History Buff Stuff & Western Wonders
Know someone who loves to get their hands on Nevada’s history and heritage? Treat that devotee of days gone by to a guided tour of famous locales—on foot, on the water, or even on one of the state’s three still-chuggin’ scenic railways. Meanwhile, Nevada State Museum memberships score free admission to all seven statewide institutions. And if you happen to be acquainted with an armchair buckaroo, there are plenty of ways to gear ‘em up with western wear (and wares) and memorable buckaroo-style getaways, to boot.
Tours Through Time & Other Hands-On History
Laughlin, Boulder City, Carson City, Ely, North Lake Tahoe, Virginia City & North Las Vegas
Colorado River Tours
Book a London Bridge Jet Boat Tour to see the landmark that formerly spanned England’s River Thames from the 1830s to the 1960s before being rebuilt here in the USA, piece by piece. Or, enjoy a fully narrated cruise on the USS Riverside, which details the history of the region while taking you under the Laughlin Bridge and up to Davis Dam.
Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours
The Techatticup Mine is the oldest, richest, and most famous gold mine in southern Nevada. Since then, it’s become a mega popular place for movie, TV, and magazine shoots, some of which left incredible props behind (including the oft-Instagrammed plane from 3000 Miles to Graceland). Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours is your go-to for guided mine tours, as well as kayak/canoe rentals to launch on the nearby Colorado River.
Scenic Railway Rides
Without the railroad, Nevada wouldn’t be the Silver State we know and love. For a gift that’ll make someone’s day go on the rails, reserve a ride on one of four working historic railroads around the state. The Nevada State Railroad Museums in Boulder City and Carson City, Virginia City’s Virginia & Truckee Railroad, and Ely’s Nevada Northern Railway all offer tours with stunning vistas on authentic cars pulled by original locomotives, as well as seasonally themed activities. The Nevada Northern Railway also runs stargazing and other specialty trips, with chances to “be the engineer” and even stay overnight in a bunkhouse or real-deal caboose.
Boulder City, Virginia City, Carson City & Ely
Explore the palatial waterfront residence and uncover the incredible tales of eccentric George Whittel Jr., the eccentric early 20th century millionaire who once owned 40,000 acres of Lake Tahoe’s #NevadaSide. Tours are history-focused, while some incorporate wine and cheese tasting. Arrive by land, cruise there in style on a classic 1950 “woody” from Zephyr cove, or kayak in with Tahoe Adventure Company.
North Lake Tahoe
Virginia City’s Comstock Adventure Pass
Give the gift of an experience with Virginia City’s Comstock Adventure Pass and enjoy discounted entry to historic (and some haunted) museums, legendary mine tours, and rides on the famous Virginia & Truckee Railroad.
Carson City Railbike Tours
Take your party on the rails—literally—by peddling a 4-seat custom contraption along the historic Virginia & Truckee railroad tracks through the scenic Carson River Canyon countryside, crossing bridges and passing preserved mining-era buildings and other neat sights. May – Oct
Nevada National Security Site Tour
Simply put, this tour’s the bomb. Once a month, Las Vegas’ National Atomic Testing Museum busses visitors to the Nevada National Security Site to discover the most explosive chapter in Nevada history on a tour of where the U.S. Military tested atomic bombs—including of eerie Survival Town, the quaint little mannequin-populated “village” built to examine the real impacts of this devastating new technology on actual towns. NOTE: These tours involve both high security and high demand, but are well worth forfeiting your phone for a few hours, as well as booking well in advance.
North Las Vegas
Memberships, Mementos and More
Carson City, Elko
Minted Medallions from Historic Coin Press No. 1
The Nevada State Museum—Carson City, which originally came to life as a U.S. Branch Mint, continues to mint medallions on the first coin press to operate in the capital city in 1870.
Nevada State Museum Membership
Swing by the desk at any Nevada State Museum to snag someone a year-long membership, which grants any-time admission to both flagship museums (Carson City and Las Vegas), three state railroad museums (Boulder City, Carson City, Ely), Lost City Museum (Overton), and the fascinating galleries at the Reno Historical Society.
Western Folklife Center Membership
Share the culture of the American West and Nevada’s still-thriving buckaroo traditions with a membership to this world-renowned western cultural institution, HQ of the famous National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Membership includes discounts at the WFC Gift Shop, access to digital content from past Gatherings, early ticket access for upcoming National Cowboy Poetry Gatherings, and the latest event poster and pin.
Nevada State Parks All Access Pass
Well-preserved public history and plenty of outdoor action is yours for the taking at more than two dozen Nevada State Parks. From popular spots that blow up Instagram feeds to remotely serene getaways, the Silver State can deliver whatever kind of stories or recreation you’re searching for. Pick up an annual pass to enjoy ‘em all without entrance, camping, or boating fees, or take the passport challenge – get your booklet stamped at 15 parks and earn that pass for free!
Western Wear and Other Wares
Elko, Reno, Tonopah & Virginia City
J.M. Capriola Co.
With 90 years of saddle making under their custom leather-tooled belts, this historic, family-run business crafts handmade western goods that often become family heirlooms. If ranch ropes, snaffle bits, and spur straps aren’t for you, shop their apparel, outdoor items, and book store.
D Bar M Western Store
Ranching, roping, and riding – D Bar M can cover it all (and then some). Let ‘em outfit you with the perfect pair of cowboy boots and a stylish wild rag before moving on to saddle pads, leather tack sets, and rodeo training and protective gear.
A Bar L Western Store
From western and work wear to wilderness and hunting supplies, this Tonopah mainstay has been serving central Nevada for decades. Pick up your favorites from Wrangler, Stetson, Levi, and Carhartt.
Virginia City Hatmaker
Indulge your one-of-a-kind noggin with a one-of-a-kind hat, made even more special in the still-Wild-West setting of Virginia City. Stroll wooden boardwalks and Comstock history as you wait for your custom chapeau to complete your look.
Great Basin Hat Company
Fueled by a passion to craft hats that feel like an extension of each individual, the Great Basin Hat Company can customize any size, shape, and color to fit your wildest headwear dreams. With names like “Cool Hand Luke,” “The OK Kid,” and the “Buckaroo Fedora,” you’ll have endless amounts of fun finding just the right one for you.
Storied Silver State Stays
Wells, Virginia City, Tonopah & Boulder City
It’s all about Western hospitality at this working horse and cattle ranch, situated about 70 miles north of Wells, operated by the same family since the mid-1800s. Although they have the ranch hand part handled, guests can fish, birdwatch, mountain bike, or simply relax around the palatial lodge and its stunning prairie-meets-mountains setting.
Gold Hill Saloon
Located just south of famed Virginia City, the oldest hotel in Nevada—established before statehood in 1859—definitely delivers the Comstock Lode vibes with charming old rooms, a seriously authentic Sagebrush Saloon up front, and the added bonus of fantastic fare—from Angus steaks to chicken marsala—at the on-site Crown Point Restaurant.
Gold Hill, nearest Virginia City
History meets luxury at the “finest stone hotel in the desert.” Schedule a stay at the 1905-built Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah and enjoy plush rooms that combine old world charm with modern amenities, along with award-winning Pittman Cafe dining and special events.
Boulder Dam Hotel
Howard Hughes, Shirley Temple, and Bette Davis all got a dam good night of sleep at this charming boutique hotel, built in 1933 and now found on the National Register of Historic Places. Plus, the on-site museum dazzles with artifacts, photographs, and film about the people who risked life and limb to build Hoover Dam and Boulder City.