Must See - Reno-Tahoe

National Automobile Museum, The Harrah Collection (Reno)

There are car collections, then there are world-renowned car collections. This Reno museum was named one of the best 16 car museums in the world by Autoweek, and it’s easy to see why. Visitors can view decades of fascinating cars and stroll down four period street scenes, each symbolizing a quarter of the 20th Century, and look forward to a series of rotating special exhibits. If you need a guide, there are audio tours, people-led tours and theater presentations.

Nevada Museum of Art (Reno)

For a cultural experience that rivals any other in the Silver State, the Nevada Museum of Art is an experience to be had. The oldest cultural institution in Nevada (founded in 1931), the establishment provides a center for visual arts activities, exhibitions, and artists. The permanent collection has grown to more than 1,500 paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints and photographs, which reflect five focus areas centered on land and environment. Past exhibits include the collections of Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol.

Reno Arch

You can’t miss this iconic landmark if you’re traveling along Virginia Street in Reno. In 1929, a contest was held to adapt a slogan for the original arch. The winning phrase, “The Biggest Little City In The World,” was branded on the arch and has been a Reno mainstay ever since. The latest arch, which brightens the Reno night sky with red, white and yellow lights, was installed in 1987. It has been featured in many movies, including “Waking Up in Reno.” The original arch can still be viewed on Lake Street downtown.

Nevada State Capitol Building (Carson City)

Like so many buildings in Nevada, the Capitol is a symbol of the Silver State’s history. Completed in a year’s time from 1870-71, the structure is defined by its silver-colored dome. The building is the heart of a picturesque campus setting on Carson Street. Imagine snow-covered trees in the winter, golds and reds in the fall, and beautiful blooms in the spring. The Capitol serves the Governor and contains historical exhibits on the second floor.

Kit Carson Trail walking tour/Carson City Mint

In Carson City, the Convention and Visitors Bureau has conveniently marked a path in blue that guides you through the city’s glorious history. The blue line, known as the Kit Carson Trail, is a 2.5-mile walking tour of the west side, which includes nearly 60 historic homes and buildings, from government buildings to churches to residential neighborhoods. A guide is available through the Convention and Visitors Bureau. You’ll also visit the Nevada State Museum, which houses the Carson City Mint’s Coin Press No. 1. Take home a souvenir, and, one day a month, you can see a live press.

Heavenly Gondola (South Lake Tahoe)

Just a short walk from the California-Nevada state line and a number of lodging options, the Heavenly Gondola elevates riders to the serenity of an alpine mountain in little more than 10 minutes. The eight-passenger cabins take guests 2.4 miles up the mountain while they enjoy spectacular views of Lake Tahoe. The opportunity to look out
over all of Lake Tahoe for as far as the eye can see makes for a perfect afternoon distraction. One of the stops, Adventure Peak, features a grill where you can grab lunch and some hiking paths where you can walk it off.

Lake Tahoe cruises

Scenic cruises, dinner cruises, charter cruises, even a wedding cruise_ enjoy Lake Tahoe at a more leisurely pace. Through Lake Tahoe Cruises and Zephyr Cove Resort, you can catch either the Tahoe Queen or M.S. Dixie II. Celebrating her 25th anniversary in 2008, the Queen is refurbished and ready to go another quarter-century. Woodwind Cruises offers wine-tasting cruises, even a fireworks cruise on Fourth of July. The company also goes outside the box, offering rides on sailboats. There are a plethora of cruise companies that will make sure you see Lake Tahoe in a new light.

Genoa Bar and Saloon

“Nevada’s Oldest Thirst Parlor,” as it says above the entrance, has an intriguing mix of quirky artifacts, including Raquel Welch’s black leopard print bra and signed photo, donated during a movie shoot nearby. Since 1853, drinks have been served and tomato juice (take a look at the ceiling, but don’t ask why) splattered at the bar, which has welcomed presidents, actors, and famous musicians through the years.
Be sure to check out the diamond-dust mirror on the back of the bar, which dates to the 1840s.

Piper’s Opera House (Virginia City)

This establishment has been entertaining audiences since the 1860s, so it’s no surprise that First Lady Laura Bush named it an “American treasure and a national icon.” Recently, the building has been restored to give it modern conveniences and structural reinforcement. Much of the interior furnishings and stage equipment remain intact, however, including the striking hand-painted backdrop scenery. Visitors can catch concerts, plays and dances at the opera house; in fact, the site is revered enough to host the annual Governor’s Ball each Nevada Day.

Virginia & Truckee Railroad (Virginia City)

At a small depot on F Street in Virginia City, you can catch this 35-minute ride that covers a little less than six miles. During the leisurely experience, riders are treated to an informative talk as the conductor relates anecdotes about the area’s history and points out places of historic interest along the way, including original mining head frames and mill sites. The Virginia & Truckee Railroad Company operates from Memorial Day until the end of October. Plans are in the works to expand the route to 21 miles, concluding in Carson City.