Carson City, the capital of Nevada, evokes memories of the Old West when cowboys, Native Americans and miners lived in the area. The city is named after the mountain man Kit Carson.
The attractions in Carson City give visitors a glimpse into Nevada’s storied past. The town began as a stopover for California-bound emigrants, but developed into a city with the Comstock Lode, a silver strike in the mountains to the northeast.
The attractions include historic homes and buildings that predate the 20th century, many of which, like the Carson City Post Office, and the Governor’s Mansion, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Carson City was once home to Mark Twain whose real name was Samuel Clemens. His brother, Orion Clemens, was the first and only Secretary of the Nevada Territory. However, Orion is best known through his relationship to his famed younger brother.
Carson Hot Springs
Since 1849 people have been drawn to this natural phenomenon. The Resort offers three outdoor pools (95—104 degrees year-round) and 10 private hot baths ranging in temperatures of 95 degrees to 110 degrees. The Resort also offers an outdoor patio with a 400-square-foot covered area and cold-water drench shower.
The water naturally flows from the spring at temperatures of 121 degrees, and is cooled to create the variety of temperatures. The water is unique because of it’s non-sulfur smell and soft-water feel.
Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum, located in the historic Carson City Mint, consists of 20 galleries of historic artifacts dedicated to the state of Nevada. The museum has a geologic exhibit that tells visitors about the plants and animals of the area. It also features artifacts about Native Americans, the mining industry and Carson City silver dollars.
The Nevada State Museum hosts special events, including the Carson City Mint Coin Show.
Nevada State Railroad Museum
The Nevada State Railroad Museum showcases the state’s railroad heritage, featuring 65 locomotives and cars. The collection includes 40 rail cars constructed before 1900, 31 Virginia & Truckee Railroad artifacts and rail items used in Hollywood movies and television shows.
The museum also has railroad equipment. Other activities include rail rides, an annual railroad history symposium and special programs such as “Your Hand is on the Throttle.” The program give visitors hands-on training on operating a steam locomotive.
Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada
The Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada features interactive exhibits for children of all ages that both educate and entertain. The museum has a miniature of Carson City, including the Capitol building and a sheriff’s office.
Kids can play games, dress up and participate in special programs. Special programs offered at the museum include science workshops and infant and toddler sign language classes. The museum’s StarLab Planetarium is a domed, inflated portable planetarium that fits approximately 25 students. A projection shows students how the skies look at night in multiple locations like the North Pole, the Australian Outback and even New Jersey.
Kit Carson Trail
The Kit Carson Trail is a 2.5-mile walking path that takes visitors along a residential neighborhood with more than 60 historic landmarks. The trail features Victorian homes, the State Capitol, the old post office, the governor’s mansion, the St. Teresa’s Catholic Church and the historic St. Charles-Muller’s Hotel.
Visitors can tour the buildings on the trail at their own pace and can download a 90-second Podcast that tells stories about each home and even has sound effects like train whistles and horse-drawn carriages. The Podcast can be downloaded from the tourism website.
Ride the V&T Railroad
The Virginia and Truckee Railroad is a privately owned historical heritage railroad, headquartered in Virginia City, Nev. Its route is 14 miles long. The railroad owns and uses the service mark “Queen of the Short Lines”. The V&T Railroad runs up to seven trains per day.
The V&T Railroad offers a 3 hour train ride to and from Carson City to Virginia City. The Sisters in History route starts above the Carson River Canyon and travels past Tunnel No. 2, the Overman Pit Embankment, Gold Hill Station and Tunnel No. 4. The ride ends at the F Street Depot Car in Virginia City.
Along the way, passengers see wild mustangs. They have the option of heading back to Carson City or staying in Virginia City. You can purchase vacation packages that include train tickets, hotel accommodations and dining.
Carson City offers attractions for adults and children that transport them back to a time when people rode on horseback or in horse-drawn carriages.
The city has worked hard to maintain its historic properties for visitors to enjoy and learn about how the state of Nevada grew from a Wild West and mining town.
There’s definitely more to Nevada than Las Vegas!