20 Best Things to Do in Ely, NV

Ely, NV
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Ely, the largest city in White Pine County, is located in Eastern Nevada.

It is famous for its rich history, heavily influenced by the mining industry.

It also features a historic railroad, which was well-preserved and has become one of the most famous tourist attractions in the city today.

There are also a lot of sites that showcase the natural beauty of the city, perfect for travelers who are looking for a serene place to spend their vacation.

For the best things to do in Ely, Nevada, check out the list below.

Go Camping at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

Large charcoal ovens at Ward Charcoal Ovens.
IrinaK / Shutterstock.com

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park boasts six charcoal ovens shaped like beehives.

These charcoal ovens were used from 1876 until 1879 to process silver ore found in the area.

When the mining industry declined, the ovens served as shelters to various travelers.

A large charcoal oven at Ward Charcoal Ovens.
Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

It was also said that these were used as hideouts for stagecoach bandits.

Today, this property is known as a popular tourist attraction where visitors can go camping, hiking, and even fishing.

While you are here, be prepared to see a variety of wildlife as well, perfect for travelers who love the outdoors.

Inside a large charcoal oven at Ward Charcoal Ovens.
Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

Check Out the Remains of Cave Bears in White Pine Public Museum

Home of the remains of two giant short-faced bears found in White Pine County Cave in 1982, White Pine Public Museum is a wonderful place to visit for traveling families, couples, or solo wanderers who want to learn more about the city's rich past.

While here, take time to know about the Lincoln Highway through the museum's displays.

Also, check out the Native American artifacts and see how the mining industry impacted the community in White Pine County.

There is also a gift shop that you can visit here if you want to buy something to remember this beautiful place.

Explore Historic Buildings in Ely Renaissance Village

One of the most gorgeous places to see in Ely is the Renaissance Village.

The village showcases historical miners' cabins and ranching outbuildings that are century-old, all repurposed to become cultural centers used to educate the locals and travelers alike about the many ethnic groups who came to Ely from different parts of the country.

The cabins feature artifacts such as a clawfoot tub, wood-burning stoves, and glass flatwares that will make you reimagine how it was like to live in the early 1900s.

This is also a popular venue for concerts, workshops, theater productions, and other events.

So, if you are a fan of live performances or want to participate in workshops to unleash your creative side, you should definitely include this village in your itinerary.

If you are passionate about the arts and want to immerse yourself more in Ely's art scene, you can also participate in the Ely Walking Tour, where you can explore the town and marvel at the amazing murals and sculptures installed by the Ely Renaissance Society.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Steptoe Park

If you want to spend some quality time with your loved ones outdoors, Steptoe Park offers a playground and a soccer field where you and the young ones can have fun and play.

It also features a walking area if you want to go on a relaxing stroll while enjoying some fresh air and wonderful views of lush trees.

A pavilion is also available, where you can lounge with your family.

This is a 6-acre park, so you are sure that there is plenty of space for you and your loved ones to walk around.

There is also a basketball court where you can practice your skills and enjoy your time with other visitors.

Revisit the Past in Nevada Northern Railway Museum

Exterior of Nevada Northern Railway Museum.
Ventu Photo / Shutterstock.com

Nevada Northern Railway Museum offers a unique way of revisiting the past.

This railway museum features a 90-minute train ride in one of Nevada's earliest locomotives that have been in operation for over 110 years now.

The trip will depart from Ely's historic depot, and during the ride, guests will enjoy the majestic mountain views and some historical narrations that educate visitors about the history of the city.

For a more memorable visit, you may opt to try their themed rides, such as Night Sky-Star Train and Evening Champagne and Star Train, both perfect for couples who are looking for an extraordinary way to spend their date night.

A yellow train at Nevada Northern Railway Museum.
Hermann Luyken, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

For travelers visiting during the holiday season, you are in for a treat, as the museum features Haunted Ghost Train for Halloween and Santa's Train for Christmas, ideal for travelers of all ages.

If you are curious about how these trains operate, the museum also offers hands-on experiences to visitors.

While here, you can be the Steam Engineer in charge of one of the original trains in Nevada Northern Railway, and you can operate it on the original mainline.

For this one-of-a-kind experience, book a slot in advance through the museum's website.

Train tracks at Nevada Northern Railway Museum.
Hermann Luyken, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Book an Accommodation at Prospector Hotel and Gambling Hall

If you are looking for a place where comfort and fun go together, Prospector Hotel and Gambling Hall might be a great choice for you.

Gorgeous chandeliers will welcome you once you enter the hotel's lobby and beautifully decorated walls created by Tim Cox, a world-renowned cowboy artist.

For history buffs staying at this hotel, there are plenty of historical photographs and antiques displayed throughout the place that they can enjoy.

If you want to unwind and have fun, there is also an on-site casino, which is open 24/7.

Enjoy playing slots and video poker while you are here, then have a refreshing drink and a mouthwatering meal at the hotel's lounge for an unforgettable night.

Take a Swim at Cave Lake State Park

Cave Lake State Park is a state park that occupies more than 4,000-acre piece of land, featuring amazing landscapes, lush greenery, and pristine waters.

This park is a haven for nature lovers who want to have fun with their loved ones outdoors.

For fishing enthusiasts, the Cave Lake is stocked with rainbow trout and German brown trout.

You can also go boating if you want to explore the area in a unique way.

If you want to go for a refreshing swim, you can also do so.

So, make sure that you have spare clothes with you when you visit this park for a more enjoyable and hassle-free visit.

If you want to delve into the beauty of nature, you can go on a scenic hike or go mountain biking.

For traveling families who want to take advantage of the gorgeous surroundings and beautiful weather, you can also go camping.

This is also a great place to visit during winter, as there are recreational activities that can be enjoyed all year round.

During the cold season, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing are the most popular activities that you can try.

Buy a Unique Artwork at Ely Art Bank

If you are an art enthusiast and want to include a well-curated art gallery, Ely Art Bank features permanent exhibits of various art types, such as paintings and photos.

Sculptures depicting the history of Ely are also available here.

Learn more about the natural elements used to navigate life in the Great Basin region.

This is also a great opportunity to see the different artworks of local artists.

So, if you are looking for a special item that you can display in your home, there are handcrafted jewelry, furniture, and other items also made by local artists.

Go on a Success Loop Adventure with Eastern Nevada Adventures

To ensure that you see the best of Ely, you can book a Success Loop Adventure with Eastern Nevada Adventures.

While on this adventure, you will be able to explore picturesque nature trails and gorgeous landforms with the guidance of local experts.

This is also a great chance to see various animals, such as elk, deer, and horses.

People who love birdwatching will also have a fun time here.

For those who are planning to go camping with their loved ones, they can ask for assistance from Eastern Nevada Adventures' experts.

Watch a Movie at Central Theatre

Exterior of the Central Theatre.
Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Featuring an Art Deco style, Central Theater is a beautiful place to visit if you want to just sit back and relax after a long busy day.

This theater was built in 1940 and has been a go-to place for entertainment for all visitors.

Entrance doors of Central Theatre.
Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

To ensure that guests have a fun experience here, the theater uses state-of-the-art technology and offers comfortable seating.

For an unforgettable visit, you can buy some snacks while watching a movie.

You can even get some ice-cold beers and delicious cocktails to complement your snacks.

Exterior of Central Theatre showing the side.
Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Buy a Shoshone-Crafted Jewelry Garnet Mercantile

A weekend getaway can be even more exciting when there is shopping involved.

One of the places that you can visit is Garnet Mercantile.

Located in downtown Ely, this shopping area features booths that offer local brands and locally made items, perfect for travelers looking for unique stuff that they can't get anywhere else.

For collectors of antique items, there are one-of-a-kind items that you will find here, including handmade crafts like home items and jewelry.

If you are looking for a unique souvenir, this is a great place to visit.

What's even more special about this place is that you can find a wide variety of Shoshone-crafted jewelry, the main product customers buy when they visit the area.

Play with the Whole Family at Sunset Lanes Bowling Center

Sunset Lanes Bowling Center offers endless fun to travelers.

The center has been operating for 35 years now and has been using wooden lanes.

For those who want a unique way to play bowling, they also offer cosmic bowling on Saturdays.

After playing with your loved ones, you can enjoy some food and drinks from the snack bar for a quick energy boost.

If you are celebrating something special, this is also a great venue for birthday parties, corporate events, and even family reunions.

Test Your Luck at Jailhouse Motel & Casino

Test your luck and bring your best poker face to Jailhouse Motel and Casino.

You don’t need to roll the dice to have a good time; you can enjoy a myriad of games, including slot machines, video poker, video blackjack, and more.

There’s a jackpot winner daily, and it might just be you.

Fantastic dining options await here, too.

Take a bite of juicy, savory meat as you sip on delectable wine at Cellblock Steakhouse.

You can taste the authenticity in Juanita and Chava’s Taco Shop’s food, offering Mexican fare.

Unwind with a cocktail or glass of whisky at The Jailhouse Lounge, with a cozy, elegant ambiance.

If you don’t want to miss an important game, head down to the Jailhouse Sports Bar and have a drink with fellow fans.

To make the most of your stay, you can book a night in one of its comfy rooms, equipped with Wi-Fi, TV, and plush beds.

Enjoy a Tee Time at White Pine Golf Course

White Pine Golf Course is many hours distant from the closest other courses, earning it the title of "most remote 18-hole golf course in America."

However, there are upsides to being on your own.

The golf course keeps in superb shape at 6,500 feet above sea level.

The summer temperatures are milder, the ball goes a little farther, and you won't run into too many people.

It lies in the historic Georgetown Ranch, conveniently located just off Nevada Hwy 93 to the north of town.

Part of the front nine runs along the Nevada Northern Railway rail yard, providing a spectacular background to play against beautifully maintained red barns and high mountains.

A full-service pro shop, clubhouse, driving range, and seasonal events are all available at White Pine Golf Course.

Experience Local Culture at Shoshone Tribe Fandango & Pow Wow

Shoshone Tribe Fandango & Pow Wow is an annual celebration of Ely's Shoshone Tribe in late July.

Anyone in the Ely area is welcome to attend the cultural festival at 250 Heritage Drive.

In addition to the usual marching bands and floats, each year's parade also features traditional drumming and dancing.

It also features a corn hole competition, other traditional hand games, horseshoes, archery, a fun run/walk, vendors, artisans, kids' activities, a BBQ, and raffles.

Since it is a cultural celebration, observe the sanctity of the Pow Wow and dress appropriately.

Celebrate Music and Arts at Ely Film, Art, and Music Festival

Ely's picturesque landscapes and authentic representation of the wild American West have attracted many filmmakers for many years.

Ely has been a popular filming location since the 1920s, thanks to the town's old architecture and railroad, beautiful mountain scenery, and welcoming locals.

Ely is the only place to see these films and visit these unique venues.

Despite its remote location in the Nevada High Desert, the town of Ely hosts an annual film festival that honors the city's place in Hollywood's history every year.

During the film fest, viewers can talk with the filmmakers and other production team members. Festivalgoers may watch short and feature-length film submissions.

The entries compete for cash prizes and honors while enjoying live music performances and art exhibits throughout the three-day weekend.

See Stunning Ice Sculptures during Fire And Ice Winter Festival

White Pine County's annual Fire and Ice festival has been going strong since 2003.

Every year on the third weekend of January, the community gathers and celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day with games, food, and fireworks, regardless of the weather.

Teams compete for thousands of dollars in prizes for three days to build breathtaking works of art on the ice of Cave Lake State Park.

On top of that, ice fishing derbies, snow bowling tournaments, and ice sculpture competitions occur on frozen Cave Lake.

No one would want to be late for the fireworks display or the sculpture's subsequent burning.

Take Snaps with the Famous Soda Fountain at Economy Drug & Old-Fashioned Soda Fountain

Do not pass this by as a regular drugstore when driving through Ely's old downtown; it is almost impossible to miss.

Even though you can get some ibuprofen and bandages here if you really have to, the Old Fashioned Soda Fountain is what makes Ely's Economy Drug worth visiting.

Having been a part of the city of Ely since 1946, this pharmacy is now being run by the third generation of the same family.

When the drugstore and soda fountain was opened many years ago, it was founded by the grandfather of the current pharmacist, Dale Miller.

You'll find the tastiest sandwiches in town, ice cream, and retro favorites like a Lime Rickey once you enter through the door, but the true reward is the picture-perfect soda fountain and counter, which is evocative of a 1950s diner.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Marvel at McGill Drugstore Museum’s Full Shelf Inventory

Exterior of the McGill Drugstore Museum.
Finetooth, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mcgill Drugstore operated from 1915 to 1979 but had to close down when the Kennecott Copper mine stopped its operations.

Thus, leaving the drugstore with its full inventory intact, including the prescription medicines that people used to sell here.

Today, it is known as McGill Drugstore Museum, a 15-minute drive from Ely, and it still contains various shelf products from earlier times that will give you a glimpse of what McGill was like during the early years.

While here, you will see brand names that existed during the early times.

There are a lot of interesting products here as well, such as Dippity-do.

Go for a Refreshing Swim at McGill Pool

Only a 17-minute drive from Ely, McGill Swimming Pool offers a clean and safe environment for travelers of every age to play on the water.

It features a heated pool perfect for all weather.

If you love water adventures, there are pool toys that you can rent.

For families traveling with young ones who want to learn how to swim, they also offer swimming lessons for a fee.

Final Thoughts

Ely is a beautiful city where you can enjoy a lot of historic sites and outdoor spaces.

With lots of recreational activities available here all year round, this makes it a great place for families and solo travelers.

To make the most out of your visit to the city, do not forget to check out this list of the best things to do in Ely, Nevada.

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