Could these 5 towns be the “Pueblos Magicos” of Nevada?

Could These 5 Towns Be The Pueblo Magicos Of Nevada?

Sunset in Winnemucca, NV, at sunset courtesy of Shutterstuck.

By Aleza Freeman

February 20, 2024

Some towns have “it.” Some towns don’t.

In Mexico, the “it” towns are known as Pueblos Magicos, or magical towns, a tourist designation given to small, rural places, based on criteria like historical significance or natural wonders. These Mexican towns must have a population of at least 5,000, must be easy to get to, and must be worth visiting.

Nevada is home to several small towns within a short drive from major cities, and most of them are worth visiting. Below are just a handful that could be the Pueblos Magicos of the Silver State.

Since Nevada is a state, not a country, and is among America’s least densely populated (a majority of people reside in one of 17 counties), this list of 5 of Nevada’s Pueblo Magicos contains a few towns that are under 5,000 in population.

Boulder City

Boulder City is a launching point for bucket list items as well as a great spot to hang — whether grabbing breakfast at a cute cafe before visiting the Hoover Dam or spotting an elusive bighorn sheep while relaxing in Hemenway Park.

Built for the dam’s workers in 1931, the city honors these workers at the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum. The charming downtown is perfect for strolling with vintage and antique shops, indoor and al fresca dining, and public art. Families will enjoy riding a train at the Southern Nevada Railway Museum. Annual events like the Dam Film Festival and Art in the Park truly showcase the city’s charisma.

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy hiking and biking along the 34-mile River Mountain Loop Trail, connecting Boulder City and Lake Mead. And when you’re ready for a big city, it will take less than 30 minutes to reach the bright lights of Las Vegas.

Tonopah

Tonopah provides a charming combination of Old West history, offbeat attractions, and legal gaming. A dog and family-friendly destination, it’s located about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno with close driving proximity to ghost towns, outdoor art installations, Lunar Crater National Landmark, and the Extraterrestrial Highway.

If you’re looking for kitsch, you’ll find that and lots of creepy clowns at the colorful Clown Motel. The Old Tonopah Cemetery next door provides a glimpse into the lives and deaths of the city’s early settlers. Peruse historical artifacts of this former boomtown, on a visit to the Central Nevada Museum or the longstanding Mitzpah Hotel (if you don’t mind a few alleged ghosts). Get a feel for early mining life at the 113-acre Tonopah Historic Mining Park or go rockhounding on an Otteson Brothers Turquoise Mine Tour.

Since Tonopah is far from any glaring big city lights, its dark skies are easily admired at the town’s stargazing park.

Ely

A small town with big charm, Ely was a stagecoach stop and copper mining town in the early 1900s. Located along U.S. Route 50, or “the Loneliest Road in America,” it’s still worth a stop.

Ely’s history is celebrated in its hotels, shops, museums, and attractions like the Nevada Northern Railway, which once transported copper from nearby mines and now gives rides to tourists, including a stargazing ride to Great Basin National Park. Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall is a historical landmark, dating back to 1929, while the McGill Drugstore Museum features a ’50s-style soda fountain.

The town’s cultural society showcases its early buildings as well as murals and sculptures depicting the town’s history on an 11-block art walk. Special events like the Fire & Ice Winter Festival showcase the local community.

Winnemucca

With cowboy culture, 24-hour gaming, and Basque cuisine, the high desert of Winnemucca is named for one of its original residents, Northern Paiute Chief Winnemucca.

Located about halfway between San Francisco and Utah, the town grew in the 1860s when the Transcontinental Railroad was built, attracting immigrants from Europe’s Basque Country and later Chinese workers. You can explore the city’s roots at the Buckaroo Hall of Fame & Heritage Museum or go back even further at the Humboldt Museum, with its wooly mammoth skeleton and ichthyosaur fossils.

Winnemucca is close to the Black Rock Desert and home to the famous Burning Man festival as well as living ghost towns and rockhounding opportunities. The Winnemucca Sand Dunes and Humboldt River provide plenty of outdoor action in town.

Be sure to try a traditional family-style Basque meal at The Martin Hotel or visit during the Winnemucca Basque Festival to truly capture the town’s spirit.

Virginia City

Perhaps responsible for Nevada’s designation as the Silver State, Virginia City is known for its discovery of the Comstock Lode, a bounty of hundreds of millions of dollars in silver, in 1869. Today, this well-preserved town has its own spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Located 40 minutes southeast of Reno and about 25 minutes northeast of Carson City, Virginia City lets you step back in time with antique shops, authentic saloons, and a creepy cemetery. You can tour the town’s most haunted locations or go on an in-depth tour of its many mines. History buffs will be right at home at museums like the Ward School Museum and Archives and The Way It Was Museum. Pay a visit to Piper’s Opera House, where famous author Mark Twain once gave a live performance. Or take a ride through history on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad.

For a truly festive experience, visit Virginia City during Hauntober in October or Christmas on the Comstock in December, or for quirky events like the International Camel & Ostrich Races and the World Championship Outhouse Races.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Could these 5 towns be the "Pueblos Magicos" of Nevada?Could these 5 towns be the "Pueblos Magicos" of Nevada?

  • Aleza Freeman

    Aleza Freeman is a Las Vegas native and award-winning journalist with two decades of experience writing and editing lifestyle, travel, entertainment, and human interest stories in Nevada. Her work has appeared in AARP magazine, Haute Living and Nevada Magazine.

CATEGORIES: COMMUNITY | LOCAL CULTURE

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