About This Place
The discovery of the Comstock Lode, one of the richest silver and gold deposits in U.S. history, secured the future of nearby nascent Carson City, Nevada. Abraham Curry had founded the city just a year earlier, in 1858. The little town named for legendary Western scout Kit Carson became the territorial capital in 1861 and the state capital in 1864. Today, with 55,000 residents, it is a regional tourist hub half an hour south of Reno and half an hour east of Lake Tahoe by car.
One of the fun things to do with kids in the Carson City area is to catch a ride on a steam locomotive operated by the reconstructed Virginia and Truckee Railroad. The 1.5-hour trip through the Flowery Mountains to Virginia City conveys passengers along spectacular vistas. After crossing a breathtaking bridge, the train follows the historic route of the Comstock period, passing silver mines as it winds through the tunneled mountains.
A unique way to explore the historic sites of Carson City is to follow the Kit Carson Trail, a 2.5-mile walking tour. The house sites tell their own histories through 90-second, pre-recorded podcasts, complete with music and sound effects. Bronze medallions and a painted blue line keep trekkers on course through the Victorian-era residential district as they delve into its history.
Although it is by no means a metropolis, the city lays claim to several must-see museums. In fact, touring the Nevada State Museum is one of the best things to do with curious kids in Carson City. Housed in an 1869 brick structure built as a U.S. Mint, the museum displays the mint’s original Coin Press No. 1. Museum staff use the coin press on the last Friday of each month to produce commemorative medallions. Other exhibits include a Columbian Mammoth discovered in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.
Completed in 1870, the Nevada State Capitol is one of the most dramatic Carson City historic sites and interesting museums. The distinctive silver dome shines like a beacon. Among the crystal and marble interior effects are fascinating artifacts, such as the elk horn chair that Governor John Sparks used to honor visiting President Teddy Roosevelt in 1903. The many-annexed building still serves as the state’s legislative offices.
Nestled at the base of the Sierra Nevada and adjoining Lake Tahoe, Carson City occupies some of the most beautiful terrain in America. Kayakers and rafters enjoy the whitewater of the Carson River, which eventually flows through Carson City. Golfers can choose from nine scenic area golf courses, dubbed the “Divine 9.” Tourists also find opportunities for horseback riding, snow skiing and hot air ballooning.
Carson City has its share of legal casinos, from the small and homey to the large and glitzy. The classic Carson City Nugget, established in 1957, has been voted the friendliest in the city and the “Best Place to Gamble” seven years running. Carson City’s mega gaming center, Casino Fandango, boasts 700 slot machines, four restaurants and five bars.