Spend a day exploring some of western Nevada's quirky local history. After fueling up with coffee and a pastry for the road at the excellent Hub Coffee Roasters, drive 40 minutes up into the mountains to the former mining town of Virginia City, whose "Big Bonanza" discovery in 1873 inspired the television show Bonanza. These days it's touristy, yes, but main drag C Street offers some fun in the form of shooting galleries, old-timey photographers, and intriguing historic buildings including the 1876 four-story Fourth Ward School and Museum. (Since Mark Twain spent some time in town writing for the Territorial Enterprise newspaper in the 1860s, there's a museum dedicated to the author as well.) For lunch, tuck into simple pizza, calzones, or sandwiches at the Red Dog Saloon, a tavern that was originally part of the Comstock Hotel, built in the 1870s, and now a favorite gathering spot for locals. Follow that with a ride on the scenic V&T Railroad ($9–$12), which makes a 35-minute trip to and from the ghost town of Silver City and passes incredible mountain landscapes on the way. When you need a break, be sure to sample a pickle-laced Bloody Mary at the historic Bucket of Blood Saloon. Have an early dinner at Core, a charming seasonal American restaurant run by a friendly young couple that opened over the summer. Afterward, see what's playing at the Piper Opera House, which had its heyday beginning in Virginia City's 1860s boom era and hosted national and international stars until it shuttered in 1920; it's had various afterlives as a museum and theater since. At the end of the night, if you don't want to drive back to Reno, grab a room at the cozy, circa-1875 B Street House Bed & Breakfast, known for its gourmet morning meals.
5. Oddball Day
Published on Sep 20, 2013 as a web exclusive.