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20 Reasons to Take the Kids to Reno-Tahoe

by Felicity Long

Feb 13, 2020

Visit Virginia City


Thinking of taking the kids west? Here are 20 reasons to do so, curated to make the most of the Reno-Tahoe Territory’s mountains, lakes and desert valleys — appealing to every member of your family, regardless of ages and interests.


  1. Walk or bike along Lake Tahoe’s new East Shore Trail, from Incline Village to Sand Harbor. The three-mile trail, suitable for walking, running and biking on non-motorized gear, offers direct access to beaches, secluded coves and views of the lake.

East Shore Trail. Photo: NDOT


  1. Check out the Capital City Arts Initiative, a non-profit, artist-centered organization in Carson City. CCAI presents an array of exhibitions and events that feature local, regional and national artists. Exhibitions cover many genres and are regularly rotating for a new experience at each visit.


  1. Sample estate spirits and craft cocktails at the Public House tasting room in Bently Heritage Estate Distillery in Minden, located in a restored, 100-year-old flour mill.

Bently Heritage Estate Distillery, Minden Nevada. Photo: Bently Heritage Estate Distillery


  1. Visit the Thunderbird Lodge National Historic Site, former home of George Whittell, Jr., a wealthy San Francisco socialite. Now a museum and learning center, the lodge is open to visitors, who can visit by land or water.


  1. Ride the original, 150-year-old Virginia and Truckee Railroad, which takes passengers from the Eastgate depot in Carson City to Virginia City and back for an excursion through time. Each ride is fully narrated with historical facts and anecdotes. The trips meander across scenic Virginia Range, through historic tunnels (adjacent to wildlife habitat and home to wild horses) and arrives at historic Virginia City, Nevada. Check the website for seasonal and themed train excursions.

V&T Railroad, Carson City Nevada. Photo: V&T Railway


  1. Get crafty at a number of workshops and classes, ranging from pottery and welding to sewing and woodworking. The Ogres-Holm Pottery in Carson City offers pottery lessons to all ages, and the Woodworking Source in Reno hosts a regular calendar of woodworking and woodturning classes suitable for beginners to expert.


  1. Go antiquing in Carson Valley, comprised of the historic communities of Genoa, Gardnerville and Minden. You’ll find antique stores, as well as a thriving culture of professional artists.


Carson Valley Antiques, Carson Valley, Nevada. Photo: Visit Carson Valley


  1. Taste local wines throughout Reno-Tahoe. Basin and Range Cellars in Reno, for example, is Nevada’s only all-Nevada winery, using only grapes grown at a local commercial vineyard.

Reno Arch, downtown Reno, Nevada. Photo: Jeff Dow

  1. Try indoor climbing at one of Reno-Tahoe’s many indoor climbing gyms. High Altitude Fitness in Incline Village, for example, offers youth and beginner programs as well as technique clinics, and Reno’s Base Camp Climbing Gym bills itself as the world’s largest outdoor climbing wall — especially convenient for guests staying in the adjacent Whitney Peak Hotel.


  1. Visit the Nevada Museum of Art in downtown Reno, founded in 1931 and Nevada’s only America Alliance of Museums accredited institution. The museum features impressive architecture and a permanent collection paying homage to its location in the West, as well as rotating exhibitions.


  1. Play bocce ball, a kind of Italian lawn bowling game that nearly everyone in the family can play. Bundoxx Bocce in the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel is a dog-friendly, indoor/outdoor venue for all ages.


  1. Paddle in a clear kayak on South Lake Tahoe. Clearly Tahoe offers full-service tours and rentals in completely transparent kayaks so you can enjoy the beauty of this alpine lake at depths of up to 65 feet along the shoreline.


  1. See a bald eagle in the wild in Carson Valley, where, December–February, birds of prey are drawn to the area by the calf birthing season. Children can learn about wildlife by seeing these Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles and other raptors in the wild.


  1. Visit the Virginia City Historical District, which encompasses the once booming mining towns of Virginia City and Gold Hill, Nevada, and is one of the largest in the county. The towns are a National Historic Landmark and offer today’s visitors an authentic step back in time.


  1. Soak in one of the natural hot springs located throughout Nevada, a highly active geothermal region. Visit David Walley’s Resort in Genoa and soak in a natural hot springs pool and mineral spa, or go to the Carson Hot Springs, where the water comes from 35,000 feet below the earth’s surface.

David Walley’s Hot Springs, Genoa, Nevada. Photo: David Walley’s Resort


  1. Go tubing in the summer at Heavenly Mountain Resort, located on Lake Tahoe’s south shore. Here visitors can ride the 2.4-mile gondola to the Observation Deck at the top, enjoy the panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, then tube down the 500-foot hill.

Summer Tubing at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Photo: Heavenly Mountain Resort


  1. Catch some culture at Piper’s Opera House, which lured famous international opera singers from the 1860s until the 1920s. Now the venue, listed by the League of Historic Theaters, is one of the most significant vintage theaters on the West Coast, and operates as a Performing Arts Center with a full calendar of theatrical performances, concerts and non-profit events.

Piper’s Opera House, Virginia City, Nevada. Photo: Asa Gilmore


  1. Visit the first permanent, non-native settlement in Nevada in the Mormon Station State Park in historic Genoa. Built in 1851 as a trading post along the Carson Route of the California Trail, the town of Genoa today offers shops, restaurants, historical monuments, pioneer artifacts and hiking trails.

Ken Paul participates in the annual Stewart Father’s Day Pow Wow at the historic Stewart Indian Facility in Carson City, Nev., on Sunday, June 16, 2013.
Photo: Cathleen Allison

  1. Connect with Native American Culture at the newly opened Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum, which offers a glimpse of the history of the Stewart Indian School and its impact on the Native American culture in northern Nevada. The main gallery is a permanent exhibit about Stewart’s 90-year history. The display discusses the federal allotment and assimilation policies and the creation of Stewart as a federally operated off-reservation boarding school and tells stories of students through their own words.


  1. Taste a Rocky Mountain “oyster” at Virginia City’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry, which takes place every March on the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. Be aware, these so-called oysters are really bull testicles, and cooks from around the region vie to come up with the best recipes. The party includes a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Ball Breaker Saloon Crawl, costume contests and — heads up, parents — a lively atmosphere.


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