Nevada, known for its stunning landscapes and vibrant communities, boasts a diverse array of towns that are both beautiful, historical, and unique. From historical charm to natural wonders, these towns will rarely leave you without adventure. From the red deserts of rich history to the mountains that seem to touch the sky, Nevada has something to offer the most discerning of nature enthusiasts. With these gems bursting at the seams with old-world charm and curated museums and experiences for all ages, the whole family will never want to leave!
Sitting on the eastern edge of ‘Nevada’s Loneliest Highway,’ Ely is a hidden gem where history, art, and outdoor adventure run deep. You can take a stroll downtown, where you will find 11 blocks of art installations. Among these murals and sculptures depicting Ely’s rich history is a walk through time! You can stop at a 50s-style soda fountain that serves chocolate malts or lime rickeys.
Further down the road, you can explore the Ely Renaissance Village – a collection of beautifully preserved miners’ cabins of all nationalities from Ely’s copper bonanza days. If you’d like to get your blood pumping with some outdoor adventures, perhaps miles of dirt roads that Ely has in the county for you to ride on are calling your name.
Or maybe a round on the most remote golf course in America before it turns into a snowshoeing trail. But the jewel in Ely’s crown is the Cave Lake State Park, 32 acres of stocked fishing, boating, and diverse wildlife both on and off the water. Whether it's camping, hiking, or swimming, Ely can provide!
Home to the beautiful Mormon Station State Historic Park, which commemorates the settlement of the first permanent trading post, the hidden gem of Genoa is nestled in the Sierra Nevada Range. This town, full of local wildlife, natural beauty, and historic charm, still attracts visitors as it did in 1851.
A town rich with Western heritage, as well as the oldest town in the state, Genoa hosts the ‘Genoa Western Heritage Days,’ which takes place in its scenic and historic downtown – which could pass for any old west movie. This event, which is three days at the end of April, is filled with music, history, art, food, and fun. Whether you learn ‘cowboy crafts’ from a local or enjoy the horse parade, Genoa is filled with Western hospitality and charm.
For a bit of romance, why not bring light to Genoa? The Genoa Candy Dance was originally a 1919 fundraiser to keep the streetlights on and paid for in Genoa, but it has now evolved into a fair with music from a live band playing everything from rock and roll to country. There are even local candy makers that hawk their wares at the fair, offering a sweet treat to get off your feet.
One of Nevada’s smallest towns, with a population of just 101, Austin is still a hotspot for tourism and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. Hosting the 2nd longest mountain range in Nevada at a staggering 130 miles long, Austin invites you to experience the West at its wildest.
Austin is dotted with breathtaking mountain bike trails for all experience levels. You can start with a leisurely cruise of Castle Loop at just 4.5 miles, which takes you along the breathtaking views that the Austin area has to offer. For instance, Marshall Canyon and Stokes Castle, a marble tower built in 1897 by a wealthy mining magnate who lived in it for less than a year.
Or, if you’d like to see Austin at a slower pace, you can hike or even camp on one of its 20 trails. Or perhaps you’d like to spend some time at the Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area, a park in nearby Lander County that allows you to get up close and personal with petroglyph panels created by prehistoric peoples living near the Hickison Summit.
For a relaxing finish to your adventure, please spend some time in the historic Spencer Hot Springs, which has drawn travelers for thousands of years to its warm, healing waters.
Step back in time to Virginia City, one of Nevada’s oldest towns, second only to Genoa. Founded in 1859, Virginia City is one of only eight historic landmark districts in Nevada. Boasting a rich history in pioneering engineering and the famous ‘Comstock Lode,’ a rich vein of silver that boosted the city into a hub for fortune seekers.
Virginia City is proud of its heritage, and the town is still looking as it did when the first miners came to strike it rich. You can explore the historic streets or catch a Virginia City Outlaws Wild West Comedy Show, with action-packed comedy gunfights and stunt shows that will entertain the whole family. Or perhaps you’d like to go back to school – at the Historic Fourth Ward School & Museum, you can tour the last standing wooden school building of its kind in the U.S. Inviting you to go at your own pace, you can explore the schoolhouse as it would have been in operation, even sit at original wooden school desks – and no detention! You can’t go to Virginia City without a peek at what made it famous in the first place: the Comstock Lode! You can tour the nearby Ponderosa Mine, which features over 300 pieces of antique mining equipment on display and even allows you to see the underground mine workings. To finish off the day, why not go on a saloon crawl? With Virginia City previously being home to over 100 saloons, you’re sure to get an authentic experience as you enjoy all that these preserved saloons have to offer.
Home to the builders of the nearby Hoover Dam, Boulder City is a small town with a tenacious spirit and relentless adventure. It does not take long to see the charm of Boulder City, just 30 minutes from the glitz and glam of Las Vegas – but it may take a while to see all of the recreational activities this proud hamlet has to offer. The Boulder City Hoover Dam Museum gives visitors a glimpse into the Boulder Canyon Project and gives historical accounts of the brave men and women who worked to build one of the most incredible man-made structures in the country. Located in the historic Boulder Dam Hotel – built in 1933 to accommodate visitors who were constructing the Hoover Dam, this boutique-style hotel is the perfect blend of historic style and modern comforts. If you want to see what put Boulder City on the map, you can drive just 15 minutes to the Hoover Dam and take a peek over it as it plunges 900 feet down into the earth. Or even raft at its feet if you’re brave enough. If you would like to walk on the weird side, you can take a stop by Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum, which preserves the art and history of special effects makeup in classic monster movies. Complete with everything from screen-used props to custom art pieces, the Monster Museum is a scream!
To send a chill down your spine, take a Haunted Boulder City Ghost and UFO Tour! An evening walk through historic downtown Boulder City will take you through Boulder City’s spooky history – from UFO sightings to hauntings of Hoover Dam builders; this tour is not for the faint of heart!
Voted one of the Top 10 True Western Towns by Truewest Magazine in 2019, Tonopah is an opportunity to step back into the past in so many ways. Famous for its lack of light pollution, Tonopah offers a look at the night sky unlike any you have ever seen! This town, rated as the #1 stargazing destination in America by USA Today, had humble beginnings as a mining town, and it is carrying that on as miners still continue to drill for silver and gold! Though all you need to do is look up at the night sky to see the 7,000 stars on display in Tonopah’s skies, you can also take a trip out to The Clair Blackburn Memorial Stargazing Park, which has benches and picnic tables, as well as telescope coordinates for you to dial into to see the sights! Though there is nothing like a romantic picnic under the stars, you can instead go on a Star Party, where fellow stargazing enthusiasts go out en masse and canvas the skies.
The Tonopah Historic Mining Park is over 100 acres of mining history, complete with original buildings, artifacts, mine shafts, drop-offs, cave-ins, and more! You can either take the museum self-guided on foot, or you can book a Guided tour in a Polaris cart. Where else can you visit a museum in an off-road vehicle? The nearby Visitor’s Center also has a movie theatre where you can view a film on the miner’s conditions, and they brought up rich silver from the dark depths year after year!
Things do go bump in the night in Tonopah! Tonopah brings in paranormal investigators from around the world to search the numerous haunted locations, including the Mizpah Hotel, the Golden Block, and the Tonopah Liquor Company.
An hour north of Las Vegas, you’ll find Mesquite, a small town with big-time views and luxurious amenities. Surrounded by the Virgin River Valley, Mesquite is nestled in scenic visits and flat-top red mesas. Though often confused with its sister city in Texas, Mesquite is no slouch for things to do! With seven golf courses within a 10-minute drive, Mesquite also hosts a luxury resort where you can be tantalizingly tempted by delicious treats and feel your stress fall away in the dry heat. At the Casablanca Casino Golf and Spa, they offer a full menu of salon services, including wraps, scrubs, and massages.
Mesquite is not short on adventure! Visit the Camel Safari, a guided tour in a safari tram across over 170-acre ranch that is host to all sorts of exotic animals that kids of all ages can get up close to, including the titular camel! Or perhaps biking or walking on some of Mesquite’s 58 miles of paved trails that take you all through the town, allowing you to find your next adventure along the way.
Often needed but not often recognized, the donkey is king in Mesquite. The Donkey History Museum is dedicated to chronicling the many contributions of donkeys to mankind’s advancement. Including a theater and a virtual reality center, the Donkey History Museum has carefully curated displays that touch on the cultural as well as historical impact this humble equine has had. The best part? Admission is totally free!
The Charm of Nevada's Towns
These seven vibrant towns each offer a unique blend of history, old-world charm, new-world style, and natural landmarks, making them a must-visit destination. They offer a gateway to some of the most spectacular sights in the country that will continue to take your breath away, whether it is the first time or the fiftieth. Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor adventurer, or simply seeking small-town charm, Nevada has something to offer every traveler. So whether you’re lacing up hiking boots or just your favorite pair of Converse, set out on the dusty trail! I promise you won’t regret it.