Flush with gold and silver from the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode, Virginia City once boasted 100-plus saloons, one for every 30 inhabitants. You can still wet your whistle in this rollicking slice of the Old West 20 miles outside Reno, and you’ll also encounter Victorian buildings, an old-time railroad, and a local fondness for such oddities as camel races.
Four-mile excursions on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad depart the 1870 depot and snake through a high desert landscape that includes Gold Hill, where the Comstock era began. Trains are pulled by a vintage steam or diesel locomotive.
In a handsome redbrick space, the Roasting House serves a gold rush waffle (topped with peanut butter, walnuts, and honey), sandwiches, and other fare.
The Historic Fourth Ward School museum hosts an exhibit of period clothes, such as a lady’s feathered hat, and devotes a room to a then-unknown, local 1860s journalist named Mark Twain. You can tug the rope to ring the 1876 school bell.
Western wear meets steampunk garb at the Old Red Garter, a shop stocked with more than 2,000 Stetsons and other hats, red leather cowboy boots, and Victorian-style women’s gowns, complete with bustles.