Copy This Itinerary: Your 2022 Nevada Day Weekend Getaway Cheat Sheet
Written by Carson City Local Shelby Holte
I was sitting on my patio a couple of weeks ago sipping iced coffee when it happened. First of all, it was the risky 3 pm iced coffee that may or may not wear off in time for bed, but it’s summer in Carson City. Memories to be made – no regrets. Anyway, the calendar still said “August” at this moment, when time itself slowed down and my sights zeroed in on a single yellow leaf falling from above.
Cue the movie scene when the main character has a big realization and the camera zooms in on their pupils growing really fast. Here was my train of thought, verbatim: “flannels, blankets, hiking, leaves, yellow, red, orange, pumpkins, ……..NEVADA DAY.”
Now, I have to confess, I have not lived here my whole life. I’m a Nevada Day convert, but this weekend quickly stormed the podium in my heart for my favorite weekend of the year. Nevada Day isn’t the type of event that requires a “survival guide” per se, but it certainly warrants a plan and a cozy place to rest your eyes between events. From late Friday night through Saturday evening, Carson City will be alive and at its Fall best. Below is how I, as a local, would approach the weekend if I were traveling to participate. Use this as your Nevada Day Weekend getaway cheat sheet, with an optional third-day add-on for exploring the area. Nudge, nudge.
Whether or not you plan on participating in the Blinky Man ride (described next), arriving for Nevada Day Weekend on Friday afternoon or evening is a MUST. Nevada Day itself kicks off bright and early Saturday morning. I have seen locals claim their parade spots with lawn chairs as early as 6 am. We mean business here in Carson City! Check into your room, grab dinner nearby (there’s something here for everyone!, engage with the night to your desired degree, and rest up for an amazing Saturday lineup.
For those looking to achieve a perfect attendance score for the weekend, Blinky Man awaits. To put it simply, Blinky Man is a bar crawl on wheels. Participants gather in the evening at McFadden Plaza on bikes decked out in light-up decor. Costumes are encouraged, and there’s no sign-up or cost to join. You’ll ride as one blinking, rolling group to various bars and pubs around town. Be mindful of traffic as you ride! Some stops involve live music, and some legs are longer than others. It’s a great way to learn your way around town with kind locals and visitors alike. Last year, we stayed until about 10:30 but many riders carried on long past! Maybe they were on ebikes…
Regardless of if you use pedal assist at Blinky Man, if you want the full Nevada Day Weekend experience, you’re going to want to stay local! Saturday starts early!
Here’s your trick for remembering the order of events on Nevada Day: FUEL. FLIGHT. FLOATS.
Pretty good, huh? Remember, this is the “perfect attendance” guide for seeing and experiencing everything the day holds. Mix and match to fit your interests!
FUEL UP at one of the many local Pancake Breakfasts. The earliest pancake breakfasts around town start at 7 am. A local favorite takes place at the Governor’s Mansion from 7-9:30 am. You’ll want to be early in line for this one! The proceeds from your $7 entrance fee go towards a scholarship for a deserving local senior in high school. It’s the kind of local support everybody rallies behind. Enjoy pancakes, eggs, bacon, and history inside the governor’s mansion! If you’re curious about the rest of the building, tours take place later in the day from 2 pm to 4 pm.
FLIGHT: Weather permitting, about 20 hot air balloons take to the skies of Carson City at 8 am. Where many balloon festivals launch from a field, the Nevada Day balloon launch is beautifully unique in that it sends balloons into the sky from the middle of Carson City’s main street. Walk up and down Carson Street as early as 7 am to see them inflate, and to wave the riders off as they launch. There’s truly nothing like it!! I had the privilege to ride in one of the balloons a couple of years ago. We took off from right next to the Ormsby House, and to this day, when driving that section of road, I always think “WOW, there was a hot air balloon right here in the street!” Bring the camera. It’s quite the sight!
FLOATS: I’m just going to say it: you’d be hard-pressed to find a parade in the nation more locally beloved than the Nevada Day Parade. Stay with me. I know that’s the “correct” thing to say, but remember, I’m a Nevada Day convert. This tradition earned its place in my heart. Remember above when I said I’d seen locals claiming lawn chair real estate at 6 am? It’s true. The commitment to prime parade seating is likely due to the incredible duration of the Nevada Day Parade. Two hours of run time would be a conservative estimate. Most years it’s above three.
There are a couple of ways to approach this mega parade. You can embrace the mining history of the state and “stake your claim” to our most inviting sections of sidewalk and essentially tailgate (sans truck) your way through the morning. Or, you can do as I typically do, and stay on foot for most of the morning. I like to grab a coffee from Old World, see some parade segments on foot, swoop into Squeeze In for brunch, emerge to find the parade amazingly still running, and tour the Capitol Building (it’s open and free to all on Nevada Day!), emerge to find the parade amazingly still running… are you sensing a pattern? Because there’s still time for smoothies at So Juicy and a few more parade floats.
When you see the USS Nevada sail the waters (don’t worry there’s not actually water) of Carson Street, that’s your signal that the parade is coming to a close. The parade may have run its yearly course, but Nevada Day certainly has not!
Rock drilling: This year will be the 48th Annual World Championship single jack drilling contest.
What does that mean? Rock drilling is the ultimate test of Man vs. Rock… vs. other men…vs. other rocks. It’s tradition after all! The drilling contest honors a signature mining technique created in the late nineteenth century. Drillers would create a small hole within the rocks of the mine to be filled with black powder and strategically detonated. Contests surrounding the technique have taken place since the origin of the practice, with rewards running as high as a year’s wages. This year’s World Championship will put drillers up against Sierra White Granite. Drill the farthest the fastest, and we’ll cheer!
Beard Contest: Let’s be honest. If you don’t have a beard to compete with, and you’ve been adventuring with the rest of us since sunrise, the strategic local move here is to already be having lunch at one of McFadden Plaza’s restaurants. That way, when the beard contest takes the stage, you’re in prime seating to watch, and you’re fueling up for the rest of your day. You’re welcome. If you have a beard, though, we want to see you putting it to the test on stage! No entrance fee, big chance for local glory. If you’re reading this and planning your trip, it’s time to let it grow out! There will indeed be hooting and hollering from the audience.
Curry Street After Party: If there’s one big detail that sets Nevada Day apart from many similar events, it’s the fact that it’s morning oriented when most would center around an afternoon. Depending on your approach to the day, this leaves you with a couple of options post-festivities. Keep the party going at one of Curry Street’s pubs and saloons with whoever your lawn chair is
homesteaded next to. Head back to the hotel to rest and recharge and maybe grab a late dinner. Or, if you’re really pushing for perfection, it’s not too late to catch the sunset at neighboring Lake Tahoe. My hat’s off to you, oh great adventurer.
You’ve done it all. You’ve ridden light-up bikes with a hundred locals. You’ve seen hot air balloons launch from the middle of the street.
You’ve witnessed the greatest parade in the world and the events that join along with it, and hopefully, by now you’ve indulged in great cuisine along the way. But somehow, most of that took place within a one-mile stretch of downtown, and you want to know more. I know. Carson City will draw you in like that. Here are your fast links for great ways to spend the Sunday after Nevada Day. Cap off your weekend getaway with the perfect Fall adventure.
From one Nevada Day convert to the next, I can’t wait to celebrate with you! Be sure to tag @visitcarsoncity in your Nevada Day Weekend Adventures!