CARSON CITY, Nev. (Sept. 17, 2012) — The schoolroom may teach history, science and business, but real, life-long learning comes through experience. There’s no place like Nevada to discover a wealth of richly diverse educational experiences that enrich and expand young people’s minds.

Nevada is a great place to learn about geology, paleontology and the history of the American West,” Claudia Vecchio, director of the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, said. “There are so many ways for parents to enhance their child’s education and create lasting memories.”

The Nevada Commission on Tourism, part of the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, has a few ideas for educational weekend getaways.

  • Conduct experiments, learn about the water cycle, explore a cave and more at the Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum, just south of downtown Reno. Opened in 2011, the 67,000-square-foot facility has hands-on exhibits, a three-story climbing structure and plenty of opportunities for discovery. Parents will appreciate such touches as the Little Discoveries gallery for very young children and the Picnic Place — perfect for enjoying a snack.
  • Check out a replica of Nevada’s state fossil, the ichthyosaur, and examine other fossils under a magnifying glass at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, one of seven state museums. Even better, it’s located inside Springs Preserve, a 180-acre cultural and historical institution that has live animal shows, trails for hiking or bicycling (bike rentals are on-site) and the Origen Museum.

Those with a more time or a three-day weekend can take advantage such sites as the new California Trail Interpretive Center in Elko on the eastern end of the state, or the Tonopah Historic Mining Park in central Nevada.

Opened this summer, the 16,000-square-foot California Trail Interpretive Center tells the story of America’s westward migration in the mid-1800s. Find out what life was like for the 250,000 adventurers who traveled the California Trail, and take a look at the trail itself: the center is within sight of the Hastings Cutoff, the “shortcut” taken by the ill-fated Donner Party in 1846.

Or visit the central Nevada town of Tonopah, where visitors can learn about mining — a key industry for the Silver State — and see how ore was wrested from the ground in the early 1900s. Tour restored buildings or bring mountain bikes to explore the trail system on this 100-acre site. Next stop is Gold Point, about an hour’s drive from Tonopah, to experience one of the many ghost towns that dot the Nevada landscape, remnants of the boom-and-bust mining cycles that took place in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

For more on these trips, including recommendation on accommodations and other Nevada attractions, visit  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.