Virginia City, Nevada

Photo by Jen Peng

Where in the West Should I Go? • 52 Places to Visit in 2022

During the 1870s, this booming frontier town was considered “the richest place on Earth.” Thousands flocked here to mine the Comstock Lode, one of the biggest silver strikes in history that helped finance the Civil War and earned Nevada its statehood. A young reporter named Samuel Clemens honed his craft here and emerged as Mark Twain.

Today, the entire town is remarkably well preserved, and a National Historic Landmark. Take the sightseeing trolley to area highlights, or stroll along Historic C Street past authentic buildings, now housing an assortment of attractions, shops – selling everything from western wear to the kitschy and unique – and old-fashioned saloons. 

Grab a drink at the Bucket of Blood Saloon or the Delta Saloon and its “suicide table.” Costumed interpreters and reenactments bring the 19th century to life, while spirits from that era are said to live on at the Silver Queen Hotel, the Washoe Club and a dozen other supposedly haunted sites.

More than 15 museums, including The Way It Was Museum, the Mark Twain Museum and the Historic Fourth Ward School Museum, offer plenty of tangible insights. Underground tours of the Chollar Mine and the Ponderosa Mine let visitors experience mining life up close, while mansion tours offer a glimpse into how the silver barons lived. A narrated ride on the V&T Railroad is an informative journey through time and the expansive high desert countryside.

An easy day trip from Reno, Tahoe or Carson City, Virginia City lets visitors step back in time to the Wild West.