Virginia City, Nevada, takes visitors on a trip back to the pioneer days of the American West. Virginia City is a great experience for families with a passion for history, imagination, and fun!
The mining boom of the 1800s turned Virginia City into a prominent settlement between Denver and San Francisco. Many of the grubby prospectors who flooded in became millionaires, and they built mansions and imported furniture from Europe and the Orient to outfit their homes.
At its peak, Virginia City had gold in every hill, and the men who came from everywhere made their homes in the shadow of Sun Mountain. Mark Twain served as a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise and began his career in the town.
Things to do in Virginia City
Open year-round, Virginia City offers a free, interactive learning experience easily accessible from nearby Reno and Carson City. Visitors can walk along authentic board sidewalks, view historic churches, 19th-century homes, and browse through museums.
Red Dog Saloon Virginia City
Several old west saloons of years passed line main street. One of the most popular is the Red Dog Saloon. Stop in for lunch, drinks, and live entertainment. During the day, the saloon is family-friendly, evenings Red Dog is more adult-oriented. Address 76 N C Street. Website.
Silver Queen Hotel & Saloon
Built-in 876, the Silver Queen Hotel is the oldest in Virginia City. Today the Silver Queen serves as a wedding chapel, hotel, and Saloon. The hotel features 28 rooms with antique furniture. Silver Queen’s saloon features a huge single-piece wooden bar counter. 28 N C Street. Website.
Bucket of Blood Saloon Virginia City
The Bucket of Blood Saloon is one of Virginia City’s oldest saloons. The bar features live music on weekends, food, and drinks. The Bucket of Blood has slot machines, but kids are welcome as long as they stay out of the bar area and away from the slots. Lots of historic pictures decorate the walls of this saloon. 1 South C Street. Website.
Palace Restaurant & Saloon
The Palace serves up some of the best food in Virginia City. Rubens and burgers are the mainstays here. Diners choose between 11 different Ruben sandwiches and 21 burgers, ranging from the Bison Burger to the huge Garbage Truck Burger. The Palace Restaurant & Saloon is family-friendly. 54 S C Street.
Ponderosa Saloon & Mine Tour Virginia City
Not too many Saloons offer a mine tour, but here in Virginia City, you can find one. The Ponderosa also features the vault from the Bank of California, which was the original tenant of the building back in the 1860s. In addition, mining artifacts and pictures decorate the walls of the Ponderosa Saloon. 106 S C St, Virginia City, Nevada.
Washoe Club Museum & Saloon
Located in one of the oldest buildings in Virginia City, The Washoe Club features a saloon, a Haunted Museum, and ghost tours. All tours are family-friendly and are held hourly, starting at noon until 6 pm. The Washoe Club has been featured on the Travel Channel Ghost Adventures show. 112 S C Street. Website.
Red’s Old Fashioned Candies
Located in Virginia City, Red’s Old Fashioned Candies is the oldest operating candy factory in Nevada. Handmade candies including nut brittles, candy apples, fudge, truffles, and chocolates. They also serve Ice Cream, Milk Shakes, and ice cream Sundaes. There sandwich shop in the back if you are craving something other than sweets. 68 S C Street.
Way It Was Museum Virginia City
This interesting little museum has a huge collection, from mining artifacts to photos of ladies of the night. If you are interested in Virginia City history, the Way it Was Museum is a good place to start. Admission is only a few dollars, so stop by on your tour down the main street. 113 C Street.
Mackay Mansion Museum
Built-in 1860, the Mackay Mansion started as the office building of the Gould and Curry Mining Company. In 1875 much of Virginia City burned to the ground, including Bonanza King John Mackay’s home. After the fire, Mackay moved into the mansion, and from that day forward, it was called the “Mackay Mansion.” Today the building is open to the public as a museum and wedding location. 291S D Street. Website.
Fourth Ward School Museum
If you only have time to visit one museum, the Fourth Ward School Museum should be it. The Comstock Room goes into great detail about the rich history of the Comstock and Virginia City. An authentic classroom lets visitors experience what school life was like back in the later 1800s. The third floor houses a restored 1887 printing press, a Mark Twain exhibit, and a mining exhibit. 537 S C Street. Website.
Piper’s Opera House
The opera house was built in 1878 for $40,000 by John Piper, a German immigrant. The building hosted events and celebrities up until 1920, when it was closed. Then, it reopened and closed as a museum and then again as a theater until finally closing in the late 70s. Today Piper’s Opera House is a working museum, Performing Arts Center, and a wedding destination. 12 B St, Virginia City. Website.
Comstock Gold Mill
Located down the hill from the center of town, Comstock Mill is a fully operational stamp mill used for crushing the ore from the mines. Tours of the 1860s building include seeing the stamp mill in operation and learning about the history of Virginia City. The Mill is open May through October on most weekends. Reservations can be made at the Virginia City Visitor Center. 86 South C Street.
Virginia & Truckee Railroad Company
The Virginia & Truckee Railroad Company offers a 25-minute narrated train ride from F Street Station in Virginia City to Gold Hill. The train passes by several abandoned silver mines, through a short tunnel, and then on to the town of Gold Hill, where the engine is switched to the back of the train for the return trip.
Virginia & Truckee Railroad operates steam trains from Carson City to Virginia City. This 24-mile round trip takes about 1.5 hours each way, with a three-hour stopover in Virginia City before the return trip.