Carson City, Nevada is Full of Surprises

photo by Carmel L. Mooney

Most travelers are aware that Carson City is the state capital of Nevada and many Tahoe area visitors have passed through to gamble, golf or take in the views of the spectacular Carson Valley.

But what most travelers are not aware of, are the surprising hidden gems of this beautiful high desert  locale.

On our recent visit we were completely floored by the spectacular dining, remarkable hospitality, history, and lesser known attractions that make this a top notch destination in and of itself.

Our first delightful taste of Carson City’s gems, was an unforgettable dining experience at The Basil Thai Cuisine. This exotic gem is Carson City’s newest downtown restaurant but the owners have been in the restaurant business for decades and marry their culture and talent to create healthy, authentic and beautifully presented Thai cuisine in an atmosphere of true Thai art and flavor. Every impeccably designed and presented dish is truly a pleasure to behold and tantalizes all the senses. The flavors, colors, aromas and presentations are all works of art and labors of love.

photo by Carmel L. Mooney

We enjoyed walking the downtown area which also included the Kit Carson Trail where more than 60 historical museums, homes, churches and buildings pepper a fascinating 2.5 mile stretch. The Carson City Convention and Visitor’s Bureau offers a fantastic Talking Houses podcast where the sounds and tales of yesteryear are available for visitors and history buffs to experience the history at their own pace.

David Walley’s Hot Springs Resort and Spa is just outside Carson City in Genoa and offers numerous mineral pools and spas and beautiful views of the meadows, mountains and valley. The views from the restaurant are magnificent.

photo by Carmel L. Mooney

Red’s Old 395 Grill is Carson City’s fun and funky local joint and with 101 beers, 52 on tap, an award winning wine list and tequila selection, you’re bound to find some fun there too. They are known for their melt-in-your-mouth ribs, gigantic hand crafted burgers, ginormous salads, and hand cut steaks.

Every nook and cranny is decorated with fun and whimsical conversation pieces, historical artifacts, and silly adornments. Referred to as Carson’s Home for Great Food and Fun, you’ll both have a ball.

photo by Carmel L. Mooney

If you want a thoroughly enjoyable option for walking off some delicious Carson City food, then spend a few hours browsing through the Nevada State Museum. One of the most comprehensive state museums in the county, it’s truly a gem. They guarantee you’ll learn something new and exciting about Nevada and the Great Basin, and we certainly did. Whether

art, Native American history, train and railroad history, mines, mints, or archeology strikes your fancy, you will find something to fascinate you at this impressive museum. Between the USS Nevada Silver Service and the Carson City Mint, you will be impressed.

Food again? You bet! Adele’s Restaurant and Lounge in Carson City has set the bar high for Northern Nevada’s fine dining. Owners Charlie and Karen Abowd bring a legacy of family traditions and talent to the table with local and sustainable fresh ingredients. The first things you’ll notice at this wonderful establishment are the locals and visitors alike enjoying the friendly and elegant ambiance where countless awards adorn the walls and hallways. Uniquely romantic and eclectic dining tables and nooks add to the atmosphere where it will be a toss up whether the outstanding food or flawless service stand out the most. While many of the dishes are family favorites passed down through the generations, the owners are always striving to bring fresh innovation to the table.

photo courtesy of Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau

Diesel or steam? Now you can choose as the V & T Railroad offers a scenic narrated excursion through the hills and past historic mines and landmarks to Virginia City. This stress free and educational rail trip offers a relaxing way to see the other side of the valley and to experience a taste of historic Virginia City, Nevada. Once there, you can roll back your watch more than a century and a half to enjoy historic mines, tours, restaurants, saloons, museums and shops before heading back to your home base in Carson City.

photo by Carmel L. Mooney

Shift gears and explore the other side of Carson Valley by playing one of the Divine Nine golf courses. You can taste one or two or simply go for the “whole 9 yards” by purchasing the Ticket to Paradise where you can play all 9 courses. Each course is beautiful and unique and you may want to try them all. Empire Ranch, Silver Oak, Carson Valley, and Genoa Lakes are just a few favorites among many.

photo by Carmel L. Mooney

After a day chasing little white balls, why not unwind in the heart of Carson City at the High Sierra Brewing Company with its 8 staple brews on tap and a list of rotational brews you’ll love unwinding after a long day of Carson Valley fun in the sun. Excellent gourmet pizzas, delicious salads and pub fare make this the happening place to enjoy live music.

With so much to see and do in Carson City you’ll want to fuel your day off to a good start and the Cracker Box is the perfect locals’ spot to enjoy a community atmosphere and friendly service with huge helpings of all the standard breakfast fare you could want. They have been doing something right for over thirty years, that’s for sure! You’ll be rubbing elbows with the locals but isn’t that half the fun?

The votes are in. Heidi’s Pancake House has been voted “best country gravy,” “best breakfast,” “best waitresses,”” best small business”…you get the point. This local eatery has friendly service, good quality and prices and it’s not a chain but rather a locally owned and operated family business. It’s always packed and with good reason.

photo by Carmel L. Mooney

So where does a couple stay to enjoy all that Carson City has to offer? There are lots of choices but on our last visit we stayed at the Hardman House in the heart of downtown. Not the fanciest place but with an excellent location and covered parking, this property had convenience nailed with most Carson City attractions all within a short walk.

There is a lot more than meets the eye to Carson City. Rich in history and entertainment venues, perhaps its biggest surprise was the spectacular dining and friendliness of the area. Expect to be impressed with Carson City and plan a few days to take in the many facets of this Nevada destination.