four person, motor-assisted railbike, designed for those ages four and over, is a great modern-day way to explore the historic V&T Railway, while checking out some of Nevada’s wildlife and history along the way.

Where the kids rule

Kids have a knack for quickly figuring out when spaces are designed just for them. Luckily, Carson City offers plenty of places specifically with kids in mind. The Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada is a play-based learning experience created to inspire imagination and creativity. Here, your kids run the show. From an art room with all the favorites – yes, there’s glitter! – to airplane and space shuttle exhibits, your kids will have a blast as they explore multiple spaces designed just for them.

During the summer, the splash pad at McFadden Plaza is always a hit with kids. Parents, grab a beer from nearby Fox Brewpub or a cup of java from Comma Coffee and let your kids loose, while you post up in the shade. A short walk away, is The Brewery Arts Center, Carson City’s cultural epicenter. From live, family-friendly musical performances, to an outdoor sound garden, to art classes and more, the center shouldn’t be missed.

Interest-based activities

Just like adults, kids have a variety of interests that can be explored. Here are a few additional places you may want to explore based on your children’s interests.

All aboard for a memorable experience filled with the history of Nevada’s railroads. Admission is free for those 17 and under and $8 for adults. Check the monthly schedule to plan your visit around their special 30-minute steam train rides featuring historic Virginia & Truckee Railroad equipment.

  • Nevada State Museum
    Home of the Historic Carson City Mint, the Nevada State Museum is a crowd pleaser. Kids will love the historic coin press demonstrations or Family Fun Saturday, a regular virtual program that occurs on the second Saturday of every month. Program themes vary each month depending on the time of year, and often include a craft activity for kids. All programs are free and craft supplies are available at the museum. For dates and times check the Museum’s Facebook page.
  • Stewart Indian School
    Open Monday through Friday, The Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum is dedicated to the memories of the first Stewart students from Great Basin tribes in 1890, and all students and their families who were impacted by the Stewart experience. The storytelling room features an exhibit about the four main language groups of Nevada: Wa She Shu (Washoe); Numu (Northern Paiute); Nuwu (Southern Paiute); and Newe (Western Shoshone). Among these four groups are 27 federally recognized tribes, bands, and colonies. This room is used for storytelling by members of these tribal nations, as well as craft demonstrations, and documentaries about Stewart Indian School and Nevada’s tribes.
  • Carson Hot Springs Resort – the hammer
    Kids won’t want to leave the newly remodeled pools at Carson Hot Springs where natural mineral water flows out of the ground and the outdoor swimming pool temperature is maintained at 93-96° in the summer and 98-100° in the winter – they’ll especially get a kick out of “the hammer,” where water flows naturally out of a pipe, offering those underneath a steady massage.
  • V&T Railway Train Rides
    Journey back in time on the railway that has been creating memories in motion for more than 150 years. Each round-trip train ride is a unique journey through rich history, with routes that run through the scenic mountains and valleys of northern Nevada. Whether it’s a ride on our impressive steam engine train or our famous Polar Express ride, you’re sure to experience something incredible with V&T Railway.

No matter the season, Carson City makes for a terrific, kid-friendly vacation. Learn more and book your trip today!