Main Street, Virginia City, Nevada. Image credit M. Vinuesa via

7 of the Most Charming Small Towns to Visit in Nevada

The extravagance and attractiveness of urban metropolises like Las Vegas and Carson City first come to mind when one thinks of visiting the landlocked state of Nevada. But, the nation’s 7th most extensive and 32nd most populous state is much more than its mind-boggling cities. Speckled all over the Silver State’s incredible 109,781.18 square mile terrain are innumerable charming small towns worth adding to your itineraries. If you wish to get a taste of the Nevada culture and check out for yourself the state’s spectacular sceneries, fascinating historical attractions, stunning parks & wildlands, multiple recreations, and vibrant celebrations, look no further than these adorable towns in the Battle Born State.


Genoa Courthouse Museum in downtown Genoa, Nevada.
Genoa Courthouse Museum in downtown Genoa, Nevada. Image credit Brent Cooper, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A quaint Douglas County town, Genoa is the state’s oldest permanent settlement occupying the western edge of Carson River Valley, around 7 miles northwest of Minden and 42 miles south of Reno. Initially christened “Mormon Station” for being a trading post established by Mormon pioneers, the community was rechristened by Orson Hyde after Genoa, Italy, the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. The National Register-listed 129.5-acre Genoa Historic District, which contains more than 29 contributing properties in the Late Victorian architectural style. The Mormon Station State Historic Park and the Genoa Courthouse Museum, are must-visit for history buffs.

Additionally, outdoorsy types can survey the River Fork Ranch Preserve (managed by the Nevada Nature Conservancy), enjoy a mind-blowing shopping experience at Genoa Square, hike the Genoa Trail System, soak in any one of the five mineral-rich hot spring-fed pools at David Walley’s Resort, play golf at Genoa Lakes Golf Club, and relax after the day’s adventures at the Genoa Bar and Saloon. Every year, on the last weekend of September, Genoa hosts a two-day Candy Dance Festival with a Saturday Night Dinner Dance, food vendors, arts and crafts fairs, and fun activities.

Virginia City

Main Street, Virginia City, Nevada.
Main Street, Virginia City, Nevada. Image credit Pandora Pictures via

Virginia City, the biggest community and administrative center of Storey County, is located approximately 20 miles south of Reno on Sierra Nevada’s eastern slopes. At present, a part of the Reno-Sparks Metropolitan Statistical Area, the town settled around 1859, gradually transformed into a burgeoning mining camp after the unearthing of Comstock Lode silver at the neighboring Mount Davidson. Having only 787 inhabitants as per the latest US Census, the town lures over 2 million visitors annually to its historic district which comprises countless restored landmark properties. Holidayers visiting Virginia City must peruse the different saloons lining Historic C Street such as the Red Dog Saloon, Bonanza Saloon, Delta Saloon, Bucket of Blood Saloon, etc.

The Silver Terrace Cemetery, Silver Queen Hotel & Wedding Chapel, the Way It Was Museum, Washoe Club Haunted Museum, St. Mary’s of the Mountain Catholic Church, Fourth Ward School Museum, Fireman’s Museum, Comstock Historic Walking Trail, and Piper’s Opera House are noteworthy sites of interest. Annually, the town hosts several events like Civil War re-enactments, parades, and a Hillclimb via State Route 341 from Virginia City to Silver City.


Aerial view of Eureka, Nevada.
Overlooking Eureka, Nevada.

Nicknamed, “The Friendliest Town on The Loneliest Road,” this seat of government of Eureka County is situated along Lincoln Highway at the Diamond Valley’s southern extremity. Primarily established in September 1864 by a group of silver prospectors from Austin, the settlement was named based on an incident where one of the team members shouted ‘Eureka’ on finding out the silver ore deposits. Visitors can get exclusive insights into this mining town’s bygone days by walking past the meticulously maintained properties that date back to the 1870s and 1880s.

The Eureka County Courthouse, Eureka Sentinel Museum, Jackson House Hotel, Richmond Mine, Eureka Opera House, and Raine’s Market & Wildlife Museum are notable attractions. Eureka hosts many yearly events such as the Eureka Art, Wine & Music Festival, Nevada Old Time Fiddlers’ Contest, a Fourth of July celebration by the Eureka Volunteer Fire Department, and the Eureka Gold Rush Games.


Route 50 and Main St. in Ely, Nevada.
Route 50 and Main St. in Ely, Nevada. Image credit Sandra Foyt via Shutterstock

White Pine County’s seat and biggest city, this remote all-season alpine hamlet in east-central Nevada is located on the eastern end of “America’s loneliest road,” about 77 miles east of Eureka. Set up as a stagecoach stop along the Pony Express and the erstwhile Central Overland Route, the town began developing rapidly following enormous copper mining and the establishment of uncountable copper mining companies.

Tourists visiting the charming town of Ely must not miss the Nevada Northern Railway Museum, the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park’s six charcoal furnaces, Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall, Ely Renaissance Society Village, White Pine Public Museum, and adjacent wilderness areas such as the Cave Lake State Park, Great Basin National Park, and Ward Mountain Recreation Area. While out for a stroll, holidayers can witness over 20 murals and sculptures that excellently illustrate the ethnic diversity and history of the town.


Aerial view of the tiny town of Austin, Nevada on Highway 50.
Overlooking the tiny town of Austin, Nevada on Highway 50.

This friendly Lander County town situated at an elevation of 6,575 feet near the intersection of State Route 305 and Highway 50 on the Toiyabe Range’s western slopes is often dubbed Nevada’s “Living Ghost Town.” Apart from the numerous old properties in Main Street, Austin houses four famous churches including Austin Methodist Church, St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, the recently built Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and St. George’s Episcopal Church. The Stokes Castle, Odd Fellows Home & Masonic Lodge, Austin Cemetery, Old City Hall, Toquima Cave, and the former Lander County Courthouse also enchant a lot of tourists.

About 15 miles east of Austin is a collection of natural hot springs (Spencer Hot Springs), whereas located about 24 miles east is the Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area, which provides sweeping views of the Toquima and Toiyabe Mountain Ranges. There is also the option for self-guided hiking tours along a 0.5 mile-long interpretive trail providing easy access to umpteen age-old petroglyph panels and high-desert flora.

Incline Village

People at Sand Harbor State Park in Lake Tahoe, Incline Village, Nevada.
Sand Harbor State Park in Lake Tahoe, Incline Village, Nevada. Image credit 1000Photography via

Forming a portion of the Reno-Sparks Metropolitan Statistical Area, this upper-class census-designated place is situated at 6,350 feet above sea level, along the northern shores of Lake Tahoe in Washoe County. Originally founded in 1882 as part of the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company’s logging venture, the settlement was christened after the Company’s incline railway that served the region. As a prominent business mecca for wealthy individuals from Southern Nevada and California, Incline Village houses some of the country’s most expensive real estate. Moreover, pristine lakes and incredible mountain views lure people for a vacation retreat throughout the year.

In the warmer months, travelers can mountain bike down the Flume Trail, partake in a variety of water-based recreations, and play golf at the Incline Village Championship Golf Course. During winter, enjoy sliding the scenic slopes at the Diamond Peak Ski Area or relax at luxurious hotels, eateries, and casinos. The adjoining Lake Tahoe State Park, Sand Harbor, and UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center also attract a lot of visitors.


Old historic hotel, casino and bar Mizpah in the old mining town of Tonopah, Nevada.
Old historic hotel, casino and bar Mizpah in the old mining town of Tonopah, Nevada. Image credit travelview via Shutterstock

The seat of government of south-central Nevada’s Nye County, Tonopah, called the “Queen of the Silver Camps,” is situated roughly halfway between Reno and Las Vegas, at the meeting point of US Route 6 and US Route 95. Travelers visiting this tourism-based resort city can participate in various outdoor recreations like mountain biking, hiking, camping, and birdwatching besides exploring the Central Nevada Museum and the Tonopah Historic Mining Park where Tonopah’s rich mining heritage is carefully preserved. For spooky experiences, a tour of the World-Famous The Clown Motel (“America’s Scariest Motel") and Old Tonopah Cemetery is a must.

Unwind after a hectic day at the Mizpah Hotel, and taste the delectable buttermilk pancakes, grass-fed beef burgers, country-fried steaks, and egg miz-muffins available at the award-winning Pittman Café. Furthermore, the Tonopah Stargazing Park invites everyone especially stargazers who wish to observe the twinkling stars in the darkest night skies.

From Incline Village and its unparalleled vistas of Lake Tahoe to Tonopah, the Queen of the Silver Camps, the gorgeous towns of The Sagebrush State entice tourists with their charms. Shadowed by the dazzling lights and arresting sights of the state’s big cities, holidayers often overlook the charming small Nevada towns. These teeny communities captivate sightseers, adventure-seekers, stargazers, cultural enthusiasts, and heritage buffs alike and are perfect locales for an unforgettable vacation in the Silver State.

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