Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Virginia City, NV

  • Published 2022/09/16

Primarily known as a boomtown in Nevada, Virginia City has a unique identity that you need to experience thanks to the discovery of the Comstock Lode.

It has a deep connection to mining, creating a heritage everyone here is proud to have.

The town has many preserved buildings, historic landmarks, and attractions that showcase this identity to people who visit it.

Do you want to see it for yourself?

Here are the best things to do in Virginia City, Nevada:

Enter the Chollar Mansion

Exterior of the Chollar Mansion

Sandra Foyt /

When in Virginia City, you should check out the impressive Chollar Mansion.

This home was constructed between the years 1861 and 1863.

The place features architecture using the Victorian Italianate style.

In the past, it once served the Collar Mine’s head office and as the home of the mine’s superintendent.

Chollar Mansion was built for Bully Chollar, the person who discovered the Chollar Silver lode.

When you come here, you can find a historic arched vault that used to hold gold and silver bullion.

You can also pass by the paymaster’s booth – the area where miners went to receive their monthly pay.

It’s a gorgeous, historic home that you shouldn’t miss while visiting this town.

Explore the Chollar Mine

Mining and the town of Virginia City have had a close relationship throughout history.

Don’t forget to visit some of the iconic and historic mines in this town when you visit Virginia City.

One such attraction here that you can explore today is Chollar mine.

The said site is known to be the place of one of the richest silver strikes in the country.

By visiting this place, you can go underground and explore the site where miners managed to find the wealth that made the town famous.

The site was first staked in 1859, and it’s known as one of the leading mines on the Comstock.

For around 80 years since then, miners managed to haul $17 million worth of gold and silver.

When you come here, you can learn about how these mines were built, how miners worked through them, and the geological importance of the rocks that you can find inside.

Bring your entire family here, and learn more about the mining industry in Virginia City.

Go on the Ponderosa Mine Tour

Saloon sign at Ponderosa Mine

Arne Beruldsen /

Another important mining site you must visit is Ponderosa Mine.

Today, you can find this gold mining site underneath a saloon named after it.

Before heading down to the mines, hang out at the Ponderosa Saloon and have a nice pint of beer.

After that, you can go to the back of the establishment and follow the Ponderosa Mine Tour.

You will go on the tour with a guide, telling you and your companions more about the site’s significance.

The said tour lasts around 25 minutes, and it will lead you to an area of the historic Best and Belcher mine.

Apart from that, you can also find a lot of antique mining equipment on display here.

Find out how essential mines and the mining industry were in Virginia City by going on this tour.

Visit the Mackay Mansion Museum

Exterior of Mackay Mansion Museum

MyAntonia1981, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another historic home in Virginia City is the Mackay Mansion.

The home was built by the Hearst family back in 1859.

Now, it serves as a museum that lets visitors explore the interior of a genuine mansion made in the victorian era.

Many people also know it as one of the original buildings in the area that survived major fires throughout history.

Here, you can find original decor, fixtures, and furniture that adorn this fantastic home.

Apart from being a historic site, many also know this place for its notorious ghost stories.

Many believe paranormal activities happen in this home, mainly involving what many claim is a little girl running around the house.

So, if you like historic sites or paranormal points of interest, this place should go on your itinerary for Virginia City.

Shop at Marshall Mint

While it is relatively new to the area, Marshall Mint has made a name for itself compared to the many historical mining attractions around.

The place started its minting operations in 1991.

The store has helped produce high-quality jewelry, coins, and nuggets made of silver and gold.

Apart from that, it also features a mineral and gem museum that you should check out.

Here, you can buy the said jewelry, gems, and other collectibles available in the store.

Some notable pieces of jewelry you can find here are religious medallions and antique and estate jewelry pieces.

Learn About Firefighting at Comstock Firemen’s Museum

Virginia City features a lot of museums that preserve the memories of this area’s past as it is rich in history.

Another attractive location is the Comstock Firemen’s museum, which was established to showcase and take care of firefighting tools, equipment, and artifacts.

The said museum has a collection of items, sharing the town’s history and heritage of firefighting.

It also lets visitors know about the impact of firefighting in Virginia City and the neighboring Gold Hill throughout history.

Apart from viewing items in their unique exhibits, you can also head to the in-house gift shop.

There, you can purchase souvenirs and books related to firefighting.

Check this place out when coming to Virginia City.

Discover Nevada’s History at The Way It Was Museum

True to its name, this museum lets people have a glimpse of how things were in this part of the United States.

Here, you can find an outstanding collection filled with items that let you in on the region’s prominent Western Heritage.

It features a myriad of historical photographs, mining artifacts, old maps, lithographs, and more.

Many consider this museum to have the most comprehensive collection of Comstock-related items in the world.

Apart from small photographs and documents, you can also find vintage costumes on display at The Way It Was Museum.

It aims to share the way of life Comstock miners lived back in the day.

It also features a detailed scale model, providing visitors with a unique view of the underground mine shafts that still exist underground today.

The museum even has a working model of a silver and gold mine.

If you want to go in-depth with Virginia City’s mining heritage, you can watch a 16-minute video the museum provides.

Alternatively, you can ask the many staff members here who are well-versed in the region’s history.

Go on a Ghost Tour at Washoe Club Museum & Saloon

Exterior of Washoe Club Museum & Saloon

Bill Golladay, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At the height of the Gold Rush, many people knew the Washoe Club Museum & Saloon for the luxurious accommodations it used to provide.

Mining business people stayed here to enjoy the high-end services they offer.

Today, however, visitors can partake in delicious drinks at the oldest saloon around.

The bartenders here make many signature drinks that let you live out a small part of the Gold Rush era.

Apart from drinks, many also come here for its daily ghost tours, which have already been featured on TV.

For lovers of anything paranormal who want to up the ante, you can also stay here overnight and look for ghosts for yourselves.

Learn About Local History at Fourth Ward School Museum

Exterior of Fourth Ward School Museum

Bill Golladay, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you visit this town, make another historical stop at Fourth Ward School Museum.

Established in 1876, the said school has always been housed in a Second Empire wooden building that stands four stories tall.

Today, it runs as a museum that aims to preserve and tell the true story of a mining boomtown in the Old West.

The school was initially constructed to house over 1,000 students in its 16 classrooms.

Today, it features a collection of old schoolhouse fixtures that students would’ve used back in the day.

Apart from old books and maps, this attraction also hosts many different exhibits showcasing the life of alumni or the locals.

It also has an archive for those who would like to learn more about the area.

Other than these, the museum also hosts many fun events that the entire family can attend.

Don’t miss out on visiting Fourth Ward School Museum.

Hang Out at Bucket of Blood Saloon

Inside View of Bucket of Blood Saloon

Brenda Daly /

Head over to Bucket of Blood Saloon while visiting Virginia City.

It’s another historic saloon that has been serving incredible drinks to patrons since 1876.

The place was built a year following the Great Fire of 1875, which destroyed most of the town.

Today, it sits on the ruins of the Boston Saloon.

A Sign in Bucket of Blood Saloon

Cynthia Liang /

Apart from fantastic drinks, you can also catch live music from the house band on most weekends.

The interior retained its Gold Rush-era feel, which adds to the experience of hanging out at this place.

Are you looking for a great place to hang out with buddies?

Don’t hesitate to head over to this great saloon.

Head Over to St. Mary’s in the Mountains Catholic Church & Museum

Exterior of St. Mary’s in the Mountains Catholic Church

Jim Feliciano /

Don’t let the fact that this place is a Catholic church stop you from visiting St. Mary’s In the Mountains.

While it continues to operate as a Catholic Church, it also welcomes visitors from all walks of life to learn about its history and significance to the town.

The building itself has been well-preserved, making you feel like you’re back in the late 1800s.

You can also find the original pewter baptismal font here.

The said artifact has been there even before the fire ravaged the town in 1875.

Interior of St. Mary’s in the Mountains Catholic Church

Nagel Photography /

You can also find a magnificent gas chandelier from Chechoslovakia, which makes the jaws of everyone who sees it drop.

Apart from the church area, you can also find a museum at the attraction’s basement level.

Here, you can discover a collection of significant relics from many historic churches around the state of Nevada.

You can also learn about the priests who served at this church throughout history.

It also houses the Abraham Lincoln Living Library and a section they dubbed the Mad Monk Wing.

Known as one of Nevada’s most prized historic structures, this place is a definite must-see.

Flowers on the door of St. Mary’s in the Mountains Catholic Church

Nagel Photography /

Get to Know the Historic Virginia & Truckee Railroad Company

Steam locomotive at Virginia and Truckee Railroad

alexroch /

With its construction initially completed in 1870, the Virginia and Truckee Railroad provided an essential connection between the Comstock region and arson City.

After serving for around 80 years, the railroad was closed and dismantled back in the 1950s.

Thanks to many railroad enthusiasts, a part of the historic line was reconstructed in the 70s.

Caboose at Virginia and Truckee Railroad

Arne Beruldsen /

Today, a private entity owns the site.

Here you can go on train rides that go through eight miles of the historic mining district.

The said rides have narration that tells visitors about the significance of the railroad throughout history and the region’s rich heritage.

People aboard the train of Virginia and Truckee Railroad

alexroch /

Attend Workshops at St. Mary’s Art Center

Constructed in 1876 originally as St. Mary Louise Hospital, the 36-room building now houses St. Mary’s Art Center.

The Art Center started operations here in 1964.

Since then, it has served as a haven for artists and writers from all over.

It hosts many workshops that will let your creativity out and hone your skills even further.

It also features gallery exhibits where you can find the masterpieces of many talented artists.

Check this place out for many artsy and fun events and workshops while you’re in Virginia City.

Catch a Show at Piper’s Opera House

Exterior of Piper’s Opera House

Arne Beruldsen /

Piper’s Opera House has stood in Virginia City since its construction in the 1880s.

Since then, it has managed to attract famous stage artists from both Europe and the U.S.

Its significance throughout history has also been recognized as a part of the League of Historic Theaters list.

Interior of Piper’s Opera House

EPoelzl, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Today, you can wander its halls to look for ghosts rumored to attend performances.

It still hosts many impressive stage shows, so check this place out while you visit Virginia City.

Closer View of Piper’s Opera House

inkknife_2000 (7.5 million views +), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check Out the Comstock Gold Mill

If you haven’t noticed, many of the attractions in Virginia City are connected to its past as the site where the Comstock Lode was located.

Get to know more about the city’s historical background by heading over to the Comstock Gold Mill.

During summer, you can tour the mill and discover how it operated back in the 1800s, during the peak of gold mining in the area.

Despite the Gold Rush ending all those years ago, visitors can still feel what it was like back then when they came to this location.

Many know it as the only stamp mill still operating in Virginia City.

It has also processed gold ore worth millions of dollars.

Joshua Hendry built the said mill in 1864, and it processed ore by cruising it to get both gold and silver.

Learn more about this process by visiting this attraction.

Enjoy Thrilling and Hilarious Performances by Virginia City Outlaws

Since more than 20 years ago, Virginia City Outlaws have presented thrilling Wild West Gunfight Performances onsite!

Daily performances of their exhilarating Gunfight Shows can be seen at their Western amphitheater in the heart of Virginia City’s historic neighborhood.

The Virginia City Outlaws’ objectives are to maintain the American Western legacy of their community through the daily production of an entertaining live theatrical performance.

The action-packed programs are kid-friendly and filled with humor, historical detail, stunts, and gunfighting excitement.

From May through September, performances are held every day.

Enjoy live theater that features hilarious historical tales from Virginia City.

Experience Night Life at the Delta Saloon

Exterior of Delta Saloon

Arne Beruldsen /

The Delta Saloon is the place to be for the finest live performance, dancing, and fun.

The Delta Saloon is the hub of Virginia City’s nightlife and entertainment all year, whether showcasing an excellent band, running a spooky ghost tour or helping with a city-wide festival.

They provide two unique menus: one for lunchtime or dinner and another for breakfast.

The Delta Saloon is the sole venue in Virginia City that offers full service for weddings and banquets.

They provide a special and outstanding atmosphere for your engagement, banquet, or business event.

The Delta Saloon offers three exquisite, separate banquet rooms, each with its wood dance halls, mahogany booths, and antique crystal chandeliers.

Grab Drinks at Mark Twain Saloon & Casino

Signage of Mark Twain Saloon & Casino

Arne Beruldsen /

Among the structures that withstood the “Great Conflagration” of 1875 was the Mark Twain Saloon & Casino, erected in 1863.

Although it has nearly been a saloon, Mark Twain hasn’t always been its name.

In 1971, Dee Schafer, a writer for the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City, purchased the structure and renamed the establishment Mark Twain Saloon & Casino in recognition of Samuel Clemens’ pen name.

The Schafer family has run the Saloon continuously for more than 47 years.

It’s a terrific spot to swing by for a few drinks, a quick lunch, and a game of luck.

The Mark Twain Saloon & Casino offers fun year-round, 24/7!

Try a Unique Way to Explore through Virginia City Trolley Tour

The Virginia City Trolley may be the best way to gain an overview of the area and decide where to start because there are so many amazing attractions to discover and visit in ancient Virginia City.

A 20-minute, 4-kilometer guided tour of Virginia City is available for six dollars at the convenient location in the center of historic C Street.

The tour is a fantastic opportunity to learn details about any buildings you are interested in.

This route passes via the city’s major historical area and old mansions, factories, schools, and other sites that have shaped Virginia City’s skyline for more than a century.

The Virginia City Trolley Tour runs all year round with varying seasonal schedules.

Unwind at Virginia City Inn

The Virginia City Inn, wonderfully situated and close to the center of Virginia City, is tucked away in the Comstock Lode.

The Virginia City Inn, originally known as the Virginia City Motel, is an entirely renovated motel from the 1950s.

If you’re a tourist looking for a Virginia City motel, you can expect to discover contemporary amenities in a setting that evokes a bygone age.

Their individually designed rooms come equipped with coffee machines, complete bathrooms, conditioning systems, cable tv, and free wireless Internet.

There are microwaves and refrigerators accessible.

Final Thoughts

The prominent mining heritage of Virginia City remains evident today.

Seeing it for yourself is an experience that impresses any tourist who visits the town.

If you want to experience stepping back in time to learn more about the Comstock district, heading to this town is a must.

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