Route 50, the main street in the western town of Ely, Nevada, with a backdrop of mountain range. Editorial credit: Sandra Foyt /

8 Towns in Nevada With the Best Downtown Areas in 2024

Nevada is a mixed bag of surprises, offering charming contrasts like the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas to the peace and tranquility of Lake Tahoe. As millions of tourists flood Sin City to experience its electric nightlife, 2024 presents an excellent opportunity to discover Nevada's hidden gems away from the well-trodden path. Beyond its famous casinos and resorts, the state harbors picturesque small towns boasting vibrant downtown areas ideal for easygoing strolls.

Set against scenic backdrops with architecture spanning centuries, these inviting communities demonstrate local cultures and industries waiting to be uncovered. These towns in Nevada immerse curious travelers in delightful exploration away from major destinations. Stroll through historic districts full of character and personality to experience the genuine and refreshingly pastoral side of the Silver State.


A stretch limousine parked in front of the redbrick Prohibition-era Hotel Nevada in Ely, Nevada.
The Redbrick Prohibition-era Hotel Nevada in Ely, Nevada. Editorial credit: Sandra Foyt /

This secluded mountain community in White Pine County interests travelers with its unique mix of art, history, and outdoor adventures. Ely's storied beginnings date back to its founding in the 1870s, with the town experiencing a boom when copper was discovered in 1906. Exploring the modest downtown, a few historical markers provide evidence of its colorful heritage. The East Ely Railway Depot Museum documents the essential logistical role of railway transportation during the town's heyday. Also, the Ely Renaissance Village provides a glimpse into the town's formative years during the early 20th century.

Ely's artistic side shines through the downtown galleries, highlighted by Ely Art Bank. Inside, enthusiasts can explore a wide selection of local and regional artworks. Downtown Ely has a bustling bar and pub scene, including Racks Bar and Grill, which provides exciting after-hours hangouts.


Genoa Courthouse Museum at 2304 Main Street, downtown Genoa, Nevada.
Genoa Courthouse Museum in Genoa, Nevada. By Brent Cooper, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Genoa is considered the state's birthplace, as it was the first settlement in what later became Nevada. This town’s lovely downtown preserves the town's rich heritage, with a rich mix of museums and cultural centers, priming visitors on an exciting journey down memory lane. The neighborhood hosts several historical treasures, including the Genoa Courthouse Museum on Main Street. Initially constructed in the 1860s, the building exhibits rare local artifacts focusing on Native Americans and the Emigrant trail. Along the same street, the Mormon Station State Historic Site offers a mix of exciting history and cozy nature.

Mormon pioneers on the California Trail settled here when they reached Genoa, and the location has since turned into an urban oasis with green lawns and mature trees. Even without considering the historic sites, downtown Genoa has a few entertainment joints, including the Genoa Station Bar & Grille, where tourists can mingle with locals for fun.

Virginia City

Aerial scenic view of Victorian buildings on historic Main C Street in downtown Virginia City, Nevada, USA, with cars parked along the street.

Aerial scenic view of Victorian buildings on historic Main C Street in downtown Virginia City, Nevada, USA.

Roaming the quiet streets of Virginia City feels like a trip back to its 19th-century mining peak. The town boasts an adorable historic district with conspicuous Victorian-era structures dominating its skyline. A rich museum scene in the area allows historians to feel at home discovering rare heritage at landmarks like the Mackay Mansion House Museum. This gorgeous Italianate mansion provides a window to the 1860s with a fantastic display of period furnishings and artifacts. Meanwhile, the Historic Fourth Ward School Museum demonstrates the lives of school kids in the 19th century inside a preserved Victorian structure.

Virginia City's rich art and culture landscape is evident in the downtown galleries and performance art centers. Piper's Opera House is among the most prominent venues in the area, famous for hosting various theatrical shows in an 1885 landmark. Furthermore, the Virginia City Outlaw Theater helps preserve the town's Western culture.


Mesquite, Nevada, nestled in a valley among mesas and mountains.
Mesquite, Nevada, in a valley among mesas and mountains.

Sitting around 80 miles from Las Vegas, Mesquite shields tourists from the chaotic scene in its famous neighborhood without depriving them of the gambling experience. This Clark County town harbors a couple of world-class casinos in its vibrant downtown, with quaint museums and art centers promising guests diverse experiences. The Virgin Valley Heritage Museum provides a rare account of local history through rare exhibits dating back to the pioneer period. Downtown also hosts the Donkey History Museum, a quirky yet inspirational facility that celebrates various contributions by the beast of burden across the globe.

Mesquite is famous for its arts, which is best represented by the Mesquite Fine Arts Center. Finally, those with a taste for gambling can choose from the many casinos in town to taste Lady Luck, from the Eureka Casino Resort to Mesquite Gaming.

Boulder City

Entrance to Lake Mead Marina, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Boulder City, Nevada.
Entrance to Lake Mead Marina, Boulder City, Nevada. Editorial credit: Nadia Yong /

Boulder is famously home to the Hoover Dam, an engineering marvel that pushed the limits of dam design when it was constructed in the 1930s. Boulder City offers a beautiful historic district blending historic structures with contemporary buildings. Tourists get the best of both worlds while exploring Boulder City, with the Hoover Dam Museum preserving the legacy of the town's most famous landmark. The Tom Devlin's Monster Museum is an excellent venue for families, exhibiting an incredible collection of monster props honoring the art of special makeup effects.

Boulder City's bustling downtown doesn't leave art enthusiasts out. Visitors have the opportunity to browse various art forms at the Boulder City Art Guild & Gallery. Finally, the gambling capital is just 26 miles north, allowing visitors to easily access world-class casino entertainment at famous spots like the Venetian Las Vegas.


Retro neon sign for The Griddle restaurant in downtown Winnemucca, Nevada.
The Griddle restaurant in downtown Winnemucca, Nevada. Editorial credit: melissamn /

Famous for friendly dispositions, Winnemucca is one of the most welcoming towns in Nevada you can visit. The town is traversed by Interstate 80, resulting in a lively downtown area that welcomes a fair share of in-transit visitors. Winnemucca offers tourists a delightful experience featuring museum visits, cinema sessions, and breaks in cozy nature spaces. This town houses the Humboldt Museum, which preserves local heritage through various historical and cultural heritage. There is more heritage to explore at the Buckaroo Hall of Fame, which takes guests back to the 19th and 20th centuries.

Movie lovers can assemble at Park Cinemas to catch the latest Hollywood productions. Meanwhile, several outdoor spots within the town center, led by Vesco Park, encourage an escape from the crowds to relax and enjoy a calm atmosphere.


Riverwalk in Laughlin, Nevada: Streetlights and palm trees lining the empty riverwalk along the Colorado River in the downtown Laughlin casino district.
Riverwalk in Laughlin, Nevada, along the Colorado River in the downtown Laughlin casino district.

This famous resort town on Nevada's southern tip has a reputation as a gambling hub with fun water-based recreation. While it boasts charming outdoor scenery, the downtown district is just as impressive, delivering an assortment of entertainment spots. Gambling is part of local culture, and tourists often head to the Golden Nugget Laughlin Hotel & Casino to enjoy slot and table games. Car enthusiasts naturally gravitate towards Don Laughlin's Classic Car Museum, which impresses many with an admirable collection of antique automobiles and motorcycles.

Meanwhile, shopaholics can look forward to a luxurious retail therapy session at the Laughlin Outlet Center. The retail hub houses various national brands and quaint dining outlets. Finally, outdoor lovers looking for an escape can revel in the serene environment of Colorado River Heritage Greenway Park.


View north along Main Street (Nevada State Route 208) near Littell Street in downtown Yerington, Nevada.
Main Street in downtown Yerington, Nevada. By Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

This tiny village in Lyon County exudes small-town vibes, with a modest population of around 3,000 residents. As the county seat, Yerington houses the Lyon County Museum, which presents a glimpse of local and regional history through a broad library of artifacts, archives, and other memorabilia. Downtown Yerington harbors a vibrant gambling landscape, with several venues inviting fans to try and beat the house. Dini's Lucky Club Casino is a popular social venue where locals and foreigners assemble to gamble, drink, dine, and partake in other fun activities.

However, if you are trying to suppress the urge to gamble, Tailgaters Sports Bar is an excellent alternative. This trendy tavern serves great cocktails and beers, and its multiple big screens make it a favorite among sports lovers in the town.

Discover the Heart of Nevada's Small Towns

Taking leisurely walks through these vibrant downtown districts offers a welcome respite from everyday routine. Friendly faces, local history, great independent businesses, and excellent dining culminate in lasting memories amid natural splendors beyond the hubbub of big cities. Whether seeking repose in the West or to escape well-trodden paths, these lovely towns in Nevada deserve attention away from fanfare. They present a rare opportunity to experience the genuine spirit of the Silver State through fundamental cultural discoveries and community spirit.

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