12 Things To See and Do in Nevada

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  • Nevada has several ghost towns full of mysteries and stories.
  • The western state is home to amazing museums, such as the National Automobile Museum and the Mob Museum.
  • There are plenty of breathtaking national parks in Nevada for those who enjoy the outdoors and adventure.

It’s impossible to talk about Nevada without thinking about neon lights, casinos and must-see shows. Every year, thousands of tourists are drawn to the famous desert gambling city of Las Vegas, but Nevada has far more than a sparkling city full of casinos. With its incredible natural parks, museums and historic cities, there’s guaranteed fun and adventure for everyone, day or night.

If you’re planning a vacation to Nevada, grab a pen and your itinerary. Here are 12 things to see and do that you’ll definitely want to add to your list.

1. Visit a Genuine Ghost Town

Are these towns haunted or just abandoned? Maybe both, as Nevada is known for its empty cities, which causes a lot of curiosity among the state’s visitors. One of the most famous sites is Rhyolite, in the northwest part of the state. The city was deserted after the mines closed in the early 20th century.

Another option is to visit Jarbidge, which was also turned into a popular ghost town when the mining industry dried up in the region. Visitors can see the original houses where the miners lived and even check out the old prison.

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2. Step Back in Time in Virginia City

With wooden sidewalks, bars and restaurants that mimic the old saloons of the Wild West, walking around Virginia City is like stepping back in time. Everything is reminiscent of the past, from the preserved old buildings to the museums that tell the city’s story.

Take a guided tour to experience what it was like searching the deep mine for gold and silver. During the summer, you can ride the railroad that connects Truckee to Virginia City, a route that’s transported millions of dollars worth of ore.

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3. Experience the Amazing Great Basin National Park

Fun and adventure seekers will be amazed by the Great Basin National Park in the center of Nevada. Underground caves, streams and stunning lakes are among the place’s attractions, which are particularly popular among climbers and hikers.

Inside the park is Wheeler Peak, which is over 13,000 feet high, as well as a pine grove with some of the oldest trees in the world. Camping, hiking and other outdoor activities are all welcome. If you do stay overnight, gaze at the stars up close at the on-site astronomy center.

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4. Have a Picnic at Spring Mountain Ranch Park

Another fantastic outdoor space is Spring Mountain Ranch Park, where you can walk, hike, and enjoy the region’s beautiful landscapes. With sprawling green pastures and breathtaking views of the surrounding region, it’s an ideal place to take the family for a picnic.

Located within the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, the state park was once home to a ranch that passed through the hands of many famous owners. Now you can visit the house and learn stories of its past.

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5. Learn About the Mafia’s Notorious History

Stories involving mobsters have been part of American entertainment for decades. For those who like the theme, how about visiting The Mob Museum? Located in Las Vegas, the nonprofit museum is housed in a charming three-story building and uses its space to recount the history of the mafia and its impacts on society.

There’s even a functioning speakeasy with a secret entrance where you can experience what it was like to have a drink during prohibition. For the best experience, buy tickets for a private guided tour or reserve the space for a themed event.

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6. Try Your Luck on the Las Vegas Strip

With countless bars, casinos, shops and huge hotels and resorts, the Las Vegas Strip is a must-see for anyone seeking the Vegas experience. It’s the perfect spot for anyone looking to try their luck at the numerous gaming tables and slot machines.

It’s also where you’ll find the most famous hotels and casinos in the city, such as the Venetian and Caesar’s Palace. Another unmissable attraction in the city is the show of illuminated and dancing fountains at the Bellagio and Mirage hotels, which attract millions of spectators every year.

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7. Experience Las Vegas from Atop the World’s Biggest Ferris Wheel

How about seeing all the luxury and lights of Las Vegas from above? For many, it takes some serious courage to climb into the biggest Ferris wheel in the world, also known as the High Roller.

Located at the LINQ on the Las Vegas Strip, the Ferris wheel carries 28 gondolas nearly 600 feet in the air. Each tour lasts about 30 minutes. Daytime trips on the High Roller are more affordable, but the nighttime experience has bar options inside each gondola.

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8. Take a Drive on Highway 50, the Loneliest Highway in America

If you’re driving into Nevada, the fun begins on the roads winding through beautiful landscapes. One of the most traveled by tourists is Highway 50, also known as the loneliest highway in America.

The highway is over 340 miles long and crosses through eight cities in Nevada. Along the way, you’ll encounter countless experiences reminiscent of the Wild West, rustic ruins, yawning canyons and nature of extraordinary beauty among them.

If you are looking for adventures, try renting a car and driving along Highway 50 while learning about the attractions of each city through which the highway passes.

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9. Discover the Beauty of Lake Mead

The Lake Mead National Recreation Area is described as an oasis in the middle of the desert. The area is actually home to two artificial lakes — Mead and Mohave — that emerged with the construction of the Hoover Dam, another place worth visiting for its majestic architecture.

On the shores of Lake Mead, take part in camping, fishing, hiking or simply having fun with family and friends on the trendy Boulder Beach, which is north of the dam. You can also enjoy a ride aboard a typical Mississippi boat, taking in the region’s beauty from a unique perspective.

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10. Hike in Valley of Fire State Park

Want to experience a place with breathtaking views in Nevada? Then head to Valley of Fire State Park. Situated in the middle of the Mojave Desert, the park is only an hour’s drive from Las Vegas.

The Valley of Fire State Park is a perfect place for hiking or camping. The park’s landscapes include colorful rock formations, canyons and breathtaking lookouts. You’ll want to take in the beauty with your eyes or camera. If you’re staying in Vegas, you can even hire a guided tour that takes you from your hotel and back again.

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11. Discover Reno, the Biggest Little City in the World

Known as “the biggest little city in the world,” Reno is also famous for its casinos and incredible resorts, which provide a vibrant nightlife. In addition to gambling, there are numerous attractions for all kinds of audiences.

There are several options for museums, zoos and water parks. Highlights include the National Automobile Museum, the Nevada Historical Society, the National Bowling Stadium and the Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center. Other places you’ll want to visit include the Truckee River Arts District, where you’ll find several trendy restaurants, art galleries and coffee shops.

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12. Enjoy the Hot Summer Days at Lake Tahoe

A popular year-round destination, Lake Tahoe is surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains and impresses with its azure waters. Located on the border with California, the freshwater lake is over 21 miles long. During the summer, it’s a perfect spot for kayaking, rafting, swimming and camping. However, during the winter months, skiing dominates the region.

From the majesty of its western environments to the glamorous nightlife of its cities, there’s something for everyone in Nevada. Pick a few — or even all of them — and embark on an unforgettable trip.

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Tim Kaechle

Tim Kaechle

Tim Kaechle is a freelance writer and digital nomad who loves learning and creating things for the web. When he’s not busy writing about his myriad of interests, he’s brushing up on his programming and digital design skills, all while wandering the world. He’s currently kicking around in Brazil and planning his next big adventure.

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