We take pride in providing authentic travel recommendations based on our own experiences. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product or book a reservation. Learn more ›
When planning a trip to Nevada, there is much more to enjoy outside the Las Vegas Strip and Reno. Nevada destinations include a number of different national parks, Lake Tahoe, and other cities essential to the state.
Mountain bikers enjoy trips to the Silver State to get outdoors and explore the different formations. A travel guide to Nevada is ideal because it gives you the information you need on places to visit, what you can expect, and where to stay for your epic road trips.
- Best Things to Do in Nevada
- 1. Lake Tahoe
- 2. Great Basin National Park
- 3. Tahoe Rim Trail
- 4. Virginia City
- 5. Boulder City
- 6. Valley of Fire State Park
- 7. Carson City
- 8. Red Rock Canyon
- 9. Mojave Desert
- 10. Ruby Mountains
- Where to stay in Nevada
- How to Get Around in Nevada
- Travel Tips for Visiting Nevada
- 1. Invest in Travel Insurance
- 2. Stay Hydrated
- 3. Keep Your Head Cool While Outdoors
- 4. Pack Walking and Running Shoes
Best Things to Do in Nevada
1. Lake Tahoe
One of the busiest places to visit in Nevada is on the state line at Lake Tahoe, with crystal clear waters. This freshwater lake borders California and brings in visitors from both states. When it comes to size, it is comparable to one of the five Great Lakes and is the largest alpine lake in the country.
This means the lake is at a higher altitude than other lakes, which is unique compared to most lakes in Nevada and neighboring states.
Because the weather is good in Nevada through most of the year, you can find residents and visitors out fishing, enjoying extreme water sports, or just taking the boat out for the day. There are trails and beaches around the lake that allow those who are landlocked to get some form of beach experience.
However, the winter months at Lake Tahoe will be chilly and cold, so you should avoid visiting during that time. This is a busy spot on Holiday weekends, so if you are not a fan of crowds on Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or Labor Day, you may want to avoid this area.
2. Great Basin National Park
If you are on the Eastern side of Nevada, you must spend some time at the Great Basin National Park along the Truckee River. It is close to the Utah border, and you enter it through a road trip through Route 488. This extensive mountain range is excellent for mountain biking and one of the best stops for those who enjoy nature.
Wildlife roam through the Great Basin National Park, such as pronghorns, coyotes, and kit foxes that are out hunting throughout the day. You will also find many birds and amphibians throughout the various trails and caves.
One of the best stops in the Great Basin National Park is Lehman Caves, some of the country’s largest. As you walk through these caves, they tell a story of the Native Americans over the years.
Because of the park’s location, you must try to visit in the summer or early spring months. Once the temperature begins dropping in the garden, some of the trails will be blocked off due to the weather conditions, and the caves could close because it is so cold underground.
This is also one of the trips where you will want to stay nearby and plan to be in the park for at least a day or two so that you can explore it in its entirety.
3. Tahoe Rim Trail
Adrenaline junkies and backcountry hiking enthusiasts come to Nevada specifically for the Tahoe Rim Trails. This is an entire experience to hike the 170-mile trail that loops around Lake Tahoe.
It has over 4,000 feet in elevation and even enters soother trails, the Pacific Crest Trail. Packing for this trail required ample water and backcountry camping equipment. Most hikers who take it on a plan to have it completed between 10 and 15 days, replenishing their water supply at Lake Tahoe.
You can do parts of this trail for day hikes, but even then, you should plan to carry lots of water and high-protein snacks to keep your energy up. In the summer, these trails can get pretty busy with tourist hiking. Some visitors also bring a mountain bike to take out on the trail.
4. Virginia City
One of the biggest mining cities in the history of Nevada is Virginia City, and the culture of this city reflects that when you visit. It admits to being one of the most haunted towns in the United States, attracting visitors looking for a good scare or entertainment while in the West. There are several museums to tour, such as
- The Washoe Club Haunted Museum
- The Way It Was Museum
- FourWardarm School Museum
In addition to these tours, a few historical buildings bring history buffs to Virginia City. Some of these places need reservations and tickets, so you will want to call first if there are some places you want to visit when you are out that way.
This town still has the same classic look over the past two centuries and prides itself on remaining one of the last Wild West cities. This is a great place to bring families when visiting Nevada and needing a break from a hiking trail or one of the larger cities.
5. Boulder City
Not too far from the airport you probably flew into is Boulder City. It is less quiet than Sin City and offers a variety of different things for the family to enjoy while you are visiting. Tgiantrge Hoover Dam is a must-see in nearly every other Nevada travel guide.
If you are looking for an extravagant night out, you will not find much in Boulder City. It is family-friendly and focused on nature. While some restaurants and bars are open late, there isn’t much past that in the downtown area.
No matter what type of party you have, be prepared to pay for the comfort and peace that Boulder City offers. The lodging rates, dining, and other expenses are slightly higher than in other parts of Nevada.
6. Valley of Fire State Park
Laked in the Valley of Fire is the Valley of Fire State Park. This park is one of the best Nevada resources, with over 40,000 acres of beautiful red rock spanning as far as the eye can see.
The vistas you find through the canyons in the park are picturesque. Many professional photographers enjoy the numerous hiking trails around these rocks to get some of the best pictures.
Many visitors to this area like to get to the rocks early in the morning or late in the evening for sunset or sunrise photos. This experience is unlike any other in the world.
Keep in mind, though, that the nearest city and supplies are several miles out, so you need to have enough gas to get to the valley and back. You should also have ample water packed in your vehicle with snacks.
This area is a dead service zone, so the kids will not have Wi-Fi or service to keep them busy in the Valley. If you want to guarantee quality family time, the Valley of Fire State Park will give you that opportunity, which should be noted in every Nevada travel guide.
7. Carson City
History, government buildings, and all-around tourist fun are found in Carson City, Nevada. This is the state’s capital, and there are different recreation options available in this city all year for residents and visitors alike. The downtown area is full of arts, culture, and music for families to enjoy and explore while in the city. There is a Nevada museum nearby to give the history of the state.
While in Carson City, you will find some of the best dining options in the state; many different cuisines are located downtown and offer that upscale experience if that is what you are looking for in your trip. You can also find your classics and standards here for families.
If you walk to experience a historical walk in the city, the Kit Carson Trail explores one of the oldest neighborhoods with Victorian-style homes and churches that helped found and built Carson City back in the 1800s. Plan this for a morning or evening excursion, as there are over 50 stops along the trail.
8. Red Rock Canyon
Located in the Mojave Desert is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. You will find geologists and other scientists throughout this area at all times of the year studying the formations and environment of this canyon.
Take your car and enjoy the 13-mile scenic drive through the canyon, where you can see unique formations, wildlife, and some of the best views in the state.
This is a protected area, so if you are coming with family, remember that there are rules to be followed that are often more strict than national parks. Over 2 million people visit this annually, and summer can get pretty crowded.
9. Mojave Desert
If you want to explore the Mojave Desole, you have Kelso Dunes, Lake Mead, and Death Valley National Park to add to your bucket list. They are all found in this area and offer different features to explore.
Death Valley is one of the most visited parks in the country, seeing over 5 million visitors each year. The landscapes are unmatched anywhere worldwide and have been featured in silver-screen films.
While Lake Mead looks like it has been there for thousands of years, this Lake was created with the construction of the Hoover Dam, and more significantly than any other constructed lake in North America. There are lots of water activities on Lake Mead these days, though. It has even been featured in a Nevada Magazine once or twice.
The best time of the year to visit the Mojave Desert is in the Spring and Fall months. The temperatures in the winter can be too cold to get out and see everything. In the summer, record-breaking heat indexes are the other extreme and can be dangerous for long excursions throughout the day.
10. Ruby Mountains
One of the best-kept secrets in Nevada is the Ruby Mountains. They are located in Elko County and received rubies found back in Nevada’s mining days.
The silver state miners were looking for gems, and it is now tucked away, visited by locals and other tourists looking for something off the beaten path. You will find rock climbing in this area and even some horseback riding.
Where to stay in Nevada
When you want to take epic road trips, experience outdoor activities, and explore nature, you want to make sure you book safe and clean lodging throughout the state.
Through Booking.com, there are ten different hotels and resorts spread out throughout the state, where you can stay a few nights while you explore the surrounding national parks, museums, and scenic drives.
- Edgewood Tahoe Resort
- Staybridge Suites – Carson City
- Prospector Hotel & Casino
- Virginia City inn
- Boulder Dam Hotel
- North Shore Inn at Lake Mead
- Hampton Inn & Suites Carson City
- Desert Paradise Resort
- The Cliffs at Peace Canyon
- Homes2 Suites by Hilton
How to Get Around in Nevada
If you want to visit Nevada, plan for road trips and a scenic route throughout the state. Traveling around the state from one destination to the next will require either a vehicle for your family or a tour bus.
Since most visitors will fly into Las Vegas and stay in that area, you need to rent a vehicle to get around to the different mountains, hot springs, and cities on each state route.
If you want to explore another area, you will enjoy places like Reno and the loneliest road on a charter bus with other group members. If you plan to stay in Las Vegas and visit local artists, museums, and the entertainment capital, you can rent a bike or use public transportation.
Travel Tips for Visiting Nevada
There are a few things that you need to keep in mind when you are traveling to Nevada. Everything from protecting your financial investment to the trip to staying safe and hydrated is essential on this trip.
These tips are also essential while traveling in places like Las Vegas, exploring the Neon Museum, Mob Museum, and Fremont Street, which attracts people to Nevada.
1. Invest in Travel Insurance
Whether traveling to Nevada or elsewhere, securing travel insurance is also good practice before heading off. Because there is a lot of driving in Nevada, you may need to make multiple reservations throughout the state to have one of the more epic road trips.
This insurance will help you with these lodging reservations, tickets you have secured, and any additional reservations made should you not be able to make the trip. You can also include additional medical and health coverage in your travel insurance policy. This will provide financial assistance when you have unexpected emergencies or health concerns while traveling in Nevada. The weather in Nevada can get scorching, and visitors unfamiliar with the environment are prone to overheating.
2. Stay Hydrated
You should always have water with you when traveling in Nevada. The desert atmosphere means that the heat is dry, and you could easily overheat before you realize it if you do not have enough water in your system. With the BPA-Free Straw-Top bottle from Columbia, you can keep yourself and others hydrated wherever you go.
Have a water bottle on hand for everyone in your party, including the kids. They are more likely to drink less water and quickly dehydrate as the day goes on. As you travel to the local state and national parks, you will find water bottle filling stations so you can always have water when hiking and exploring through different outdoor recreation activities.
3. Keep Your Head Cool While Outdoors
Some of the temperatures in Nevada reach the double digits in the summer, so you want to keep your heat cool while outside. A Coolhead Ice Cachalot Hat is a must-have item before heading to Nevada and taking on the different Nevada destinations.
This is also lined with UPF 50 to protect your skin from the UV rays you can’t hide from in the Nevada desert. It tucks away easily in your bag and freezes quickly, so you can use it and even reuse it later that day after a short time of freezing.
4. Pack Walking and Running Shoes
Whether visiting the Las Vegas Strip or the Great Basin National Park, you will do a lot of walking on your vacation, so you must protect your feet while in Nevada.
Make sure you wear walking or running shoes designed for the outdoors. Having a mesh pair is excellent so your feet can breathe while also having some comfort soles included.
Without the proper shoes for many Nevada destinations, your feet will be in a lot of p, ain and you will not be able to enjoy your visit. These shoes are for any tours, hikes, and general exploring you want when you stop for your scenic drive.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.